Monday, September 24, 2007

A few Secret Tips for the Giro D'California

Next week I take my 1955 Moto Rumi Bicarburatore to the premier California vintage Italian bike event, the Giro D' California. This is the third running of the event and competition is going to be fierce. I've managed to win the past two years and have really enjoyed some good luck.
But now I'm going to tell a few anecdotes and give away a few secrets. Frankly, there are more than a couple guys who really know what they are doing and are gunning for the win this year. But there are also riders who are new to this kind of event, and a few tips might help them understand the fun of the competition!

- Read the rules and the tips that Harley provides for the event. Harley provides this info directly:
The rules are posted on girodcalifornia dot com and explain where checkpoints can be located, scoring, etc.:
There is some additional info on the AMA District 36 web site on Enduro Timekeeping, which is what the T-S-D of the Giro is based upon:
- Know what is happening regarding time, speed and distance (TSD) right from the very start. Last year I realized that it would be hard to make the first checkpoint on time, and so I flew out of the gate. I was late to that first checkpoint by a couple minutes but everyone else was much later. The lead I made on that first checkpoint brought me the win, even though I was beaten on other checkpoints that day as well as the second day. (Note that my Rumi is far from the fastest bike out there; that wasn't why I did so well. It was my being aware that I had to really get moving right from the start that was most important.)

- To track the TSD, I just took Harley's roll chart and penned in the time I was supposed to be at each turn, estimated from his time sheet. (He suggests you can write the mileage for every mile of the route, but I don't do that much.) If it looked like I was going to get somewhere too early, I'd slow down. And I sped up if it seemed I was going to be too late.

- You can also guess where the surprise checkpoints might be, and where they are unlikely to be, by looking at the rules and the map. One time last year I pulled over right before a major town, guessing the checkpoint might be there and knowing I was ahead of time. Lots of people passed me and arrived early... when I was back on schedule I started again, finding the surprise checkpoint only about 100 meters in front of me over the hill! It was a just a guess on my part, but an educated one.

- Have a strategy. You can try and ride the exact speed noted, but on these old bikes that might be hard. Typically you can't go fast enough uphill. And sometimes it's easy to be going way too fast. How are you going to keep on pace? Can you see a big mountain ahead? Maybe you should be going faster to get ahead of time before it, etc.

- Watch your competitors. Last year Lorin and I had a fantastic run for one of the checkpoints. Being next to each other in the starting order, we only had to hit the checkpoints 30 seconds apart. We found ourselves riding together, and we both knew if we stayed together, neither of us could pull a significant lead on the other! It was hilarious as we tailed each other, sometimes riding slow, sometimes fast while watching our time speed distance charts. We knew we were both watching each other's every move! Finally we stumbled on the next checkpoint. I made a point to quickly get it done and zoomed off without waiting. And I never saw Lorin again after that due to the curvy roads.

- Watch your competitors, version 2. If people are following you, essentially keeping time with you, find a way to break them off of your tail. I've been known to hide down a side road or behind a parked truck to let people pass.

- Watch your competitors, (version 3) but DON'T follow them. We left town at the start, and as I had to make a bike adjustment, I stopped for a minute right after the start. I was caught by the next pack of riders and followed them. This was the second day, so people knew roughly where the route went, or so they thought. The leading rider went down the ramp for the highway, and I knew immediately that was wrong. Harley doesn't run us on the major highways, and more importantly, we hadn't reached the mileage for the next turn. But, the rest of the pack followed down the ramp. I stopped for a moment and considered, and then I continued on my way. At lunch several of those riders were asking about why their mileages were all off and why they hit the checkpoints early. Ends up the detour they took cleanly merged back on the route, so they never knew they took a wrong turn. And I didn't answer Ivan's questions about what I thought of the supposedly messed up mileages! ;-).

Best luck to you!