Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Better & better...

Sunday, 3 September

It was just that nice kind of a day. It started with a time trial and got better from there.

I’m at the Eugene Celebration stage race in (you guessed it) Eugene. This is a low-key, end-of-season event put on by a one-time, record-breaking tandem partner of mine, and the fields are never big (20 cat 1-2-3-4 women started). That’s not to say the fields are not competitive, and this year’s edition of the race is bigger (4 stages) and improved (tomorrow could be epic).

So how does a day just keep getting better? The time trial was so short (3 miles) that it hardly lasted long enough to remember. We had preridden the course after yesterday’s road stage, but I guess we weren’t really paying attention because we missed the variations in grade on the way out. In the race, I got to milepost 1 (yeah, they put up mileposts on 1.5-mile dead-end roads in Oregon!) before I had really even settled into a rhythm, and very soon I could see the turnaround. It was mostly slightly uphill on the way out, so it was fast on the way back, mostly 55x 11, 12, or 13. My time was middle of the pack, but at least I managed to beat all the cat 4s. One frustration I had at this race was as soon as I sat down after my start, it seemed like the saddle was low. I have problems with the carbon fiber seatpost slipping, so I measured it when I got back to the car, and sure enough, my saddle was 2 centimeters too low. At least now I know I should measure it before every race…and I have a handy excuse for a mediocre ride.

This was a double-stage day, but my crit wasn’t until 5:00, so there was plenty of time for lunch, a nap, hanging out, good conversations, and watching the masters crit. So now how do I think a day gets better when a crit follows a time trial? Well, the crit course at the Green Hill technology park is more like a flat circuit race. There are 2 corners and two sweepers, and the circuit is about a kilometer around. The race started out fast, and three riders got away. One of them was dropped very quickly (“I can’t do that for 40 minutes!”), and the break eventually lapped the field. There were some surges and sprints for primes in the pack, and I guess we were strung out single file a few times. But I never felt like I was in danger of getting dropped. I chased down two attacks, but I think it was needless effort. For the first one, I forgot that it was a prime lap, and two riders took off halfway around the circuit. I towed the pack back up to them, and Jan launched from my wheel to take the prime from the two who’d lapped us. For the second one, I didn’t realize that the woman who attacked had been lapped by the pack and was probably just trying to take back a little time. I was happy to get pack time in a crit, I almost never rode at the back, and I was sometimes at the front of the pack. It was an accomplishment for me. Sal told me that someday I’ll turn into a crit rider and everyone had better watch out then. Take note, masters crit nats 2025!

And after that, we went to the Laughing Planet for a great burrito with black-eyed peas, chard, sweet potatoes, brown rice, and BBQ sauce. It was really tasty and not heavy at all. But we made up for that healthful meal by walking across the street to the Sweet Life patisserie (which I’m pretty sure I mention in most every blog entry from Eugene) and indulging in…the sweet life!

[Saturday was hardly noteworthy. We left home at 6 a.m. to get here, poked along on I-5 in Ducks football traffic for 100 miles from Portland to Eugene, and raced at a mostly uneventful 54-mile road race on oh-so-familiar roads. It was another 95+ degree day here, and I had some real issues with the heat in the second half of my race. My legs were fine, but I couldn’t focus very well and it was almost scary to ride in the pack. I tried riding at the back but discovered it was better on the front. We had some issues with water hand-ups during the race, and 4 riders DNFed, in part because of the temps, but there was not much else to write home about. We’re staying at a Motel 6 in Springfield, and what’s noteworthy about that fact is that it makes me appreciate all the other hotels I’ve stayed at this year a little more.]

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