Sunday, April 29, 2007

DRVTT day 2

Sunday, 29 April

Ouch. Our tandem did not fly today. It got up to 41 mph, but that's not flying by tandem standards. And before we got to go fast, we had to go uphill. For a very long, painful way. There was supposed to be a steady tailwind so we would "rip." There was wind alright, and sometimes it was behind us, but sometimes it was sideways and sometimes in our faces. And it kept us from flying back down any of the hill on the return.

The first three miles of this out-and-back TT are a climb of probably at least 8% and very twisty and exposed. That's great on the way up (more about the way down in a sec). Then it flattens out to just a steady, relentless drag with some steeper rollers, some flatter bits. The promoter had put up numbered orange cones to mark off each mile; I swear we had passed 30 of them when Mick read out "17" (I saw the cones in my peripheral vision but never the numbers). The fast guys who started behind us (reverse order of yesterday's stage 2 finish) eventually all caught us, but we started to pass riders who started ahead of us, including both other tandems (who started 20 minutes in front of us today). We were both pretty darned uncomfortable, though. I discovered that you shouldn't climb in the drops (keeps the stoker's head down, out of the wind, more aero) for 24 miles because you're not meant to put that kind of pressure on the saddle. Once we started standing up every few miles, we felt better, although things are still sore and tight 8 hours after the race that have not been sore and tight before.

My stellar captain did a superb job of turning around our behemoth bike on the narrow road, with an audience--and then we were supposed to fly. With the wind, though, we just went fast. The mountain views were amazing again today, but I kept my eyes focused on the saddle right in front of me. You know, that's okay for a 10-mile TT, but it got pretty boring out there this morning. The fine scratches and lines in a saddle just aren't great entertainment. (In case you don't know, Mick only uses about the front 2 inches of his saddle, so I have lots of real estate on the back of our bike that the designer did not intend to be mine.) Every once in a while, I'd lift my head and check the view of Mt. Hood. Beautiful.

When I confessed before the start to being worried about the tight turns at high speed (well, more than 10 mph, which is how fast I'd take them on my single bike) in the last 3 miles, Kenny told me to just bury my head in Mick's back and close my eyes. I couldn't close my eyes, but I just kept staring at the saddle and NOT at the road. There were a couple of times when sudden braking caught me off guard, and I worried when the yellow line was under my right foot a few times, but we got down just fine, I didn't yell or scream once, and the bike went pretty smoothly through the turns. Good experience. "Look at the saddle" has become my new mantra.

The drama on the road today was the contest for the top spot in GC. Kenny, Dave, and Rob duked it out, taking turns pulling away and getting reeled in. Kenny dug deepest and pulled out the overall win (he was second on stage 1).

This was a fun weekend of tough racing, and it was great training for us on the tandem. Maupin is a pretty funky town, but the shopkeepers care that you have come to their tiny hamlet that's 40 miles from anywhere. The promoters of DRVTT are simply awesome; George was out early this morning making sure there was NO gravel anywhere on our course (and putting up all those mile markers), and Terri cranks out results before you get your bike put away. Both of them are positive all the time and make you think you are the hottest thing in bike racing. The roads are chipseal but as smooth as chipseal can be--no potholes, no cracks, AND NO CARS. The weather was warm and sunny. The views--of the mountains, of the river, of spring coming to the desert--are amazing. And we are tuckered.

Final results will be posted here.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


Saturday, 28 April

Day One of the Deschutes River Valley TT Festival was a double-stage day. We started with the 26.2-mile loop that I did last September in the Ring of Fire 12-hour time trial. This stage is uphill from the line, with a 4-mile climb through the town of Maupin. We started after the women on single bikes and after the other two tandems. We had caught the other tandems by mile 1 and all of the women by mile 7. After the climb, there's about 5 miles of windy, flattish stuff on top of the plateau (great views of Mt. Hood), a fast descent, some rollers, a shorter descent through a tight canyon, and then 8 miles of flat road along the Deschutes River. My captain estimated going in that our time would be 1:07; we finished in 1:04:50.

We then had about 4 hours of leisure time (lunch, nap) before stage two. This is an 8-mile hillclimb of varying gradients. You get about 200 meters of flat at the start to get up to speed, then it goes up. Then there's hairpin and you've got about a mile of wicked headwind. Then you turn away from the river and it's mostly tailwind, and it's not so steep. Our 30-second guy missed his start and started about 15-20 seconds in front of us, which made a good rabbit to chase (not that I saw anything). We were pretty sure the guy 30 seconds behind us would catch us, but he went out too hard--trying to catch us early--and couldn't recover.

While an uphill tandem time trial is awesome, the views at the top of this one were spectacular. And you're not even on the top of a hill, just the top of the river canyon. Mt. Hood, of course, was in your face. To the south was Mt. Jefferson, but strung out to the north were Adams, St. Helens, and Rainier. It was kind of strange to have Rainier be the most diminutive peak in view!

The ride back "to town" may have been downhill, but the wind was pretty fierce. Going this direction, though, I got to enjoy the view. And at the bottom, we rolled into the Hobsons' camp. While the captain took a new stoker recruit out for a test drive, I sat and chatted with part of the rest of the family. And had a beer. I've never had a beer immediately after a race before, and it was quite the experience (dehydrated, empty stomach). I had to stop at half a bottle or I probably would not have been able to get on the bike to ride the last 500 meters to get back to our hotel--even though I didn't have to drive it!

Tomorrow is a funny stage: a 24-mile climb, out and back (48 miles total). It's steepest and twistiest at the bottom, and they keep telling us that the grade after that is gentle and the tailwind is fierce. The promoters (who've done RAAM on a tandem) tell us our tandem is going to fly. The road leads to places I've never heard of, but about third or fourth on the list is Fossil, which is familiar as the last stop in the Columbia Plateau Stage Race.

Now, okay, maybe this isn't super tactical, make-the-right-moves-for-your-teammates kind of "good racing." But a hotel on the banks of the Deschutes River, 80-degree sunshine, a beer in your hand before you even get off the bike, a very healthy time gap (25 minutes?) on the competition, and the prospect of another TT tomorrow: it's pretty nice.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Thursday, 26 April

Well, from the on-blog and emailed comments about my What is racing? post last week, I appear well on my way to pariah status. But some people have said that I opened up good conversations that were overdue, so I’ll not be too depressed by others who were, um, more personal and devastating. I certainly did not intend to hurt feelings (there I go, being “girly” again) and will maintain that mine weren’t either. As for which comments were devastating or why, I ain’t tellin’—that way you won’t know where my skin isn’t quite so thick.

Watch for more on hats and gardening here—those should be less time-consuming from a self-defense perspective. Tell me I abuse my raspberry canes. Or that I don’t know squat about growing peas. Or what to do with my frostbit marjoram plant. Or the best way to make cat ears to add to a hat.

Oh yeah, there’s sure to be a report from the stage race on tap for this weekend but I should be able to dodge mention of team tactics.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Tuesday, 24 April

Is it spam if it makes me laugh? This showed up in my email at work this morning:

Hi, I hate to be the one to mention this, but people at work are talking about your weight issue and it just disgusts me. Whether you know it by now, people are always chattering about each other at work but you come up more than enough. I feel the right thing to do is to let you know now before this gets worse....

There are a couple of funny things about this. While I've got about 3 pounds I'd like to lose but just can't seem to shake, I have enough self-confidence (too much of that, probably) and am positive enough about my body image to not worry that my "weight issue" is disgusting anyone. And just this morning I decided I'd try the "starve a cold" approach and see if that helps me conquer this head cold I picked up somewhere.

Most of the spam I get is about enhancing a body part I wasn't born with, but this one is almost as far off-target! How come there's never junk email about "tired of cycling jerseys that never fit?" or "wish your leg/arm warmers would stay up?"

Monday, April 23, 2007

The great unrace

Monday, 23 April

Yesterday I went to a great new race in Rainier, Oregon (it's just west of Longview, so it's closer than Portland), the Three Rivers road race. It's a 16-mile circuit through mostly rural farmland. Here are some observations about the course from the riders: There's maybe 200 meters of flat road on the entire course. It's pretty. The climbs are gradual. The steepest section is a descent (with a hairy 90-degree left turn at the bottom). It's like a roller coaster because you're either going up or down.

It was an unrace because three cat 1-2-3 women turned up. When they realized the anemic size of our field, the first one started with the cat 3 men and the second with the masters men. I was engaged in a conversation with an official and wasn't ready to go when the masters left. What to do? I rode backward on the course until the masters came along, hopped in with them (the other woman was gone) until I got dropped, hopped in with the 1-2s on the next lap, and then on the last lap I did a few miles with the cat 3s. In the long spell while I was hoping the 1-2s would catch me, I came across a motorcyclist who had gone too hot into a bend and then lost control of his bike as it went off the pavement. He got into the really soft dirt and gravel on the shoulder, and his bike eventually endoed so that it was upside down and facing backward. Amazingly, he didn't seem to be seriously hurt. His biggest concern was that his wife was going to find out. And it took me a minute to realize that he was a moto official with the race. Oops.

Anyway, great course and a well-run race. Rumor has it that Oregon state road championships might be here in 2008. Not a course for the pure climber OR sprinter.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Lil'est Curly

Saturday, 21 April

It probably won't match a thing in his wardrobe, but who says babies should only wear cute pastels?? (Yes, Coach, that's a Starbucks mug.)

Friday, April 20, 2007

By request

Friday, 20 April

Tom passed along the idea of melonhead hats and asked if I'd make a couple for himself and his charming, if dubious, wife. The third is for baby Amelia (no relation to Tom), whom I think I get to meet next weekend. These were a lot of fun to make, although seeds on a watermelon hat are even more of a pain than seeds in your watermelon. But seedless, in this case, just wouldn't be right.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

What is racing?

Thursday, 19 April

I'm confused—so I’ll venture onto the controversial end of the blogging spectrum and stir up trouble.

Compare two comments about local women’s racing last weekend. Allison said this about Seward Park: “I found the tactics of some other teams a bit shady, so that made the race frustrating….This is the problem with women's racing….cattiness.” And one of her teammates said this about Kings Valley: “Women’s racing in Oregon makes women’s racing in Washington look like NRC racing.” I have to say from the get-go that these two women are both in the top three among local riders I respect; what seems to be in question is what makes a bike race.

Women’s racing in Washington this season has featured rotating pacelines (when no one is off the front OR the back) and relentless attacks by riders who go 50 meters (or 50 feet) and sit up. If the “right” mix of riders get in a break, everybody else slows down to 12 mph to make sure it sticks and then just pedals around to the finish line. Is this “racing” or even “teamwork”? It sure produces a lot of cattiness and criticism, and you don’t hear anyone saying “good race” at the finish.

When I was a cat 4, all women raced together. That means, yes, that I did stage races with riders with world champion stripes on their sleeves, with pro teams with team cars and team radios—when I was a cat 4. Race tactics for me were simple: hang on for dear life. And sometimes I did. When I didn’t, it wasn’t because of attacks or catty teamwork. It was because of selective features of the course where my skills were not up to those of the elite riders.

Early-season races in Washington have a distinct lack of selective features. Or else we pretend they do. So Mason Lake and Tour de Dung devolve into training sessions where everyone can work on their jumps and “teamwork.” At Mason Lake, for example, the little hill after corner 1 has the potential to break up a women’s field—if you are willing to commit to a hard effort. But only one rider in the last race of the series used this to that advantage (and she proved my point). I can’t comment on Tour de Dung because I wasn’t there, but I heard very few positive comments about race conduct in the women’s peloton. The same reports come every year and, frankly, that’s one factor in why I don’t go.

Along comes Independence Valley, where the hills ARE selective in the women’s race, and suddenly there was an amicable, cheery front group at the finish that all reported a “good race” (in spite of the monsoon). Funny, though, that TST did not produce similar results. There, however, one team dominated at least in numbers and played the “teamwork” card. It is hard to imagine why Suz needed anyone “working” for her to win that race.

Switch to Oregon. The course at Banana Belt, their early-season series, has lots o’ rollers and one pretty good hill. I did the third race in the series this year, and the race was strung out single file A LOT. The girls from Bend attacked on the downhills, and the smarter folks pushed the pace on the uphills AND AFTERWARD. The race was harder and more interesting than anything at Mason Lake—and the field was bigger. Kings Valley has a reputation for being a hard course, but it has one of those climbs that’s only as hard as you make it. And when the 1-2-3s are started with the 4s, there is usually an unspoken effort to keep the race together for the first lap so that some poor 4 isn’t out there riding 2.85 laps by herself and hating bike racing for the rest of her life. And, just as Suz predictably won TST, the two women duking it out in the sprint at Kings Valley would’ve been my picks at the start line. The difference? Suz’s teammates apparently pissed off some of the field by their tactics during the race, while at Kings Valley I think everybody was happy except the Washington rider looking for an NRC race.

No, I’m not a rah-rah sisterhood “let’s have a happy race” kind of person. On the other hand, I don’t think there’s much point in short, squirrelly attacks for naught that seem only to annoy the competition. If you want to race that way, don’t expect to see me much at the front; it’s better value as entertainment from the cheap seats at the back than as good, hard racing. And it’s great if cat 4s get some experience riding in a bigger group and develop confidence in their skills. I won’t say that’s why OBRA has three times as many members as the WSBA, but it can’t hurt.

Back to my question on what is racing. Is it just teamwork? The winner of the men cat 1-2 race at Kings Valley abided by the teamwork concept for most of the race, but his teammates really didn’t play a part in his drive from the pack, through the break, and on to the finish line. What is the point of an attack if your commitment to your effort lasts only 50 meters? At Mason Lake, I watched women push the pace up a roller, string things out, and then quite literally sit up and wait for the group to come back together. Huh? I also understand the point of blocking, but that makes you about as many friends as sitting in for the whole race and then sprinting at the finish.

You can rightfully ask why I don’t quit whining and just go ballistic and ride away from all this cat fighting. Lots of excuses: lack of training this winter, lack of ability to go ballistic, lack of confidence, lack of youth, and, sometimes, lack of interest. Apathy is a terrible thing.

The bottom line seems to be: give me a race with a hill in it. I’ll probably get dropped, like I did at Independence Valley, but at least everyone will be in a better mood after the race.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Brakes x 2

Sunday, 15 April

Happy birthday, Doug!

Brakes, round one: Saturday was the Kings Valley road race, one of Oregon's two classic one-day races. After taking the bouquet here last year (and the engraved vase that proves it), I figured there was no pressure on me this year because there was no way I was going to repeat. And no, I did not. The weather forecast was grim--and wrong. Scattered clouds and sunshine all day. We had a big women's field (more than 40), so I started at the front in order to not get gapped off behind some beginner cat 4s on the first roller (which comes 150 meters into the race). On the first descent, though, I noticed my rear brake was making a horrific screech, and when I tried to feather it, it would just make the brake hop on the rim. Nice. While assessing this, I quickly went backward through the pack. So, for the rest of the race, everyone around me knew every time I touched the brakes. I thought about dropping back to get another wheel from the support car, but odds were that any replacement would've been worse than what I had.

Riding with 40 women is a little different from the usual 10-12, and there weren't many opportunities to move up. Fortunately, there also weren't many sustained attacks. I did manage to work my way forward before the stairstep climb to the finish on the first lap--and then we were neutralized all the way up so that the cat 4-5 men could pass us. The men passed us at the bottom, and the lead car kept us neutral for the next kilometer; I think the follow official was just trying to be nice to the cat 4 women and keep some of them in the race a bit longer.

There was a pretty strong, long attack after we passed the finish line the first time. It was the same team that attacked on all the little descents at Banana Belt #3, and this again was a descent. Maybe this maneuver works in Bend (where the team is from), but all it did was string things out a bit and keep the pace up. But no one got dropped.

A few women got popped on the second lap, and things were totally disorganized in the mile-long crosswind section--which made it easy to move wherever I wanted. We dropped some more on rollers on the third lap, but the attacks were short. This time, the crosswind section was pretty hard and demonstrated the minimal grasp of the echelon concept. There's a steep pitch about 3 miles from the finish and then we settled down to a snail's pace. 13 mph at one stage. A couple of Washington women were effectively blocking on the front (nobody was up the road) and holding down the tempo. Why, I don't know. The race totally came apart in the last kilometer (which is all uphill), also predictable, but I did not get boxed in and was happy enough to finish seventh.

After the race, O.A.D. and I did one more (20-mile) lap on the tandem. It was fun to be able to look up and enjoy the scenery (covered bridge and all), although our legs were pretty tired.

Brakes, round two: Sunday's plan was to ride part of one of the stages of the Co-Motion Classic tandem stage race. O.A.D. wanted a good look at the descents in particular. We got the local FRM guy and race organizer, Sal, to come with us. It was a beautiful morning, if a little chilly, and we pretty much had the roads to ourselves. Sal, predictably, let us do all the work on the flats and then attacked us on the climb. We were able to keep the gap to just a couple hundred meters which, on a 2.5-mile climb, isn't too bad. But oh, I was a bad stoker. I begged and pleaded for brakes going into corners on the first long descent (okay, and on some of the short twisty descents before it, too). This bike feels soooo much different from Martin's: the bike is lighter and the captain is lighter too. The combo At the bottom of the 2-mile descent, O.A.D. said HE had no problems on the descent except that the stoker was freaking out and making the bike all twitchy. So we towed Sal up the next 5 miles of false flat, he attacked us for the sprint at some unknown-to-us road sign at the top, and took off down the next descent. This time I vowed to shut up and just relax (or at least pretend like I was relaxed) and lean with the bike. I did, and we had almost caught Sal by the bottom--and, as he observed, he was pedaling like mad and we were not.

A phone conversation with KMF this afternoon made me realize that maybe part of my descending problem today was that I can see around O.A.D., whereas with Martin, I could not see much for about 50 feet in front of the bike. All I focus on is that turn coming up, rather than where the road is going. I think we're going to get this worked out--one way or another!--coming down Bakeoven Road in two weeks.

Finally, a request for a break. You may notice that the results and rider ranking pages of the WSBA website have gone live. Be kind if you send me corrections. We are counting on our users and readers to let us know about bugs, glitches, and snafus; when we think those are worked out, we'll announce the new pages.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Way to hot !!

Friday, 13 April

Here in Huskyville, the cheapest way to advertise student events is writing with sidewalk chalk on all the walkways around the student union building. It makes for some contorted postures among pedestrians as we try to read the words we're walking over, but I guess it works.

The latest event to get such treatment is a pageant hosted by some student association. Apparently the pageant is going to be "hot." Part of today's sidewalk art featured a thermometer with the mercury going all the way to the top and the phrase "way to hot !!" at the top. Am I as out of touch as Argentiopolis? Is "way to hot" some new exhortation, like "way to go"? Or are students just increasingly illiterate? The editor part of me thinks it's supposed to be "way TOO hot," but somehow I like the phrase "way to hot." It could apply after a great sprint or even a temper tantrum. Or a scathing blog entry.

And on the subject of contortions, in front of that same student union building, I saw a duck with a very bad hair day. I didn't know feathers got bent out of shape, but this poor girl obviously slept wrong on her pillow. It looked like she had an ear sticking out of one side of her head. Mallard bed head, I guess. Clearly, she needed a hat until she could get to a mirror.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Spring fashion

Wednesday, 11 April

If one LFG can get sidetracked onto muumuus after whinging and moaning about 30 mph tailwinds on the way to work and company-issued clothing, then I'm gonna jump onto the fashion bandwagon and whine about the weather.

It was 37 degrees when I left home this morning. That meant fuzzy warm socks up to my shins, shorts and tights, base layer, long-sleeved jersey, fleecy vest, and team windstopper jacket, plus gloves, booties, and hat. Standard stuff for the morning commute since...well, since before the start of our epic weather...when was that? It's been so long I can't remember.

Nine hours later, it was 64 degrees when I headed out the door from work for a few hill repeats. Clearly no tights needed ("cover your knees to 70 degrees" doesn't apply when you're going uphill with a backpack). Team jacket is a sauna when the temp is above 50. Long-sleeve jersey does NOT match shorts. Riding in the base layer alone would be like riding in my underwear. And then there are those socks that just look positively fredly with shorts, but the booties would be even worse. So I stick with the shorts (wrong team), the base layer, and the vest, which happens to be black. I try to roll the socks down so they're less conspicuous. A WOW guy and a MM guy acknowledged me on the trail, so I must've passed muster. And an HB guy didn't even see me, which is par for the course. Maybe the hot pink Axleys distracted everyone from the odd clothing combo.

Quite apart from my fashion avoidance, I managed quite the feat of self-restraint over the last 6 weeks. I gave up chocolate for Lent, not so much because I'm a devoutly religious person but because I was eating too much chocolate and it doesn't help me go uphill faster (although another LFG seems to thrive on it). To my personal surprise, I survived the whole 6 weeks of Lent with nary a piece of chocolate. Okay, there were some chocolate SPECKS in the mint ice cream from The Sweet Life and some other stray tastes, but I did not eat a single PIECE of chocolate by itself. And on Easter I was not about to finally break that fast with some sickly milk chocolate bunny; no, I held out for 74% dark chocolate from Dagoba (no, I don't think it comes from the Dagoba system in Star Wars). It made the Boat Street crit seem fun!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Recycled potatoes

Saturday, 7 April

No racing today in western WA or OR, so O.A.D. and I went for a little spin on our tandem toy. 93 miles (no racing tomorrow for us, either). A few tiny spits of rain, but all in all it was a good ride, although we felt really slow. There was that one screaming steep descent on Dubuque coming back into Snohomish where I was told that we hit 60 mph. Then he realized that was our distance, not our speed. The max speed for the ride was 81.2, which I assure you we did not do for anything more than an inch or two. For future reference, we were told we were not welcome in the bakery in Sultan. Something about our shoes, but they didn't ask us to take them off or walk carefully or not mark up the floor. They outright told O.A.D. they didn't want our business. So, if you ride to Sultan, stop at Vinaccio for your coffee, not the bakery. You don't need the donuts, anyway.

All this springtime weather has reminded me that my farming endeavors are a month behind, so I had an hour's rest (a.k.a. eat and make hats) when we got home, then headed out to the west 40. The vegetable patch doesn't grow nearly as many weeds over the winter as it does during the summer, but I still have to spade it up, pull out the weeds and infiltrating grass, add compost and other "amendments" (thanks, Starbucks, for the grounds for my garden--which were moldy!). So my ride recovery was two rounds of turning soil with a spading fork in this here vegetable garden. The rhubarb plant is probably older than I am--it is huge. And the great thing about parsley is that it seeds itself and just keeps on growing. My marjoram got blitzed this winter; I'm not sure it will come back.

Funny thing. When we were in Sultan today, we passed the local feed store, which was advertising seed potatoes. Now, I happened to need some seed potatoes but I couldn't quite see hauling potatoes all the way home from Sultan on the bike (never mind that I don't think the tandem's captain would've even stopped the bike for them). Much to my pleasant surprise, when I was spading up the garden, I came across some wee bitty spuds that were left from last year's crop. They'd wintered over just fine and had started to sprout roots and, in some cases, leaves. (The most exciting thing I've ever found in my garden is a stone spear point, but recyclable spuds were the best thing in recent years.) So I spaded that section more carefully and gathered enough to plant in my special spud box for a spring crop. You stick them in the bottom in a few inches of dirt, then keep adding more dirt as the foliage grows until your spud box is full. You are supposed to do this in a 30-gallon garbage can, but given the economies (?) of scale in my urban garden, I use this 8?-gallon bin instead.

Now it's time to go seed shopping!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Enumclaw alternative

Tuesday, 3 April

One of my hat victims brought to my attention this morning a previously little-known event: the Local Yarn Shop Tour. This is sort of like a pub crawl or art walk, but you visit LYSs instead. And these are spread out from Bellingham to Renton. If you visit all 20 shops over the weekend of 18-20 May, your name is entered in a drawing to win a $400 gift certificate from the LYS of your choice.

The problem with this tour is that you could (well, I could) EASILY spend more than $400 in the process of visiting 20 LYSs. That's only $20 at each one. It would be like sending me to visit 20 chocolatiers, except that I would have material to supply many more hat and scarf and baby blanket victims instead of just more fat to drag up climbs.

The good thing about this is that it makes the perfect alibi for missing the new/old Enumclaw omnium. I could even make it a training weekend: take the train to Bellingham and ride my way south, visiting all the LYSs along the way. Ideally, the training would be on the tandem, but I can't think of a single one of my tandem partners who would be remotely interested in this pursuit.

Monday, April 02, 2007


Monday, 2 April

Tragedy today at my workplace: two people shot dead on the University of Washington campus, apparently a murder-suicide by a stalker of a stalkee with a restraining order. A very sad contrast to the lingering cherry blossoms in the Quad. Or maybe they're complementary Zen-like statements on the fleetingness of life.

Some other accumulated tidbits:

You know you're in Eugene when you walk into a store behind a woman and her two daughters, ages maybe 7 and 10, and all three (Caucasian) have full-on dreadlocks going.

Where else but Oregon, home of a pricey digital finish-line camera and high-tech results system, do you find results posted after your race, written on notebook paper in pencil?

And most unusual response upon receipt of a StokedHat, this from the recipient of my first OBRA hat: "it matches my truck!"

Sunday, April 01, 2007

All good things must come to an end

Sunday, 1 April

My Tour of Willamette training camp ended with two days of racing (ouch!).

Saturday was the Icebreaker Criterium. Nobody else from Seattle turned up in Eugene for a big, flat, wide-cornered, early-season, windy, technology park crit. But I was in town anyway, the promoter is a tandem partner, and it's one crit course (probably the only one) where, on a good day, I stand a chance of not getting dropped. The weather was dicey, with showers all around. I waited to register until 6 laps to go in the race before mine; it was still dry so I had no excuse. I paid my money, crossed the street, and it started to rain. Really. Fortunately, then it stopped. When our pathetically small field lined up on the course, I lobbied to cut the race from 30 laps to 25, but everyone else wanted the workout (there was nowhere to hide on the headwind half of the course). Having ridden 250 miles in the previous 3 days, my legs weren't too good for quick accelerations, but I had enough power to repeatedly catch back on. I'm sure it was a hysterical race to watch, and the huge crowd (detect sarcasm) probably had a pool on how many times I would yo-yo off the back. There were two showers during our race so we were completely soaked and dirty, but because of the wind, the road was nearly dry again when we finished. And I finished with the "pack" and I was not DFL. I didn't win any sprints :) but I took some pulls (they usually left me up there for a lap or two when I made it to the front) and led it out to the last corner on the last lap. It was a pretty funny race--I was happy to finish and sure know what (all) I need to work on.

Sunday's course in Woodland at the Piece of Cake Road Race was sort of like a bigger version of Saturday's crit. The course is dead flat, with more than a few corners, and the only excitement is riding on top of the dike along the Columbia River. I started with the cat 3 men, and one guy told me that 3 riders in their race last year actually crashed down the dike into the river. I was lulled into an "I can do this" complacency in the first 10 miles. I managed to hang on when the pack decided to reel in a few breaks. Then things got nasty for a couple of miles and I finally got popped. I knew if I could just get back on, they'd settle down and I'd be fine. But those 250 miles in 3 days were still in my legs and there was no quick surge to be found. I rode another lap by myself, thankful that the sun had come out and the wind had not yet materialized.

Riding with the cat 3s was not my first choice, but: the women 1/2/3 raced at 1:45, which meant I would've gotten home at about 9 p.m.; I heard that last year the women pacelined for the entire race (zzzzz); there was also a masters women category, but they raced with the cat 4 women, which would've meant riding at the front all afternoon. And the cat 3 men gave me 3/4 of a lap of a pretty high-speed workout, which I needed--I just wish I could've gotten another lap out of them, but no complaints. And I missed the heinous crash in the race on the last lap.

So it was a good training camp. Beautiful roads, long climbs, and mostly sunshine. Four hats made and a baby blanket started. Essential shopping done. Not enough reading, not enough fantastic food, no wine tasting. Just not enough time, I guess. This week is one more CycleU TT, then I will have to take my ego to PR where it will get viciously deflated.

There's less weekend racing for me in April than in March, so maybe it's a good month to "retool." With all my new crit skills, watch for me at Boat Street (April Fool!).