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!