Race Line

Posted July 6, 2016 By David Huntsman

When I first saw the USA Cycling National Road Championships Criterium course five days before race day last week in Louisville, Kentucky, I was intimidated by the corners. I thought that I should practice one corner, because there were corners within the corner and multiple lines through it. The corner was a set of left turns going around the wrong (left) side of a roundabout, and if you took the correct line, you could carve a nice arc while pedaling. My dad had us go down the road and take the corner the way he wanted us to. We did it a couple of times until we got it perfect. What I discovered was that if I found that line, I could go much faster than I had thought was possible.

Here is a video of us practicing the race line on the corner:

When we started the actual race, it was sunny but it had rained all morning and the road was still wet in places. I felt pretty good about the race because I got called to the line and got a great start in the second row. The corner that I was practicing was the second corner out of four. The first lap of the race, I saw a kid in front of me almost hit a hay bale. That scared me for the other corners and I didn’t go as fast as I might have. So I lost my good position. I heard the bell lap and I thought that I was stuck in the middle of the pack, and out of contention. But when I saw the corner that I had been practicing, I thought it was all or none, and I made a break through the peloton being aggressive and using all the room I had in order to get my bike through and take the race line that I had been practicing. I moved up five or ten spaces and ended up in a great position for the upcoming sprint.

Here is a video of the race going through the corner I practiced:

Unfortunately I followed a big rider for the draft into the second to last corner, we got squeezed, and I was not in contention for the sprint. But, because of my race line through the tricky corner, I finished higher than I would have otherwise.

Here is a video of the bell lap:

And a video of the sprint:

-Eddy Huntsman

PS – you can learn skills like taking the race line at my club’s Beginning Racer Program in Redlands starting 7:30 am this Sunday, July 10 and also July 17, 31 and August 7. Click the link below for the flyer:

GS Andiamo Beginning Racer Program Flyer

 

     

Dangerous Bike Riding – The Bigger Picture

Posted December 28, 2015 By David Huntsman

I cut my bike racing teeth on Southern California criteriums and road races as a kid in the early seventies, and also participated in a Sunday club ride known as the “La Grange Ride” after the host cycling club Velo Club La Grange Westwood. It is now known as the “Nichols Ride”.

That ride started at La Grange Restaurant on Westwood Boulevard and was known for a long climb up Nichols Canyon, a few miles of knee-busting rollers along Mulholland Drive, a regroup at the 405 Freeway and a sprint on Sepulveda Boulevard before you rolled back to the restaurant to brag about your performance.

Over the decades, sometimes fit for racing and sometimes fit for breakfast, I’ve participated in a few hundred editions of the La Grange Ride. I know the climbs and turns by heart. Seriously, I know the pavement by heart.

It was always fun, if you approached the ride sensibly. Most did, when the club was made up mostly of riders out for a spin and some conversation. But many treated the ride like a race and pretended they were on a closed course: they crossed the center line on Nichols Canyon or ran the red light at Coldwater Canyon and Mulholland Drive. I’m proud of mostly riding it like a social ride but acknowledge treating it like a race from time to time.

Like the riders in this article and video, doing what would get them disqualified or seriously injured even if it was a race.

December 27, 2015 Nichols Shenanigans from Robert Efthimos on Vimeo.

I’ve got mixed feelings about the article and the analysis of the video. While I understand the intersection of Mulholland Drive and Coldwater Canyon very well, and have surely run that red left arrow, I have a “pot-meet-kettle” reaction to the criticism of only the most egregious behavior (the rider who passes an oncoming car to the left). We can all do better than this. Every rider in that video crosses the line. No matter how confident they are of their safety, there’s no way I’m ever telling a junior rider that any of them is a safe wheel to follow.

Nor would I expect any to say I was always a safe wheel to follow back in my early racing days.

But something happened for me, in the latter part of my racing days: I definitely stopped riding the La Grange Ride like a race.

It wasn’t just because of the danger of pretending it was safe to race bicycles on open Los Angeles roads. I’d like to pretend I was that thoughtful; it just wasn’t the case.

The real reason was, it was poor training.

What?!  But, the La Grange Ride is one of the hardest rides in Southern California…

Yeah, well, guess what. It’s still not good training. I learned this from better riders, guys like Kevin Byers or Max Sciandri, European bike racers who got the value of a nice social ride with a competitive aspect, but who had trained with UK and Italian national teams before they came to California and knew better ways to spend Sundays.

These guys weren’t just fast on a ride like the La Grange Ride, they also won bike races. Real bike races.

Kevin explained that you don’t race your bike through inner-city neighborhoods and run red lights. Max explained that “once up a hill and off for a coffee” was just not how it’s done. In different ways they introduced me to real training. For example, a light-tempo but safe ride up Pacific Coast Highway out past Malibu and, then, Latigo repeats. Yes, Latigo repeats. Of course, I was 22.

The La Grange Ride then became a warmup, where Tim Bengston and I would ride it for fun, fast but safe, and then turn right on Sepulveda and head toward Topanga Canyon to intercept Mulholland Highway and some real training in the long climbs of the Santa Monica Mountains.

I’m happy that this is what GS Andiamo is teaching young bike racers. On top of a foundation of traffic safety training, we purposefully do not participate in what amounts to unsanctioned free-for-all racing on city streets, hoping for the best and tempting fate as you race among cars. And even where there are no cars, we proceed respectfully. No illegally fast riding on Back Bay Drive or river trails, weaving in and out of families on beach cruisers. We ride safely to a good safe training location, somewhere with no traffic conflicts and safe pavement, and only there do we ride hard and fast. For example, my son and I ride a safe 20 mile loop out the Back Bay and the San Diego Creek trail and, at the end, we do loops on Spyglass Hill with intense sprints at the top of each loop.

That’s how you train for bike racing and develop safe wheels to follow.

 

     

GS Andiamo Named Best New Cycling Club By USA Cycling

Posted December 16, 2015 By David Huntsman

In October we told you about a cycling club, a Southern California social and racing club, that was doing something special by building structured on-road traffic safety training in to its members’ skill-set. That club was GS Andiamo, and it successfully hosted a Smart Cycling class for a dozen junior (plus a few adult) cyclists in November.

Well, GS Andiamo’s investment in Smart Cycling just paid dividends in an unexpected way. GS Andiamo (the Newport Beach branch goes by West Side Wheelmen) is a member of USA Cycling, which is the peak body for competitive bicycle racing in the United States. USA Cycling annually recognizes the Best New Club of the Year and this year that honor went to GS Andiamo. Among other reasons, USA Cycling listed the Smart Cycling program as a reason for the award.

Best New Club – GS Andiamo
GS Andiamo is a club on a mission. For the 2015 season, their first year as a fully recognized USA Cycling club, they recruited almost 100 juniors and adults into the club. By hosting group rides for both juniors and the parents, the club goes beyond a typical family ride and opens an opportunity for adults and juniors to learn cycling competencies and share experiences together. This includes going through the Smart Cycling program offered by the League of American Bicyclists. By involving the parents in the process, it creates a new dynamic for the junior program and elevated GS Andiamo to best new club.

We are very excited that the “meeting of minds” of the bicycle racing and traffic safety worlds has been recognized on its merits so soon. As the father of a West Side Wheelmen racer and the director of that program, I am very pleased. I hope other USA Cycling clubs and teams will be inspired to get formal, on-road traffic awareness training into their programs.

I also hope it inspires you and your family to come out and ride with us.

 

     

So, Want to Race Bikes?

Posted November 20, 2015 By David Huntsman

November 20, 2015

File this under “Real Good Things Happening for Southern California Junior Bike Racing”

For a youngster, road bicycle racing is not an easy sport to take up. There are a few cycling clubs in Southern California with “Junior” (18 and under) programs, but the intake of beginners for most is more or less “come ride your bike with us”. That’s not optimum. Mere participation in group rides, where habits – some good, some bad – are picked up and reinforced, can actually be a negative for bike racing skill development and safety. Lots of kids, even relatively fit ones, show up for their first race and are completely overwhelmed. Most of them never come back.

Some kids are lucky; they have an experienced friend or parent who can help them understand – before the first race – what to expect there and how to prepare for it. And how to then train accordingly.

But for those who weren’t born into the sport, in Southern California a new cyclist can now take guided, simulated road bike racing preparation classes over five weekend days beginning this November 28 in Redlands. It is called the Beginning Racer Program. The Beginning Racer Program is a 5-week series of clinics lead by professional coaches Sean and Rachael Wilson, and is designed to help new racers get the essential skills they need to become comfortable competing in bike racing.

These classes are a few hours a day over five days, but the experience will be a huge head-start for absolute beginners and an eye-opener for even experienced juniors who think they have learned enough. It is not mandatory to attend or sign up for all but, of course, the more the better because each day is a focus on a different racing skill set:

November 28th, 2015 – Saturday – Basic Pack Skills

December 13th, 2015 – Sunday – Cornering

January 2nd, 2016 – Saturday – Pack Awareness

January 3rd, 2016 – Sunday – Sprinting Basics

January 9th, 2016 – Saturday – Bringing it all Together

Each day, kids 12 and under will attend from 9:30 – 12:00. Kids 13 and up will start at 1pm. The program will be held at the Redlands Sports Complex, 1790 N. Dearborn Street, Redlands, CA 92374.

Here’s a link to the flyer. I highly recommend any potential road bike racer sign up for these courses. Space is limited.

The Beginning Racer Program is also a fundraiser for USAC cycling club GS Andiamo, which recently promoted a successful Smart Cycling safety class for its young cyclists and their parents in Redlands (also a pioneering effort for racing cyclists in Southern California). GS Andiamo’s beach cities chapter in Newport Beach is West Side Wheelmen.

Beginning Racer Program 2015-16

 

     

Cycling Worlds Merging – Bike Racers Will Learn Smart Cycling

Posted October 26, 2015 By David Huntsman

Last night some of the leaders of Southern California youth bike racing met at the Newport Coast Community Center in Newport Beach for an informal dinner and discussion of what is needed to advance bike racing for kids.

Making the sport of bicycle racing all that it can be is important to me as a former junior and elite bike racer now the parent of a junior bike racer. I want my child to be involved with a top-level organization. More important, though, is my son’s safety on the road. Every parent of a bike racer I speak to shares the same concern for their child riding their bicycle on the road, at the mercy of thoughtless motorists. It is a major limiting factor in the growth of the sport.

Let's get formal, on-road traffic awareness training in to the DNA of competitive cycling.

Let’s get formal, on-road traffic awareness training in to the DNA of competitive cycling.

Generally, the bike racing community has nothing to offer kids and their parents in the way of strategies to make the road safe.

I learned how to ride in the road properly, how to be assertive and visible, how to take the lane and how to know when to get off the road altogether and wait for safer conditions. I learned this from the adults in the cycling club I was a member of when I started racing in 1972. I can teach that dual skill set to my son, but I can’t teach everybody, and I seem to part of a rare breed of people who are ex-racers willing to mentor both racing AND intelligent, safe road use. In last night’s meeting it was sadly acknowledged that older mentors, like the people who taught me how to race bikes AND ride safely on the road in the 1970’s, are not available anymore as they are now racing themselves and don’t have time for the kids. And, a lot of adult leadership in youth cycling in Southern California did not race bikes, as kids or adults, and do not practice smart cycling themselves. The extent of communal bike racer safety advice in Southern California now is:

Put on a helmet and stay to the right

none of which is really helpful and some of which is just plain wrong in the context of motorists and bicycle riders sharing the same space.

This is why I am very happy to announce that the subject of on-road traffic awareness training for bike racers  — classes like Smart Cycling and CyclingSavvy — came up than once at last night’s meeting. I am hoping it – on-road traffic awareness training for bike racers – will become part of the DNA of competitive cyclist education. It must, frankly, if the sport is to grow in the United States. Scared, uneducated athletes are not just in danger — they do not enthusiastically help grow their sport.

We are doing our part. My son’s new social and competitive cycling club is West Side Wheelmen. West Side Wheelmen is the beach cities (Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach and their surrounds) branch of GS Andiamo. GS Andiamo is a Redlands-based USA Cycling club managed by Sean Wilson (pictured above, who organized last night’s 4+ hour meeting). GS Andiamo is hosting a League of American Bicyclists Smart Cycling class November 7 in Redlands, in conjunction with League Cycling Instructor Robert Nieuber and Mark Friis of the Inland Empire Bicycle Alliance. Young bike racers and their parents will learn how to anticipate and manage vehicular traffic on the road, and that there’s much more to protecting themselves than simply, “Wear a helmet and stay to the right.”

I am hoping this pioneer program will inspire other Southern California and then all USA cycling clubs to do the same. If you are a cycling coach or cycling club leader, you need to follow suit.

Onward and upward with confident, educated bike racers who know how to ride on the road.

 

     

J.O.S.T. Grand Opening Ride

Posted January 6, 2015 By Frank Peters

Back in October I took myself on a pre-grand opening ride

Pre-grand opening hazard

Wanna ride to the Jeffrey Open Space Trail Grand Opening?

It’s this Saturday, Jan 10th at 10am.

Meet at the Newport Beach Civic Center for an 8am departure.

We’ll ride mostly off-road, that’s why we’re celebrating the J.O.S.T. – it completes an almost 30-mile off-road loop.

Our route to the ribbon-cutting in Cypress Community Park will take us through Shady Cyn. On the way back we’ll complete the loop along Hicks Cyn Trail, Peters Cyn Trail and the San Diego Creek Trail.

Come experience this beautiful new trail.

 
 


 

Quail Hill views

Quail Hill views

     

Meeting The Neighbors

Posted December 20, 2014 By Frank Peters

Do you have neighbors like these, too?

The ones you seemingly have nothing in common with, but then how would you know – all you ever do is nod “Hello” as you pass in the parking lot.

I did.

Jim and Denise live directly next door, you can’t get much closer as neighbors, proximity-wise that is, but we seldom had more to say than a comment about a pretty sunset.

Until this past Thursday.

I was standing in their driveway looking up at my house, which has been scaffolded for a week as we repaint. It’s coming along nicely and it’s fun to observe the process. That’s when Denise backed out of her garage with her new bike.

“Hey, nice Pedego!” Everything changed in an instant, “I’ve got 3 Pedegoes in the garage!” She was impressed, surprised.

Yes, she knew my son worked in the nearby store, but she bought her’s in Irvine near work. She’s a teeny bit famous, as she’s the first owner of the new Pedego Boomerang electric bike. I told her I had seen the Facebook post featuring her, but with a helmet and glasses I didn’t recognize her.

The Boomerang has a low step-through that a lot of us are gonna like.

The Boomerang has a low step-thru that a lot of us are gonna like.

In just a few minutes we’ve arranged a double-date — Jim’s suggesting bike-to-lunch on the peninsula.

I can tell everyone’s excited – who can’t use a bike buddy right next door?

IMG_7151a

 

     

Pre-Turkey Ride

Posted November 26, 2014 By Frank Peters
First to arrive

Me on my Pedego are the first to arrive

We had a gorgeous day for this annual bike ride. Our group of 5 more than made up for our small size with friendly chats along the route.

As I often do, we stop at Irvine Terrace Park to practice safe braking. That’s when I discover Fabricia’s junker bike (she is visiting from Michigan and just bought the bike for a week’s worth of riding) didn’t have a rear brake. This causes me a little concern as the next leg of our journey is straight downhill. Not to worry, she’s had just enough time on the bike to know how to compensate. Off we went heading for Balboa Island.

After making a point of telling everyone to bring money, guess who doesn’t?

I always stash a large bill in my bike bag just for such occasions, but the Balboa Is ferry operator didn’t want to take it, so Michael Glenn treated for my ferry fare. Money problems on a fun bike ride? Not really — but I did have exact change for the return ferry.

Christian's bike

Christian’s Detroit-built Shinola

On the ferry

On the ferry: Christian, Frank, Michael and Marco

I’ve biked to the Wedge many times, but seldom do I lock up the bike and walk to the water. We did today.

The Wedge didn’t look like the mighty monster this morning — it was flat, calm and inviting. This is home turf for Michael Glenn, so he contributed great tidbits and stories along our peninsula route.

at the Wedge

Christian, Fabricia, Marco and Michael at the Wedge

Lunch at Sessions

Lunch at Sessions, 29th and Newport Blvd.

When someone else is entertaining the group I can take a break and enjoy the ride, too. I have to admit that when I took everyone for an early lunch and discovered Michael hadn’t been to Sessions, I felt like I was showing everyone a good time.

Back to money issues… Christian only has 2 dollars for lunch, so I am happy to treat. He gives me one and the change for 2 sandwiches gives me enough for the return ferry fare. The money shortages added to the serendipity and lunch tasted better for the both of us.

The ride is starting to take on a rolling party flavor – we linger for awhile, sharing stories before it’s time to push off.

The group starts to thin as we head back – first Christian then Michael. “Who’s gonna drop out next?” I say wondering if my Michigan companions know their way back, but I’m just kidding. The smaller threesome allows even more intimate conversations as we pile onto the ferry for the trip back…

A Classic route from the Civic Center to the Balboa Is ferry and the Wedge

A classic route from the Civic Center to the Balboa Island ferry and the Wedge

 

     

Pre-Thanksgiving Ride, UPDATED

Posted November 20, 2014 By Frank Peters
Newport Beach has great riding

The Newport Beach Pavilion from Balboa Island

Meet at the Civic Center at 10am Wed Nov 26th for a fun, sociable bike ride.

Our route:
We’ll ride to Balboa Island, take the ferry to the peninsula, visit the Wedge and head to the Newport Pier. A bike riding buddy from Long Beach took me to lunch at a new deli, Sessions Sandwiches, at 28th and Newport Blvd – a hole-in-the-wall with great food. Alternatives abound.

The weather will be sublime — your east-coast friends will be jealous.

Bring $2.50 ferry fare and lunch money.

 

     

Let’s Make It Safe For Kids

Posted November 8, 2014 By David Huntsman

There’s a lot of potential in that wide sidewalk…

Nobody is ever going to let their kids ride bikes to Newport Coast Elementary School in the street, even if there are bike lanes, because San Joaquin Hills Rd has a 55MPH speed limit and, believe me, drivers don’t even adhere to that.

But there’s a very wide sidewalk (by US standards). Why not stripe it with a bike lane so kids can use it to get to school, the park and the shops at three corners of the intersection on Newport Coast Dr and San Joaquin Hills Rd?

That way dog walkers and joggers won’t be spooked when backpack-laden kids zip past on bikes on their way to class every morning.