27 June 2015

2015-06-27 - Climb to Kaiser: Heat, gear put riders to test

Climb to Kaiser: Heat, gear put riders to test
BY ANGEL MORENO - amoreno@fresnobee.com

  • Fresno’s Amy Cameron overcomes health issues as top women’s finisher in 155-mile Climb to Kaiser
  • Joey Galloway, of Exeter, was the top men’s finisher for second year in a row
  • No major injuries or accidents reported in Saturday’s 39th annual Climb to Kaiser
There is nothing easy about the Climb to Kaiser.

The distance: 155 miles.
The climb: 15,000-plus feet from Clovis to Kaiser Pass and then back.
The weather: Triple digit temperatures and high humidity.

But the challenge in completing what is arguably one of the toughest endurance rides in the nation is as much mental as it is physical when it comes to riders surviving aches, pains and the occasional flat tire to make it to the finish.

Just ask Amy Cameron, the first woman to finish Saturday after 9 hours, 38 minutes, 9 seconds in the saddle.  In her fourth Climb to Kaiser, the 35-year-old marketing manager at Wine.com finally crossed the line in front.

“I told myself I’d do it until I won it. Then never again,” said Cameron, who is from Fresno but now works in Oakland.

After a runner-up finish in 2012, Cameron fell ill. She was diagnosed with celiac disease and also became “super anemic,” she said.

As the health problems grew, her sponsors vanished.

Still, Cameron didn’t give up. She trained for two years, returned to health, picked up Bay Area sponsor Mike’s Bikes and finally can check her top finish off her bucket list.

“I’ve had some really good luck,” she said. “It’s a blessing to be back to health.”

Cameron’s teammate and friend Jennie Phillips (10:29:14) was the second woman to finish the full ride.
288 - Number of riders who started the Climb to Kaiser, with more than 60% from out of the area.
Joey Galloway, 36, of Exeter was the men’s top finisher for the second year in a row, crossing in 8:55, nearly 20 minutes slower than last year’s time because of a pinched flat on his way down Tamarack Ridge. It was the third top finish in eight rides for Galloway, who is sponsored by Dayka-Hackett.
The one downfall that all parties agreed on was the heat.

“It was stupid hot,” as Cameron put it.

“The humidity was awful,” Galloway said. “It saps all your energy and you can’t push hard.”

Temperatures were in the mid-90s near Shaver Lake and eclipsed the century mark as riders descended into Prather.

To ensure all riders stayed hydrated, there were nine rest stops, each equipped with cold water, Gatorade, fruit and other snacks and towels soaked in buckets of ice. Numerous support vehicles also covered the route.

Some riders took their time to cool down, stretch and reapply sunblock at rest stops, while others plowed through before the heat got worse.
"IT WAS STUPID HOT." - Amy Cameron, of Oakland and formerly Fresno, who endured temperatures that hit triple digits to be the first woman to complete the Climb to Kaiser Saturday
“It’s a hot ride this year,” race volunteer Dennis Hall said. “This ride takes a lot of endurance and if you’re not ready, it can easily take its toll on you.”

This year, 288 riders started, with more than 60% from out of the area.

Madera’s Benjamin Madrigal (3:57:21) was the top men’s finisher in the 71-mile Millerton Metric. Leading the women’s field were Laura Wright of Modesto (4:37:01) and Clovis’ Jaime Schaffer (4:46:30).

Top finishers for the 95-mile Tollhouse Century were Christopher Buock (6:09:06), Mike Brown (6:09:10) and Michelle Brown (6:11:27), all of Fresno.

No major injuries or accidents were reported, though two motorists were reported to California Highway Patrol for harassing cyclists and one was cited, race director Jennifer Collins said.

For full results, search Climb to Kaiser at runsignup.com.

Angel Moreno: 559-441-6401, @anhelllll
Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/sports/outdoors/article25692334.html

02 May 2015

May 2, 2015 - Fresno Cycling Club's Kirch Flat Century

I worked the Fresno Cycling Club's Kirch Flat Century this year after a one-year hiatus.  I missed it last year to attend my Aunt's 100th birthday party.  I last worked this ride in 2013 and a short write-up can be found HERE.

There were some changes for 2015, including some additional routes.  This ride is designed by the Fresno Cycling Club as an all-ages, all-abilities, membership drive ride.  As such, they try to have a route for everyone, including a flat 15 mile route, an all flat half metric, flat and hilly metric routes, and flat and hilly full century routes.

While this many options is great for the cyclists to find that right ride for them, it can turn into a logistical nightmare for the SAG as riders are literally going in six different directions.  Since most of the riders are local, and they're on local roads that they know, it's not uncommon for them to make their own revisions to the routes during the day depending on how they're feeling.  But, at the end of the day, all of the riders make it to the end for a barbeque with friends.

This year, the weather was great and everyone made it back with virtually no problems to speak of.

Kevin's Honda ST1300 MotoSAG in an orange grove west of Orange Cove, CA.
Part of the Century route along Adams Avenue at Wakefield Avenue, west of Orange Cove, CA.  View east.
Part of the Century route along Adams Avenue at Wakefield Avenue, west of Orange Cove, CA.  View west.
The last of the Century riders turn onto Park Avenue from Hills Valley Road (State Route 63) headed into Orange Cove, CA.  Easily the worst stretch of road on the entire course.  View east.
The last of the Century riders turn onto Park Avenue from Hills Valley Road (State Route 63) headed into Orange Cove, CA.  View east.
Fresno Cycling Club President Dennis Ball (sporting the full Fresno Cycling Club kit) escorts the last riders around the Century course.

01 May 2015

When to call the SAG wagon

Cycling: When to call the SAG wagon
By John Cutter - Orlando Sentinel

Somewhere near mile 85 on Sunday, I realized I was not going to finish the Tour de Forts, one of my favorite cycling events.

It was only 15 miles to the finish, but I was hot and tired. More importantly, I didn't feel safe on a busy two-lane road with no bike lane and construction ahead. It was the tightest part of the route, the vast majority of which was on extremely bike-friendly roads.

After the fifth car whizzed around me, as I struggled to ride more than 12 mph into the wind, I pulled safely onto the grassy shoulder.

It was time for the SAG wagon, which picked me up and took me to the finish. 

It's not how any cyclist wants to finish a long ride, but sometimes it is the smartest move.  It is far better to live to ride another day than let physical and mental fatigue cause you to injure yourself or another rider.

But almost every instinct in a cyclist fights against quiting, especially that close to the end of a Century.  

My "spidey" sense told me to stop on that road in St. Johns County. I had felt that way for a couple of hours, after we turned into a strong wind around mile 45 in St. Augustine and my speed dropped quickly from 20-plus mph to 13 or so. 

I ignored that little voice. Part of the appeal of riding is pushing yourself hard, yelling "shut up legs" while you imagine that post-race meal and drink. 

I see no shame in grabbing that ride from the volunteer, who sweetly even offered to drop me off close to the finish so I could ride in. Since this was not a timed race, she wasn't violating any rules, simply trying to be save me if I felt embarrassed. 

I didn't. Although I didn't like making the decision, I am at peace with it. 

I encourage cyclists to know when they have passed the limits of safe riding. Ask yourself, are you having trouble keeping your bike straight in your lane? Are you cramping? Are you having trouble thinking clearly? Do you feel safe?

As I put my bike away at my car, I saw another cyclist pouring hydrogen peroxide on nasty road rash on his legs and arm. Apparently someone stopped unexpectedly in front of him, sending him to the ground.

I don't know if the person who stopped was past his or her limit, but I felt even better about my decision. I could have hurt myself or someone else if I hadn't stopped for the SAG wagon.

11 April 2015

April 11, 2015 - FCC's Big Hat Century

Fresno Cycling Club's Big Hat Century was this past week.  The riders couldn't have ordered a better weather.

This year's ride changed the route a bit.  From Clovis, to Friant, to O'Neals, up Walker Grade to Northfork & around Bass Lake was unchanged.  The difference was the return trip through Auberry, meaning a climb over Powerhouse Grade.  A challenge for many riders.

All told though, by the end of the day, all of the riders made it, with very few mechanical problems to report, and only one spill.  From a SAG standpoint, any ride where we're not needed is a good day.

The beginning of the day started out great with many riders mingling and anticipating the day to come.

Riders line up at the start of the day.

The obligatory Bike Lane photo.  This was taken just south of the town of Friant (looking north to Friant).

Spring Valley School rest stop, O'Neals, Ca.  The Metric Century riders turned around here.  The 85 mile and 100 mile riders continued on to Northfork.

23 March 2015

March 21, 2015 - The OTF Omnium Ventana Hills Circuit Race

I worked the Ventana Hills Circuit Race again this year.  It was a great day for racing. Sunny.  Temps between 60° & 80°, and a light breeze.  There weren't many racers this year, but those who were there, had a good day.

The following video was taken during the Circuit Race.

For more information about the Omnium, you can check out my post from last year, or check out the Off The Front Omnium website at http://otfrace.com/.