Saturday, July 22, 2006

Double the fun

Saturday, 22 July

Tandem time trial. Tandem crit. What could be more fun? Seriously. Fast and faster.

After the TT course at masters nationals, the one here at Co-Motion was about as exciting as riding the trainer. The bends and hills on the course were so gentle that I hardly noticed them. I just got down in my little aero bars, put my head down, and watched the top tube until Martin eased up for the turnaround. Lean a little, accelerate, and repeat the process until we crossed the finish line. As we approached the finish, Martin called out "300 meters." It must have been more like 600 meters, and I was expecting to get to stop pedaling for a long time before we actually did so there wasn't much power to my finish.

We thought we had a decent ride, but we got creamed. A little embarrassing when you're wearing your national champion jerseys. We did pass two bikes, so it wasn't all bad. A disk wheel--which some of the tandems had--would've been nice on this course today. We finished fifth, 1:11 behind the winners, and moved to fifth in GC.

So, crit queen that I am, I tell Martin our only hope to make up some time is to lap the field in the crit. We line up at the front and take off from the gun (did he think I was serious?!). I hear the captain next to us tell his stoker "nice start"--as we ride away from them. Sadly, it's a short-lived flyer, and they're all lined up on our wheel after a lap and a half.

It was a lively race, but different from last year's (the course was quite different). There were some easy sections, and I was able to drink/pour over myself about 3/4 of a bottle of water during the race (I don't think I ever got my hands out of the drops last year). There were two sketchy corners: in turn 1, the rear wheel slid a little on almost every other lap AND I usually got bounced off the saddle. Turn 4 just had a good bump that bounced me enough that I couldn't always pedal through the turn. And I think Martin clipped a pedal in turn 2 early on. On one lap, we all approached turn 3 in a giant clump and it took some oral negotiating to get all of us around the corner safely ("you guys go first").

After a while it became clear that no attacks were going anywhere (I think we had the biggest gap of the whole race on the first lap). With about 3 to go, Martin offered a lead-out to a couple from Corvallis--much to my amazement. There was an exchange of "are you serious?" and "I'm serious" (never mind what I thought!), so we set out to move us and them up to the front. There was some close passing of other bikes, and a couple of captains pushed off me as we went by. But we got them there and were at the front until a half-lap to go when everybody took off. Jim and Heather didn't take first place, but they were the first mixed bike across the line, so I guess we did some good.

I still have trouble seeing in a race, even when my head isn't buried. Last year I was freaked out when I knew there was a bike right in front of us and we must be really close to their wheel, but I couldn't see. This year that was no problem, but Martin said we were a little slow coming out of corners--mainly because I couldn't see to know that we weren't right on a wheel and needed to go harder. But every time someone attacked, we were able to get on a wheel and go with the train...eventually.

I felt so old after the race today when two other (women) stokers came up and asked me how old I am. They were really impressed (if that's the right word), but I felt like an old lady poster child. Never mind that there are MEN in the race older than I am!

My two stray thoughts for the day that came to me mid-race were, in the TT, that there isn't much I'd rather do in the way of racing than a tandem time trial and, in the crit, that there's another tandem crit at Gresham near the end of the season and I wonder what the course is like and who needs a stoker. Maybe all this heat (it was 96 at the end of the crit today) has addled my wits; I've always dearly loved tandem TTs, but looking for another tandem crit to race? What am I thinking.

We are staying at some less-than-swanky motel in Springfield, a town I've always thought of as strip-mall hell. But last night I went for my ritualistic little recovery spin and had a fantastic time. Symantec has a huge office building nearby, as does Peace Health. And the Royal Caribbean building is a pretty dramatic piece of architecture, as one-story office buildings go. The roads were long and empty, some just one lane through old orchards with giant hazelnut trees (I ALMOST went off-road to ride under the trees). I rode along flapping my arms like a bird, not minding a bit when it started to rain just a little (it was still about 80 degrees). It was so peaceful. And to prove the Springfield is as bike-friendly as Eugene, there was this cool button to push to get the traffic light to change just for me. You just roll up next to the curb (in the bike lane) and push the magic button. No more trying to find the d*^# sensor in the street, just push the button.

Martin's race report is here.

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