Wednesday, March 26, 2008

More Warmups = Blowups at ye olde track

Well, the Boy and I headed out the Hellyerdrome again last night for some suffervals with the Nolanator. Next week, we get to full-on racing. This was the last week of mock racing.

Again, lots of chicas showed up. That was great! Also, the Jacques-Mayne brothers rolled out for the event along with a good showing from Team Specialized and Morgan Stanley/Spine. So, this time there were 3 groups. The fast group last night gave a whole new definition of fast. There was an intermediate group and a slow group. I definitely felt like the slow group was more competitive for me this week.

However, the warm up last night should be called a Blowup. Holey Moley. I only lasted 3 laps this time. What the heck? Last week, we had a moto to pace us from 18-30 and I lasted 20 of 30 laps. This week, it was self-regulated. So, I spent most of the warmup near the rails and dropped in to the back of the line each time they came around. I would hold on as long as I could and then drift up to the rail again. That was usually about 3/4 of a lap. When we got home and looked at Rick's GPS of the lap splits, it explained my crappiness. We started at 21, which lasted for a grand total of 2 laps. Then, it went straight to 26 the next lap and then got faster from there. When Rick popped around lap 25, they were going 31! Hello people! I don't even have a 31 right now! Let alone a 35 or whatever the heck they were doing for the last couple laps. Anyway, the dropping down in was good practice, so it wasn't a total loss.

We did "sprints" which were mock 9 lap points races with sprint every 3. I had some good success in this event taking longer sprints and getting a gap while others were still poking around around and recovering.

We did Australian pursuit. I pretty much suck at this. Mostly, because it is hard to get well-matched fitness on a single team, let alone 2 teams. Now, if we did this with 2 W4 teams going after each other, it would probably be pretty fun.

We did a 12 lap scratch race last. I totally suck at getting position off the rail and hence started and finished this race off the back. I was able to catch on a couple of times, but never was able to get a position I would have liked.

Oh, and the rental bike left me with a nasty kink in my neck and some missing skin in unmentionable areas. So, I may be rethinking my bike strategy. That is something for another post, though.

Friday, March 21, 2008

my new sport = bowling!?

We had an office off-site this week. We went bowling. I reluctantly played along. But, I did have some spitfire trash talk in me aimed at the team on the next lane, which included our VP. We split into 6 teams of 5 to bowl two games. Keep in mind we are a bunch of geeks. So, the level of competition was like if cycling had a Cat 9. But, at least I had my months of weight training fresh in my body and could do a nice lunge with powerful, straight throw of the ball. Which I found that if I got it straight down the middle, I usually got 9 pins. Not bad. Occasionally I would get 10, but almost always 9.

In the first game, I managed to tie for the 2nd highest score of the day at 139, which is totally amazing, since I've only bowled twice in the last 15 years. Wooo hooo! And, to my surprise, our team won the overall title for the two games. Supposedly, I've got some sort of gift certificate coming my way. Yeee haw!

.....of course, I paid for my victory the next morning when I had to do 2 x 20 intervals with a very sore left glute!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Another Road Race and Night Time Trackies

Well, it's that time of season. I'm ramping up toward the peak. The suffering is in full swing.

Bariani RR W4

Bariani was my 4th race in 4 weeks. I didn't intend to race every weekend this early in the season. But, once I stuck that MTB race in there, that is what happened. Adding to the fatigue was the fact that Rick had the 8:00 start, so we had an overnight in Woodland and a 5 am wake up call to get to his race.

Anyway, I'll keep my ramblings about the race fairly short. The mood was still somber after last week's events. And, winning a race didn't seem like an important goal, for whatever reason. But, I was feeling up for improving my race skills, working on communicating with team mates and helping ensure a safe and fun race for all present.

The wind was again the major factor. I am also working on positioning right now. I was really successful in positioning and made the first few selections after the "attacks" started. I call them "attacks", because girls were slowly gliding up on the windy side of the pack at a pace that was only about 2 mph faster than the main group. Then, all they succeeded in doing was stringing out the peloton and ending my leisure in the nice, protected spot. Anyhow, I was well on my way to making it in the final selection when the girl whose wheel I was sitting on popped off. That is one thing I haven't learned to read very well yet. I threw down like 600 watts trying to bridge back up to the front group of 12ish, but that was my last match, and I was thoroughly cooked. As I was working out the pain in my legs, group after group passed by me, and I couldn't grab on to a single one. I need to figure out what is going on with my ultra-slow recovery mechanism.

We had 3 new racers out from our Tri Flow development program, and they all did great, finishing the race strong. I was able to work with one of the Tri Flow girls through the rest of the race once I regained my faculties. All in all, it was a good day.

Tuesday Night at the Track
We headed out to the track last night, because I'm in a big ol' training block right now, so suffering is what the doctor ordered. And, suffering is what I got. I always feel slow when I go to the track. There were a lot of folks there, so we split into "faster and more experienced" group and "slower and less experienced group". You know you're in a different league when a few of the Proman Chicas join you in the "slower and less experienced group". Actually, there was a really good showing of women last night. There were 3 of us Cat 4 types - Cathy from Roaring Mouse and Dorit joined me in the turtle category. Then, there were about 6 other women from the higher categories - including the illustrious Shelley Olds. I think Alicat was the lone Cat 3 woman out there. But, she's pretty fit right now and able to hang pretty well with the big girls.

Anyway, I think it will be a major accomplishment if I can manage to survive through the warm-up by the end of the season. First, I did about 20 warm up laps on my own. Then, in the real warm-up, I got blown about 20 laps into the 30 lap warmup. After recovering for a couple laps, I tried to drop down into the end of the line, but was unable to even accelerate to that pace. Sigh. I know it's good for me, but tough on the ego for sure. We did some lead out exercises that I ensured success in by taking the 2nd or 3rd pull in the line rather than the 6th position!

Then, we did motor pacing, which was totally fun! The only bummer is that I was starting to get really tired - as in sleepy. Usually, exercise that late in the evening wakes me up. But, I was actually getting drowsy and having issues with depth perception (first time riding the track in the dark). Bam Bam talked the moto into pacing us at 20 mph instead of 23 like for the other group. I was happy to hear this, since I was pretty sure I couldn't do 23 mph for 30 laps - even with the draft. So, I mostly sat in and worked on improving my position. I just kept trying to move up. Occasionally I slipped back. Then, I found myself right behind the moto, which was cool. At about 9 laps to go, I did a big attack from above for about 3/4 a lap. Then, I pulled up and reintegrated. I blew up with about 1.5 laps to go. But, generally, I felt good about that exercise.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

(un)Pleasantville and a Proper Race Report

Remember that movie "Pleasantville" where everything was all black and white? Yeah, that's pretty much how I've been feeling since Sunday. The color has been drained from life to some extent...and yet, I feel that I must fight the fear and sadness trying to settle inside me. One of my friends said that the best way to honor Matt and Kristy is to keep living and loving cycling. So, in that spirit, a proper race report:

MPGP 2008

Cyclistrick's first crit. My first crit of the season. I was excited and nervous for this race. First nerves I've had so far this year. I was racing at 10 am and then working reg in the afternoon.

We all got call ups, which I'm pretty sure I don't deserve, but I won't complain about! I plunked myself in the front row and prepared for the start. My goals for this race were to communicate with team mates and work on my position in the peloton, among other things. I was going to try to force myself to ride in the middle of the pack - a spot I've avoided up to this point. But, since I want to get good at crits, I will have to get there sooner or later.

Well, I got right where I wanted to be for the first 2 laps. And, I was feeling pretty comfortable. Then, at the end of the 2nd lap, there was an opening to the left and I wanted to test out how easy it was to move up on the finishing straight (gathering info for later in the race). To my surprise it felt really easy, so on a whim, I took a big flyer and gapped the pack. I guess the attack was pretty big, because I didn't have any friends come with me. I heard Hernando say something to the effect of "Chattybox!" and "I've never seen her go off the front like that!"

Seeing as I had no buddies and there were still like 15 laps to go, I decided the better part of valor was to get back in the shelter of the pack ASAP. Now, as we all know, as soon as the pack caught me, it would have been a really good time for another racer/team to counter-attack. But, alas, most of us W4s are just clinging for dear life and not really thinking about tactics.

My re-integration had me sitting a little further back in the pack than I wanted, and I planned to move up again on the home stretch. I was checking out the options for space when all of a sudden, the racer in front of me went down. It looked like she just got forced into taking the turn a little hot and her wheels went out from under her. Yikes! Fortunately, it was a pretty graceful fall. I had my first opportunity this season to practice my Velo Girls Skills Emergency Stop(TM). I stuck my posterior behind the saddle and jammed on my brakes, and stopped about two inches from the fallen rider's leg and I was still upright with both legs unclipped on the ground. Phew! I felt like celebrating until I realized the pack had gone on its merry way and I was now like 15 seconds behind.

And, so started the chase. I found a buddy named Lisa from LGBRC. Fortunately, she is also a gal of enhanced stature, so we were able to work together pretty well. We chased for a few laps until we came across the 2nd crash, involving 2 of my team mates and another racer. Not good seeing them on the asphault. But, everyone was moving around a little, which was good. Lisa and I continued our chase and eventually picked up 2 more riders who were chasing. We started making some headway on the pack, which was now 1.25 laps in front of us. About that time, the race stopped, and we waited for the ambulance to take 2 of the racers away.

After about 30 minutes, our 2nd race started. They started us in "main pack" and "chasers" groups about 15 seconds apart. There were about 15 of us in the "chasers" group, including a team mate, Lala. This group was not working as efficiently as I would have liked. We were actually losing ground on the pack. But, I looked at it as a chance to work on my sprint. Lala and I helped each other stay in good position in this mini peloton. About 2/3 the way around the last lap, 2 of our group attacked and had a good gap. When, we came around the last corner, I saw them slowing and playing cat and mouse. So, I put the pedal to the metal. About 100M before the line, Lala jumped around me to take the sprint. I just kept it in high gear and threw the bike over the line for 2nd out of the chase group. Hey, maybe I can sprint after all! Now I just need to get a chance to try it from the "main pack".

Oh, and another really fun thing was witnessing former teammie Kimmy Gibbler on the podium for the first time. You rock, Kimmy!

The afternoon was spent alternately munching my turkey sandwich and flirting with all the geezer boys at registration and ogling cyclistrick as he was doing his warmup. I just have to say that my hubby is HOTT.

You can read about cyclistrick's first crit here.

All in all, it was a great day and a great start to the crit season. Thanks to Velogirl and all our sponsors and volunteers for making it such a great day!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Times like these....

This post was originally going to be a report and recount of all the fun we had on Saturday, but somehow I feel the need to set aside the antics and remember....


I am reminded, yet again, that life is a vapor. I got home from our training ride yesterday to hear that 3 cyclists had been hit head on on Steven's Canyon - a road frequented by a lot of us south peninsula/south bay cyclists. Later news reports revealed 2 dead and one seriously injured - hit by a sheriff's vehicle that had crossed the center line. Even later reports revealed the one of the fatalities was a young lady my age who was having what could only be described as a meteoric rise through the racing categories this year. I think she won or podiumed about 8 races in a row and even had a signature attack move that folks were starting to name after her. Sigh. The two cyclists will certainly be missed in the Bay Area peloton.

That news came after seeing a team mate hauled off in an ambulance on Saturday at the race. Fortunately, she is doing great. Thanks to all who showed concern and asked about her after the race. No major injuries. She should be back on the bike in a couple weeks.

sometimes the preponderance of evidence seems to say "it's not worth it".

But, then I remember...

The fun of flying by the peloton in a perfectly timed attack as Hernando's voice is "lovingly heckling" over the PA. Yeah, that was going nowhere 2 laps into the race, but it was fun!

The joy of all the wonderful friends I've made and people I've met while pursuing my passion.

That epic 8 mile descent of perfectly paved, s-curved roads with no cars that day when we rode out of Volterra. I never once touched my brakes as I soared through the lunar landscape of freshly tilled fields.

That day of climbing in the Dolomites where it was so beautiful I felt like I could climb forever, despite my lack of fitness and ample baggage.

When I think on these things, I realize that each of them is a gift. And, that I'd rather have my 32 years filled with all these things than 99 years of perfectly calculated safety. The best moments of my life have come as a result of taking some sort of risk or leap of faith.

I just need to remember....

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Cyclistrick on Velonews/Zinn tech article???

So, the other day we were discussing the latest Zinn tech article on Velonews (Feb. 19) and the inaccurate statement that SRAM 10sp cassettes won't work on 10sp Shimano hubs (as I am currently running SRAM cassettes on all my Shimano road wheels - 11x28 Baby!). Turns out it's only the Dura Ace 7800 hubs that are incompatible. Cyclistrick seemed pretty fired up. Now, there's a letter addressing the topic printed in the latest edition, sounding suspiciously of Cyclistrick's "official" tone and signed "Rick".

Check it:

Dear Lennard,
Your answer to Brian about SRAM cassette compatibility is confusing and correct in part, only. You state "Shimano 10-speed freehub bodies, however, are aluminum and have taller, deeper splines," which is true of the FH-7800 and compatible Dura-Ace level hubs, the only hubsets marketed by Shimano that work with matching Dura-Ace compatible 10-speed cassettes, only.

Shimano sells other hubs that are marketed and sold for use with 10-speed cassettes including the FH-6600 and FH-5500 hubs and compatible wheelsets. Of course these hubs work with 8- and 9-speed cassettes, too, which the FH-7800 hub does not. Thus the SRAM OG-1070 cassettes that Brian asks about work on most of the 10-speed groups and wheels sold by Shimano, the same as most of Shimano's own 10-speed cassettes such as the CS-6600 and CS-5600 series. The only quirk again is the 7800 series, with the higher spines you mention, which is an outlier with limited compatibility even in Shimano's own lineup of componentry. The limited options and compatibility is the reason that myself, and a lot of other riders, have avoided the 7800 level hubset.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Officially Filthy Dirty Now!

Whew! What a week. Life has been a bit of a roller coaster of late in many areas. One sad note is the passing of my black lab Corky. He'd been having a lot of trouble with his back legs over the last 6 months and intermittent problems with bowel control. My mom and dad were trying to keep him comfortable. But, alas, he started bleeding out last Wednesday, so they had to escort him to the big beach in the sky. :( But, he had a good, long life of 15 years and got to spend his golden years on the Central Coast being loved and pampered to the greatest extent possible. So, no regrets there.

<start happier stuff>

So, Saturday marked my first foray into the world of MTB racing. I dragged myself down to Ft. Ord for the 9 am beginner race. Well, I'll just say that the race they put on there is a class act, and a total blast. I had a ton of fun.

I got really good position at the start and was 3rd into the single track. I was able to hold position for a while. But, inevitably, my lack of skills slowed me down, and I got swarmed when the trail widened out at the first point. But, I circled for the remainder of the 3 laps, getting a bit more skilled each time. I'd never ridden sand or burms before, so I got to try a lot of newness. I was the last finisher in our field - down 24 minutes. But, that's not really what it's all about. After I learn to ride the bike, then I can think about strategy and tactics and placing and stuff.

Good times. I'll try to get some photos from Velogirl, who showed up a little extra-early for her race so she could cheer me on.