Friday, January 25, 2008

Add this to your race calendar

Friday, 25 January
Happy Birthday, Martin!

News from Oregon:

The 7th annual Elkhorn Classic Stage Race in beautiful Baker City, Oregon, is already shaping up to be another superb event full of challenging racing, fellowship with friends, and a bounty of wonderful memories....same category opportunities as last year:

• Men's Pro 1 / 2
• Men's Cat 3
• Men's Cat 4 / 5
• Masters men 40+
• Women's Pro 1 / 2
• Women's Cat 3 / 4 (women's categories scored separately but run as one group)

A SPECIAL NOTE TO WOMEN RACERS: This is your chance to make a statement about the quality and commitment of women's racing in Oregon and throughout the Northwest. With the support of business leaders in Baker City, we have committed to matching the Women's Pro/1/2 payout to the Men's Pro/1/2 field, as well as scoring the Women 3/4s separately so there are many opportunities for women racers....You have asked for an opportunity in a stage race, and we have provided an exceptional one: now stand up and be counted....

All Elkhorn racers should plan accordingly for a wide variety of weather conditions and be in top shape; the course is tough but rewarding to those who come well prepared. All fields will follow the same courses with the same distances; because of this, Elkhorn does not assess time penalties or time cuts.

Registration is now open at:

For more information, including information on lodging and logistics in Baker City, please visit our website at

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

DIY mini training camp

Wednesday, 23 January

In the week between two indoor time trials, I managed to eke out some numbers that look like a mini training camp. But I took just one day off from work, had no travel costs except about 40 miles of driving and various coffee/bakery stops, got my sprawling old apple tree pruned, and took a freelance job that will pay for a real vacation/training camp later in the year. The week by the numbers:
  • 300+ miles on the road: more than 50 on the TT bike, the rest on my heavy ol' rain bike with 25mm tires--sadly, none on the tandem
  • 3 trips to the gym to lift weights
  • 2 trainer workouts
  • 2 10K time trials
  • 1 run
And to think one of my teammates nearly fell off her bike a few weeks back when we were talking about periodized training and I told her that some people get up to 20 hours of training during their heavy weeks. She could not fathom 20 hours of training--much less 20 hours on a bike--all in one week. :)

Cold commute?

Tuesday, 22 January

Just in case you thought your bike commute this morning was a wee bit chilly, I thought I'd share this image sent from a friend in Bend, who snapped the photo while riding his bike to work this morning. Check that fine print on the thermometer--and then stop feeling sorry for yourself!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Women's race series

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Luna Bar Sponsors 2008 WSBA Women's Race Series

Seattle, Washington (January 21, 2008) – The Washington State Bicycle Association is excited to announce the Luna Category 3 Women's Race Series and the Luna Category 4 Women's Race Series for 2008. The category 4 series continues a Washington state tradition that began years ago by Northwest Women's Cycling, and the category 3 series is a brand new effort by committed promoters to give category 3 women the opportunity to race only with their peers, not combined with any other category. The WSBA is pleased to have Luna Bar as title sponsor for both series, with additional sponsorship from

The category 3 series features nine races, including two time trials, one criterium, and six road races. The series runs from February 24 through May 10. Points will be awarded for placing in each race in the series, and has provided generous prizes for the top three series finishers. The series point standings will be updated on the WSBA website after each event.

The category 4 series features ten races, stretching from February 24 to August 10. Women earn points based on their placing in these events but also earn "participation points" for other races they do throughout the season. The point standings for this series will be updated after each race during the 2008 season on the WSBA website results pages.

In addition, the WSBA continues to offer five categories of women's racing at state championship events and for the Best All-Round Rider competition: categories 1-2, 3, 4, masters A, and masters B.

For more information about these series, please visit the WSBA website:

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Wednesday, 16 January

I wonder if anyone has studied the correlation between method of commuting to work, amount of coffee consumed, and workplace productivity and stress. Based on my own extensive fieldwork in the last two days of icy streets, I suggest that bicycle commuters tend toward more productivity and lower stress. Here's why.

My ride to work is 22 minutes. It's predictable but it makes me be alert and awake. I get to work with my blood flowing and my brain turned on. On the way home, work-related thoughts are replaced by the need to think about something else while I focus on traffic or where the next *&^#ing bump is on the Burke Gilman Trail.

It takes 45 minutes to get to work by bus. The bus is warm and dark. It's almost like going back to bed. When I get to work, I'm still in a fog, even if I didn't nap on the bus (somebody's too-loud iPod kept me awake!), even if I did a trainer workout before breakfast. I'm slow to take up tasks. I need coffee.

Driving to work is not an option for me (it costs $12 a day to park), but from my infrequent experiences driving in rush-hour traffic, I speculate that you need a cup of coffee in your hand for something to do while you inch toward that next stoplight. Between the caffeine and the annoying behaviors of other drivers, by the time you get to work, you're already on edge, ready to snap at someone. You need more coffee to soothe you.

[At this point, my readers in places like, say, Hood River are more delighted than ever that they don't live in the big city.]

Yeah, you can rationalize anything, but I'm grateful I can ride my bike to work almost every day. And these days when I can't (there is a demonstrated and strong correlation between icy roads and broken bones in cyclists) make me even more grateful. Ice, ice, go away!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Lesser? Necessary? evil

Monday, 14 January

Well, in spite of what Argentius implies about how hateful trainers are, sometimes they are the better option. I was hoping for an hour's spin after work today, but the prospect of riding when it was 38 degrees, raining, windy, and dark was somehow less appealing than sitting on my trainer. It was the right call too, because as my commute took me over the second-highest hill in Seattle outside of West Seattle, it started to snow. And it hasn't stopped. So grinding away on the trainer in zone 2 while I kept up with Harry Potter trying to retake Hogwarts was much closer to the pleasant end of the spectrum than Argentius might have thought possible. True, you can't really do intervals and read at the same time, but my after-work spin takes me out the Burke Gilman Trail, and I discovered last week that those bumps are treacherous in the dark if you're out of the saddle and don't see them coming. Sort of like Dementors. And whatever you think of J.K. Rowling, her prose is lots better distraction on the bike than some race video.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Gentlemen for 24 seconds

Wednesday, 9 January

It was a full contingent of 8 riders in the 7:00 heat at CycleU tonight: 6 men, another woman, and me. Once again the CompuTrainer HR monitor said I don't even have a pulse, and the monitor I brought from home only picked up the bird-like heart rates from Brian and Christine on either side of me. I know full well my HR doesn't get up to 137 when I'm just doodling along producing 85 watts. So that left me with only 2 things to watch for entertainment during the whole TT: watts and speed. Oh, and last year's Tour of California, which was actually pretty good distraction.

Lang gave us warnings at 2 minutes, 30 seconds, and 5 seconds, and we were off. Brian suddenly announced that I was in first place. I thought he was joking and I was afraid to look up. But sure enough, 5 seconds in, there was a 1 in the box under my name. By 10 seconds, I figured something was wrong. I mean, had everyone else stopped pedaling? Whatever strengths I have on the bike, bursts of power off the starting blocks are not one I've ever been credited with. I began to think they were all just being gentlemen and letting me ride away (I was getting worried that maybe I was going a whole lot harder than I realized and would soon have my first ever total explosion on the bike), until 24 seconds showed on the clock and OAD caught me and gave a big victory shout. And never looked back. After that, it was just a matter of watching them catch me one by one. When Tony caught me, I found a little spurt of feistiness and passed him back, but that was short lived and he soon left me in the dirt too.

Still, instead of paying a price for the apparent massive surge of power at the start, it ended up helping my time in the end. I had the fastest time that I've had in 21 months--and I think that one on 3/30/06 had some questionable calibration because it was more than a minute faster than tonight. Results will eventually be posted here, in case you want some chuckles to go with your morning coffee.

BTW these TTs are great. They make you hurt even more than a real TT, I think, especially if you can find some motivation (distraction) in holding off people who are catching you or trying to pass someone who's just overtaken you (it's a mass start TT, after all). I always go through at least one phase where I'm sure I'm going to get sick (oh, now that's a good selling point, I'm sure!). Watching those guys ride up the climbs along the California coast was pretty cool today. Lang promises video from the Wenatchee stage race at the next one! You can sign up here.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

No competition

Tuesday, 8 January

While I try to patronize small businesses (see my entries about local bakeries and local yarn shops), I admit I'm a frequent customer of corporate giant Starbucks. I rationalize this allocation of my dollars by noting that it's a local company, a local and progressive employer, and a supporter of bike racing. Still, when our team ride met at the Redmond Peet's last Saturday, I thought it would be a good opportunity to see how the competition works.

The experience was not nice. The woman who took my order repeated it back incorrectly ("no lid" does not mean "no room"), I corrected her, but then she delivered something else ("short" does not mean 16 oz.). She never made eye contact with me during the entire transaction. I do get tired of the perpetual smiles at Starbucks and the query of "how's your day going so far?" that opens nearly every transaction, and I'm often grouchy and sullen myself (there's a reason I'm not in retail), but my coffee experience is so much nicer when it's, well, nice. Howard Schultz is back at the helm, and hopefully he remembers that customer service is the edge that will keep us out of Peet's and McDonalds (ewww) for our coffee fixes.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Three strikes

Monday, 7 January

The 28 mm armadillo rear tire has been retired (there's a pun there, I'm sure, but no coffee yet, so I can't quite make it happen). Just about the time it started to snow on yesterday's ride, my tire developed a slow leak. By the time it was a full-on snowstorm, I realized I had no choice but to stop and fix a rear flat. My hands had been toasty warm, but funny how taking all your gloves and mittens off and handling a cold, wet tire while it's snowing chases that feeling away. The gloves I left on my hands got wet from the tire; the ones I took off and set on the ground got wet from the giant snowflakes. I was still an hour from home, and I was pretty sure I would lose all feeling in my hands on the long gradual descent that was ahead. But no, goretex mittens/shells are a great wind barrier and ever so gradually my hands got less frigid (mind you, I'm not saying they got warm again). And the second flat I feared didn't materialize.

Three flats in three months is not a very good track record, and I'm now happily rolling a skinnier Continental duraskin rear tire. I was hoping to fly up the hills on my commute this morning, but where I really noticed the difference was on the flats and downhill sections. The bike seemed a lot squirmier, um, I mean responsive, but I got used to that within a few miles. But no excuses for being the slow one on team rides any more....

Friday, January 04, 2008

Dave Douglas Do

Friday, 4 January

In case you've been under a rock lately, Dave Douglas has officially stepped down as president (and equipment manager and race permitter and rider upgrader and membership coordinator and general dogsbody) of the Washington State Bicycle Association. To pay tribute to his many (endless) accomplishments on behalf of bike racing in the Evergreen State, the WSBA has organized a (no-host) opportunity to fete/toast/honor/roast Dave tomorrow:

When: Saturday, January 5, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Endolyne Joe's, no host bar (West Seattle; over 21, please)

You know that if you've ever raced your bike in Washington, you ought to come and say thanks. Kickoff time for the Seahawks' playoff game was scheduled early in the afternoon just so you can enjoy both events in the same day.

In case you have a really good excuse for not showing up tomorrow night (like, you're still under a rock and you don't read this until Groundhog Day), Dave will still be putting on races and you can thank him in person there (too) for his years of devoted, inspired leadership and his commitment to bike racing.

If you want the full scoop, it's been posted for ages on the WSBA website. See you Saturday night!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Forever young

Thursday, 3 January

There's a story in a Seattle newspaper this morning about how women over 40 can look "forever young." Biggest laugh: avoid helmet hair. So helmet hair is okay on women under 40? How unfair. But maybe this dictum will be good for my hat business.

One tip I don't get is that I'm supposed to wear skirts that hit at or below my knee. But I'm also not supposed to look "frumpy," and a long, loose skirt is a really quick way to look dumpy and frumpy--like a 1960s leftover. If you have abs, it's okay to wear a bikini, but if you have quads, you can't wear a skirt that's 4 inches above your knee?

Of course, all this comes from a woman who "gets her hair blown out and her nails done once or twice a week, her hair recolored every three to four weeks," and whose "beauty spending" amounts to $16,000 a year or more.

I guess we all have our priorities. We just don't all write books about them. Only blogs. :)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2007 data

New Year's Day

I've never done this before, but last night I added up some numbers from my 2007 training journal. Some made me smile, one made me wince.

Total bike (road, TT, tandem) miles: 10,931
Total tandem miles in the above: 1,753 (16%)
Total days with no bike miles: 23 (most in January and December)
Total trainer time: 80 hours
Month with the most miles: July (1,091 total; 388 tandem)
Month with the least miles: January (711 total; 184 tandem)

What made me smile was adding up all those miles for July and remembering the rides and races that month. Kind of discouraging was the equivalent of 2 weeks at work on the trainer. Disheartening too were the low training miles last January because of ice and snow. But Dan V. in Eugene is the latest proof that "it's just not worth it" to ride when there's any risk of black ice--hope your bones heal fast, Dan!