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The Paul Mach Blog - March 2011

Living life on the edge... of the road
Photo by Pat Malach

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March 2011

Thursday, March 31, 2011 - Race Reports
It's been a couple long days here at the Redlands' Good Night Inn. Word of advice to the other cyclist staying here, don't use the hot tub. Trust me.

So, Redlands prologue today. Summary, finished 19th at 27 seconds back. I made it painful on myself, but was hoping for a little better result.

However, I'm going to look on the plus side. I have a bit of room to play. Last year I was sitting 8th, and that's the death zone. You're just out of a great results, but they still won't let you do anything. This year, with teammates in 2nd, 4th and 7th, there will be plenty of work on or off the front.

Other than that, it was the start of baseball season today. That's one sport I'm not a fan of. I mean, a sport is lame if it can't be played in the rain. Frank claims it's because the pitchers don't like wet balls, but that excuse is also lame.

As for the contest, it's running through the weekend. Remember you have to "like" the page and enter your name and email to be officially entered. Just don't want anyone to be left out.

Sunday, March 27, 2011 - Race Reports
I think Rob put it best, "Another crit today, at least it's only 90 minutes instead of 3 hours." I admit, I'm probably still jaded from yesterday, but it did seem like more of the same.

Basically we had all the standard crit racing stuff till 4 laps to go. That's when I got caught up in a crash. It goes from like 4 lanes to 1.5 in the first turn and well, everybody wanted in. It wasn't a bad one, I just tipped over and landed on Frank. That's what teammates are for.

It turned out that in total there were 5 Bissell riders involved in that crash. And that's how our race ended.

Free laps had ended so I got the same time as the leaders. I haven't seen results, but I assume I finished up in 7th overall.

You know, I think the problem I have with this race is I love the time trial so much that every year I forget about the other stages. So... I'll probably be back again next year.

Saturday, March 26, 2011 - Race Reports
I've been watching The Deadliest Catch. I like seeing them risk their lives for not enough money. But I just realized that's what I did today, so I've turned it off in disgust.

But let me start at the beginning, the beginning of the San Dimas Stage Race. This is my 5th time doing this race.

Stage 1 was yesterday's hill climb TT. I threw it down, felt good, but since my computer wasn't working I had no idea what my time was. I started like 10th so I waited around for a while not knowing whether to feel happy or sad.

In the end I was happy and sad. I finished 6th in 13:10 which is my second fastest time on the course. It was better than I expected going in, but I got second last year, so that was a step back.

Okay, today was the road race. The course is known to be a crit on steroids extended over 84 miles. Most likely the craziest course of the year.

The highlight was my crash on the climb. It started when a dude came dancing past me for no reason. Then physics happened and his high center of gravity was offset by a branch. This sent his trajectory toward a new stable equilibrium, the one corresponding to the ground. That was right before I hit him, went over the bars and crashed myself.

It's funny that of the almost 1000 times I thought I was going to die today, the only one that was on the climb was a split second before my crash.

I was doing decent with my positioning, but messed it up going into the final climb. That ended up costing me. I finished 20th, 11 seconds down and moved to 7th on GC. Not as bad as I thought.

To end a rough day, my derailed hanger snapped right after the finish line. It was bent in the crash. And that was the end of my riding.

So there you have it, mostly regular bike racing stuff. If you made it this far, I thank you.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 - General
Here's the deal: I've been made aware that Cody Tapley still has more "likes" to his Facebook page than me and Max Jenkins. So I've come up with this contest to restore balance to the universe.

Here it is, "like" my Facebook page, and enter to win a $40 gift certificate to Cyclepath bike shops. If you already "like me," you can just enter.

It's that simple. Declare your undying like for me on Facebook for a chance at 40 bucks to a bike shop that may or may not be close to you.
The proof I have it And so I don't get in trouble: I'm not endorsing Cyclepath or any of their affiliates. I've never even been to one of their shops. I won the gift certificate at a race a couple years ago and have never used it. This is just a ploy to get more Facebook likes, nothing more.

Okay then, like away.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - General
I get excited when news relating to race radio comes out. The comments on those articles are always good for a laugh.

I think my favorite was from a while ago, "What if a couch falls off a truck into the road, you need to warn the riders!!" When was the last time you actually saw a couch in the road? And if that's the best reason you can come up with for race radios, then yes, I would like fries with that.

But ultimately they all revolve around one thing, "The UCI should listen to fans because the fans are the sport." It's true, the fans are the sport, but it's also true that most fans have never used radios in a bike race. Will I get in trouble if I say fans don't know what they're talking about?

To help this issue, I've compiled a list of things I've learn about radio when racing with them in 2009 and without them in 2010. Hopefully they'll help create more educated opinions in the future. So here's some stuff everyone should know.

It takes effort to talk into a radio
We've all been in a race and thought, "My teammate should attack right now, I wish I could tell him." The reality is that by the time you take a hand off the bars, find the button and talk clearly, the moment has passed. That's assuming he actually heard you and didn't just reply, "What's that?"

They're helpful for stuff behind the peloton
My biggest fear is getting a flat, shooting out through the back of the peloton, and have the team car drive right past me. A radio solves that problem.

Also, when going back to the team car, having someone tell you what's happening behind you without having to look, is really nice. I think this is where the safety argument comes in.

Officials have been really good at giving info
We were getting time gaps pretty regularly at NRC and even local races last year. If we didn't get them, it's because they didn't have them, but that's a different issue. I'd imagine that at a World Tour race, with a thousand officials, it won't be a problem.

Word travels fast
At the Sun Tour two years ago, it was going to go from head wind to cross wind in a few miles. We didn't have radios, but somehow we all knew it was going to happen.

Also, if you want to know about the break, just ask, someone will tell you, eventually. But it's unlikely your actions will change now that you have that information.

Reading the race is always important
It doesn't matter what the director tells you, or doesn't. If you can read the situation for yourself, you can respond quicker and have an advantage. Period.

Ultimately there are good reasons for and against race radios. If people would just take a minute to understand the basic points above, we'd see more of those types of comments and less garbage.

My opinion is that riders will adapt to racing without radios, just like we did in the US last year. It won't change what you see on TV. But it will create a lot of avoidable issues, especially behind the peloton and after a crash.

Monday, March 7, 2011 - Race Reports
A new fan First I thought I'd made it when I got on Cycling News. But that turned out to be a random picture. Next I thought I'd made it because I had a Facebook page. But did you know anyone can make those? Plus, I have less "likes" than Cody Tapley. So yeah, fail...

But now, today, I think I've finally made it for reals. Why? Because now I have fans that show up to races. Not e-fans, but fans in real life (FIRL).

Musa must be so jealous because that's his friend in the picture from Cycling News. I'm a bit ashamed I don't remember her name but I did have a nice chat and picture after the race.

As for the Merco Road Race on Sunday, basically it was the same old thing: breakaway, chase, sprint.

Actually, there was a bit of drama. First, there was rain, that was fun. Second, a chunk of asphalt jump out and took down half the peloton, including Adam Switters.

Next, I got yelled at for riding the front, even thought I was only going like 20 mph. Big gaps make me nervous. The gap to the break ballooned to 7.5 minutes.

Then, then we got passed by the masters guys. Yep, the masters guys. The officials stopped us for another 2.5 minutes. That was fine until I realized who was going to have to catch the break. Funny how it wasn't going to be the same guy who was adamant about riding slow earlier.

For the last two laps, 40 miles, we rolled on the front. It's always fun to ride fast and hard, but it did start to hurt after a while. Err, "That's what she said," or "Girls tell me that all the time?" I'll just let you guys decide.

Anyway, then someone from my team won and we all lived happily ever after. The end.

Saturday, March 5, 2011 - Race Reports
It's been another couple of days down here in Merced. And those days have been good, not just the results, but learning to suffer again.

Yesterday's time trial was a fun 12 mile out and back. It was a good trial, just not a good time. Oh snap, I can't believe I've never heard that before.

You know, time trialling is about going hard, but I like bike racing because it's about knowing when to go hard. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to man up because time trials win bike races.
On the front Today's crit downtown featured a new course due to construction. It had a nice 180 to spice things up. For the record, I would have won the race had it been 3 laps shorter. I just wasn't able to hold on after the first 47 laps.

Anyway, since Bissell has the leader's jersey Rob, Jeremy and I rolled the front for the first half. Then we got a little help from Andy. With like 5 laps to go someone yelled, "Okay, now take shorter pulls but go faster." That lasted like 1.5 pulls and I dropped back with 2.5 laps to go.

Riding the front in a crit was a new experience for me. Actually I did it back at Fitchburg in '09, but that was a long time ago. There is definitely an art to it and I learned a lot out there today.

Tomorrow is the big road race, 120 miles, mostly flat. It's an early start and I'm setting the alarm for 6, but I'm not sure if my phone even goes that low.

Friday, March 4, 2011 - Race Reports
It's been a while, but I can assure you this entry is not about new blog features, so fear not and read on.

Last week the team got together in Santa Rosa for team camp. It was pretty standard with pictures, rides and sponsor stuff. It was also good to see my teammates again and get the season rolling.

One highlight was Frank and Ben deciding, after 1+ bottles of wine, to ride 115 miles the next morning. Surprise, surprise, Frank was acting sick the next day and almost backed out.

For me personally, I had a pretty big high when I was told I had too many results for my rider card and needed to remove some. That felt good till
I noticed the 2009 results were also listed under 2010. Crisis averted and ego smashed.
A beautiful course Right now Team BISSELL is at the MERCO Cycling Classic as kind of an extension of team camp. You can read the report at Podium Insight, but for us it was 6 of 11 in the break that then split to 4 of 5. The result is very predicable with those kind of numbers.

The course was beautiful, but the climb was harder than expected. The field would stretch out on the climb and split over the top. The front guys would be going down hill while other guys were still going up, that stuff splits the field every time.

Today the stage race continues with a 12 mile time trial and the BISSELL Cup at stake.

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