Tuesday, August 31, 2010

May 6 - Thawing out over pizza and doner with a side of bier

We awoke to a rainy morning. The good news was that the winds had died down. The ATM was our first stop on the way out of Sasbach. We headed out on the main road, on account of the rain - the dirt paths would be impassable in the weather. Cruising along at 13-15 mph, we spotted a giant stork's nest atop a church steeple and stopped to take some photos.

As we left town, we were following what we thought was the road cycling route, but ended up along the Rhine again in thick, red mud. The highlight of that section was hearing a real cuckoo sound coming from the forest - it sounded just like the cuckoo clock we had when I was growing up!

The rains stopped for a bit, and we passed through Kappel. We were making good time toward Strausbourg/Kehl...that is until our road dead-ended and we had to backtrack. By the time we got to the next village, I was freezing. We tried to stop at the bakery, but missed the noon closing by a couple of minutes. Drat! We pressed on to find an open "doner pizza" place. Here, we would describe it as a pizza and schwarma place - which is something rarely found together in the USA. We loaded up on pizza, beer and coffee for 18 Euros. The doner pizza establishments became our lunch of choice from then on. Cheap, tasty and plentiful - these restaurants are a cycle-tourist's dream. As a bit of foreshadowing, I will mention that I had a half liter of Dunkelweizen and a coffee, and until this point had only consumed about 1/4 of a water bottle along the way.

Once thawed out, I felt we could press on for the Strausbourg area - aiming for Kehl (on the German side of the river). We time-trialed the rest of the way for 30-35 km and got there in about an hour. We stopped at the first hotel we found - Rebstach - a boutique hotel that was nice, if a bit overpriced and impractical for a cycle-tourist. But, we were finally warm and dry with our entire room of fancy furniture covered in wet cycling clothes. The artist who inspired our room was Iris Werk - her work can be seen at iriswerk.de.

We had dinner at a Greek restaurant across the street. I had lamb taziki with potatoes, of course. We ordered a half liter of red wine to share...and the owner also brought us a hefty shot of ouzo on the house (more foreshadowing). We had an apple dessert, because they were out of baklava (or didn't want to serve it to us). I think the baklava would have been better!

Last race of the season

My last race of the season was the Masters District Pursuit at Hellyer. When we rolled up, I was the only one registered in the W35-39 group. It was looking like another default podium for the record books! In any case, I still wanted to do my best.

So, I got in a nice, long warmup with a couple efforts. I used the rollers to warm up on my Mondonico. I also used the warmup circle and got in some faux standing starts to practice.

I had an OK start. Not as good as I'd had at Beat the Clock, but not terrible, either. I went really hard on the first two laps - put myself into the pain cave. I tried to float the next two and then attempted to pour it on in the last two. I don't really think I had much left in the tank, though. I literally limped across the finish, and wasn't sure about my effort. But, I did leave it ALL out there, per the coach's instructions.

In the end, I was 3:19 - another 3.5 seconds faster than my prior best time. Not too shabby.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Racing What's Up

I've completed two races recently. One was Beat the Clock at the track - a tune up race for Masters' States next week. The other was the Benecia TT.

Beat the Clock TT

I decided to do the 1km and 2km only this year, so as to really focus on my distance, and not pound my body into the ground too much. So, I showed up a bit late and did my warmup on the trainer. The 1km was up first. I started on the back stretch. The holder and I were not getting along. He would not hold me how I asked and then told me to relax....but I wasn't comfortable, so how can I relax? Anyway, I finally got off and had a good, hard effort - a nice warmup for the 2km. I only finished a couple seconds faster than last year at this distance.

The next race was the 2km. I was on the front stretch this time, and had a good holder. I had a much better start. I floated right and got my efforts in the right places. The only problem was that I did 7 laps instead of 6, because they messed up the lap cards. And, when you're that blown, you can't really remember if you heard the final lap bell, or if that was just ringing in your head....Anyway, I finished 12 seconds better than the prior year, and 7 seconds faster than my time from States last year. So, great progress at the 2km distance!

Benecia TT

The Benecia TT was on my birthday - what better way to earn a fancy birthday dinner? We went out in the morning. It was cold! It was quite foggy with winds around 20-30 steady and gustier than that at times. Fortunately, the clouds broke up a bit during my warmup, so I wasn't under-dressed for the rest of the day.

I was the first to start in the W35+, so the rabbit for everyone else. I had a great start and was cruising...holding some back for the return trip. The only issue was that any time I came around a bend and the wind shifted from side to quartering, it was difficult to keep my bike in a straight line. The descents were terrifying. I think I spent most of this race not in the aero position. The good news is that I made it almost to the turnaround at mile 6 before Maryann L. caught me. She is the national record holder for 50+ this year. I thought for sure she would catch me within 5 minutes. So, it was a small victory! In the end, I finished 50 seconds slower than last year (not a surprise given the winds and my upright positioning). I think in the future, I will choose to go Merckxx in this race if it is that windy! I did finish in the money with a $10 prize. Woot!