Jan 1, 2011

2011 - The Test of Endurance

Welcome to 2011. The crash at Mountain Bike Oregon (MBO) in July, removed me from the racing scene for the remainder of 2010. Multiple complications from the initial stitches kept coming up, and the wound was re-opened more times than I care to remember.

I spent the remainder of the summer and the entire fall training in the ways that I was able to given the ongoing injury, leading group rides on the road, and spending some quality time on a full suspension mountain bike I bought in September.

Now with the scar all closed up, the nerves regenerating, I have already paid for one race in 2011: An adventure race in Vancouver BC in May. This will be my first adventure race, and needless to say I am stoked. It's January 1st, which means the training season transitions from the "prep" phase to the "build" phase, for those of you who know about periodization of training programs. Essentially you map out your year based on your priority races, and you do all kinds of charting, mapping and math to figure out how much you need to train each month, each week, each day, and what that training has to look like, all the way up until the race. Sound tedious? It is kind of, and it's not kind of. It's nice to see it all laid out, and now mine is from here until June.

June is the Test of Endurance Mountain Bike Race, a race I have been wanting to do for years. Mostly because it is called the Test Of Endurance, and that alone has my name written all over it. So the plan is to race TOE 3 weeks after the adventure race, which with a little bit of tweeking to the training schedule, should line up just fine.

The only question now is, the 50 mile version or the 100 mile version. That is TBD.

Jul 24, 2010

Mountain Bike Oregon - 7 Stitches later...

Mountain Bike Oregon - July 2010

This really is summer camp for adults on steroids and then some. You pay good money to be shuttled up 5000 feet in a school bus on a narrow gravel road, only to be dropped off at the top of any number of 20-30 mile long trails, and then let loose on a 10,000$ Trek/Ibis/Santa Cruz whatever you want carbon fiber demo bike.

Kronda and I get dropped off at the top of Apline on the first day, after we warmed up with the beginner women's ride on some flat trails out of camp in the morning, ready for adventure. Being new to MBO myself, I wasn't quite prepared for what 1500 feet of riding gain and 4000 feet of descending would really look like. We had dozens of lovely guides with us who honestly kept me alive (especially Julia from the Poplollies in Eugene). I was told there was lots of "exposure" on the ride, which being naive I thought that meant open view/field like riding (think Sincline in Hood River). Turns out that "exposure" really means you'll be on single track no wider than 10 inches across with a 4000 foot cliff to your left and a steep incline to your right. Basically you are sandwiched between death and a vertical wall of mountain with only your 10,000$ demo bike and your handling skills keeping you from sudden death.

It took all my concentration to stay upright on that ride, and breaks every 30 minutes to shake out my hands that were so sore from holding the brakes on all the descending. This is advanced riding, and I am not an advanced rider.

So day 2 I opt for another women's clinic, this time the intermediate one. The group and guides were fan-fucking-tastic, and all 12 or so of us "clients" on that ride were learning a lot. We did repeats of stream crossings, roots, climbs, descents... and had tons of guidance and support. I was on a Kona demo bike on this ride, that was too small for me and had tight pedals that I couldn't clip out real fast. That turned into a big problem when I didn't make it up a small climb covered in exposed roots, hit a big root and crashed sideways onto a big log. Not a bad crash, but of course you always land right on that sharp exposed piece of log and gash your ankle pretty badly. Our lovely guides patched me up and I rode out back to the bus, with blood all over my shoes.

Then it started to really hurt bad and I got nervous. Back to camp on the bus for me, and the ambulance guy they have stationed at camp took a look at it. "You need stiches". "REALLY?"... Ok, so we are in a small town, an hour from the nearest hospital, and we can't get to our cars because there is a forest fire and they have closed the road where our cars are parked. MBO staff Paula calls the local doc at home, and he agrees to meet me at his clinic in 20 minutes. Paula drives me since we can't get our cars, and the doc gets to work. Good thing I went because he pulled some pieces of tree out of my wound which was so deep he had to stitch a lower level, then an upper level. Super swollen ankle but he said there was "no chance" it was broken.. thank goodness.

Ice, pain meds and bandages, I can hobble walk, and soft pedal a bike... so he said I should be back to clip in pedals in about 10 days... not too bad.

In short I have to say that MBO is awesome and totally worth the money, but I think you need intermediate to advanced skills to even ride these trails, and you definitely need a nice full suspension bike that fits you. I think i'll come back in a couple years when I have lots more riding under my belt, and a much nicer bike.

Kronda can give you the run down of the longest trail here, which she rode yesterday, called Middle Fork. I was signed up for that today, but I guess that one will have to wait a couple years.

Driving the Team Truck - Elkhorn Stage 4

Anne's truck keys in hand, I was ready for stage 4 - from the safety of a dry warm truck. The weather was awful, and I was on rider pick up duty. I started the day at Bella with Bev, and we sat around and drank coffee, chatting while everyone else was racing in the pouring rain. Me and my lungs were happy to be indoors.

I drove up the backside of the mountain to the finish line, and there wasn't much going on up there, so I started driving down the course backwards, heading to the feed zones. I ended up finding Anne and Jan when another vehicle was flagging me down with a Sorella jersey, and I pulled over so they could jump in. Cold and wet, they had stopped riding at one of the feed zones, and had no interest in hurting themselves any further. 3 Sorellas down, 3 still in the race. We headed to the final feed zone and waited for the women to roll by. Everyone looked good when they passed, so we drove up to the finish.

Freezing cold we saw the finish one by one, and what an impressive climb to end on. We got them changed and warmed, and they devoured some pizza while we waited for the podium.

It was nice to end the race as support car, and to get a feel for driving behind the packs. I am not sure if I will do more stage races, I am going to enjoy the rest of the summer and race less, ride more.... and see what happens.

Jun 19, 2010

Fudge and Thunder - Elkhorn Stage 3

I decided that some local fresh fudge was in order for Stage 3....since I wasn't racing anymore. As a spectator I have to talk to myself constantly, since the voice in my head is trying to talk to the athlete inside. I don't eat sugar, but I also never quit a race, so I figured fudge was in order.

On the warm sidewalk I cut lovely slivers of fudge and screamed for my teammates who were doing well in Stage 3. Since I am the only Cat 4 Sorella here, everyone else was racing in the 1,2,3 and masters group. Jen dominated from the get go, and had already decided this morning that she was going to win, and win she did! That was great to watch, especially after Anne won the crit at Cherry Blossom, our team is doing really well this year.

My body is so tired, I can't wait to sleep. Tomorrow I will drive the team car, and be support to the rest of the team.

Flushing the legs - Elkhorn Stage 2

Since I was up with the team at 7am, Anne convinced me to use the 11 mile Time Trial as way to at least flush my legs out. I asked her if that even made sense to race at 15mph, and she said yes.

So Saturday morning rec ride it was. I looked at the cows, the trains, the sky, the mountains, and I rode the 11 miles and watched all the women pass me one by one. I knew this was it for me, so I didn't really care, if anything I was just still feeling kind of sick and light headed.

I was really happy to be done and get some food and sit down. I even managed a noon time nap, which I am never able to do. I think the hardest part is everyone on the other teams trying to be nice by encouraging me to keep racing, when really I know it is not a good idea, and despite looking fine head to toe, I do not have it in me. Looking forward to watching the rest.

2 actual deer and 1 hallucinated deer - Elkhorn Stage 1

I came into the Elkhorn Stage Race this year freshly out of bronchitis and asthma with my body operating at about 60% of normal. Good enough to ride, but not good enough to race. I knew that what was supposed to be my "A" race of the year, was going to be a rec ride or two, so I was prepared for less that ideal results.

I had trained for this race. I had trained hard, with a rough training plan and self imposed goals throughout the winter and spring. If I had been well, I would have been really ready for this race.

When I am sick I also focus on how privileged I am, how able bodied I am, how lucky I am to be able to race at all and have money for bikes and entry fees. With this is mind, I honor my body and I don't let myself get too down on myself when I can't do much.

Stage 1 of Elkhorn is 73 miles with some hills, some cows, some farms, some hay, and some really strong riders. They grouped the women all together, which means we started with the pros. Now, on a good day, like 110% day, I can't keep up with the pros, never mind on a 60% day. A couple miles out of the gate and the pack was racing at 24mph and I was thinking "there is no way this is happening for me....just back off". I pushed harder, backed off, pushed harder, backed off, caught on, got dropped, and finally at mile 6 I just decided to race my own race and not chase anymore.

I had Melissa from Corvallis with me, and we worked together to catch Eva from Ironclad. The three of us made a dynamic team, and we talked and laughed for 30 miles. I felt decent until mile 40. Then my body talked back: I felt slightly faint despite excellent nutrition and really weak. I was fantasizing about pulling over and taking a nap, and that is when I knew the toxins in my body were not quite gone. We had the sweep truck behind us, so I knew I could hop in the truck at any point. This is for the most part a blessing since you can quit if you need to, but partially it sucks because then I spent the next 35 miles trying to decide if I should quit or not.

I decided to just ride slower. I let Melissa go at about mile 60, since she was still feeling good, and shortly after that Eva caught back up and her and I laughed and rode slow while the follow truck offered us sour gummy worms and Pepsi. At this point I had seen 2 real deer and 1 hallucinated deer, which I took as a sign to not race all weekend. I never hallucinate although I've heard athletes who push really hard have it happen all the time.

I finished feeling crummy, Eva behind me, and the refs pulled up the finish line as soon as we crossed it. I got a ride back into town in the pick up truck that was towing the porta potties from the finish line and I knew I was pretty much done for the weekend.

The ride itself was beautiful, and I didn't regret coming all the way out here to rec ride stage 1 of a really hard race. I have learned to respect and honor my body, even when it says "I know this is your A race all the way in Baker City, but there is no way in hell you can do this right now."

I listened.

May 16, 2010

Silverton Road Race - Chasing Amy

Silverton Road Race - Sunday May 16th, 35 miles
Two laps of rollers... or hills... or rolling hills.
I had two goals:

1) Race with tired legs
2) Descend well

I successfully did both of those things. 65 miles yesterday set me up to be tired, and a couple weeks of descending practice paid off. I learned how to lean onto the front wheel, descend in my drops, and trust my bike. I only got minor speed wobble once, which still concerns me, but I was able to adjust and control it. Sally wasn't so lucky, and her speed wobbles caused her to crash in the ditch. She was OK, but it is was a good reminder that speed wobbles are scary and serious.. and both of us need to figure out why we are getting them. Headset? Operator error? Bike fit?

It was a small field which was nice, but I did get dropped at mile 3.5, along with a few others. 3 or so were behind me, and I caught up to Amy from Bend. I spent the next 25 miles inches from her rear wheel, trying to pull a couple times but she was simply stronger. I slipped back about 200m with 10 miles to go, and spent the last 10 holding that 200m gap. I could see her ahead of me, but that was it, I was tired.

I was really happy with the way I was able to go down the hills. I stayed in my drops and did most of lap two without hitting the brakes at all. Progress.

I think when I race fresh, and I am not doing my own personal back to backs, I could hang on longer and actually race with the 4's. One day!

May 2, 2010

Getting called a "Faggot" while doing a Time Trial

The funniest TT I have ever raced = Estacada TT

I woke with menstrual cramps and all the usual tired/sore/slow things that come along with that, and downed 3 Alleve.

Lesson number 1= don't expect to be on top of your game with 3 Alleve hitting your brain.

I had a couple nice goals, and since I had the Cervelo out I thought I could race pretty well (it is about the bike).

I was doing pretty fine until mile 12 (of 20), when a passing car decided to have the passenger lean out the window as they were passing me and yell "Faggot!" in my face. I held my line and decided that was the funniest thing I had ever been called in a race, and was happy to find out I look just as gay on the bike as I do off the bike :)

Lesson number 2= Don't let passing cars asshole screams throw you off your game

The side effect however that was my drug induced Alleve brain went on all kinds of tangents thinking about gender and queerness and drag queens.... and all of a sudden a Veloforma girl in full skin suit, aero helmet, million dollar TT bike, etc., passes me on the left, and I yell "GO VELOFORMA!". Then it occured to me: WAIT, this is a race, I'm supposed to be racing right now! I looked at my computer: mile 15. I had lolligagged for 3 miles day dreaming about gayness pretending it was a Sunday ride. Naturally I stepped on the gas and caught up to Veloforma, wondering if I should pass her back or not. Pass I did, easily, since I had just "rested" for three miles, and I put my full throttle into the last 5 miles. I held off Veloforma girl the entire 5 miles, and finished ahead of her. She must think I am a total asshole letting her pass me and yelling "GO VELOFORMA", only to immediately pass her back and hold her off on my road bike and non TT set up.

Lesson number 3= Don't cheer for a Veloforma girl when she passes you and then pass her right back.

Finish time 1hr 3 minutes... I think I probably lost 4-5 minutes in my "tangent", which means if I had actually remembered it was a race, I probably could have cleaned up at under an hour.

Too funny.

Apr 25, 2010

Cherry Blossom Stage Race - Stage 4 - CRIT!

Stage 4 - Crit
Sunday April 25th, noon
Last stage - 25 minutes on a 1k course

I am not very good at crits. Why? I am the worlds most scared Sorella. I think I should win the scaredy cat prize. I never like riding close to racers I don't know, I don't trust the pack, I don't trust the corners... so what do I do? Drop off the back.

And that's what I did. Let's also mention again that this was stage 4, and my legs were cooked in the TT. I lasted about 10 minutes in the crit before me and 5 others that were with me got pulled. So I wasn't last, and I wasn't alone, at least a group of us got pulled... and really, I was ready to be done. I want to give a crit a descent go one day when it's not part of a stage race, and I need a series of clinics before hand:
Peleton riding.

I am really happy with the weekend overall, and I am extra happy with my stage 1 and stage 3... those were my strengths.

I am ready to do it all again, and do it better next time.