Friday, May 30, 2008

More women's race series !!

Friday, 30 May

In case you thought bike racing only happened in March when it's 41 degrees and raining, check out these new opportunities for women's racing in the Northwest:

There's a new summer race series for cat 4 women in Oregon:

And a new 3-race series at Pacific Raceways for cat 3s and 4s:

Summer racing heats up at Pacific Raceways! With generous sponsorship from Renton Western Wear, Starbucks, and BuDu Racing, cat 3 and cat 4 women will have their own (separate) races on July 1, July 22, and August 26 (all Tuesdays). These are "real" races--no coaches, no training, just lots of race action. Races start at 6:30 and will run approximately 40 minutes. $10 entry fee per race. The course will be "the flats" for each race. Prizes for top 3 overall series finishers will be awarded on August 26.

This series is a great transition from the training races that have been happening at PR all year (those continue through the month of June). More information about women's racing at PR is available on the BuDu Racing website: For directions to PR, see:

Please forward this message to your friends and teammates. The more women who turn up, the better the racing will be! And the two lucky winners will walk away with great new (non-cycling) shoes or boots courtesy of
Renton Western Wear.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A bunch of ______s

Wednesday, 28 May

Last night was "up the escape route" at Pacific Raceways. It was Goldilocks weather: not too warm, not too cool, just about right for bike racing. And almost nobody showed up. There might have been fewer than 75 riders, all fields combined. Did that bright orb in the sky scare everyone away? The mild traffic? Or was it the whopping 75 feet of climbing every 2.5 miles? Really, that hill is so short, you can't even pretend like you did hill repeats when the evening is over. I did not see another woman racing in any of the categories. Is everyone saving their legs for Enumclaw? Come on, if I can get up the escape route three days after my 12-hour, 185-mile adventure, I really can't imagine very many legitimate excuses for not showing up last night. The apparent truth? You're afraid to race uphill. What a bunch of ______s!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Crazy fun

Monday, 26 May

That little time trial on Saturday was a lot of fun. Really! When was the last time you had a flash toward the end of a bike race, when everything hurt and you thought you'd never finish, that said "I am having so much fun" without the slightest trace of sarcasm?

The Lewis and Clark Ultra (LaCultra) started with a 140-mile "day loop." We left Hockinson, WA, and followed course markings on semi-rural back roads until we reached the Lewis and Clark Highway (a.k.a. Highway 14) along the Columbia. Heading east to Stevenson, the gorge winds weren't too bad except for the stretch around Beacon Rock. Following an exceptionally large sign (which one of the relay teams managed to miss), we turned away from the Mighty Columbia on the Wind River Highway at the town of Carson. This "highway" is vastly different from 14: it has a centerline and a fog line and great pavement but has apparently (thankfully!) been forgotten by car drivers. We rode a long way through trees of various vintages, planted after rounds of clearcut. The dogwood were in full flower, making white lace in the understory. Eventually the road started to climb up Old Man Pass, which might more aptly be named Dead Deer Pass (I passed two of those--it's so hard to hold your breath when you're climbing!-- and only one "old" man). There was lots of snow under the trees and along the shoulder, and the wind off the snow was cold in the shady stretches. Time station 2 was at the top, and I reclaimed my vest from the support car (I'd surrendered it along with gloves and knee warmers at time station 1 near Stevenson) for the descent through more snow banks. The cold was gone within a couple of miles, the road turned, and there was the view du jour: a stunning image of Mt. St. Helens, complete with a cloud veil on top. Here was the part of the course marked "weeeee" on the cue sheet: down down down we went.

Eventually we came to a junction with the forest road that I had months ago hoped to ride from Mt. Rainier to Hood River on a touring ride from Seattle to the Mt. Hood stage race. That road is still closed by snow. LaCultra went west, along the north side of the Swift Creek Reservoir (never heard of it? neither had I, but it has got to be at least as big as Lake Washington). More riding through trees. Eventually you're back into semi-rural countryside, and the course route was again marked on the road so you didn't have to consult the cue sheet at every junction.

Back at the middle school at the start/finish, you reloaded your pockets with food and your brain with the idea of more riding and took off on the "night loop." This was advertised to have "something for everybody." I liked the first three miles of flat, straight, smooth, tailwind road and the 40+ mph descent in the last mile. But the steep sections and even the rolling section were really tough. After one lap (9.6 miles), I didn't see myself doing too many of those, but I was supposed to ride that circle for another three-ish hours until my 12 were done. The other half of my can of Coke and some more Oreos got me out on the second lap. After that, eating and drinking seemed like too much bother. But this was where I realized I might not be too embarrassingly far off the total from my previous 12-hour single bike race in 2006 (Ring of Fire) if I could just keep at it. When I rolled across the line at the end of lap 4 and still had 25 minutes left, I knew I couldn't just stop and be happy with that distance. So I told myself I could go just to mile marker 3, which was at the base of a short hill that topped out at about 20%. When I got there, I seriously considered getting off and walking when I realized I could probably get to mile 5 (I was not willing to ride up that hill again for one more mile, but two more was enough motivation). I got to mile 6 (and a little farther) at the end of my 12 hours, which made for an official distance of 184.8 (at ROF I had done 183 and I was pleasantly surprised to exceed that distance).

In my 12 hours, the weather was almost nearly perfect. A few spits of rain (so few you could count the raindrops on your fingers). Sunshine, but not blazing. Breeze off the snow, some headwind off the river, but mostly calm winds. Temps by afternoon in the low 70s. Just about perfect, really. But the poor guys who were racing for 24 hours: around 8 p.m., a thunderstorm moved through Hockinson and it poured and blew for nearly an hour. After that, the 24s were down to just 2 riders who kept riding that really hard short loop all night long. And they seemed to be in good cheer every time they rolled through.
I had the usual host of fears going into this race. Weather topped the list (those thunderstorms were in the forecast, and we were riding between St. Helens and Adams much of the day), but there were also the usual physical ailments (back, knees, stomach, hands, and feet--oh, and that part that bears most of your weight for 12 hours on the saddle). Oh, and I hadn't trained for it, and May is a little early in the year to be setting out on a 150+ mile adventure. Apart from some back worries between miles 20 and 40 and sore feet (pushing on carbon fiber soles for 12 hours can't be all fun), it was all good. Following the "replenish, not replace" school of thought, my nutritional uptake was not immense: 4 20-oz bottles of Gleukos and another bottle of Coke and ice for liquid; 1 400-calorie bar, 14 fig bars (not the low-fat kind), 8 Oreos, 1 orange (peeled and split into sections in advance), 20 pretzels, and half a peanut butter and banana sandwich. I prepackaged snacks and sent one bag to each time station, but the ride organizer had a generous supply of lots of different foods at each stop. Plus water, so I could mix my bottles. When I picked up the orange at time station 3, I had no space left in my pockets, so I stuck the ziplock bag under the front of my top jersey (I had two on). I quickly realized that I could unzip the (full zip) top jersey and simply reach into the bag from the top, which was lots easier than fishing something out of pockets on the back of my jersey. This was far enough into the race that I didn't much care what oncoming drivers thought when they saw me with my hand down the front of my jersey. :)

I think I was stopped for a sum total of maybe 20 minutes in my 12 hours. Three time stations, two "rest" stops (the cue sheet noted roadside port-a-potties), two photo stops (other racers were genuinely shocked when I admitted to stopping to take pictures!), and maybe three stops at the start/finish for food/coke. I had a clip-on fender on my bike and a rain jacket in my pocket; since they were never needed, I'll consider them my "cheap insurance" policy. At one point, I also realized I was carrying a near-pharmacy: sunscreen, chapstick, aspirin, and ibuprofen. I did reapply the first two on the list mid-day but never needed the last two. (One racer also said he was surprised to see me applying sunscreen before the start, on a cloudy day; um, duh, it's 12 hours outdoors--you need sunscreen in late May no matter what the weather!)

When I did the 12-hour Ring of Fire on my single bike, I had a couple of momentary mental lapses where I sort of forgot what I was doing. None of those at LaCultra. I think the cooler weather helped. I did have one odd flash where I thought I saw a snake on the road, but it was only a dead bungee cord. And I had a mini-meltdown with my cue sheet. We all know that sheets of paper have a short life in a jersey pocket because they get damp and frayed into oblivion. So my cue sheet was in a ziplock bag. But eventually I'd come to the fold in the page and have to take the sheet out, refold it, and put it back in. Toward the end of the big loop, the page was all bent up from so many trips under the leg of my shorts and being refolded and it just wouldn't go back into the bag in a flat, readable form. And then the f*&^ing bag wouldn't seal. I'm sure I lost more time dealing with that than I did taking pictures! :)

The saddest part of the route for me was coming into the finish of the big loop and then all through the short loop. It has apparently become a trend in the semi-rural parts of Clark County to buy 10 acres of farmland, build an enormous and usually not very architecturally inspired McMansion, put in a long paved driveway, then plant 3 acres around the house in lawn so you can burn extra gasoline by having to run your John Deere on a regular basis for hours on end. And we wonder why run-off and erosion are problems and why we can't buy locally grown food.

Problems of our society aside, this was a great race. The roads are wonderful, the views of Mt. St. Helens were worth all the pedaling to see them, and the race organizer was organized (not as common a feature as you'd like to think among race organizers), meticulous, supportive, and a totally laid back, nice guy. What other kind of person could burst my bubble by reminding me that not only was I the first-place woman finisher, I was also the last one? ;)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Thursday, 22 May

This is Ski to Sea weekend. Excitement in the air everywhere in Whatcom County. After six years on the fastest overall women's team, I passed the baton (hair scrunchy, or chip band, in this case) to an FRM teammate--and got another one doing the mtn bike leg for the same team, Boundary Bay Brewery. Those ladies are going to rock and roll all the way to the finish line. I'm not sure I'll miss sitting on the trainer in the annual 45-degree drizzle at the DOT station on Mt. Baker for me on Sunday morning. But I will miss the adrenaline that's so thick up there on race day you can inhale it.

My race plans for the weekend include instead a little time trial outside Vancouver, WA. It's tiny: just 12 of us signed up so far. But it's a brand new event, and it's always nice to support the efforts of someone who starts up a new bike race. I'll take the camera but not the laptop, so it might take a while to get a race report up. Cross your fingers for good weather for us!

And while I'm down south, I'm going to go buy a tandem for a friend who'll be racing at Ski to Sea. I think he found it on Craigs List, and I have a rendezvous with the seller at a Starbucks in NE Portland. How cool to see another household get a tandem. But we really will have to get this one to its new owner in a timely fashion because I'm not ready for two tandems living in our living room!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hood gossip

Monday, 19 May

Okay, I try not to gossip toooo much on my blog, but I suppose that's what everybody reads blogs for. So here are some things I learned at Hood:

Do not hang on to the side of a car for, like, 10K to get paced back up to a group if you flat. Officials apparently hang out in the woods to keep you honest--or penalized.

The most famous bike racer at this stage race modified her TT bike between the prologue and the TT so that it failed the pre-race test with the bike jig designed by officials here in Washington (your bike had to pass muster before you could start). As a result, she was about 90 seconds late starting her TT while her bars were raised to meet UCI standards. She finished in second place, about 15 seconds behind the stage winner.

At least one woman reported a pretty "boring" race without much action on the long road stage on Saturday. She really missed the interminable climbs on forest service roads of the true Wy'East course.

I have not spent so much time in a long time among so many women who made me feel fat.

If you get an invitation for an exciting, new, challenging opportunity, should you accept or should you be realistic and realize that your life might not have room for more challenges?

New TT course coming at Cascade.

More tidbits as I think of them.

Hood finish

Monday, 19 May

Let's see, where was I when life got so busy there was no time to visit the internet? Oh yeah, Saturday, the "queen stage" of the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic, a.k.a. the Wy'East Road Race, rerouted this year because of an uncooperative snow pack. Start for all categories but pro men was in the town of Dufur. As soon as we got there, they announced a 30-minute delay in the start times (the pros started somewhere else, and they had to get past Dufur before the slower categories could start). So we all sat around a high school parking lot in the blazing sun for longer than anyone should ever have to do. They did finally get the race on the road at 11:35.

There were two feed zones on Saturday, one at 25 miles, the second at 50 miles; the finish was at about 75 miles. Sitting in the first feed zone was as close to sitting under a broiler as I ever need to come. No shade, no trees, and, remarkably, no wind. Great views of Jefferson, Hood, and Adams. The pros get their bottles for drinking from their team cars in the race caravan, so when they come through the feed zone, they grab as much "neutral" water as they can in order to have a shower on the bike. End result? Not enough neutral water for the races behind them that don't have team cars for the riders to feed from. OTB guys in the masters race were told "no more water." Fortunately, there was a mini mart about 3 miles up the road, and someone got there, bought out their water supply, and passed the bottles up so no one shriveled up into so much sweaty dust.

Getting to the second feed zone involved passing two race categories strung out along the road. Much time spent driving on the left side of a double yellow line. :) This feed zone was equally flat, but at higher elevation and in a forest, so it was pretty pleasant for the sit-and-wait experience. Guys were absolutely desperate when they came through, you could literally see it in their eyes. Unfortunately, there were at least two crashes, one of them caused by a mishandled musette. Both riders hopped back on and kept racing. The team I was feeding was waaaaaay spread out by this point, so I was one of the last cars to leave.

Shortly after the second feed, the race turned onto highway 26, the major route from Bend to Mt. Hood. There's a huge, temporary, digital DOT sign that says SNOW ZONE: CARRY CHAINS OR TRACTION TIRES. Um, yeah, on bikes. We did eventually see tons of snow beside the road but none ON the road. Little shade on this leg up to Mt. Hood Meadows, lots of "detonated" riders barely able to turn the pedals. I offered up water from the car but guys were too delirious. One of them told me refusing a bottle at 5K to the finish was one of his dumber moves in the race.

What do you do for a rider who crosses the finish line who can't even stand up with his bike, can't open his mouth to drink, can't lean back to lie on the ground? Stomachs cramped up as did calves and quads. It was like trying to bring riders back to enough life to get them into a car. It was a long, slow process.

After all that, the stage race ended Sunday with a crit in downtown Hood River. Since there are no flat roads in Hood River, it's quite a technical course and the vultures hang out at the bottom of the downhill hairpin waiting for crashes. There were pretty good crowds on hand and only a few crashes. We did not stick around for the pro men's race but cheered on our local favorites in the women's race.

I got up early on Sunday to go for a short ride. My ride partner had some local knowledge, so we drove to Lyle and rode up the Klickitat River drainage, up a steep climb out of the river canyon, and then 10 miles of sweet descending back to Lyle. I'll add a picture soon from the top of the climb. I think we saw 4 cars in 30 miles. I understand the Klickitat is normally a clear river, but yesterday it was the color of chocolate milk because of the rapid snow melt. And the water was high enough to be bringing down lots of trees and branches.

One of my favorite thing about stage races--either racing or supporting riders--is getting to know new people and getting to know others better. I am really thankful for all the opportunities that came up at this race to do just that. And in case you ever wondered about even your slightest good deed going unnoticed, I was floored on Saturday when a woman in the feed zone walked up to me and said "I know you. You gave me a bottle of ice-cold water in the circuit race at Cascade last year. You were my savior." I sure didn't recognize her, and wasn't wearing the same team jersey as I did at Cascade, but obviously those 20 ounces of water were pretty memorable. To mix the bumper sticker metaphors: random acts of kindness help us all wag more and bark less.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Hotter Hood

Friday, 16 May
Happy Birthday, NateDawg!

Quick report. High temp observed today: 99 degrees. Water in my bottles got to a temperature warmer than some hotel showers. I rode from Hood River east to the Discovery Center outside The Dalles where the TT started. Chatted with a few folks I know officiating and neutral supporting along the course. Talked with the photographers who were all congregated near the top of the big climb, where the view back down the course shows this great hairpin. You hardly realize it's there when you're riding.

I was still riding backward on the course when the pro men started. Kinda funny. Some guys had disk wheels, other had deep-rimmed carbon wheels. But some guys had wheels that were no more aero than my training wheels, and one guy was just resting his hands on his cables--not even any clip-on aero bars. And one pro-team guy had a rear wheel with a cassette that was at least as rattly as the one on my disk wheel. What are his team mechanics and sponsors for?
I checked in at the start with a few of the women in the race, letting them know that the nuclear winds were definitely not blowing up on the top of the course today. Then Miranda joined me and we rode tomorrow's route for the pro men to the town of Dufur, where all the other categories start the Big Road Stage at Hood. We missed a turn and came across this relic. We also found lots of orchards and vineyards--along with grazing cattle and sheep and plowed fields on amazingly steep hillsides. And, like, 2 cars in 50 miles.

The hotel ISP apparently doesn't like my email account because I can't get it to load any messages. There are 108 of them in my inbox, but I don't know what they are. I guess ignorance is bliss and makes for a better vacation!

Hot Hood

Friday, 16 May

Yesterday was the first road stage at Mt. Hood. An absolutely beautiful day. Okay, maybe too beautiful by the end. But still glorious. I was helping with registration/packet pick up for the OBRA races, so I was in Parkdale at 6:00 a.m. The park was beautiful with tall trees. It's fun to feel the race anticipation build as stuff gets set up and riders start to roll in, sometimes bleary eyed. Here's the start of the masters field.

Then it was off to the feed zone. Not a great place to hand up water bottles because it's the only FLAT spot on the course. The first time the riders came through, they were flying so fast almost nobody got a feed. By the second pass, they'd figured it out and slowed down a bit. The cool part of this spot is that it's bracketed by Mt. Hood on one end and Mt. Adams on the other.

After the boys were done and decramped and watered and fed and back at the ranch, I headed out for my ride. I followed the race's TT course out to The Dalles and then did a little loop out there. Well, I did part of the loop. It's 18 miles. It was headwind from the start and I was going a whopping 12 mph. 6 miles later I was still doing 12 mph (and this is the downhill/flat part of the loop) and I realized I wouldn't be home before dark. So I turned around...and was promptly doing 22. :)

It's truly an amazing TT course. This was the first time I'd ever ridden it when the winds were anywhere close to calm, and I realized that you could do the whole thing without touching the brakes. I guess on previous attempts, I've had to use the brakes to keep from blowing across or off the road. The views, again, are amazing. This pic is looking west back toward Hood River from the top of the climb (yeah, there's climb in this TT--net elevation gain is something like 2000 feet in 16 miles).

Out on the loop out of The Dalles, I saw a beautiful pheasant and a coyote. And then going up the TT climb on my way home, I stopped for some deer crossing the road. I think this one would've stood there all night, just watching me fumble for my camera in my pocket.

Thursday was the coolest day of the weekend. On my first pass through The Dalles, the bank thermometers said 94 degrees. By the time I returned at about 6 p.m., they were down to 90. Today I'm venturing out in the direction of Saturday's epic road stage. Rolling hills as far as the eye can see, and of course no shade from the blazing sun. And no cell service, so I can't call for a taxi to get home!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Howdy from Hood River

Wednesday, 14 May

OBRA racing at the Mt. Hood stage race (that means fields other than the UCI women's race and pro-1 men's race) starts tomorrow morning, so we spent this morning on the road. It was grey and misty when we left Seattle and sunny and warm and, of course, windy when we got to Hood River. We headed out for a spin on part of the TT course. The first part of our ride (the last part of the TT) follows the Old Columbia River Highway. It's now closed to motor vehicles and has beautiful smooth asphalt. And some spectacular views of the gorge.
One of the special features of this TT is the Mosier tunnel. This view is from the bottom. The tunnel at the top is the traditional dark, vaulted train tunnel, but the pavement is perfectly smooth and there are no water drips inside. It segues into this colonnade. Speeds are pretty fast through this section and it's a wee bit technical.

One thing riders surely will NOT notice when they race on this course are the wildflowers blooming everywhere. The lupine are out in full glory all along the road and trail, and the California poppies add their cheerful color here and there. Scads more flowers I don't know the names of.
Tomorrow's stage is the Cooper Spur circuit. It's either uphill or downhill. Temps are supposed to be in the upper 80s, so I might be useful in the feed zone. And then I want to ride out to The Dalles and around the Wasco 75 course. Headwind ALL the way back, though....

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Tuesday, 13 May

Cross-training might be a good idea when it involves going to the gym in the middle of winter and taxing muscle groups you cannot tax on the bike because the weather is malicious and the bike will whimper if you roll it out of the garage (to say nothing of the rider).

But this springtime cross-training with a lawn mower is tough. Last night I mowed our entire yard (usually I do it in two parts). Big deal, you say? My (eco friendly) push mower requires, well, pushing. A lot of pushing. And grass is not the majority population in my lawn. Moss and weeds make up a substantial portion of the green. (I'm secretly striving for--and am not far from--the latest NW eco trend: a "moss lawn.") Moss is thick and lush right now and just loves to suck in and strangle the wheels and blades on my mower. My cross-training activity bore more resemblances to lunges with a mower than to trimming a putting green.

The end result of last night's workout, a.k.a. lawn mowing, is that my legs are tireder today than they were at any time after Saturday's 60-mile Ravensdale-Cumberland road race. I think I am going to have to devise a post-mow recovery program to stretch the affected muscle groups.

Speaking of Saturday's race, it was more fun than I expected going in. For one thing, the forecasted rain did not materialize. For another, "the wall" had to be removed from the race course due to poor road conditions. I wonder how many cyclists were out there secretly dropping large boulders on the roadway in the weeks leading up to the race to avoid 0.15 miles at 20%. The finish climb was short and flat if you just rode up it, but relentless and painful at the end of the race. One of the things I learned in this race is where Cumberland, WA is. I was solo off the front for a couple of miles, which is a better opportunity for sightseeing than riding in the pack. And I just happened to notice the signs on the shops when I passed through Cumberland. I'm not sure it can boast a wide spot in the road, but there is an intersection.

The toughest part of the race was watching the cat 3s try to race. Because of smallish field sizes, the cat 3 women (supposed to be raced separately at this event) and the cat 1-2 women were combined in one race but scored separately. You can imagine the difficulty. A cat 3 attacks. Nobody chases her down: the cat 1-2s don't care too much, and the cat 3s know that a cat 1-2 driven pack will eventually catch her. We spent a lot of time watching women dangle and die. I think the cat 3s gained some confidence, though. They saw that cat 1-2s don't eat each other alive out there, and they learned one of our dark secrets: toward the end of the race, when it's clear nobody's going to get away, nobody wants to work, so the speed falls. And falls. How much 15 mph can you take? She who loses patience first sacrifices her legs to jump-start the pack. Ah well, in this case, her legs weren't going to fly up that finish hill anyway. But her teammate's did!

Friday, May 09, 2008


Friday, 9 May

Nothing like a warmish Friday evening to go for a stroll through the west 40 with a beer in hand to check out the crops (that's 40 square feet, in my case, not 40 acres). I just got the potatoes and tomatoes in, the leaves on the grape vines have popped out, and the first batch of peas are coming along. The rhubarb, though, is unreal...and yummy.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Another women's race series

Thursday, 8 May

The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association is pleased to announce the inaugural Norman Babcock Cat 4 Women's Series. Named in honor of Norman Babcock, a strong supporter of women's cycling who recently passed away from cancer, the goal of the series is to encourage women cyclists to try racing. In conjunction with the Monday Night Portland International Raceway women's intro clinics and women's clinics throughout the state, the series will provide an opportunity for Cat 4 women to try out their racing skills.

Promoters have agreed to run separate Cat 4 women's fields at the Swan Island Criterium (Portland, June 8), Salem Fairview Circuit Race (Salem, June 29), High Desert Road Race (Bend, August 3), Mary's Peak Hillclimb (Corvallis, August 16), and Eugene Celebration Stage Race (Eugene, August 30-September 1). "This is a great opportunity to increase grass roots participation in women's racing," says Kenji Sugahara, Executive Director of OBRA. "We are working closely with many sponsors and promoters to create an exciting and supportive environment for women's cycling." With a wide variety of races, the series will give women with different strengths a chance to compete for the top prize, a bike frame from the title sponsor, Veloforma, a Portland-based manufacturer of carbon bicycles.

For more information, contact Kenji Sugahara at

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Wednesday, 7 May

The state road race championship on Sunday was funny in a bunch of ways. Three stand out.

First, last week was chaotic for me at work. And I worked 12 hours on Saturday. Come Sunday morning, I wasn't really feeling too peppy, mentally or physically. But the sun was shining, so I figured I'd hang in the pack for the first half-lap until we got to the hills and then have a couple of nice easy laps on my own to enjoy the warm sunshine and the smell of tide flats. So much for that plan. Yeah, I got dropped on the first hill but caught back on. On the second hill (there were two climbs in each of our five 10.5-mile laps) I was behind someone who dropped her chain at the bottom so had more chasing to do....on a hill. Repeat that scenario each lap until the fourth, when on the second climb my legs absolutely imploded in pain and forward motion seemed to cease. But STILL I got back on to the front group (which was 8 riders by this time). I could see the writing on the wall, though, so I took a long pull at the start of the last lap and made only a half-hearted effort to catch back on after the first hill. And then I had a nice little solo ride in the warm sunshine to the finish line.

Second, I was comparing notes with a rider in another field after the race, and we made the same observation about cyclocross riders. Come to the steep hills on this course, and they were all about flailing their bikes. The thing that made it sooooo striking in my race was Jen, who spins as comfortably on her bike on a 15% climb as she probably does sitting on her trainer at home with a HR of about 80. She rode up those climbs rock solid, super smooth and steady while more than one or two others were all choppy and jittery around her. I tried to stay on her wheel just because the image was so much more soothing.

The third funny thing was what happened when one rider had a mechanical halfway through the race. Understand that there were about 4 riders each from Teams A, B, and C, plus about 5 of us who had no teammates (several of these had been dropped by this point in the race). A Team A rider gets a mechanical and has to stop to try to fix it. Team A obviously is going to try to keep the pace slow. Well, Team B also joined in that effort ("it wouldn't look good to attack now"). Team C did not do much all day to dictate the race or its pace. So we rode along at 14 mph for a good 5 miles until the rider with the afflicted bike caught back on. In the end, the faulty bike part failed completely and the rider DNFed. Furthermore, the woman who won the race (who was not part of Team A, B, or C) said this nice little rest in the middle of the race played perfectly to her strengths (or, rather, helped her overcome her weakness). Of course, at the time she was agitated and wishing she had teammates in the race so she could drive the pace. It was an odd little incident for midway through a state championship race.

Friday, May 02, 2008

[OBRA Chat] Norman Babcock, rest in peace

Norman died yesterday. We are all better off for knowing him. He will be greatly missed.

Candi Murray
Assistant Director
Oregon Bicycle Racing Association

Frozen oatmeal

Friday, 2 May

Browsing my local Trader Joe's last night, I discovered another new idea in food engineering: frozen, cooked oatmeal. Seriously. So now I can buy quick, regular, old fashioned, and organic rolled oats, plus instant and frozen. Of course, there's also REAL oatmeal, which is, you know, the oat off the stalk instead of some steel cut, machined wonder out of the food industry. This stuff comes to us from Ireland (yeah, the U.S. imports grain from Ireland). If you've ever bought real oatmeal, you know you have to cook it for 30 minutes. And if you've ever eaten the real thing, the rest of those oatmeal choices taste like so much processed food. But the Trader Joe's discovery has made me wonder if I can invest 30 minutes, make a huge pot of really scrumptious oatmeal, and then freeze it in single portion sizes to thaw and reheat in the microwave. An experiment awaits!