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….