Jul 24, 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.
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
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.
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.
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."
May 16, 2010
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
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.
Apr 25, 2010
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:
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.
TT = Time Trial
Stage 3 = Vengeance
10 miles, 8:01 AM, Sunday April 25th, 2010
OK, so it's only 10 miles, and it's only the time trial, but I wanted to race my face off. I was still mad about not being able to descend yesterday, so I gave that TT my all. I was third out of the gate at 8:01, and I decided I had several goals:
1 - Gun it.
2 - Pass the two women in front of me and therefore finish first
3 - Get a better time than Katy (not sure why I was competitive about that one)
I think I just wanted to prove to myself that I was strong, and that my biggest set backs are strategy. I know how to ride a goddamn bike, and I know how to ride hard.
So off I went, passing the first two racers in about the first two miles, so then since I had no one to chase, my carrot was holding my lead so I could finish first. I could then pretend I won the stage, even though it doesn't work like that.
And win I did, first over the line I yelled to the refs: "I won the race!" as I flew over the finish line. I'm not sure they found it funny, but I needed a small piece of redemption.
I did well, 26th out of 36, and 41 seconds faster than Katy, not that I'm counting :)
Apr 24, 2010
Cherry Blossom Stage Race – Stage 2 = 27 miles, 5 laps
Saturday April 24, 2010
The race of party tricks I hadn’t practiced.
“It’s like 6 Tabors” said Elise at the start line. It was more like 10 tabors with other Peletons passing you constantly in a 30 mile an hour head/cross/tail/side wind.
The party trick I hadn’t practiced for today’s stage, was what do you do on a 25mph descent with 30 mile an hour cross winds causing your front wheel to fish tail violently in front of you? OK, I am being dramatic, but I did get my first ever “speed wobbles” in a race today, and it freaked me the fuck out. It was early on in the race, on the first descent, and my handlebars just started fishtailing under my hands and I saw my body flying through the air flash before my eyes. It was not easing and I started to become convinced I was destined for a heap in the road. I was at the back of the pack, so the follow cars were still behind me, so my only consolation was that a car would be there to alert the medics.
What would any racer do in this situation? Apparently you yell out loud to yourself. Yes, it’s true, now knowing what to do instinctually I yelled: “STEADY! STEADY! RELAX! RELAX! I bent my elbows and slowly tried to slow down, and a few seconds later I was holding a line again. At this point however the race was pretty much over for me, as I was totally freaked out. I slowed way down, and realized I had no idea how to ride this Cervelo in the harsh side wind.
I rode solo and hammered up all the hills, and rode the brakes all the way down the descents. I couldn’t even work hard enough to be out of breath or tired, as I felt so good on the climbs and was literally crawling down the descents. I went through all the feelings of wanting to cry, yell, hammer, drop out, pull over, let go of my fears and gun it. But mostly I just rode pissed.
Sarah came up behind me and yelled “Zan”, and I was so angry at that moment I didn’t say anything or even look to see who it was. She yelled again “Zan”, and I think I just said “Yeah”… as in yeah it’s me, fuck this wind, fuck this race, fuck my fear being the only thing holding me back because I feel strong and fresh and ready to race…. and right now I am not even racing like I should be.
I had to do all kinds of positive self talk: “At least I feel super strong, my nutrition plan was great, my legs feel great, my breathing is great, if it weren’t for the 30mph cross winds I’d still be in this game for real." But I am in this game for real, and I finished with the goal of just using this stage as practice for riding in the horrible wind, since we did the same loop 5 times. It didn’t really get easier, but whatever, I finished.
I seriously could race 100 miles tomorrow…I want redemption. But I am blessed with this amazing strength, determination and the best team ever. There will be many teammates and coaches to step up and give me tips for descending in the wind, and for this amazing community I am thankful.
Stage 3 is not 100 miles, like I wish it were, I have an 8:01 start time for a 10 mile time trial. Time to just gun it and see what happens.
Cherry Blossom Stage Race 2010 – Stage ONE – Friday April 23rd.
38 miles total, two 19 mile loops in
I went into this race with a new strategy: A Cervelo.
Having raced Cherry Blossom last year, I knew a little bit more about what I was getting in to, and had a clear goal of doing better than last year, and staying with some of my teammates. I did all the right planning, eating, sleeping, prepping, training, etc., and came in with my teammate Jen’s attitude of “OWN IT!” and Katy’s and my new quote “DUST EM!”.
I wanted to stay with Katy, but I found myself at the back of the pack pretty early on, even though I started in the middle. I got squeezed left and just didn’t feel ready to be in the middle of this somewhat large field, maybe 50 Cat 4 women. There weren’t really any surges for the first 9 miles, so I was not experiencing any yo-yo-ing, which usually kicks me off the back.
I am very specific about not trying anything new for a race, and I thought I had everything dialed in. Apparently I hadn’t tested out my Garmin water bottle in the carbon bottle cage on the Cervelo on a bumpy road at 25mph. I’ve ridden that Cervelo plenty now, and carried that exact water bottle every time… but apparently the road we were racing on today was determined to get that bottle bouncing right out of the bottle cage. I heard it a few miles in, and couldn’t figure out what the noise was until I looked down and saw my water bottle teetering on the edge of jumping ship, and I shoved it back down. I hoped that was it, but a mile later I was shoving again, and a mile later, again.
So, you can probably guess that this slowed me down a bit, and you can also probably guess that at mile 8 when I was happily going 25mph the bottle jumped ship and landed right under my back wheel. I rolled right over it like a speed bump, and stayed totally steady. Having never ridden over a water bottle before, I was glad that was a party trick I didn’t need to practice, and I managed to continue on. I caught back up with the pack, but I was down the water bottle Tyler Farrar gave me, and the one that contained my only electrolyte drink: Heed and Maltodextrin = GONE at mile 8.
At this point a few people were falling off the back, and by mile 9 I had officially been dropped off the main pack, but I was not in last place. I passed Carolyn pretty easily, so I knew I needed to group up with some other folks ahead of me. I saw Sorella Christine had also been dropped and caught up to her before the climb. We climbed together and caught Poplillies Kelly at the top and told her to grab on. Turns out she was a perfect match and the three of us worked together quite well.
I was definitely pushing my normal race pace, and we were regularly going 22-25 mph. There was headwind and cross wind in a couple places, but nothing like last year. Once we crested the climb and started the main descent, Kelly led us down with her mad descending skills and I dropped back a bit out of fear of going that fast. I was still pretty new to the Cervelo, and I kept thinking I was going to blow a tire and fly off my bike and into the pavement. Nothing like a little self inflicted fear to get you to loose some ground. At the bottom of the descent the other two were about 400m ahead of me, and I knew I needed to catch back on as we still had another lap to go. It took a couple k and all I had, but I caught back up by the start of lap 2.
Again we worked together, except my pulling days were over, and I sat and drafted while barely hanging on to their wheels for the second lap. I knew they were faster on the descent, so we parted ways there, and I gave myself a little talking to and took the hill more confidently the second time around. I pushed myself the last couple of k to the finish, but I knew the folks behind me were really far behind me, so I didn’t really need to sprint for the line as Christine and Kelly had already crossed it ahead of me.
I finished solid with lots of Sorellas at the line to cheer me through, and felt really damn good about my fastest 38 mile race ever. Total race time was 2 hrs, and given the climbs, that is not bad in my books.
Now we are back at the Rowena house, a veritable palace with the most amazing views right off the deck. I soaked my legs in the freezing ass
Apr 21, 2010
Turns out only 9 novice women signed up to race, and 5 open women. We had Sorellas in both fields :) I did 3 warm up laps with some guy, then Nissy and I decided to mentor the Novices and ride next to them and give them tips. This was the best idea for sure, as it gave Nissy and I a chance to ride a nice 20mph clip, and stay far enough away from the paceline to feel secure that if they went down we wouldn't.
The highlight for me was that it was EASY to push a 20mph pace without a pace line... I was able to ride smooth, breathe fine, talk easily and just clip along like it was no big deal. 20mph alone into a headwind finally felt pedestrian.
Yes, you heard it: PEDESTRIAN! WOHOO!!!! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? The asthmatic can finally clip along easily at 20mph alone and still talk/coach/give tips/hold my own line. It was seriously better than actually being registered in the race, because I was out there racing next to them and thinking to myself if I was racing I'd be OWNING this race :)
And with that, I am taking some ownership to Cherry Blossom this weekend... the race I was SO AFRAID of last year.. and this year I am feeling thrilled about. Me and my new Cervelo have some catching up to do... catching up with the fast ladies that is.
Quote for this weekend:
Actually you can win a whole cake.
I didn't think it was a piece of cake, nor did I win a whole cake, but I did finish, and I finished strong with a strong leg sprint.
It was still winter... who races in March? February? Anyway, it was wet, and cold, and asthmatic. I got dropped from the main pack pretty fast since I couldn't breathe, and we got there so late I hardly had a warm up... but we made it, and we raced.
I caught Carolyn and we worked together the whole race, taking turns and passing others. We picked up a few, dropped a few, picked up a couple, dropped one, and pretty much just kept going. There was nothing too technical about it, some odd tracks, some carpet soaked into the grooves of the tracks, but we all stayed upright. Wheezing away I pushed what I could, and by the end of it I was warmed up.. it takes me a while.
I sprinted for the finish.. you know, just to practice, and to fight for my near to last spot :) I felt proud to "win my sprint" as I call it, which basically meant I was something like 4th or 5th from last, but beat the two or three ladies I was riding with. It's the small things... getting ready for the big things when the weather gets better and I can actually breathe.
Mar 14, 2010
Despite the shenanigans, serious training for the 2010 race season has begun. With a new Cervelo in tow, refined sugar and wheat eliminated from the 2010 diet, the trainer dusted off, and the Universal Sports channel acquired... things are looking up for a great road season.
With lots of base miles already in the bank, and some unexpected sunny weekends in February, I am looking forward to distance and stage racing. I really just love to ride all damn day long. It's gotten to the point where Reach The Beach doesn't sound fun unless it also includes riding home from the beach.
STP was great in terms of miles in one day, I would love to find comparable rides/races that did not involved 10,000 people piling up left and right from riding too close together. RAMROD if they let me in?
Until then it's Saturday rides, Sunday rides, Wednesday rides, anyday rides.
Banana Belt 3! AKA "I don't race in February, and now it's March"
Revenge on the Banana Belt! Last year it was Jeff Tedder saying "I'd be happy to never race at Haag Lake again", and me saying something along the lines of hating Banana Belt with a whole lot more swear words thrown in.
I did not want to start the 2010 race season with a DNF, and Haag is good at DNF's. I had planned on not ever racing when it was below 50 degrees, as that is when the asthma kicks in and I can't do race pace at all, never mind breathe. Thanks to advice from Dr. Judy I invested in an albuterol nebulizer this year, and since it was hovering around freezing this morning, I knew the neb was in order. At least it wasn't raining.
Anne (center in the pic above) of course had an adapter in her truck, and I was able to plug in the nebulizer in her car, and breathe in the drugs. Gittery and lungs opened, I felt ready to race. Katy and I had gotten there early enough to ride around for a good 45 minutes before the race, change clothes, pee three time, eat more oatmeal and just generally fuck around, so that helped.
The Cat 4 field was pretty big, but with Bonnie, Katy, Carolyn and myself in the mix, we figured we'd have a decent back of the pack crew. Katy and I rode together as best as we could for the first half of the race, trying to catch the Blue Sky rider ahead of us. We caught up with her and stayed as a group of three for a little while until I got dropped off the back and Carolyn caught me from behind. Carolyn and I spent the last lap together, and I was feeling it at this point. I had been struggling with my breathing the entire race, which is I think why Katy dropped me, but thanks to the warm up and the nebulizer I was able to stabilize the asthma enough to stay in the race and put down a pretty good pace.
Carolyn and I were about to get neutralized about 2k from the finish, and for some reason that pissed me off enough to sprint in front of the lead car. I held the car off for a bit, and was passed by the women 3's with under 1k to go. At this point I gunned it to avoid finishing with their follow cars, and came in right behind them, which was a great time to pretend I was finishing with the 3's.
All in all it was a decent way to start the 2010 race season, and put some good sprints in the bank. I'm feeling pretty good that with some more specialized training strategies, warmer weather and the Cervelo I should be able to win a few medals, or at least a few points.