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The Paul Mach Blog - March 2008

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

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March 2008

Monday, March 31, 2008 - General
Today is the last day of the month and I achieved my March Madness goal with 1502 miles. I had to ride 62 miles today, but it was well worth it. So now when I go ride with the general club guys and they ask carefully worded questions about if I can hang or not, I can just say, "I road more then 1500 miles last March, so..."

I also applied for, and received, my Category 1 upgrade today. My first major goal of the season is done. Next up is going really really fast in the TTT at nationals.

I leave you with this cool picture from the race last weekend.

Sunday, March 30, 2008 - Race Reports
We may have "club" in our team name, but actually we're pretty legit'. In cat. 2 races we've had 3 in the top 11 at Valley of the Sun, 2 in the top 9 at the Merco Road Race, and now 2 in the top 6 at San Dimas; just to name a few. So please, don't think of us as a club, but as a semi-pro super bad ass elite development team. Thanks.

For the final crit stage of San Dimas the plan was to "keep the rubber side down." I had too much to lose and nothing to gain. So at the gun I went from the front to the back in about a lap. There I sat for the whole race with my head up waiting from the inevitable crash.

The best part was with 3 laps to go when some dude, in about 5 seconds, pulls out a plastic Arrow Head water bottle, unscrews the cap, splashes some water in his mouth and then throws it in front of me. I bet it gave him the edge to move up and contest the sprint. Right...

I finished on the second page of the results, but with the same time. So I got the win and the upgrade points for my cat 1. Overall the weekend was pretty pai-nful because I had to split the money with guys who didn't even finish. :)

The other night I heard this quote on Seinfeld and thought it was kind of funny.

"I always knew that after I became a doctor,
I would dump whoever I was with and find someone better.
That's the dream of becoming a doctor."
- Ben, to Elaine

I love you Sara.

Saturday, March 29, 2008 - Race Reports
Dude man, Tyler, you're killing me. Yesterday I was all excited about beating you and now you don't even finish in the lead group. Way to break a guy's heart.

"That, that was a cluster bomb," was the finish described by Tom Githens from Kahala. Accurate, but let me start at the beginning.

The "road race" was basically a glorified crit, 56 miles. It was fast from the gun and hard to move up, just like a crit. The first couple of times up the climb I was tail gunning and got caught gapped off and had to chase. Lame. So on the fourth lap, a KOM lap, I hit the front and went for it. This caused a break with a couple of the strong guys from the break at Merco. A lap later Taylor bridged up so we had two.

After that the race went pretty standard with us working together well.

On the last lap things got interesting. We passed the 3s, they caught us again, and then they attacked us. On the climb we were totally integrated with them. I messed up and tried to pass on the right, should have gone left like the other 2s.

I figured the finish would be a cluster so I lead it out from pretty far out hoping that we wouldn't be swarmed by the 3s. Too bad I got swarmed by a bunch of 3s all sprinting for the top 20 about 50 meters from the line. I thought I was going to die.

So I got 8th (last in the break) and Taylor got 5th. We were 1:12 up on the field and Taylor moved up to 5th in the GC. I won the KOM and am now 5 more seconds ahead of the field. We got the job done. Awesome.

At the start some dude was taking photos of me at the line. I told him they'd never put a guy with hairy legs on cyclingnews. He laughed and then moved on.

After the race some guy asked me why I don't shave my legs. I said, "My wife said I wouldn't get any if I did." His reply, "Whatever, I don't get any anyway." Sad... So sad....

Crit tomorrow and here is the results page.

Friday, March 28, 2008 - Race Reports
The first day of the San Dimas Stage Race was today. I had a good ride with the highlight being that I beat Tyler Hamilton. That's right; Tour de France stage winner. Results can be "verified" here.

The road trip down here to so. cal. was long and boring. When we got here we checked out the start times and went to Red Robin for dinner. Phil sat with the kiddies and gave them lessons on shaving and women. Later they faked a birthday and had ice cream. They obviously aren't that serious about their cycling.

As for the race, things went well but I think it was a little short for me. Basically I went hard, blew up a little and then settled in. I think the 20 minute hill climb last week was perfect for me. I caught my 30 second man before the hill even started and some dude I don't even know yelled, "Paul, slow down." That was kind of lame. He was in some green kit.

Tomorrow's short road race should be fun.

Quote of the trip, so far....

"Isn't most of the earth made of rock?"
- Chris Morales

Tuesday, March 25, 2008 - Race Reports
Last weekend was UC Santa Cruz. The road race was Saturday and there was a hill climb time trial on Sunday. I don't have much to say about the hill climb. Just need to wait for results. The road race was more interesting.

It's the same as the University Road Race in August. Tyler described it best, "You go up a hill, then you take a right. Then you go down a hill and at the bottom you take a right. Then you go back up the hill." It's that simple for 20 laps.

Davis had five guys in the race; Me, Tyler, Nils, Shawn and Demetrius. The first couple of KOMs went pretty standard with Shawn and Demetrius locking in some points. We also got a show of Art Rand's "often imitated, but never duplicated" climbing style.

The third KOM turned out to be the Sufferville city limit. Max Jenkins (Berkeley) and I went for it and got a gap. He really wanted to keep it going; I wasn't too excited about 14 laps off the front.

Even though Max and I were working together nicely, I was getting really bored. Going up the same hill, exploring the same pain cave, lap after lap. But I guess it was worth it because at six to go I came up with a great new nickname for Max Haines-Stiles from Stanford, Maxford. That way we won't confuse him with Max Jenkins from Berkeley. Cool huh?

With four laps to go I attacked, I thought it was only three. This is about the time Hurricane Hurt made landfall. With two laps to go I could feel the cramps coming on, and with one to go I was glad it was almost over. It turns out that almost everyone was cramping by the end of the race. Max even said his tricep was locking up. So he DOES have arm muscles, who knew?

Back in the group Nils and Tyler picked up the last KOMs. Nils upped the pace for the last few laps to thin the group down to about six guys. He finished 6th and Tyler 8th. I think Shawn and Demetrius were in the top 20. Complete results will be posted soon at

Monday, March 24, 2008 - General
Last week was spring break at Sara's high school so she was at home with me all day. It was kind of annoying because she got in the way of all my procrastination. Oh well, at least she's easy on the eyes.

Without work Sara was still busy finishing up her Master's Thesis. I was busy preparing a lab talk and studying for my quals. In the end Sara got a Master's degree and I got a "Good, I like that" from my advisor. Some would say she got a little more cost/benefit, but that just depends on your value system.

Last weekend I passed up Copperopolis for some collegiate racing. It went really well and I'll have a race report in a couple days.

Monday, March 17, 2008 - General
As big as an event as they make it seem, March Madness has lost it's following over the last few years. I was looking at past years on the website and was disappointed. They have results from 2003 and onward and participation has steadily declined.

YearRidersTotal Miles

These are just the people that signed up to use the online tracking. You can send in your log, but I doubt more people would start doing that.

To top it off they have a club goal of 180,000 miles. Well, half way through we have 50,000. Sadly, I don't think that's going to happen. I'm guessing they haven't updated the goal from 2004 when it would have been realistic.

So what is the deal with March Madness? Why was it so big in 2003 and now so much smaller? It all started in 1999 so it can't be first year hype. Maybe it's because people don't want to pay the $10. I wonder when they started doing that. I bet some more people would sign up if it was free.

On a positive note, the online tracking is super cool and works really well. It looks like a custom solution just for the Davis Bike Club. Kudos to whoever designed that one.

Sunday, March 9, 2008 - Race Reports
UC Davis is now 4-0 in Men's A races this season. A pretty good start. Here is the report from last weekend at Stanford.

We had 5 guys in the road race: Me, Steven, Phil, Nils, and Demetrius. It started out pretty mellow with some minor attacks. Early on, Steven's seat post decided it didn't want to race any more and turned to go back; as the rest of his bike didn't follow, he had to call it quits.

Unbelievably, the Stanford guys called a pee break right before the major climb, about 30 minutes in. I guess it was a good idea because there aren't any bathrooms where we were headed: Suffer City.

A little later at the feed zone I found myself in the pain cave with the wrong batteries for my fading head lamp. Phil attacked as I was eating and Nils and I spent the next 15 minutes chasing down a good sized break with a lot of Stanford guys in it. Yep, wrong time to eat.

Max Jenkins, from Berkeley, wisely attacked soon after we caught the break and was off for good with Ryan Parnes from Stanford. We let them go for a while and then after the turn around, on the tailwind climb, I attacked and we had a little 3 man chase group.

On the major climb on the way back Max found himself between a rock and another, possibly harder, rock. He could either drop Ryan and solo the next 25 miles into a head wind or wait for him and thus me. He chose the latter. We stayed off the front and at the finish Ryan sat up because he had just been hanging on for quite a while. Max and I drag raced to the line and I wound up on top.

Phil won the field sprint for 4th, but in his attempt to impress the Rock Racing management he got himself disqualified for briefly crossing the centerline about 250 meters out. He claims he has a blurry digital photograph that proves his innocence. Nils finished 6th and Demetrius 16th.

In the Crit we were one man down because Steven was doing another race. Our race plan was to be on the defensive, but that lasted about 3 laps. We spent most of the race attacking and chasing.

With seven laps to go Phil and 3 other guys finally got off the front and the field didn't want to chase, nice because I was hurting. At the finish the other guys in the break found themselves on the mountain top of agony without any flags from their respective nations to place at the top and Phil took it.

As the rest of us turned the last corner there was a crash. It messed Nils' position up a bit and I decided to just go straight to be safe. Nils finished in the top 10, I think Demetrius in the top 20 and I was back there somewhere.

Well, still not a big fan of crits, but the team is looking really good and that's without Tyler.

Thursday, March 6, 2008 - General
March has been here for a few days so it's obviously March Madness time. This is the event where the Davis Bike Club spends the month trying to ride as many miles as possible. I signed up with the 1500 miles goal and have 411 so far. I'm ahead of pace, but I can't compete with those guys that put in a 100+ every day.

Phil is sure I am going to beat him so he didn't even sign up. Too cheap to spend the ten bucks? It goes to helmets for kids, come on Phil.

The other day my wife called me gay. I informed her that this was more of an insult on her than on me. Sara's response, she always has one, was that she could turn me straight any time she wants. I hate to admit it, but she's probably right.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008 - Race Reports
Flat, not windy enough and with a ton of people. I came into the day not taking it seriously at all. I didn't have that great of a dinner, I had 2 donuts and bagel for breakfast and was already feeling "the sugar blues" before the race even started.

My race plan was simple, ride hard for the workout and stay safe in the sprint. The first two laps I did just that and felt really bad so I tried eating a ton of food. I think it helped.

On the third lap Judd suggested I put in a dig on the cross wind section that was coming up. It took me a little bit to get to the front, but then I went hard and guttered the field just for fun. A minute later a group passed me and yelled, "we have a break." Five of us were working well together for a while and I looked back to see three guys hanging on. I thought it was three guys, plus the entire peloton, so I found it kind of strange that everyone was working so hard. The next time I looked back I noticed that it was just the three guys and I couldn't see anyone else.

I worked hard to hold the break for the last lap and half because that was my best chance at any points. I got 4th in the sprint with the peloton only about 15 seconds back. Eric Losak from VRC-MS Society, who wasn't doing much work, out sprinted me for third. It was pretty lame. Judd got second in the field sprint for 9th.

So I finished way better then I expected and I got a great workout. I also learned that being rested for a race and being ready for a race are two different things. This was not a targeted race for me at all so I wasn't rested, but you still need to be prepared because anything can happen.

Here's the link to the Official Race Results and I stole these photos from Ronald Mariano and Etienne Fontan.
The Break The Break

Monday, March 3, 2008 - Race Reports
Why would I do this crit? Because they signed me up without even asking. Joe's calming words, "Man, don't trip," didn't help much.

The goal for the race was to practice riding crits. You know, getting used to all that bumping and cornering. As is typical, I started in the back and spent the first half trying to get to the front. There I did the standard Paul thing and spent some time on the front chasing stuff down for no real good reason.

The awesome part came with about 7 laps to go where I went off the front solo. When Steve first saw me, he thought I was off the back and yelled in to the radio, "Paul? Are you okay?" I decided not to answer that question and just keep pedaling. The next three laps hurt a lot, I didn't know I could keep my heart rate above 190 for that long. Then I blew up and finished in the back somewhere. It was cool.

There was a crash with a lap and a half to go. Joe didn't go down, but his bike and rear wheel are toast. Judd was up there for the finish and managed a top 15, but he wasn't happy.

We stayed to watch the pro race which featured Chris Horner who was "Free ballin' it" with no teammates. He lapped the field and got second. Phil managed to hang in there but got caught up behind a crash on the last lap.

After the race, we hit up the Marie Calendar's and returned to our Motel 6 suite. The movie this night was "Old School."

"You are beautiful. But no offense, he, he is the king.
You are having pie and coffee with a living legend. "

- The Waiter (Old School)

Here are the Official Race Results and more info on Sunday's road race to come later.

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