Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Better stoker pix

Tuesday, 29 July

Here are a couple more stoker photos by a better photographer, Jo Wienert, who was on the second-place bike in the B category.

I swear this image is photoshopped. We're going around turn 1, and I was sure that we were in the inside gutter every lap as we approached this turn. This looks like we're in the next county--which would almost be possible on that course! See how many times you can pick out the word Co-Motion in this picture. :)

Here's another photo of the beautiful King Estate Winery. In case you're just desperate to do a race that starts and finishes there but don't have a tandem, you're in luck: the Eugene Celebration and Willamette stage races (September and April) both have stages there.

Monday, July 28, 2008

More stoker photos

Monday, 28 July
Let's see if blogger can do this:

A little chatting early on.


Oops! This is how most of my on-the-bike photos turn out!

I think he was getting tired of me trying to take pictures of riders behind me. But this is the only one of that batch to turn out! Note that the son is captaining this bike and the father is stoking.

How many years before this father and son duo swap spots on the tandem?

Hill-less was a hoot!

Monday, 28 July

I was initially disappointed when the road race at the Co-Motion tandem stage race was substantially revised for 2008 and the big hill (the Wolf Creek climb) was removed. Then I realized that also removed the nail-biting descent. :) The alternative route selected was two laps of a weekly "training ride" (unsanctioned race would be a more apt description). Each lap featured Sprinters Hill (500m?) and Welders Hill (1K?) and a couple of draggy roller things. But not long after Welders Hill at the end of lap 2, we turned off the circuit and back to the King Estate Winery, which meant a pretty hard climb on the Lorane Highway and then a 1K ascent to the finish line. It turned out to be a ton of fun.

Our "A" category started first (and rode farthest). We were neutral going down that hill on the Lorane Highway because of some bad pavement, and just a few miles after we started racing, one of the bikes broke a spoke. So while they got a wheel change, the rest of us (well, the men, anyway) had a pee stop and then we were off and racing. The pace was fast but not furious all the time, and it was great to be in a group of just tandems.

At the end of lap one, the big guys wound it up and showed us how they can put out 1200 watts and go ripping down the road. They did this again, but didn't get too far either time. Another male/male bike pushed the pace the second time up Sprinters Hill, but things came back together. People were getting tired by Welders, and then the race split for good on the Lorane climb. The gaps established there were pretty much held all the way to the finish. The Canadians proved not to climb as well as they sprint, and they only beat us by 2 seconds at the finish line, and only 29 seconds in the overall GC. We were second overall and first mixed tandem.

I had some moments of concern halfway through the second lap when my legs felt absolutely dead on one of the hills. It felt like we had a flat, which we did not, and it was really hard to climb. But then on the bigger climb, my captain rode straight through the field to the front and set tempo all the way up. And my legs were fine. All I can figure is that on the earlier hill, I was working harder than he was. I was probably back there with my head down, figuring it was a hill and I need to go all out, while he was watching the group and keeping us in a steady position that turned out not to require as much effort as I thought. It was a pleasant surprise to discover I had more left than I thought!
I have long maintained that racing tandem is so much fun that perceived effort is less than actual effort, and yesterday was a day to prove it. It was great to be absolutely spent at the finish line (those two hills do that to you), and then to sit around at such a great venue for postrace conversation and awards. Thanks to everyone at and connected to Co-Motion for putting on such a great race for us!
And I even got my slice of apple pie on the way out of town. :)

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Saturday, 26 July
For all you naysayers who think a tandem crit is just too far outside the realm of bicycle racing possibility, here's proof that they do happen. See, everybody lines up just like at any other crit. They don't call GC leaders forward at this stage race, though. Might be too hard to get a tandem and two riders through the pack up to the front?
And then they're off, and they go around corners like at any other crit. These pictures are the B crit here at the Co-Motion stage race. In the A crit, which I saw from the inside and thus no pictures, we had a few moments of excitement. "The big guys" (two Canadian men; the stoker is blind--they're the only team of two males who aren't father/son) clipped a pedal in turn 1 early in the race, and that sort of put a damper on everyone's tight cornering habits for a while. Maybe 15 laps into the race, the big guys launched an attack, and the stellar sprinter team of Gann/Gann (father/son) from Medford or Ashland or somewhere else Down South) jumped to go after them--and snapped their chain. The captain's foot went flying off his pedal, and the chain was looping around into space, but they kept the bike up. We saw Gann junior fishing part of the chain out of a tree later during the race. And then about 75 meters from the finish line, the big guys blew a tire. Nobody could tell who had flatted and there was just that briefest hesitation which put a might big hiccup in the sprint.
So, although I had a few laps of hating life early in the 35-lap (!!) crit, I survived. The TT this morning was much more fun. No one agrees on how long it is. I think it's advertised as 10K, but the mile markers along the way indicate it's about 7 miles. Our time was 3 seconds faster this year, and the only team that beat us was the big guys.
Tomorrow is the road race. No Wolf Creek climb (or descent!) this year due to road construction, so we do two laps of "the Thursday nighter." A couple of sorta hills per lap, and a 1K climb to the King Estate winery at the finish.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Friday, 25 July

No racing to report yet (that starts at 10:03 tomorrow), but lots of Sweet Life. This is about 5% of their display case. I was jonesing for some apple pie, but they were out.

So I had this instead. Completely vegan. And gone in a hurry. :)

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Thursday, 24 July

Meet Gustav. He's the guardian owl of my garden. He has done a spectacular job this year of keeping away the tiny little birds that love to feed on my crops. His head bobbles and swivels 360 degrees, so sometimes he looks like he needs an exorcism, but that's all part of what makes him look scary. I used to use a big net over the berry bushes, but the little birds would hop along the ground, get under the edge of the net, fly up into the bushes, and then not be able to get out. I felt bad for them. Gustav is much better. But I feel bad that he spends all winter in the shed with his head on the shelf next to him. I'm pretty sure he's a muggle owl, so he can't get a seasonal job delivering mail to students at Hogwarts.

Here's what Gustav is defending. Mmmmm. A big batch of raspberry jam is next on my agenda.

Here's the critter in my garden with the DNA to be a hunter, but he does a much better job of watching the lavender grow and picking up dirt off the patio with his fur, only to deposit it somewhere indoors at the first opportunity.

And you thought this was a tandem and cycling blog? Hold your horses, I'm off to a tandem stage race--road race, time trial, crit, and all. I'll try to post something about the actual race and not just the delightful repasts that await us!
While you wait for a tandem report, pick a number between -15 and +15 and join the pool for how much weight PruDog will gain or lose on his vacation! Read the comments for this entry. You can also go read David Longdon's report on what he considers the most fun he's ever had on two wheels (warning: some of you will think he's crazy!).

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Perilous times

Wednesday, 23 July

My opportunities to go for real bike rides these days are so few and far between that when I get one, it's more useful as a stress reliever than as part of any focused training regimen. So I was excited, more or less, to head out for a couple hours this afternoon and chase some demons out of my brain. Turns out I just exchanged those stressful demons for the stress of some extremely close near-misses.

I was heading north on Juanita Drive, flying down the hill to the stop light at Simmonds. Literally out of the blue (well, maybe grey--it was still cloudy), a golf ball falls out of the sky and bounces off the pavement less than 6 feet in front of me. Mind you, I'm going 31 mph (the radar told me so), and that little white orb is probably going even faster. I instinctively cringed and ducked as much as you can on a bike because I had no idea which direction the ball would bounce. I never saw it again, but I had to wonder what good ANSI and SNELL certification does against errant golf balls from the Inglewood golf course.

I continue on my way home, much relieved to NOT have the headache a golf ball might have induced, even with a helmet on. I'm rolling up to a stoplight when a kid on a BMX bike comes flying out of a blind driveway without even looking up. I had enough time to wonder if he was going to crash into my front wheel or my right leg, but I was surely going to get t-boned one way or another. He was apparently practicing his right hook slides, because about 6 inches from my front wheel, he pulled hard right (he still hadn't seen me). I was proud of myself for not swearing at him, but I sure yelled a lot.

A block past that stoplight I was rolling up to, I came onto what appeared to be a 3-car accident. I must have missed it by less than 60 seconds. There were a lot of stunned-looking people standing around, and neighbors were just starting to come out of their houses. Traffic hadn't even started to back up, although one car was stopped in the middle of the street and another was diagonal in the intersection.

Is it a full moon? Is someone doing a bad job of trying to kill me? Is it safe to go out in my backyard and pick raspberries?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Wild times

Monday, 21 July

Yesterday was one of those beautiful, leisurely summer rides that you store away in your memory for when the weather isn't as beautiful or the riding as leisurely (it might be harder in the winter but it's probably slower too). I was with just a couple of teammates, and we remarked more than once how much different the same old roads seemed (1) on a race bike instead of a rain bike, (2) in the sunshine, and (3) without being bundled up and cold.

The contrast to our nice, mellow 4-hour ride was the wild goings-on in sleepy Snohomish. I had a bad feeling when we crossed the bridge and turned along the main street and it was filled with classic cars and hordes of people. But it takes more than a thousand people and shiny cars to come between me and a much-anticipated coffee stop, and I was able to forge a path on my bike through the humanity without anyone cursing me. As we were leaving town, we were bombarded with the sounds and smells of a Civil War reenactment (and people think 12-hour time trials are fundamentally strange?) at one end Harvey Airfield. At the other end, a small carnival was set up.

The sign at Stocker Farms reminded me that this was Kla-Ha-Ya Days. 'Member when a bike race used to be part of this craziness too?

GIGANTIC PROPS go to teammate and friend Brian Ecker for his run at a course record at Race Across Oregon this weekend. First (you know, for, like, 250 miles) he was in a dead heat with last year's winner. Overnight (it's a 535-mile, nonstop bike race) he gained nearly an hour over his closest competitor. But after something like 30 hours on the bike, and within reach-out-and-touch distance of Mt. Hood where the race finishes at Timberline Lodge, his body was no longer willing. I can't say enough how much I admire him for taking on this challenge (and his support crew for going along for the ride) and for listening to his body and deciding to stop while it was still a decision. Wishing you a speedy recovery, Brian!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Frozen oatmeal, part 2

Friday, 18 July

Several weeks? months? ago I noted here that Trader Joe's is now selling frozen Irish oatmeal so you don't have to be bothered with actually cooking something on your own stove for 30-40 minutes. I finally had a chance to try this at home; I made a big batch the week before I left for central Oregon. Most of it I portioned out among jars that I stored in the refrigerator and ate each morning during the week, but one portion went into the freezer. I had it for breakfast on Tuesday. Not a stunning success. The big round bits of the grains were fine and still had lots of good texture and toothiness, but the stuff in between was mush, sort of what you think gruel might be like. Absolutely none of that nice body that oatmeal has. It seemed to lose its glutinous qualities (no, I didn't mean gluttonous!). (Aren't you glad there're no pictures with this post?)

The good news is that the stuff out of the fridge was great--as good as straight off the stovetop. I had to add a little water and mush it up (that's fancy culinary language, eh?!) with a spoon before reheating, but it was quick and delicious. So when (if?) my weekend schedule allows me time to cook up the real thing, I'll make a big batch and have it as my mid-morning snack at work. No salt, sugar, dairy. I can even add flax seeds for a nice dose of omega 3. Or raisins. Or fresh strawberries. Or nuts. I think I'm getting hungry....

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

More pictures

Tuesday, 15 July

I'm no Heidi, but here are a few images from my week in central Oregon.

Terwilliger Falls...nowhere near the Terwilliger curves. Nowhere near very much of anything, for that matter.

See, I really did make it to the top of Willamette Pass.

Mr. Motor Ref Duke.

The first day at Cascade staged in the parking lot of the county fairgrounds, a.k.a. dozens of acres of asphalt. And no shade. TGH managed to find just a tiny sliver within watching distance of the start line as they waited for the men to roll out so the women could stage.

Of the hundreds of racers who lined up for the Skyliner TT (7 miles up, turn, 7 miles down), Robin was probably the only one who did it with a grin.

The old boys (Kirk and Mick) waiting to start their crit.

He's Mr. Calm behind those cool shades.

And these are the 4 hats I made during the week. Yes, mt, the black and grey one is yours.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Quick update

Sunday, 6 July: Tandem TT championship, Peoria: Really windy. Gold medal (I think we were racing mixed open). Got a ride to Springfield, then rode out past Blue River. Not nearly as much traffic as I expected on the McKenzie Highway at the end of the holiday weekend. 94 miles for the day, racing tandem and touring on my single bike.

Monday, 7 July: I started with the Aufderheide Scenic Byway from Blue River to Oakridge. It is truly scenic and there are hardly any cars. The climbing was steep at first (I was fearing 30 miles of it), but not so bad after Cougar Reservoir. The rhododendrons at the top (is it a pass?) were in full bloom. Great descent. Lunch in Oakridge at mile 66 for the day. Then over Willamette Pass: 28 miles of climbing, 4000? feet of elevation. I don’t need to climb on a highway again for a long time. After the disappointing 2-mile descent, I got more water at a campground at Odell Lake and coke at the Crescent Lake Junction. At mile 108, I turned onto the Cascade Lakes Highway, which goes to Bend. 40 miles later (yeah, mile 148) I was still 30 miles from Bend and it was 7:15 and I was getting tired and had all the climbing over Mt. Bachelor left. I hitchhiked, another (scary) first for me. Luckily, the only real excitement was coming within 20 feet of getting nailed by falling rocks near the top of Willamette Pass. 152 miles for the day. With my backpack. Note to self: do a lot more research before embarking on cross-state bicycle travel.

Tuesday, 8 July. For a couple of hours in the morning, I had a non-cycling vacation. I went to the library in Bend to weed the spam and chat out of my email inbox (maybe that’s not really “vacation”) and found a yarn shop (both locations thankfully air conditioned). And then it was off to report for my duties for the Cascade Cycling Classic with the Veloforma women’s team.

Wednesday through Sunday are a blur. It was a fantastic experience to support 7 strong, positive women and to see almost all of them finish really, really well at an epic, arduous race. I did not have time to miss email access (although I did manage to make 3 hats!). I found a café with fantastic scones and indulged there or elsewhere every morning for 10 minutes of quiet. I rode my bike just a few times (twice on the TT course, twice on parts of the circuit race course). There were lots of friends in Bend that I did not get to see this time, but I made new ones.

Happy Bastille Day!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

A first

Saturday, July 5

For the first time ever, I raced two crits in a single day. For those of you who know me well (those of you who just fell off your chairs), let me refine that statement: I started and finished two crits today. I was next to last in the first and next to first in the last.

The Firecracker Criterium in Eugene had a tandem crit at the end of the day's schedule, so I raced the women 1-2-3 crit in the early afternoon, sat around and ate cookies, and then raced the tandem crit. I was saved in the women's race by a stiff headwind on the finishing straight, which usually meant that many attacks kind of died when we rounded the last corner. I did have to close a few gaps when there were some serious, sustained attacks that strung things out.

Our tandem crit was shortened to 15 laps, and it took my captain about 5 laps to figure out the corners. We hung at the back for a while, then moved around, then followed the front bike in the prime sprint, and it was pretty animated after that. A father-son pair attacked with a little over half a lap to go; we weren't exactly "on" their wheel but we were the second bike through the last corner. On the final straight, we didn't do much to close the gap on the lead bike, and another male-male bike was moving up on our inside as I was yelling "go" to my captain, and then all of a sudden we stopped pedaling. Oops! Stokers can't see the finish line!

I have to admit that it was a pretty fun afternoon. :)

Tomorrow is the Firecracker Time Trial, which happens to be the OBRA tandem TT championship. Just one race for me tomorrow because from there I leave for Bend and the Cascade Cycling Classic. On my bike. I'm taking a different route this year and have not too much idea of my total mileage. I think Sunday's will be about 70 and Monday's could be anywhere from 110 to 150. And I don't know where my next internet access will be, but I'll try to post so you don't worry too much that I got lost in central Oregon.

See you in Bend!