Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Important race question

Wednesday, 25 July

Why the heck do the cat 4-5s yell so much during their race at Pacific Raceways? Are they all hard of hearing? It doesn't sound like "slowing" or "hold your line." It's more like they're continuing ten arguments from the previous week. There could actually be racing going on if they weren't expending all their energy yelling at each other.

Yeah, yeah, I could go ride with a different field. But half of the masters guys are racing in shorts that should've been retired three years ago, and the 1-2s are so strung out most of the time that there's no nice draft for wimps like me to sit in. So I make do with the 4s until the sketch factor kicks in. But the yelling has got to go....

Monday, July 23, 2007

A whole nother level

Monday, 23 July

The folks who really rode on a different level this weekend were at Race Across Oregon.

Being a mere mortal, I stuck to the Co-Motion tandem stage race. It was my third Co-Motion race, but the first year to race there with my husband. Race results will eventually appear here, and I'll forgo the blow-by-blow details. We were third in the TT (first mixed tandem), lost no time to our competition in the crit, and were fourth in the RR (first mixed).

The lesser observation of the weekend is that the male-male bikes did absolutely nothing in the crit. They didn't ride at the front, they didn't get in any breaks, and they didn't win any primes. I could only attribute such atypical male behavior to the fact that the male pairs were matches made for this race--and thus less confident of their combined technical riding skills?--whereas the mixed pairs probably do most of their tandem riding with their partners in this race. Never mind that we'd never sprinted on the tandem before; it didn't stop us from trying (we have 2+ pounds of coffee to prove it)!

The greater observation came halfway up the epic climb in yesterday's road race. The bottom mile is the steepest; everyone stayed together. Then it settles into about 7% for the next two miles. By halfway through this, we were the only mixed tandem left in the front group. I knew it was the place to be, but I felt a little out of my league with all those boys riding hard on a long climb. Mostly, though, I felt like I might explode at any moment; I know this climb well and was focusing on getting to where it flattens out a little in the last mile. And then the Hutch's guys attacked. Before I could even think "oh good, let them go," my captain launched to get on their wheel. And we did. And we stayed. Until the next attack.

I have always thought that riding tandem is a better workout than I would get doing the same ride on my single bike. Perceived effort is less than actual effort. Previous tandem partners have all been much stronger than me--men just have more muscle mass and more power output, and the ones I've ridden with also had more pounds than I have.

But when O.A.D. went after that first attack yesterday, I was truly surprised--not that he tried, but that he made it work. I thought I was at my max, and there was no way I could've gone harder if I'd been on my single bike. But all of a sudden someone was making me go harder--I didn't have any choice. And since I was probably contributing about 10% of the increased effort, that meant he was doing 90% and dragging me up the hill...and staying with those guys. Think about how hard it is to accelerate on a long climb. Then imagine doing it on a bike that weighs 10 pounds more than your race bike, with 125 pounds of underpowered weight on the back. This was something that all the modern technology you can put on your bike will never measure. I'm not sure what the measure is, but I guess my climbing ability has been relatively similar to that of my previous partners, whereas O.A.D. possesses more of something in that department.

We couldn't match the second attack but--like Levi--we just rode a hard, damage-control tempo and stayed with one male-male bike that eventually towed us up to the two leaders. Apart from two 2-mile descents, I was maxed out for about 17 miles of climbing and chasing. I never ride with a heart-rate monitor, but I sure wish I had data from that effort!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Port-a-potty protocol

Saturday, 21 July

Dudes, lock the door!!

At the Cascade Cycling Classic two weeks ago, I walked up to a port-a-potty with a green "open" sign on the door--and opened it to find a guy with his shorts around his ankles. Oops, sorry!

Today at the Co-Motion tandem stage race, I hesitated before another "open" biffy and knocked. No answer. So I opened it up--and there's another guy in the same state.

What is this? A secret desire to be caught at something I don't want to catch anyone at? As the next person in line said, this isn't exactly rocket science. How do we make it any clearer? It's not so bad when a male teammate or some old broad like me catches you, but little kids? An official? LOCK THE DOOR!!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Picture show

Monday, 16 July (still)

Sahalie Falls. Almost the headwaters of the McKenzie River.

Top of McKenzie Pass. Road is completely closed just past the summit, so almost no cars.

No cars, but lots of chipmunks up there on McKenzie Pass!

Stage 5 feed zone. This is the break in the pro field; it's relatively quiet here, but there was pandemonium when the packs came through. Phil in com 1 kept trying (futilely) to wave us all back outside the white line.

Back to reality

Monday, 16 July

I went. I saw. I conquered. And then I had to come home.

The conquest started off the week: I set a new course record--with help from O.A.D., of course. There then were a couple of long, solo, unsupported days on my single bike on beautiful roads next to scenic rivers and over mountain passes, some stretches with not-so-beautiful traffic. There was one glorious ride on a closed road, 15 miles out/up, 15 miles back/down; I realized about 3/4 of the way through the ride that I had a huge grin on my face--it was just that beautiful and that much fun. Found another scrumptious bakery. Saw alpacas, llamas, reindeer (seriously!), a gazillion chipmunks, a bobcat, and blazingly bright stars all the way down to the horizon.

Then it was on to one day of registration and two days of hard physical labor to support an NRC race (remind me never to promote one of those). Then two days of feed zoning, which took me back to my earliest roots in bike racing. I am quite happy to sit at my desk, out of the sun, today!

All week long, I just kept meeting great people and getting to know others better and seeing folks I hadn't seen in years. There's a huge cycling community out there, and so many parts are so interconnected. People were incredibly kind and generous to me, and others seemed grateful for advice and help I was able to give them. And on my bike, I encountered not one rude motorist--in 300 miles, much of it on state highways, that was a pleasant surprise.

It was not a vacation where I got to lie in a hammock, read all day (I read one book), and drink umbrellaed drinks (I sampled several local beers, though). But I barely thought about work...or the WSBA...or BARR points...and I had a lot of fun. I would do it all again (and better) in a heartbeat!

Afterword: My antipathy toward crits was only reinforced on this busman's holiday. During a crit on Friday, I was minding my own business, sitting 3 feet back from the curb after corner 3 just opposite one of the pits, making a hat, when 2 riders came flying through the caution tape and over the hay bale and very, very nearly slammed into me. The riders were okay, but the same cannot be said for one skinsuit and one carbon seatpost that's now in two pieces. In retrospect, it's pretty funny: I was nearly taken out in a crit and I wasn't even on my bike!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Friday, 6 July

I'm off to try new things for a while: do something I've never done, go somewhere I've never been. There will, of course, be tandems and my single bike and challenges. And hats, friends, wilderness, and racing. And nary a computer on the horizon. Happy summer!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Two firsts

Monday, 2 July

No, that's not my weekend race report (I only managed one second in that department).

The first first was on Sunday morning. We were driving on the Delta Highway in Eugene and saw a turtle in the middle of the road. This was not one of those turtles that somebody wanted to remove from the Des Moines crit course. This was a critter, walking across the freeway. Its shell was probably 8-10 inches across and the color of concrete. Fortunately, there wasn't much traffic so I'm hoping it made it all the way across without becoming road kill.

The second first was during my race on Sunday afternoon. On the second lap, I was riding with one other woman. We had just turned onto the narrow, rolly, twisty road through the vineyards on this course when we heard a truck behind us. Since we had no lead or follow car, we did our duty and moved to the right, but it took a while before the driver got up the nerve to pass--you couldn't see more than 100 feet along the road at a time. It turned out that the vehicle was not a truck but a Hummer limo, and it took FOREVER to get past us. When it pulled in front of us, it didn't fit on its half of the road so the right wheels were in the dirt on the right shoulder. And then it turned right into one of the wineries, forcing us to slow down while we waited for it to turn its behemoth self off the road.

The racing was good; more than twice as many women turned out for the masters women's road race championship this Sunday than had turned up 3 weeks ago for the senior women's championship race.