Velo Veneto - Ciclismo Italiano !

Stories from the Velo Veneto bike racing camp in Castelcucco, Italy

Location: San Francisco, California, United States

I'm a 50 year old kid who loves to race bikes. I operate a bike racing camp in Northern Italy. When not in Italy I have the good fortune of living in one of the best places to ride, the Northern California Wine Country.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

We're still here !

It's been three weeks since I've updated, a busy three weeks. I started my new caddie job at Mayacama on March 9. I'm loving every minute of it. I had always said I would get back in to golf some day, which was my sport before I started cycling in 1995. I'll have to smooth things out schedule wise so I can get out on the bike at least three days a week, and we've continued to have rainy weather, so that's been tough.

At the races, Cindy has been doing well (I'm working weekends so no racing for me right now). The week after Merced there were two National Calendar races in Fresno. She seemed to have either some really bad allergies, or a head cold as the week progressed heading into the races. She almost didn't get in the car to drive down the morning of the race, but she went and raced hard. There are some great pictures of the races here.

Two weeks ago she drove down to LA with her Dewar's teammates for the San Dimas Stage Race.
This was one of the spring races she was focusing on. The key to this race is the first stage uphill time trial. Unfortunately Cindy dropped her chain after about one kilometer of the race when she shifted from the big ring to the small ring. The chain jammed and she had to get off the bike and take time to fix it. She figured she probably lost close to 1 minute with that whole mess, pretty much putting her out of contention for a top 20 on GC. But she raced really hard and agressive in the road race and crit and earned the respect of the top pros.

And then this past Saturday, the Paris Roubaix of Nor Cal was held...Copperopolis. This is a 100k race over some of the worst pavement you'll see. The scenery is wonderful as you can see here in the photos by Cindy finished 4th in the women's race as admitted that it was one of the hardest races she's done in a long time. You're fortunate to get through that race with your bike intact...but your body, most the arms and back will be sore for a couple of days afterwards.

Here is Cindy's own report...Copperopolis was very tough. Struggled every time up the hill then wasn't where I need to be on the chuck holed decent (trying to avoid the on coming car on a turn) and two girls got away with multiple back ups in the small group I was in. I made some strong attempts to bridge and only had others sitting on my wheel. I asked the singles in the group if they wanted to catch the two up the road ... one says .... "I don't know." dh, I smiled and said, come on, lets race! That didn't work either. There were only 6 of us the last time up the hill and one girl lite it up good on the climb stretching us like a rubber band. I got gapped near the top and worked like a crazy girl to get back on. Once back with group, yup, she was still up the road. To add yet one more element to this fun day, there was brutal wind in the valley. We're now 5 and coming down the decent to the finish I decided to take first position and peddled it as much as possible, it was enough speed (or scare tactic) and close enough to the finish that two of the girls got dropped on the decent so there were three of us sprinting for 4th. I lead it from a 1 k out and punched it hard at about 250 meters to take 4th. Let me tell you that this is a very difficult 4th place. I am so sore. But the BIKE - IT WAS GREAT! The road surface was far worse then last year due to rain. Carnage was left all over the road with flats, broken wheels etc. Yeah, I think I'd go back again...Cheers, Cindy

So this week Cindy is off for some training and resting at home (she's also working 24 hrs a week at the Sonoma Country 4H offices).

Her next two races will be as a guest rider with Victory Brewing...the Morgon Hill Gran Prix and the Sea Otter Classic.

For me...I'm probably going to be working my first "Pro" tour event...a Canadian Tour event in Stockton that I think will be shown on TV on the Golf Channel the week of April 14-17.

Monday, March 07, 2005

McLane Pacific Classic

The McLane Pacific Classic in Merced, California is the first big race on the US National Calendar. All the top Pro men's and women's teams are there and for the Masters and Category riders it is also a important event with big fields. You can check out the coverage on and also some good pictures of Cindy's teammates Gavin Chilcott and Laura Charameda. The photos were taken by Dewars team supporter photography.

Cindy had a decent weekend. She said she didn't feel sharp and focused in the crit but did win a prime and finished 16th earning us enough money for a nice dinner! In the road race she was feeling much more agressive, getting in breakaways and always riding in the front of the race where the action was. She finished 15th in the road race.

Speaking of riding in the front, I need to vent about the way too many people "raced" in the Masters 45+ road race this weekend. First off let me say that my form and fitness is behind because I've started a new job! I'm a caddy at the Mayacama Golf Club four days a week, except the months we're in Italy running Velo Veneto. So I only get to train on the bike a few days a week.

So anyway, I figured I'd be way behind in fitness for the McLane road race and I'd be suffering just hanging on in the field. Not!!! I just can't do that anymore. I've gotten so used to the Italian style of racing....Attack, Attack, Attack ! It's like it's almost in my genes now because over there you either attack or die. There is no sitting in. Here in America most of our Masters races have a fairly small number of riders who dominate things. We all know who they are and when they attack you go if you can, but most often there aren't enough strong guys willing to chase, so they go away to yet another victory. If they can't get away, they are most often some of the best finishers/sprinters too, so either way they can win. It seems that was the tactic they were content with this weekend. If there had been an award for "Most Agressive" rider, I would've won it. I was in a number of breakaways, including one with Laura Charameda that lasted almost 15k's. Unfortunately two of us against 85 other riders just wasn't going to work. How nice would it have been for us to stay away and have me finish 2nd to Laura...wouldn't that have made the rest of the peloton proud, have a 41 yr old women, with her "secret" teammate in the break, school the rest of them for the victory.

Of course attacking just for the sake of attacking can be foolhardy, but you sure get a better workout in than being a wuss like the rest of the lemmings and just sitting in the draft, then sprinting at the end. I'd rather finish 50th but having "made" the race, than 5th in a sprint and feeling like I hadn't raced. So Laura and I were caught with about 20k's to go, but there were no counter attacks, so after a few kilometers of cruising with the field I attacked again solo. This too was brought back with about 10ks to go. Now it was time to rest and plan one final assault. I had tried to gauge the total distance (78k's I thought) of the race on my cycle computer, but I guess I mis-calculated (There weren't any signs marking distance to the finish as per usual). I thought we had about 2k's to the finish and I was preparing to move in to position for a final attack when all of a sudden we were going over the last roller and there was the finish line. Being way out of position all I could do was watch the front of the group, led by that hard ass Laura sprint away. She ended up 7th. (She also finished 8th in the Pro Women's crit the day before).

The bottom line was that we had ALOT of fun this weekend. We raced hard and weren't afraid to "Have a go". In my opinion, that's the only way to race.

I don't know when I'll get to race again as I've chosen to work Saturdays and Sundays at the golf course. But there will be plenty to talk about as we share Cindy's stories from the races.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Another W

Cindy did it again. In her second race of the season, she was victorious at the Snelling Road Race on Feb. 26th. The women did five laps of a 20k circuit that features a few rollers, some real bad pavement for about 2k's and usually a bit of breeze. Cindy got in a few breaks, but nothing was staying away. Coming in to the finish it was grouppo compato and around the corner with 500m to go she was 4th wheel. The group hesitated just a bit and she made her move, going clear and winning on the slight uphill sprint to the finish by a few bike lengths !!!

I wasn't there as I hadn't pre-registered and they capped the Masters 45+ field at only 50 entrants.

The next day was the Merced Criterium and Cindy was very agressive attacking and getting away in breaks. Just as one of her breaks was caught, another move went and of course that was the one that stuck. The three riders stayed away to the finish and Cindy ended up 2nd in the field sprint good for 5th place on the day.

This weekend the US National Calendar season starts back in Merced again for the McLane Pacific Classic .