Nov 17, 2009

Molly Cameron, I crown you Gold

I have a lot of cross race reports to catch up on.... but right now I wanted to give some props to Molly Cameron, because there wouldn't even be any race reports from me if it weren't for Molly. Almost 10 years ago now, Molly and I were living together, and I was riding a free crappy neighbor giveaway 1980 50 pound mountain bike. This was how I got to work. I thought it was making me stronger, you know, to ride like 3 miles on a free barely ride able tank.
Molly loaned me a road bike for several months, and encouraged me to just try it out. I remember riding over small bumps in the road feeling like major potholes after a life of bmx bikes and that one crappy free neighbor giveaway mountain bike.
I decided that Molly's roadbike was indeed a much better idea, and decided I was in: I wanted to be a cyclist, and buy my first bike. I had no idea what the hell I was looking for, except I knew it needed two wheels.
Molly came with me to countless shops for weeks on end, looking for the perfect bike for me. I remember the day, Sellwood Cycle Repair, the white Redline Cyclocross Conquest in the window, my size. I rode it around the block, she rode it around the block, I asked her if she thought this was the one, and we decided it was. Fast forward to almost 10 years later, I am still racing on that white Redline.
Tim and Anne keep telling me it's too heavy, but I am not parting with that Redline.
That bike has changed my life. I have ridden on it almost every day since. I have toured across Oregon on it, ridden it to work every single day, raced Cross many years on it, and I can't even remember how many new parts Molly has put on it over the years. She converted it to a triple when I wanted to go over mountain passes, replaced the cables when I rode them to shreads, and answered her phone when I had ridden all the way to Halfway Oregon, and my gears were skipping.

Molly, that simple initial nudge you gave me and your neverending support, has brought me all the way to an Ironman.

I bought a Canondale frame on Ebay, ordered a Shimano group through a shop, and handed a giant pile of bike mess to her, and she assembled the entire thing... my first real road bike, and the road bike I am still riding.

Molly won her first major Cross Race this season, then won another, and I think another, and was all of a sudden in the lead for the series. I can tell you that Molly has been training her ass off for as long as I have known her and longer, and those 5am training sessions have been regular occurances for years. These wins were more than deserved.

A constant inspiration, she has developed a growing fan club, and it's nice to see her getting some well earned love. I know that many of you know how amazing she is on so many levels, and I think the Cross Crusade crowd was made up half of families of racers, and half of Molly fans.
We were SCREAMING our heads off for her at the last Cross race of the series on Sunday, she was jockeying for first the entire race, and right there with Sean, the other leader, the entire 60 minutes. Running up the last run up, side by side with Sean, everyone could tell there was little room for Molly to squeeze, and a tangle at the top resulted in heartbreak. I think there was a moment of silence as we all stood there as Sean won, and no one knew what to do. Congratulate Sean or cry.

You could feel the loss in the air, and it was a strange ending to a fantastic series, when my heart was in my throat and Molly was shaking hands with Sean, after she got back on the bike and slowly rolled over the finish line while the announcer said "A heartbroken Molly Cameron...."...

Molly Cameron... You are my inspiration, and the reason I am even on a cross bike.
I crown you Gold.

Oct 18, 2009

It's Joseph, not Jesus: Sherwood Forest Cross Crusade Week 3

A seven inhaler race: Sherwood Forest. Well, it was an equestrian center, therefore a horseshit obstacle course. Horse shit was not present on the course, but lots of hills were.
I did get to pre ride the course, which is always a game of luck and timing at the cross crusades, since there are a million races going on all day long. As Molly said recently "You have exactly 4 minutes all day to pre ride the course". Pre riding is a blessing and a curse. You know what you are up against, and you know what you are up against.

I was going to be up against my lungs. The fact that the women's field has grown to 300 racers did not bother me, it was my asthma. I told Nissy it was going to be a 3 inhaler race, turned out to be 7. 4 puffs of albuterol pre race and we're off. I got staged in the middle thanks to number call ups, and all of a sudden this does not freak me out. I was not missing my usual happy place in the back, because all of a sudden I am competitive about cross.

My free wheel hub, or something like that, started to fail this week, and I work for the Community Cycling Center I get full service advice and repairs now. The advice was: buy a new wheel, spend 25$ on your already crappy wheel, ride it till it dies, borrow a wheel from Alice, switch tires and ride my touring wheel. With too many options on the table I settle on Alice's wheel, which turns out to be the wrong something or other day of. The new suggestion is go to the Shimano PIT and get them to give me a wheel. They say they only have two nine speeds, and the are out on the course, so I can't get one until right before my race. No way, it takes 5 minutes to ride from the PIT to the start, and I would miss call ups. I race my busted wheel.

Busted wheel is fine, I don't drop my chain, and I feel CONFIDENT on that course. I get asthma really really bad that I am not yelling at my friends, I am breathing for dear life. I pedal faster and jockey for position, I pass people, I actually yell "On Your Left" a good handful of times. My mouth is gaping open and I am able to tell roughly how many women are behind me on one section. It is a lot. I pedal harder. I let go of the brakes on a downhill super bumpy section and all of sudden fear for my endo life as I gain enough speed to not be able to touch the brakes since it is so bumpy.... I have to ride it out. It's fine, I'm fine, no endos for me.

I hear "GO ZANIMAL" on every turn, and even tell Tim at one point he couldn't take a picture of me when I was walking over the log. I did not manage to ever ride over that log. There are Sorellas everywhere I look, and at times I can't tell whose who. I notice two of them get mechanicals, as does my co worker Nissy. Somehow my 10+ year old Redline with a broken something or other hub manages great on one of the toughest courses to date.

Last lap, I tell myself I can do it, race hard, don't let anyone except Beth Burns pass you. I push hard. Breathe even harder. I really wish we had a Nebulizer at the Sorella tent because my breathing is getting really bad and I am having full on asthma. I feel the low oxygen getting to my head and I am dizzy. For some reason I just can't stop, thinking I may pass out at the finish I pedal as hard as I can.

39th out of 79, I cross the line and get right off the bike after I yell really loudly at some random guy on the course right after the finish line. Apparently I had enough oxygen to yell. I walk to the tent and sit right down, 3 more puffs on the albuterol and some lemonade from Shellie. I sit for a bit and regain my head and lungs which had been dangling off the back of my jersey for a minute there and manage to stand up and get on Kronda's trainer to cool down. I have to hold onto the roof rack of the car next to me for stability, but I manage to spin my legs.

Sweet victory, I told Anne I was going pro, which is my new line when I don't come in last.

On the car ride home Alice and I are talking about the Blind Date series, and I tell her that my favorite part was the light praying Jesus statue on the tight corner, and she tells me it's Jospeh, not Jesus. I don't believe her, until she confirms the fact by telling me he also lives with her, and has seen some wear from the series and now has a huge crack in him. He lights up their window at night. Ahh cross racing.

Molly Cameron won the Men's field, which rocked. We chatted with her at the end and caught up for a minute. Like old times out in the horseshit. I love racing.

Oct 11, 2009

Cross Crusade Week 2 - Rainier - "Get Those Socks Up That Hill!"

Ok, so given that I am not a cross racer, as mentioned before, I had such a great race today at week two of the series. After mountain biking on Friday, and doing a cross training ride on Saturday with my team, I was wondering if my legs wouldn't be fresh at the race. We planned well, and Jen and I arrived with plenty of time to warm up and test ride the course. I hit the inhaler pretty hard, and took a bunch of albuterol into my lungs, to try and ward off the asthma on this dry and dusty course. There was such a huge field of beginner women, 62 racers in all, that they called us up to line by number, and I was called up about 2/3 of the way into the field. If you know me at races, you know I like my happy place at the back, since I am not fast, and so being 2/3 way back made me a little nervous, because it made me think that 20 women were therefore going to pass me soon enough, which can slow you down if they don't pass well. I sucked it up, ditched my water bottles, and off we went. Right away I felt good, and not only did no one pass me, I started passing people right away. I figured I was going out too hard, and they would pass me back... but I gained ground. I shoulder checked a couple times and saw a sizeable gap between me and the 1/3 of the pack that was behind me. This made me want to race harder. All of sudden I got really competitive and wanted to hold my position. I raced, and I raced hard. The course favored me, with nothing too technical, and a serious road style, and you know I like road style. I flew on the downhills, and even passed folks that way. I wondered who I was, passing folks on decents, and when did I learn some cross skills? I could barely breathe, and sounded like an asthmatic freight train as I passed women on their left, but I couldn't stop myself. My legs felt great, and if I had any oxygen I could have gone faster. I heard lots of cheers, lots of encouragement, and at one point I heard "GET THOSE SOCKS UP THAT HILL!", and the base of the biggest hill. I had over the knee fluorescent stipped socks, that match my fluorescent bar tape and cable housing. I was not to be missed.
I finished just as strong as I started, and knew I had at least 20 women behind me when I crossed the line. After cool down we checked the results, and sure enough, I was 35th out of 62, which is unheard of for me. Stunning in fact. So awesome that I told Anne I was going pro, and that she needed to watch out :)

Mountain Bike Trail Around Haag - Don't let any cross organizers see this!

For some reason the fact that the 15 mile mountain bike loop around Haag Lake is AMAZING has been kept a secret from Kronda and I, and neither of us had ever tried it. I've raced on the road so many times out there, and swam in the lake, and run in triathlons, that my history with Haag is long and storied. We arrive on a stunning Friday, on this last weekend of sun for the year, and head out not knowing what the trail will bring. The short answer is that it includes a little bit of everything and comes with a full face smile for 2 hours straight. There is one part that truly stands out, with a nice woodsy decent, with a 2 plank "bridge" at the bottom on the hill, followed immediately by such a steep ascent that there is a rope layed on the ground from a tree at the top down to the bridge. Basically you both can't bike down the decent, nor over the planks, and definetly not up the other side. It was the most amazing cross run up we had ever seen, and we pondered how to simultaneously climb up, hold the rope in one hand, and hold the bike in the other hand. We decided that no cross organizer should be allowed to see this, and get any funny ideas about making a run up so steep that you need a guide rope to hold onto and pull yourself up. We took on the challenge and took some pictures, and continued on our merry way. I can't wait to go back, and like Alpenrose, it is relatively in our back yard. We are so lucky to live here.

My Blind Date at the Dairy

After not racing on Sunday, I was feeling much better come Monday (false cold alarm, thank goodness), and was ready to race on Wednesday night when the next opportunity rolled around. Unfortunately I arrived home to find my car out on an adventure with my housemate, and I had to scramble to track him down and get him to get home, so I could make it out to the race on time. With no time to spare I was negotiating rush hour, panicked that I was going to miss the race, because for some reason I am all of a sudden totally excited to race cross. OK, let me just say that I have had a cross bike for 10 years, and have ridden it almost every day of those last ten years, and it has seen a lot of Oregon, and taken me to work every single day.... but I'm not much of cross racer. I love the road. Asthma knocks me off my bike in cross races, and so I have not done many of them in the past.
I arrive. I am almost late. 10 minutes to race start and I navigate the very disorganized and slow registration process. I love OBRA but I will say the Dairy registration was poorly done. So I had exactly zero seconds to do anything, and made it to the start line in time to go. The biggest problems for me in that scenario are no warm up (induces asthma), and no time to take my inhaler (induces asthma). Off we go, and I can't breathe. I slow down, and I know I am not in last place, so I am dedicated to staying in the race. 10 minutes, maybe 15 in, I really can't breathe and decide it is smarter to pull over at the start and grab my inhaler out of my bag. My co worker happens to be standing right there, and hands me his, and off I go again. I have no idea if I am now in last place, but I want to race. Men are passing me constantly on both sides, and I hit the brakes constantly. It was not pretty, but it was still fun. The laps were too short in my books, meaning that there were other fields constantly overtaking each other, basically there was no room to move. Given all that, it was still fun, and the light up plastic praying jesus statue on the sharp corner was priceless. I went directly over to that corner once my race was over so I could snap a few pictures in the amazing dusk light. The results were a series of quite cool blurry racers. There is one more blind date in the series, and it is a toss up really.... good time to practice cross, but the men passing constantly was a real battle. Women's field please!

Cross Crusade Week 1 - Alpenrose

After a long week, and a very painful Ironman tattoo, I was feeling sick on the first day of the Cross Crusade Series; Alpenrose. Being that Alpenrose is in our back yard, and given that so many of my teammates and friends race, I went out to watch. It was a beautiful day and there were some fun additions, like these stairs, so being a cheering squad with my also sick co worker was both fun and torturous. Anne had passes for our team, so I bought all the rest of them, locking my into the next 7 races. I knew I didn't want to miss another one!

Sep 27, 2009

Battle at Barlow, Where Everyone Knows Your Name

Battle at Barlow CycloCross Race, 9/27/09.
The series where everyone knows your name.
Let's just say that cross has a few perks. It is not my strength or my favorite by ANY stretch of the imagination, but there is a lot to be said in it's favor. Today's race was at Barlow High School. I kept thinking about one of the transgender teens I used to work with who got expelled from that school for using the women's bathroom. The Gresham school district ended up having to pay for a private tutor for her at her house, after a lawsuit which they essentially lost. Gresham tax payers had to pay for a full year of a private at home tutor because the school would not change it's dress code policy.
Anyway, we sufficiently put some ruts in their grass. I inhaled a ton of dust, rode with a huge grin on my face, and did four laps at max oxygen absorption. After telling everyone I was planning on representing at the back, I did not come in last by a long shot (well at least 6 or 7 from last anyway). The course was hot and dry, my favorite. My asthma always gets me in cross due to the running, the sprinting on the bike, and either dust or cold air, which are both hard on my weak lungs. My legs felt great, even after a hardish 60 mile ride yesterday in Hood River, so that was nice. I passed a bunch of women, and did not get passed back.
Ok, so the pluses of cross are:
Everyone gets to see a lot of you, and therefore cheer. Everyone who knows your name cheers for you, even if you aren't on their team. Everyone who is racing WITH YOU cheers for you, while they are racing, even if they aren't on your team. So basically cross is a cacophony of yelling and cow bells. You get to go around in circles on ridiculous things like railroad ties, sideways grass hills and patchy gravel paths. It doesn't feel like a race at all, it feels like a zoo for humans, an obstacle course, an adult playground. It is bizarre. And fun.
I'll be back next week, spoke cards and all.

Deschutes National Forest Bike Tour

Annual Summer Bike Tour, 2009:
Deschutes National Forest, August 2009, 5 days with Katy Monster. Every summer I go on a bike tour, and I always go somewhere I've never gone before. This summer Katy and I ventured through the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Highway, or something like that. All I can tell you is that we rode up one of the most amazing roads I have ever seen... I'm talking lakes every 10 miles, rivers, streams, lava fields, pine forests, campgrounds and very little traffic. Why more folks weren't out in this scenic wonderland just a hop skip and a jump from Bend is beyond me. None the less, that was to our advantage, as it was smooth sailing most of the trip.
We drove to Oakridge Oregon, and had a blast at the bike shop there. The guys were super nice, and said they loved talking to folks who toured, because mostly they just get mountain bikers in there. It was a few days before Mt Bike Oregon, so we knew they were soon to be slammed. They let me lay the huge map on the shop floor and they pointed out all the good roads, and the ones to avoid, and basically gave us the thumbs up about our route and told us where we could park the car at Odell Lake. To Odell it was, and we parked the car and took off. We climbed some good elevation on the first day and really couldn't believe how beautiful it was as soon as you were on the scenic highway (which was not a highway at all, but rather a quiet two lane road). We pulled over many times to take pictures, and took many pictures while riding.
We camped at a quiet stunning creek the first night, we are talking REAL quiet. The 2 day we rode a nice long day up and over Mt Bachelor and seriously swam in about 5 different lakes on the way, including fully clothed in our spandex a couple times since it was so hot. We had a sweet decent down from the top of bachelor to Sunriver, where we spent much of the time riding on the yellow line in the middle of the road since there were absolutely no cars in either direction. I don't know where all the cars were, but I am sure am glad they weren't there!
We rolled into the quite awful Sunriver Mini Mall type area for treats, and got some sort of frozen something or others. We left as quickly as we arrived, and pedalled to the Deschutes River to camp on night two.
Day three we had a mission called Paulina Lakes. This involved a lot of climbing. Ok, keep in mind we have tons of gear with us, as Katy does not like to pack light, and I do not like to eat light. So we roll up the never ending mountain to Paulina Lakes and Newberry Crater at a snails pace in the mega heat of summer. We stop many times, aquire more animal bones on the side of the road, and rest at mile 10, where a moutain bike ride is about to start down the power lines called the Paulina Plunge because it follows the creek down the mountain and there are natural waterslides! No kidding!
We make it to the top, and decide to add a bunch more miles by checking out the obsidian flow and all the campgrounds on both lakes. We settle on the last campground the furthest away, and enjoy the setting sun on the stunning volcanic crater.
Day four we ride the lovely descent. Ah freedom. We decide to make this a long day and ride all the way back to the car. Basically this meant we pedalled, swam, pedalled, swam, pedalled some more and flagged down three cars for water since there were no services anywhere. We rode all day and landed back at the car at Odell quite hungry and just in time for the Taxidermy Show! Well, needless to say with my pink Veloshop shirt, and Katy's Legalize Gay shirt, we didn't hang out with the hunters. We drove in to Oakridge to check out night one of Mt Bike Oregon, and I decided to sign up for next year. We went to the local Mexican restaurant and I ate a giant burrito. SO GOOD.
Can we please ride bikes all year long? I want to tour, tour, tour...

Jul 27, 2009

We get up early and pay money to do an event called OUCH: Larch Mountain Time Trial

Sunday July 26th, OUCH, Larch Mountain Time Trial
AKA: Ahhh bike racers...
For some reason I couldn't wait for this years TT on Larch. Getting up early on a Sunday and paying money for a solo race up a 16 mile mountain, at an event called OUCH, sounded like fun. It was even more fun when my power went out at 6:45am, therefore eliminating my alarm. Waking up an hour later, it was a mad rush to figure out if I needed to rewire my whole house, or call PGE, as I sprint around the block in my PJ's trying to figure out if anyone else has power. Given that it is 8am on sunny morning, and most normal folks are sleeping... I couldn't tell if anyone had power anyway. I couldn't grind the coffee, or make a smoothie, and all of a sudden breakfast was looking like a bottle of heed. I called PGE and loaded the bike on the car. Not packed, race wheels hanging on the wall, I threw some things in the car and drove to the coffee shop. They had power, sweet. I arrive at Larch in time to use the bathroom and switch wheels. I seem to have arrived without an inhaler, rats. Climbing with asthma is not easy. Doctor Judy did not show, neither did Alanna or Maureen, so I had a minute on either side of my start time, since my two teamates I was sandwiched between weren't there. Great I thought, everyone will get to see my not so graceful fall off the ramp at the start, seeing as I have never started on a ramp before. Ernie is the countdown man, so I explain my fears, and he assures me they will not let me fall.
I go, I don't fall, and I climb 16 miles. There are very few women, yet still, they pass me. I have high hopes of enough no shows to land me a podium finish, even if I am in last place. At the top MJ awards me with a lovely gold medal on a huge yellow ribbon, and I feel accomplished with my slow time, no breakfast, no inhaler (except a couple hits off one from a random girl at the start), no alarm clock to wake me up in time, and a slight head cold slowing me down.
I feel worse on the descent so I eat a few shot blocks, and head straight to the car. A huge lunch at home helped, although I was rushed as I had to head out and lead another ride at the Q Center... all in a weekends bike life: 50 mile RCB group ride, Larch TT and then Q Cycle group ride. Stage racing this weekend apparently. Think I'll finish it off with stage four tonight, a crit at PIR.

Mark Cavendish and the Portland Velo Team

The usual Tuesday ride with the Portland Velo Team, out to the Vancouver wildlife refuge and back. This week we stayed in a nice tight peloton, and I got to ride second row behind Krhea's wheel. It was a smooth calm ride at a mere 18-19mph, and Doug said it must be my presence that had a calming effect on the peloton. At the last 100m, Krhea pulled left opening me up for a "final sprint"... i asked "are you setting me up for the finish?", and he said "I've led you out this whole way"... so I went off in a mad rush fake final sprint to a dead end parking lot, where the "leaders" who were already there, announced my winning status and points. A little Mark Cavendish on the Tuesday group ride.. can I claim that as a stage win :) ?

Jul 13, 2009

STP in one day!

Seattle to Portland in ONE DAY!!! AKA: "Eating shot blocks before 8am is not really OK"...
July 11th, Saturday, one day bike ride home from Seattle to Portland, a grand total of 209 miles.

Melissa and I drove up to Vancouver BC on Wednesday, and had a blast visiting friends and biking around my old city. There is lots of hub bub around the Olympics coming to town, so there was lots to talk about with my activist friends. On Friday we drove down to Seattle and got prepared for the big day on Saturday. 3:30am the alarm went off, and with 4 hours of sleep I sure did not feel ready to ride 204+ miles in one day, but decided I had probably done harder things in my life, and that even having the chance to do something like this is a true privilege, so I made coffee and ate a banana. We dropped the car off with a friend who was driving it back to Portland for us, and we biked 2 miles to the start line at the University. OK, it is dark out still, we barely know where we are going, and we are carrying enough shot blocks, hammer gel, and random bars to fuel us for probably 400 miles. I had no idea I could fit that much in my jersey pockets. We meet up with Ian and Brandon, and we jump in with the 5am start wave. 10,000 cyclists are doing this ride, but less than 1/4 of them are doing it in one day. We start early to avoid the "crowd".... turns out it's a crowd no matter what.

The first 100 miles was pretty much all bikes all the time, but luckily everyone was keeping a good clip and we did 18-21 mph for the first 100 miles without landing in any of the pile ups. We narrowly avoided several group pace line crashes, and a couple train track crashes, and hence decided no more pace lines with strangers. This left us essentially riding without a draft, but it was worth it for safety and sanity. Mile 100 is Centralia with a big party, lots of food and lots of tired cyclists. This is when I cried. The coffee had worn off, the 4 hours of sleep had caught up to me, and I wanted nothing more than to lie down on the grass for 3 hours and sleep, then bike the next 100 miles. Had I been alone, I would have done this....but with three others in the group, I opted to spill a few tears on Melissa's jersey, buy a mountain size baked potato from the Masons and bike back 5 blocks to the coffee shop and buy a large iced americano. The coffee shop girl was so encouraging of the STP, it actually turned my mood around. I drank the coffee faster than I drank the water, and off we were for the next 100+. This was actually the better half for me. There were much less cyclists out now, so the crashes were over, and the potato log in my belly was serving as nice constant fuel. Nothing was sore or tired, so I felt strong and less cranky. This is where Melissa bonked, and Anne Linton was right, at least we were grumpy at different times. 17 miles later Melissa needed more food, and for some reason delirium set in and she purchased a hot dog, an onion cheeseburger and cool ranch doritos. I on the other hand went straight to the coffee shack and bought another large iced americano. In her delirium she tried 3 times to feed me the hot dog until I reminded her I was wheat free and meat free... and that hot dogs were, well, meat and wheat... I told her she must be delirious, and she agreed. We did however have that to laugh about for the rest of the ride; "remember trying to feed a wheat free vegan a hot dog?".... it kept being funny all day, that's what happens after mile 100, everyone gets delirious. So hence we had a great time watching all the other cyclists do funny things, and every rest stop became a laughing stock. At the next one after the hot dog incident, the heat of the afternoon had set in, and everyone was under the garden hose and sitting on the curb. A couple old men were wearing really cool RAMROD jerseys (Ride Around Mt Rainier In One Day), and so I started chatting with them. They reminded me of the guys from Portland Velo, and they were just as funny and nice. One guy asked the older one how we was doing, and he replied "I'll make it... I'm just old and slow"... mind you they had made it to mile 130 at the same speed we had. One guy moved back onto the road, and tried to coax the other to join him and keep riding by saying "the road's over here".... to which he replied to us "we have to get Al back to the retirement home before they notice he's missing"... and off they went.
We pressed on to mile 140, where Cycology teamate Lamont had driven up to meet us, cheer us on, and bring us special order snacks. We called in our order at mile 100, and ate our fancy treats of yogurt shakes and odwallas that he had brought for us. The next 10 were a bummer for some reason, I just wanted to get to the Longview bridge. Once we crossed over it actually felt easy, and were riding fast again, although it was just me and Melissa at this point. Ian had taken off ahead, and Brandon had dropped out. I felt fine and we were keeping a good pace, it just seemed to take forever. We rode the last 20 or so in the sort of dark, as there weren't really any street lamps until Linton. We blasted past other cyclists at about 22 miles per hour for the last 15 miles... we were on a mission... we still didn't cross the finish line until 10:15pm, but it felt pretty good to roll into town and realize we were in Seattle that morning. We weren't sore or hungry, Katy picked us up and brought us eggs and odwallas, which we enjoyed, then went directly to bed. 12 hours later we woke up and ate a GIANT breakfast at noon... ahh yes... and spent the day in PJ's, watching old Ironman videos and political animation and eating lots of Thai food.
Some other highlights for me included seeing someone doing it on a skateboard!!! Someone on a unicycle!!! And MANY folks wearing Ironman jerseys from many different Ironmans. It was definetly and endurance crowd... which I hadn't gotten to hang out with since the Ironman. We saw very very few team jerseys, which surpirsed me. No Sorella jerseys, no Ironclad, no Portland Velo, no Veloce.... only 2 River City, and about 4 Hammer jerseys.... Lots of RAMROD, STP, IROMAN and custom jerseys, which was nice to see for a change.
It was an experience for sure... not sure I would do it again, but it was worth doing once. It was nice to realize that the cycling aspect wasn't the hard part, my endurance was essentially fine... it was the sleeping part that I needed more of, and the coffee part. I am ready for rest week now!

Jun 22, 2009

I took FIRST at PIR tonight!!!

My first win at any bike race ever in my life! YEAH! I pulled what I am now going to call a "Sarah Tisdale", which is racing a stage race all weekend, then showing up to Monday night PIR and winning.
It was great. We had 17 women in our field tonight, and Jen and I pulled the first lap, then I moved to my happy place in the back, where I stayed until the final sprint. I got boxed in when the group spread out on the straightaway, and was trying for far right, but there was no way. I saw someone pull through on the far left, so I crossed the entire 2 lanes of track to get to the far left, and sure enough a clear line opened up. I put the hammer down, and my head down, and my pedals down and everything I had down, and passed all 16 other racers.... HOLY COW! Apparently that was stage 5 of Elkhorn for me, and I sure did make up for my last place finish yesterday!

Elkhorn Stage Race - Stage 4 - Dooley!

Elkhorn Stage Race - Stage 4 - "Like Larch Mountain in the middle of winter!"
Sunday was the last stage of the 3 day Elkhorn Stage Race, and my teammates and I woke up at 6am to pouring rain and 40 degree temperatures. The idea of 102 miles suddenly sounded awful when the top of the mountains we were supposed to climb were at below freezing temperatures. Scrambling to figure out if the stage was going to be canceled Judy drove to the hotel where the race director was, only to discover once there, that she had a flat tire on her car. With no word on wether the race was on or not, we were trying to assess how much winter riding gear we had between us, and how many racers we could even send out based on how much gear we had between us. With Judy waiting for her flat to be fixed, I drove Anne's truck to the high school, and found out that not only was the race on, but Libby and I were both selected to submit wheels to the wheel car.
I called the crew, and we started to assemble. 5 out of 6 of us realized we could give it a shot based on the amount of gear we had, and Judy agreed to be team support and drive Anne's truck behind the women's field, so as we all got hypothermic she could pick us up. With a plan in hand, Libby and I suited up with plastic bags over our socks and biked over to the start with spare wheels in one hand and one hand on the handle bars. We were soaked by the time we got to the starting line.
Within a few minutes of all the racers huddling in the high school for shelter, the organizers decided to shorten the race. With mostly cheers from the crowd, we were told the course would be 10 miles flat, 12-15 miles of climbing up Dooley Mountain, then the finish line at the top. This sounded great to us!
The races were delayed 30 minutes so the organizers could move the finish line, and mark the 3k, 1k, and 100m marks at the top of the hill.
8:30am, the women were off, and Judy followed us. The pack of 1,2,3,4 and masters women stayed together for the flat 10 miles, then we all spread out when the climbing started. I was of course off the back with another Bella rider. We stayed together half way up the climb, then she gained about 200m on me, and held that lead to the end. So I took last, but I'll tell ya, I had Judy behind me the whole way! WOOHOO!!! I have officially decided last place rules when you have support. Judy would drive up next to me, tell me I was amazing, yell all kinds of supportive things, ask me if I needed anything, checked on my asthma, etc. At one point I took off my raincoat while I was climbing, and I knew Judy would see this and pull up beside me so I could throw it in the car. I landed a perfect shot on the passenger seat, and I felt like a pro, so I stepped up my pace. The pro men then passed me, flying up the hill like it was flat, and one of them took their vest off and threw it on the ground... confirming that I had more support than they did :)
The rest of the Sorellas did great, and told stories of the various breakaways up front, as we all crammed in Anne's truck at the top of the hill, and Judy drove us back down the hill to the house, and covered our shivering bodies in blankets and a sleeping bag. We were back at the house before 11am.
Total mileage for stage 4 - 17 miles. Oh well... we were all safe!

Jun 20, 2009

Elkhorn Stage Race - Stage 3 - Crit!

Elkhorn Stage Race - Stage 3 - Crit "Women all stayed upright!!!"
Stage 3 was this afternoon at 4:40pm for the women, and they had all the women race together, Cat 1, 2, 3, 4, and masters... this meant all 77 or 83 or however many of us, all on a tight 6 corner 1k downtown loop. All left turns except for one right turn with a hay bail in the road covering a storm drain at the curb. All the Sorellas were determined to stay in the crit as long as possible, except for me who was hoping to stay in for 15 minutes and then get pulled, because that would beat my record from Cherry Blossom... I started at the back with my new found Bella friends, including Bev... and in predictable fashion, 4 of us were off the back on the first lap. We stayed in for three or four laps, and then we were pulled off the course because we were too far back from the main pack. Total race time for me and the Bellas: 5 minutes. The rest of the Sorellas did better... Libby lasted quite a few more before getting pulled, then Judy got pulled. Alana, Anne and Sherry all made it the entire crit! I got to take pictures of them and scream my head off, which in my opinion is more fun than risking sudden death... but, everyone stayed up, and the women did not crash! Happy we all are.. Judy just ordered us Pizza, including a gluten free one for me and Alana!
Now back to eating the gluten free brownies...
Stage 4 tomorrow, 102 miles.... How many brownies will it take to fuel us that far?

Elkhorn Stage Race - Stage 2 - TT

Elkhorn Stage Race - Stage 2 - Time Trial = "If you aren't hurting you aren't going fast enough!"
This morning we raced 11 miles mostly flat, with everyone being sent off 30 seconds apart. That means it's you against yourself. They let you go in reverse order of the stage one finish... so basically me and Bev were the first women to go out today, since we came in last yesterday. This proved fun on many levels. I realized since I would finish first of all my teammates, I could take pictures of them at the finish line. So in true Zan tradition, I raced with my camera in my jersey pocket. I was actually sad I didn't have my camera yesterday, since the scenery was stunning, and Bev and I were in last place anyway, why not take pictures? So I plan on carrying my camera for the rest of the stages, especially since we don't have Anne's husband Tim here this time to be our photographer.
The time trial was great. I stayed in my aero bars the whole time, felt strong, and averaged 20mph. I passed Bev so I knew I wouldn't be last. I finished well and did indeed get to take pictures of everyone else finishing, and being goofy at the finish line. We checked the results and all the Sorellas did great, and I came in 4th from last, which is actually a huge improvement for me.
Since our rented house is 5 blocks from the course, we rode home, got our wallets, and rode back into town (a whole 5 more blocks) and got coffee at Bev's market (Bella), and hung out with her and the rest of the Bella team. We had a blast, and now we are resting for the Crit this afternoon. So far, SUNSHINE!!!

Jun 19, 2009

Elkhorn Stage Race - Stage 1

Elkhorn Stage Race – stage 1 - June 19th, 2009

72 miles, 6000 feet of climbing, beautiful Baker City Oregon.

This being my second stage race ever, I was feeling confident and ready… I was convinced I was going to get dropped from the pack within the first 4 miles, and come in last. My teammate Shari M assured me I wouldn’t be last, and Anne assured me I would stay with the Cat 1,2,3 and 4 women for the first 20 miles before getting dropped. I thought to myself, there is no way I can hang on with the Cat 1 women for 20 miles… but I’ll give it a shot.

At the start line I talked to one of the Organic Athlete racers, you know the ones that say “GO VEGAN!” across the ass of the shorts… and we all wanted to know if everyone on the team was Vegan. The guy I was talking to disclosed that he was in love with bacon, real live bacon. We all smiled and I laughed that the vegan food store in Portland, Food Fight, was one of their sponsors, and written right across his chest.

I then went over to the Ironclad team to see how everyone was doing. For those of you following the sad news of their team, Kristen got out of the hospital on Thursday (bad crash at PIR on June 2nd), and Kira is also now out of the hospital (double mastectomy). The entire team decided to honor Kira (who was supposed to race this weekend with them, and instead got diagnosed with breast cancer) by putting pink bar tape on ALL their bikes, men, women, everyone on the team. They also all wore pink ribbons, and pink arm bands… so picture the entire Ironclad squad with their black and yellow kits, sporting pink bar tape, pink ribbons, pink arm bands, pink leg bands, pink bandanas on their heads… it brought a tear to my eye at the start line.

And then we were off.

All the women went out together, Cat 1, 2, 3 and 4… 77 of us. This means FAST. So I hung on for 20 miles with the group, at 24 miles per hour, and was proud of myself for lasting that long. The best part was that I lasted long enough to experience my first ever group race pee. Mile 18….Seriously. Picture 77 women yelling pee break, and we ALL pull over, drop our shorts all in a row on the side of the road, and PEE!!!! Our lead car and rear car had stopped traffic for us, so a row of three trucks had to wait and watch 77 women bare ass peeing. IT WAS HILARIOUS!!!

At mile 20 we turned a nice right corner, and four of us got dropped. Now the solo race begins. I looked at the other 3 women, and decided Bev from Bella was my best bet at a mate for the 52 more miles we had to do. She was behind me so I was worried she was too slow for me, but I decided 52 miles alone would suck worse that 52 miles at a slightly slower pace with company. I had met her 4 years ago when Chane and I biked from Portland to Baker City, and we stopped at her coffee shop. So I at least knew she was very nice, but I had no idea what kind of a rider she was. It started raining so I decided to pull over, put my raincoat on and wait for her. She was right there when I was done putting my raincoat on, so I caught back up to her and we started chatting. Basically we rode the entire race together, talked, had fun, pushed hard, avoided all 3 of the crashes that happened in the main group, because we were way off the back, and couldn’t even see the main group after mile 20.

BUT THE BEST PART is that this race is fancy enough to have a sweep car…. and since the women started last, Bev and I were literally at the end of the race. This meant we had a support vehicle behind us the ENTIRE race! This is unheard of, and AWESOME! The support car stops traffic for you, tells cars behind it when they can pass us, and makes sure no yahoos in fast cars smash into us. It was great. AND, get this, since Bev is like the matron of the town, and owns the local coffee shop, she had a friend driving her car in front of us the whole race, and pulling up beside us, asking us if we needed water or pizza (I’m serious), and telling us how far to the top of whatever climb we were climbing. It was seriously like the Tour De France… well, at least I pretended it was… I mean there were two of us racing together, at the VERY BACK, and we had two support vehicles. I decided several things:
1) Being at the back sometimes is the best place to be

2) Race with a local because they have support and know the area

3) Being treated like a pro when you are actually the slowest racers out there really boosts your morale.

We raced very well, maintained a very strong pace, and finished together in 4 hours and 21 minutes.

Bev called me “the woman of the hour”, and was so happy I rode with her.

I can’t wait for stage 2, 3, and 4….