Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Short Track, Round Two.

Good races often make for boring race reports. I really have nothing interesting to say about last night, other than the fact that I managed to make it through the evening without damaging myself or any of my equipment.

Course was a perfect one for me this week. The starting loop was almost a mile, flat and non-technical on the grass. Plenty of space and time to open up a gap before the technical riding started. I hammered from the opening whistle, had a 10 second lead by the time we hit the race loop, built it to 15-20 seconds by the end of the second lap and kept it there for the rest of the race. Stayed upright and cleared the log each time without putting a foot down.

My only disappointment was that they split up the Cat 2 women by age groups at the start. There are a couple of 35+ racers that I want to race with, instead of having them start 15 seconds back and have to work their way through the U35 field.

Then had beer and nachos with Marc and FT. Talked about river otters. Went home and cleaned up cat barf. Living the dream.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Short Track, 1. Helmet, 0.

Once summer rolls around, the event that makes Mondays bearable is Short Track Mountain Biking out at PIR. For seven Mondays this summer, we converge upon the dirt to make total fools of ourselves. Sort of a warm-up for cyclocross.

Last year I raced five of the six races and finished eleventh in four of those races. I have no goals for short track other than to not finish eleventh. I would've also like to have made "not walking around all summer with bruises and dirt rash on my legs," but that would have been an epic fail after only 15 minutes on the course.

I took a total digger on the second pre-ride lap. Got going too fast on a bike that I hadn't ridden since last summer and which, duh, doesn't corner or handle like my road bike. On a set of mini-moguls, caught a bit too much air and when I landed my weight was too far over the front of the bike. Over the top I went. Took most of the impact on my right shoulder and the right side of my head.

I lay there stunned for about 15 second, my ears ringing. Without even looking, I could tell that I was bleeding from my right knee and shoulder. Sigh.

Once I got the gore cleaned up, German pointed out that I should probably check my helmet. Sure enough, it is not only mottled on the outside, but cracked in two places. F&$K. The helmet was new and not the cheapest piece of equipment. He let me borrow his for the race.

So, the race. The Cat 2 Women race with the singlespeed riders and one or two male masters' groups. Makes for a bit of chaos. I had a crappy start because I didn't care about where I lined up and ended up in the back row. Then I was personally responsible for a large bottleneck when I had to unclip while trying to sneak around smaller bottleneck (Yeah, Heidi, I'm owning it...it was me).

Then it was four laps of chasing. What mediocre handling skills I have started to re-emerge two laps in and my leftover road fitness helped me keep a pretty high tempo for the whole ride.

The race was pretty uneventful. Didn't crash and mostly rode alone when I wasn't passing people. Did have some words with some douchebag in the singlespeed race who seemed to think that I had to give up the good line and get out of his way when he was passing me. Then proceed to reach out and try and push me off that good line. I will find out who you are, asshole. You are lucky that my main priority after the race was cleaning up my leg and not shoving my muddy shoe up your backside.

Some pictures of the racing are here and here.

I was the first under-35 Cat 2 to finish and think I finished forth overall. There were two or three over-35 racers that were long gone by the time I worked my way through the main pack. One is a woman in my morning class and the other is a friend from cyclocross. I'm going to try and line up with them next week and see how long I can hold on before I wreck into something.

Off to Sunriver for the weekend. I'll be crit racing tonight and Friday night and getting in some Bend singletrack in between.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Waking the Dead (Legs): Capitol Criterium Race Report

(Warning: If much of this sounds familiar, it is just an expanded version of my race report on the team site.)

Juan, Jeff, Sam and I journeyed up to Olympia, Washington on Saturday afternoon to race the Capital Criterium. The only races on Oregon soil for the weekend were the Elkhorn Classic Stage race and Test of Endurance....yeah, right. Anything with the words "stage" and "endurance" are decidedly not on my agenda right now.

I had hoped to loosen up my sleepy legs with a ride on my new cross bike and some track racing on Friday night. However, since it is June in Oregon, and the first day of my weekend, it poured rain all afternoon. Sam, Jeff and I rode in the downpour for about 45 minutes before deciding that beers at East Bank was a saner course of action.

Racing in Washington is sort of a pain in the ass. You have to buy a USCF one-day license and pay $10 to rent a number. Its total racket. All of a sudden, a race that originally cost $25 costs $45. Lucky for Sam and I, we got to race one minute for every dollar and got $10 of it back for returning the numbers unharmed.

I liked this course. The front side was a straightaway 500 meter incline. Not really a climb, because we could big ring it, but the grade was high enough that you could use it to make people suffer. It plateaued up at the south end and the back and north sides were downhill and technical. The race was basically like doing one minute intervals at 90%, with 30 seconds recovery surrounded by bicycle roller derby--for 45 minutes. Barf-o-licious.

Jeff raced first, in the masters A/B race. Direct quote: "Those are some fast old fuckers." Unfortunately, our fearless leader was pulled early and paid around $2 a minute to race. Not a good value.

Juan went next. From where Sam and I could see the course from our trainers, it looked like he held 2nd-8th wheel the entire race and finished fourth. Here is his race report. I can attest to the fact that the Starbucks guy that he rode behind most of the race was a total monster truck.

Sam and I rode in the Cat 3 race. It was just Cat 3s...a change up from riding in Oregon. Another change was that 80% of the riders belonged to one of three teams. And those teams are coordinated and disciplined.

My best guess is that about 20 women lined up for the start. It was pretty strange to be sitting at the line and not know anyone...it's that pre-whistle gossip with my friends that usually takes the edge of of those last 5 minutes.

Since I hadn't put in a hard effort on the bike for 14 days, I spent the first 20 minutes wishing that a meteor would fly out of the sky and put me out of my misery. I watched Sam win a prime and tried to pick up on how the teams were coordinating. All while trying not to get yo-yo-ed off the back.

At about 25 minutes, everything started to feel better, both in my legs and in my head, and I was able to really start racing, instead of simply surviving. It was pretty obvious after 20 minutes the riders that two of the teams wanted to save for the end of the race. The third, I had a pretty good idea, but wasn't 100% positive. There was lots of talking in the pack and there was more than one instance where I wanted to tell someone to quit bossing me around. But I'm trying to behave myself and was likely breathing too hard to do more than squawk. (Or perhaps whip out the FT possum hiss-that is some scary shit.)

It was also obvious that, after Sam contested a few primes and I put in some good attacks on the incline, the organized teams tried to start limiting our movement. We kept getting boxed in and/or pinched out on the good cornering lines. It didn't take me long to realize that if the pack --whittled down to about 12-15 riders, about three from each team, Sam and I and two or three lonely onlies--stayed intact in the last 2 laps, Sam and I were dead meat.

What I decided to do will probably not be a surprise to those who know me...try something that looks really stupid but just might work. So with three laps to go, I took a huge flyer off of the front from the base of the climb. And I just kept hammering until the end of the race...standing up on the hill and and attacking every corner on the backside. If I had anything to say about it, no one was going to get any recovery time until the race was over. I knew that the effort wasn't going to win the race, or leave me any sprint legs for the end, but I figured that I could throw down enough hurt and shell enough people to give Sam and I some room to move at the end.

This effort was really fucking hard. There was lots of drool and I threw up in my mouth at the end of the race. That is all I have to say about that.

This time around, the "just stupid enough to be dangerous" strategy worked-probably aided by the sneak attack factor--no one up in Washington knew anything about my strengths /weaknesses. I think I managed to cut the pack of 15 women to six or seven by the last lap.

Two women passed me with 1/2 lap to go and I just willed myself to stay on their wheels until the end. Lucky for me, the finish was the steepest part of the incline, and I was able to hold on for third. Sam had room to get herself up to fifth.

So this is what I like about WA races. (1) Being the wild cards messing with the organized teams and (2) They have much better schwag for podium finishes. I got a really nice steel water bottle, $20, socks, a t-shirt and some tire levers that look like sex toys.

We stopped for milkshakes on the way home. All in all not a bad race experience. I don't have any racing pictures (but Juan found a good one located here), but here is a picture of a really weird unicorn cake Sam and I spotted at a cafe near the race course:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cross Bike for Sale (Update: Sold!)

After riding a cross bike that actually fits me last weekend, I've decided to upgrade. So the my Kona Jake the Snake has got to go to make room. It would be the perfect bike for someone looking to start cross this year...nothing high end or flashy about it, but a great starter bike.Details:

-Frame: 2008 Jake the Snake, Aluminum, 49" (53.2 top tube-to give you an idea of the fit, I stand about 5'6 and the bike is a tad to small for me). Frame color is Forest Green with black and gold highlights
-Carbon Fork

If you want just frame/fork, $275.

If you want the whole set up: $475, which will include:

-a barely used Ritchey clincher wheel set
-two new 34" mud tires (Bontrager front, Maxxis rear)
-selle italia saddle
-1x10 setup (40 on the front, 11/27 on the back)
-front and hood mounted brakes
-tiagra back derailleur, one season of wear.

Doesn't include pedals and would recommend new brakes/brake cabling.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Could've Seen It Coming a Mile Away

It's really too bad that you can't excise the stage race part out of stage racing weekends. Because I had a great Mt. Hood Cycling Classic weekend, if I remove the "Cycling" from of the equation.

I figured that after almost four mostly incident-free, and pretty successful, months of racing, that I would start having fatigue, incidents and mishaps that would create a more sustainable state of equilibrium in my cycling life. You can't win 'em all and you can't race as much as I do without getting a major mechanical or flaming out once in a while. I just didn't expect to have two major mishaps in a 24 hour period.

Now that I look back on the last two weeks, I should have seen one of these mishaps coming. I couldn't finish an interval workout two weeks ago due to nosebleeds and dehydration. This was followed by a sub-par effort on my part at the TTT. At PIR last week, my sprint legs were nowhere to be found. Developments and complications in my personal life caused irregular sleep patterns, thus leading to an over-consumption of caffeine, thus causing irregular sleep patterns...you see the pattern here.

I knew mid-week that something wasn't right with my body, but I had managed to stubborn my way through a lot this spring and figured I could stubborn my way through a 71-mile road race with 8500 feet of climbing (this was the stage that scared me...not the 18 mile uphill TT into a headwind or a very technical crit).

Friday: First, a quick plug for Mountain View Cycles in Hood River, Oregon. MV is owned by Julie and Wes Swearingen and its a great shop filled with great people. It's right smack-dab in the middle of downtown. Check it out the next time you visit HR.

The Friday race was an 18 mile time-trial from The Dalles to Hood River. Considerable climbing for a TT course, including up and over the Rowena Loops. Climbing, TT, 20+ MPH headwinds....lots of suffering to be had.

I was, sickly, sort of excited about it. I can time trial and climb and, although no one likes headwinds, since I'm built like a tank, I can usually mentally and physically fight my way through.

Kelly McKean (Beth's Veloce teammate and, ultimately, the GC winner) was my 30-second person, which I was really excited about. She's an awesome triathlete and a really remarkable climber. I figured that if I could keep her in my sights, I could clock a solid time.

I caught Kelly at the bottom of the Rowena Loops. That gap lasted all of 150 meters into the first climb. She went by me like I was moving backwards-while I was going by someone like she was moving backwards. Wow.

I caught her on the descents and flats between Rowena and Mosier, but again, she flew by me once we starting climbing up and over to Hood River. I was steadily gaining on her once the course leveled out and then....


You mean the softball-sized one in the middle of the bike path? Yeah, that one. I was suffering pretty heavily at this point and forgot the first rule of avoiding things that you don't want to hit...don't fixate your gaze on it.

I hit it square on and my back tire immediately blew out. I skidded, but stopped safely and got off to quickly to assess the damage. No derailleur damage, but I had 3 more miles to the finish and was on a vehicle-free bike path no repair kit. Gingerly got back on the bike and starting soft pedaling. The rims weren't hitting the path, so I figured that I could try and just coast downhill to the finish.
(Photo taken by Anne's husband Tim. Notice that my is bandanna not on my head. I was sweating so profusely by the time I reached Mosier that it had worked its way down my forehead, knocked off my sunglasses and was interfering with my ability to see. )

It was the longest three miles that I've ever ridden on that bike. Three of the seven ladies I'd caught went rolling past and my inner monologue was running "please don't ruin jb's wheels, please don't ruin jb's wheels" on a continuous loop.

I rolled through in at 1:02 something. I did some math and guestimating later that evening and figure that I lost at least 5 minutes in that last three miles. Without the mishap, probably good enough for podium, but we'll never know. But couldn't be too upset...I still managed to turn in the 24th best time (out of about 40 riders) and the wheel was fine.

Kelly and I both got dinged for drafting, which didn't end up mattering at all for either of us (she annihilated everyone on the second stage and, well, I didn't even finish the second stage, for reasons I will get into shortly), but was interesting considering both of us are experienced triathletes and were being very careful to stay out of each others way while leap-frogging.


Let me repeat: 71 miles, 8500 feet of climbing.

My longest race this year was the 50ish miles at Silverton. I can count on less than two hands the number of 60+ mile training rides that I've done since the racing season started.

Total terror. It was all I could do Saturday morning to manage my stress so that I didn't freak out my teammates. Here we are...two hours before start time.

Once the race got rolling, my nervousness subsided...somewhat. The first 15 miles are a descent into some little town (Dufur). Everyone was regulating their speed carefully, which was frustrating and caused a lot of braking and mid-pack shuffling. Sarah T. from Sorella and I went off the front for a bit, and after a while, we were joined by my teammates.

Then the climbing started. As we had agreed as a team, I went to the front and set a high tempo up the first climb. I felt OK, kept my head down and just kept pushing until the road briefly leveled out. Within a mile, we've lost half of the field. And there are several miles of climbing to go.

With about a mile to go until we could descend again, Amy Campbell from River City attacks. Six, seven gals are able to go with her. Anna and I can't make the jump and Sam is stuck in no man's land between the lead group and the chasers. I ride briefy with Jo and Beth, then get enough leg back to pull Anna and I up to Sam.

Then HV chased. And chased. And chased. I pull us up the climbs and rest on Anna's wheel whenever I can. For almost 45 minutes, we would get close on a flat or a descent, only to watch them pull away on the climbs.

There got to be a point when we couldn't see the lead group anymore and I started to look behind for help. Wasn't long before a group of about 8 women (including Serena from Sunnyside, Beth and Jo) caught us.

From the best I can recall, I was feeling OK when Beth and Jo's group caught us. Tired, but not feeling like I was going to blow up. I was into my second bottle of Heed, almost done with my Perpetuem bottle and had kept on top of my other nutritional and electrolyte needs while we had been climbing.

Within ten minutes, I went from tired, but OK, to completely not OK. I got really shaky and cold, couldn't pull through and Jo and Beth told me to go sit in the back and take a break. I think I tried to hold on for another five minutes, then it was over. Beth and I had a brief conversation about her dropping back to just get me to the finish so I could race Sunday, but I told told her to just keep going.

From the time where I got spit off the back of the chase group, the next two hours were a bit of a blur. Gunderson had already called it a day and twice rolled up in the sag car to see what was going on. I don't remember what we talked about, other than a sense that I felt pretty agitated.

Jeff and Sallyanne were waiting at the second feed zone, which was about four miles from where everything started to go haywire and crossways in my head. I do remember thinking that if I could just make it to them and take a break, that I would wait for Anne Linton or Julie Swearingen and ride the last thirty miles with one of them.

Didn't happen that way at all. I rolled up to Jeff, unclipped...and my legs immediately buckled and everyting faded to black.

I remember coming to a bit and realizing that my shoes, socks, gloves and helmet were off and Sallyanne was holding me up. Jeff, Sallyanne and Gunderson got me changed into dry clothes and into the truck. Then, I faded to black again. I'm not sure how much I slept in the truck, but when I woke up, I felt like I had been sleeping for days.

For the next hour, I alternated between wanting to throw up, burst into tears and sleep for a hundred years. Sat on a rock by the finish with my head on my knees line waiting for my girls to finish.

And they all finished. Sam at full speed, Anna with a huge grin on her face and Beth spewing obscenities left and right.

I fell asleep again in JB's car on the ride back into town and this time, when I woke up, I actually felt human again. By the time we got dinner on the table, I (aided by a bottle of Ninkasi Spring Reign and almost an entire growler of Double Mountain IRA) was in a good place again.

The best I can figure, I probably went down as a result of overheating/overtraining/exhaustion. In other words: EPIC BONK. I can accept and own that.

Sunday: I thought I'd wake up Sunday morning with a sense that I had been a huge wimp and should have toughed it out. However....not a chance. I pre-rode the crit course with Anna and, although that course would have been a blast for me, at no time did I feel any regret or longing to race that day. Instead, rode an easy hour with JB, watched the ladies race and demo-ed a Specialized Tri-Cross all over the lawns and curbs of downtown HR...happy as a pig in shit.

Post: All in all, despite all the chaos, it was a good weekend. Had a great birthday celebration, spent some quality time with my teammates and friends, made some new friends and participated in some great racing. And developed a crush on a new cross bike...one that may be worthy of a return trip to HR this weekend.

But holy hell, do I need some serious rest. And a few massages to work out this frozen pot roast feeling in both of my quads. My rest week likely to turn into a full month of leisure rides, a bit of track racing, some short track mountain biking and getting a master plan together for late summer/early fall. Because, shit....cross starts in just three months....

Thursday, June 4, 2009

TTT State Championships

Its hard for me to write a race report for a Team Time Trial because nothing about the event lends itself to entertaining or snarky self-reflection. You warm up for an hour, race in a paceline for an hour, then cool down.

HV showed up with two full teams , eight ladies strong for some suffering in the sun:
Because my team consisted of two Cat 3's (LK and Sam) and two Cat 4's (Anna and Jen), we had to race in the Senior Women's division instead of a Category Division.

Angela, Alice, Mindy and Sallyanne rode as a Cat 4 team.

The course was four laps of a 7 mile circuit. Headwind on the frontside, tailwind for the second half of the race. Jen had consistently strong and steady pulls and Anna just got stronger as the race went on...in the last lap her pulls were at upwards of 27-28 MPH. She's really feeling it right now.

We covered 27 miles in one hour, nine minutes and ten seconds. Ended up third in the senior division and posting the fifth best time overall.
We are all pretty pleased with that result, considering we practiced for, at best, an hour the day before and two of our riders were without all of the necessary TT dork equipment.

Our Cat 4 team had an off day, getting off course at a poorly marshalled corner on the first lap. To their credit, they stuck it out once back on course and finished the race.

Tomorrow, I'll be back on the TT bike for the first stage of the Women's 3/4 race at the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic. Not a typical TT...eighteen miles, big climb five miles in and steady rollers throughout. My kind of course and I'm excited to see what sort of time I can post.

And, oh yeah, its my birthday today...here's to being faster and stronger at 32.