Running as fast as I can since '93
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  • New to 2018 — Bike Racing

    Posted on January 18th, 2018

    For a variety of reasons – namely time and curiosity – I have decided to give bike racing a go this year. Triathlon is a great sport and I’d love to have a calendar full of them, but it’s just not realistic at this point in my life (9 month old baby!). In fact, towards the end of last year I had pretty much resigned the idea of doing any racing of any sort in 2018, but then I won the KOM challenge at Phil’s Fondo, surprised myself week in and week out on the Simi Ride, and set a couple KOM’s on former Amgen Tour of California segments (Aliso Canyon from Stage 7 of the 2014 tour and Norwegian Grade from Stage 8 of 2011), which all get me thinking… maybe I can do some bike racing?!

    Of the three sports that make up a triathlon, there is no doubt that cycling takes up the most time. So why not stick to swimming or running you ask? I generally work a “4-40” work week, which means 10 hour days Monday through Thursday and Friday off. I have very little time for any training during the work week, and with my background, I can’t skip four days of swimming in a row and expect to build any form. Running is similar, in that it rewards consistency in training. With my running background, I know I won’t be setting any new PR’s without a serious focus on consistent, high mileage run training. With cycling, however, I can pack in the hours as a typical weekend warrior and, it appears thus far, with pretty good results. And of the three sports, you can have the most fun as a “pretty good” cyclist, vs. being a pretty good swimmer or pretty good runner.

    Cat 5 Hero

    For those of you that aren’t familiar with the USA Cycling system, it is broken into categories: beginning with “Cat” 5 through 1 (and then technically there are pro categories beyond that). Each race is divided by categories (though they often combine two or three categories for smaller events), so you only compete with cyclists that are, in theory, at a similar level to you – everyone can have a competitive experience, from novice to expert. Everyone starts out as a 5, regardless of their background. In order to upgrade from 4 to 3, 3 to 2 and 2 to 1, you have to accumulate points by finishing well at races. To upgrade from 5 to 4, however, you have to complete TEN races. Ten! It doesn’t matter how well you place, so long as you do the ten races.

    On Sunday I competed in my fifth race as a cat 5 (I did two races on a whim in 2016 and two more in 2017) at the Ontario “Ice Breaker” Criterium. Cat 5 crits are infamous for crashes, as you might imagine with lots of inexperienced riders taking approximately 100 turns together. I kept near the front, until the last 5 laps where I broke away and rode to the finish solo.

    360 W for 9 minutes did the trick

    I honestly feel I don’t really belong in cat 5 (some of peers feel the same way, apparently — see below) and I’m anxious to upgrade soon. This Sunday I will be at the Dominguez Hills CBR to get some more experience and move one step closer to cat 4.

    Haters gonna hate

    Team Simple Green

    At one of Neil Shirley’s “4 Days to Fitness” rides around New Year’s, I met Jason Francia who rides for Team Simple Green. I told him I was interested in doing more racing and he said I should look into joining Team Simple Green. I have only been a member for a few days now, so perhaps I will have more to share on the team dynamic in the near future, but I am excited to have some mentors in cycling and to have a team to be accountable to again. I will be rocking the bright green at the race this weekend!

    It’s still a bit too soon to say what I am hoping to achieve in my cycling racing. For now I’m just happy to be racing and training with a bit more purpose again.

  • Phil’s Fondo

    Posted on October 20th, 2017

    This past weekend I hopped into Phil Gaimon’s “Cookie Fondo.” For those of you who aren’t up to date on Phil Gaimon, he’s a recently retired professional cyclist that loves cookies. He’s made a bigger name for himself in the cycling world in the past year since retirement than he ever did racing by becoming a Strava KOM-hero.

    Hero? That’s taking it a bit far, isn’t it?

    Well, he started this little escapade by sniping the many KOM’s in the LA area held by that one doper (who plead guilty to dealing EPO). After toppling nearly every KOM in the Santa Monica Mountains, not to mention the great LA area, the Robin Hood of cycling has become a celebrity thanks to his Strava antics (check out his Worst Retirement Ever series on Youtube).

    Phil takes from the Dirty and gives back to the Clean

    Anyway, so that Phil has started a Fondo, and like I said, I decided to do it on Sunday. There were several different routes (all with cookie themed names like “Sugar Cookie,” “Chocolate Chip,” “Double Fudge,” etc.), but of course I have to do the longest and hardest one — the Double Fudge. The route is 111 miles with about 11,000 feet of climbing. (If you know the area, from Camarillo it goes up Potrero, Decker, Stunt, Encinal and Yerba Buena.) A very hard route, one of the hardest routes I have ever ridden no doubt, but one I knew I could handle. Unfortunately, I found out that all of the professional cyclists, Phil, and many of the better riders do the Chocolate Chip route — which does many of the same climbs but is ~25 miles shorter. Since there was a little “KOM” aspect to the fondo (best cumulative time up four of the climbs), and me being a weekend warrior that wants to smash whenever I have the opportunity, I was bummed not to be “racing” against the best guys. That would actually be one of my only criticisms of the ride — I think Phil should drop the very long route if that’s not the route that he and all the other “celebrities” are riding. I probably would have been content with the 85 mile route if that was the longest that was offered, but knowing there were guys doing a longer route than me would make me feel less accomplished. I have an issue, I know…

    The ride started off with warm and very windy conditions thanks to the infamous Santa Ana winds. I thought we would battle the headwinds all the way east on Mulholland, but they were nearly nonexistent in the Santa Monica Mountains. It was a very warm day, however. The first timed climb came up Potrero heading into Newbury Park, less than 10 miles in. I pushed it pretty hard (400 W for over 5 minutes on the Pioneer) and made it to the top of that one first. With over 100 miles still to come, I thought that effort might come back to haunt me. I threw caution to the wind as they say going up Decker around mile 20, putting up a top-15 all-time KOM on one of the segments. My second and final criticism of the ride is that there was an aid station at the bottom of Decker, not at the top. Who wants to grab food and fill up bottles at the bottom?! (U = mgh, amirite?) The ride was pretty chill for the next 40 miles. Mo and Lilly surprised me as we went up Stunt, which truly made my day!

    I love everything about this picture! Today I rode @philgaimon’s @philsfondo Double Fudge route. Phil warned that the Double Fudge is stupid hard, and the Chocolate Chip is much more enjoyable. I told him as long as the challenge is out there, guys like me are going to go for it. Anyway, @coachmoped came out to a few spots on the route to take some pictures and cheer me on. This one is from Stunt, one of my all time favorite climbs (and descents, for that matter), and I was surprised to see Lilly sitting next to Mommy. I very proudly told the guys I was riding with, “That’s my kid!” It was such a great moment and I will cherish this picture and memory for the rest of my life. Thanks, Mo!! #philsfondo #doublefudge #stuntrd #granfondo #weekendwarrior #komchallenge #lillybjorn #lifewithlilly #cycling #bikesandbabies

    A post shared by Jason Pedersen (@jpbjorn) on

    Finally we made it up Encinal. A younger guy had hopped into the group on PCH and pulled away at the bottom of the climb, but I eventually towed the group back to his wheel before the top. I could tell I was on the verge of cramping at that point, so I came up with a plan before the final climb up Yerba Buena. I refueled the best I could at the next stop and chugged a Hot Shot just before hitting the climb. It definitely wasn’t pretty — I was that weirdo flying by everyone moaning — but I was able to pick up over a minute on everyone up Yerba Buena. Looking at the Strava results, it appears I unofficially won the KOM contest, but I’m still awaiting my congratulatory email.

    The post race food was delicious and I probably had at least half a dozen cookies on the day (plus a few more in the past week that I took to-go)! If you’re in the SoCal area next Fall, I recommend coming out!

    Next up for me is most likely the Nosco Ride. It will be my first time, but I’ve heard nothing but great things!