Sunday, April 29, 2007

Diggin Deep

We all dug deep today. I love the many ways that we recognize it in each other.
And no doubt, it's one of the elements which brings this community of cyclists together.

I had a few teammates dig especially deep for me today. I feel honored to be on a team which value this so strongly.

Those who raced in the am and did feeds in the pm, must-a done a whole lot of diggin.

I did no more or less diggin than many others today, but I'll share what happened on my end of the bike.

If you have taken a clinic with Nicole Freedman, you have undoubtedly experienced her favorite drill. Its goal is to simulate the race when everything which can go wrong will go wrong and how to own up to it, not give into it, and overcome it. It's a race against your teammates where everyone starts with their chain off. At the whistle, you get your chain on, ride through an obstacle course around water bottles, bunny hop over some water bottles, take off your back wheel, put it back on, grab a water bottle from the ground (to simulate a missed feed), etc. etc.

Today was the real deal.

At the end of the bumps on lap 1, I looked down and swore that my tire was low on air. I asked two separate racers if my back tire looked low. Both confirmed that I "definitely" had a flat. A teammate immediately offered her wheel and then her entire bike (as she had Shimano and I campy). When that didn't work out (we had different pedals), a second teammate offered me her Campy wheel. Wow. We stopped, I undid my wheel, grabbed it, and !$@^& !, it wasn't flat. We TTed through the feed zone, skipping a feed, traded pulls, and caught back on a few miles later. Phew!

Then, on lap 3, I dropped my chain onto my pedal spindle on the tiny roller on the bumps before the real bumpy section. The pack jammed along the bumpies, up the rollers, through the feed zone, and was out of sight, despite my best attempts to catch back on before it was too late.

Panda was alerted to my misery when she passed through the feed zone. She dug and dug and came up with a monstrous pull to launch me back into TT mode. It took me a total of 41min. of diggin, but I caught back on just in time to do the bumpies again(thanks to a slow pack where no one wanted to pull on the last lap).

It was a character building weekend for us all.

And oh my stars, that Pepsi that Linda gave me post-race was good!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Madera: Stage 0

Every year I forget how much prep and logistical stuff goes into stage races. While we're not racing much more than any other weekend somehow the logistical stuff seems to grow exponentially. This year we're trying to start early and make lists.

You know:

Clean Bikes
Tune Bikes
Extra Wheels
Buy Food
Make Packing List

And the packing list seems to be that much longer:
Spare parts
...blah, blah, blah
But it's going to be a great weekend...if we can fit all this stuff in the car.

Monday, April 23, 2007

That's HOT Baby...

Just saw the weather forecast for Madera next weekend. 93 will be quite a change from Saturday afternoon's cold a$$ 50-somethin. Guess I better start hydrating where'd I put all the beer?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Even crashing couldn't dampen my spirits

Today was a great day at the races. I have never done well in climbing road races. It hurts and I give into the pain and inevitably end up in some tiny group light years behind the real race.
My only personal goal was to not give into the pain. Warming up, I cranked up the suffer-music, took off my HR monitor, and declared to myself that I would ride in zone "Don't get dropped." I came prepared to suffer. Once we turned onto the steep part of the climb (Carrol Rd.), the real climbers were kind enough to unleash some crazy-ass pain. Somewhere, somehow, I dug deep and stayed with the lead group. Our starting pack of around 40 riders was widdled down to 8 within the first 20 minutes of the race. I was honored to be there. And it hurt. Man, did it hurt. So, I promised myself that if I could stay with this group, I'd come straight home and lose a few more pounds, so that maybe it wouldn't hurt so badly next time.

A little bit of this:

Followed by a little bit of that:

And it looks like I'll have to suffer through the pain again next time.

I got gapped later on from the lead group, did some TTing, and ended up in a chase group. I heard that we brought the gap to within a minute somewhere mid-race. Unfortunately, there was a nasty crash in our paceline on the flats. I went down hard, but was fortunate to be able to get back on my bike and finished 16th. The good news is that it was my best finish ever in a hilly road race. Before the crash, I was in a chase group with some very strong climbers who I have admired from afar for a long while. I wish the best to Annie Henry from EMC who took the worst fall and had done some kick-ass pulling to move us closer to the lead group.

And Sabine made Laurie's day with her amazing pulls. I'm looking forward to racing together again soon!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Some can and some can't

design bike parts for $hit that is.

Yesterday I spent a few hours in the garage doing some wrench work. Making the last switch to a full Campy household. I'm not a very good wrench but as an enginerd I can appreciate good design and recognize the other kind. After a grumpy (the old stuff made me grumpy) evening and rainy morning I finally got out to test the results.

Smooth as butter!!! Gawd I love Campy!

Speaking of cool designs, the Vikenator mentioned one of these doohickeys over a couple of beers a few weeks ago. The birthday elf put one in my stocking over the weekend and we tried it out the other night. If you're an omnivore and like a little marinade and BBQ you gotta check it out.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Thanks Guys...

that was fun. After a day of rain soaked racing, an insomniatic night, a morning of hillervals and party preparations it was nice to sit on the deck, in the sun, drinking sangria and Trappist ale with good friends. Here's a few shots of the festivities for those of you who couldn't make it. We hope to see you next time. (Look closely and you might see a fellow blogger or three. )

We started on the deck with some food,

and drink.

Then it was time for cake...from Ici.

Then the bikers in the crowd gathered in the play room to watch Paris-Roubaix

pommes frites

and salted, amoniated licorice (aka Penguin Poop).

Now who's going to help me with the left-overs?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Racing With Girls...

well one anyway...mine.

We drove up to Santa Rosa today for a little local crit action. We decided to avoid the craziness at Sea Otter and do the smaller race. We had a good time, froze our butts off in the pouring rain and I eeked out a couple of top 10's. I'm not breaking out any champagne but I'm happy and feeling strong.

But, the story of the day was the men's E4 race. As I was getting dressed, in the lightly falling rain, I expressed my concern that we wouldn't meet the field limit in the E4 race. Alicat paused and said 'I'll race, do you care?' My response was go for it. She ran off, registered and jumped in (I don't think she even had time to warm up). For the first few laps I could hear Jess-ter cheering her on in corner 1 but I lost track after a while and thought maybe she got gapped or pulled out. With about 5 laps to go who should ride up next to me but the grimace herself, little miss Alicat. Two thoughts went through my she's still in it and damn I need to move up. We managed to move up over the last few laps, narrowly avoid a crash and roll across safely. Our field ended up with about 40 riders. Alicat finished 17th (without sprinting as she was trying to warm up for her own race)...Now that's HOT!

It's been suggested that women race the men's fields when promoters don't offer women's races. I've raced with women a couple times this year and think we'll see a lot more before the season is done. All I can say is 'Be careful what you wish for cuz those gals come to play!'

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

God Bless You Mr. V

The master is gone, may he go to a place with less gravity and warm breezes.

1922 - 2007

“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’
----God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

So Don't be one of these -

Monday, April 09, 2007

Merkeley in Bezerkley Land...

Toto, we're not in Kapa'a anymore.

We had a great trip to Kauai. Good friends, good food, good wine, good weather, good get the picture. I've been to Kauai more than a few times but we managed to do some new fun stuff: I finally made it to Waimea Canyon (incredible), did some hiking, took Little M on her first snorkeling excursion (she'll be back) and found some good new eateries.

Saturday we were back in the East Bay and I got on my bike for the first time in a week. I decided to take one of the local loops through Morinda. Most of this loop is great; East Bay Parks and redwood lined's easy for me to forget I'm skirting the burbs. Unfortunately, there's one stretch of dodging cell phone equipped mini-vans, jaguars and lexi that brings me back to reality.

My ride Saturday included one other treat...something I've never seen before in all my hours of riding in the hills and a reminder of the things I love about the east bay. As I made my way back from Morinda, ascending the hills from the redwoods in Canyon, I heard a rhythmic pounding coming from around the bend. I rounded the corner and saw a car parked in one of the turnouts. All I could think was 'Hmm...someone must be working on their car'. As I got closer I realized the pounding was too musical for car repair. Then I saw it...a full drum kit sitting next to the car, in the turnout, in the middle of the woods. A curly-haired rocker was seated at his yellow drums, eyes closed, headphones on, wailing away at the drums. I tried to make eye contact to signal my approval but the guy was in the zone. For the rest of the climb I could hear the da-da-BUM echoing through the canyon and all I could think was 'It's good to be home....dude!'

Saturday, April 07, 2007

meandering thoughts

It's late and I'm not tired.

Jet lag is a brutal beast.

So I shall share the thoughts which are meandering through my brain on this penultimate evening of spring break, 2007.

* We had you fooled into thinking that our diets were for the upcoming bike racing seasons. Actually, we had fooled ourselves into thinking that too. We learned in Hawaii that our diets were actually in preparation for a glorious week of wine and treats with Mike's dear friends who live in Kauai and own a wedding cake business. It was so worth it!

* Mike thinks I'm going to hate wedding planning. He's usually right. But, I'm beginning to look forward to it. So maybe, just this once, he's not right. We'll see. But like I said, he's always right..

* After spending a week in Hawaii, doing a 2.5 hour ride on my TT bike Atalanta, this morning was a lot more painful than I had bargained for. I was so pained that I don't think Ms. Panda even recognized me when she passed me on San Pablo Dam Road. Did you?

* I think there are only 10 more weeks of school left until summer. Wow.

* Tomorrow is a big day for me. The Easter Bunny is visiting my home. Until I moved in with Mike, I had never been so lucky. This past week was always filled with matzoh meal and horseradish, but never the Easter Bunny. Little M. has warned us that she'll be bounding down the stairs early Sunday in search of eggs. I can't wait.

* How cool would it be to forgo wedding cake and have an Ici ice cream cake (or ice cream sandwiches) for our wedding?

* Has anyone complied a quote book from Jens? We just watched Criterium International and that man, per usual, has so much class. If there's a "Jens' Greatest Hits Album" out there, I want to know.

*Is it bedtime yet?