Thursday, April 17, 2014

What are you training for?

I've been getting that question a lot lately... As I've been putting some time on the bike and keep upping my weekly mileage. The answer is not that complicated. Mostly I'm riding for a good life, but I also eat well, hike, run, play and relax for a good life as well. The short term answer, CYCLOCROSS!

Another year on a great team
 Last year was a great year for me in cross, I really enjoyed it and did fairly well for my first real season back. I enjoyed good fitness, peaked pretty good, had great company and had a ton of fun racing my bike again.

Bike path spin with the kid
Cross is a short 5 months away, yes you heard me, a short 5 months away! It's not that long when the second half of spring and summer fall in the middle of that, of which is prime riding season in Oregon. Time gets away from you when there is so much going on.
Taylor enjoying Wolf Creek
 This season is going to be just as fun as last year and I hope to be faster. The goals are yet to be finalized but Cross Crusade and/or GPET and the State Champs are on the list, as well as the local Eugene series (I need to defend!). Also thinking it’s time for a new bike, and maybe one with gears to ride in the off season, and race in the A's this year as well as SS. Time for team sponsor Stoemper to see what we can build together!
Local Ghetto Ride with Dax
A short reflection on last year. In total I did 28 CX races in 3 1/2 months. That is a lot of racing! I ended up 4th overall in the OBRA CX Singlespeed Best All-around Rider completion, with numerous top 3 and top 10 placing’s. With great teammates on the Tensegrity PT cycling team I was able to do every race with company, which makes a big difference when traveling all over to race your bike. By December I was running on fumes and finished my last two races with just enough energy to maintain my overall series points and standing.

It's hard not to race that much cross when you get into it, with 2-3 races a weekend across the state, and numerous weekday races early on your choices are unlimited. This year I'm going to try and be a little more focused and maybe a bit pickier on what I race and focus on. Last year I used the early cross races to get some speed into the legs.
The first 100 miler of the year, good to have Dax along.
I’m enjoying the fitness gains from last year mostly in the strength area and starting to work on gaining more power and endurance for the summer and then will work on speed a little earlier. I have some more general plans through the summer this year, do some big mountain bike rides, I’m signed up for the Triple Crown that happens throughout the summer and Cycle Oregon come September. The latter putting some miles in the legs for a week, a total of 489 miles and 34,893 of climbing in 7 days, should be a good boost for cross.

Right now though, it’s time to enjoy the non-competitive feeling of being on the bike and lack of race pressure so I can enjoy other things like camping with my son, backpacking, canoeing and just enjoying summer and getting fit.
Monday Night Fa(S)t Ride

Climbing up Cottage Grove to Lorane

This year the team is putting on a race series in August for Short Track Racing, this is similar to cross racing but without the barriers and more geared to mountain bikes then cross bikes. This will be every Wednesday in August starting at 6pm at Crest Elementary School. Stay tuned for more information on this race.

So, as the season goes on for all of our mountain bike and road racing colleagues I wish you the best of luck and I’ll be thinking about you all as I am enjoying that nice ride through the high mountains thinking about fall and racing my bike again in the rain and mud.
Battle at Barlow - one of my favorite weekend's racing last year.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Good Day for Tensegrity at Return on the Jedi pics

Homework vs. Hillwork

Homework, or Hill-work.

Finding the happy medium between my improtant stuff, and my important stuff.

And so starts the bike season of 2014. I’ve drastically changed my life, and am trying to figure out how to incorporate cycling into it.

            I’ve gone back to school, as you might be able to tell by the title of this blog.  I keep getting stuck between the want to get out and exercise, and the need to do my homework.  There are only so many hours of strait reading about economics or business practices I can do before I jump out of my skin.  That being said, it needs to get done. 

I have recently adapted the life style of a part time father as well.  I have a small person that needs constant attention when she’s awake.  I always hear about the parents who can put on cartoons or a movie and let the kid zone out for an hour so you can get stuff done.  This doesn’t work with her.  She wants to talk about what’s going on, like going to the movies with an old lady.  So depending on the day, I usually only have a few hours of naptime to get most things done.  But when everything calms down I just want to sleep too…  By the time she goes to sleep (8:30-9) I’m also tired and just fall asleep if I try to read a textbook.

I also have “ADD” or at least I was diagnosed with it.  It is just a fancy way to say I need to remove all the distractions when I’m doing something that might be a little boring.  I space off a lot when I read anything but the juiciest fiction.  So my way of dealing with it is every few pages I do a few push ups.  I will also read out loud, not loudly, just have my lips moving.  But the extra mechanical stimulation keeps me more focused on the words I’m reading, because I’m literally physically experiencing them.

O and the weather has sucked a lot.  I need to invest in some Showers Pass gear.  It’s so hard to feel comfortable with ditching homework just to trudge through the rain for a couple hours… And trainer rides are soul sucking…  I can only do about 3 a month…  so that’s no good.  Might have to do one today.

So all this combined is not really helping my resolve to keep in shape.  I’m already 11 lbs up since the end of cross season.  On the few rides I’ve done this year it’s depressing to so my Strava times and compare them to last years… depressing is an understatement.

I need to work out.  It’s amazing how many things I can do in a day and still feel unproductive.  And on the flip side it’s amazing how good and productive I feel if I get a two-hour ride and a shower in.  Maybe I should get it figured out. I’ve been running a little bit too.  But that’s almost more depressing than the Strava biking.  I haven’t really run in a couple of years, so I’m starting from a pretty low point.  A few years ago I ran a few marathons and a triathlon, not to mention countless 5ks, 10ks, and half marathons.  My last marathon I averaged 6:40 pace, so now when I run 4 miles and can barely break 8 minute mile pace, its very defeating.  I know I have the ability, I just don’t have the time and will power right now.  But I still need to do something.  I know I need to get one of those big calendars and write out a training plan.  My fiancĂ© is very supportive of me working out, but unless I take a little initiative she doesn’t know to push me.  I think with the calendar she will be able to see what I’m supposed to be doing, and make fun of me for not doing it.

I’m also in the middle of getting a new job.  I don’t know if putting out resume after resume, and having interview after interview end with me not getting the job is adding to my lack of motivation.  It’s hard to put yourself out there, but I don’t feel a direct negative from it.  Maybe its there, but just subconsciously.

Well I guess this was less of a biking blog, and more of an introspective look at my life right now.  Either way it was cathartic for me, writing this blog in a Star Bucks waiting for my cars brakes to get done.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Cyclocross season

This year was my first full cyclocross racing season and there were a lot of surprises and fun along the way.  No one told me how cyclocross can take over your whole life and you end up caught in this current sucking you into more and more races.

What surprised me the most was what I needed to, and thankfully was able to, put in to doing well.  The majority of that was time and a lot of it.  Each weekend I was on the highway traveling somewhere like Bend, Canby, Washougal, Portland, etc.  I got well-acquainted with Oregon towns I hadn’t even heard of before.    I pre-rode every course before the race.  In most cases this meant getting up early, going to the course when it opened at 8:00am and riding it until the men’s beginners’ race started.  Then I’d head back to wherever I was staying, relax, work, etc. and head back to the course at noon to be ready for another pre-ride at 1:00.  There is no doubt in my mind that getting up and getting all of that pre-ride time in improved my performance dramatically.  Having an experienced teammate like Richard with me helping show me lines, telling me to “just ride it” when I was scared (which was often), and thankfully being patient as I worked up the guts to do it made a huge difference for me as well.  Of course not everyone needs to pre-ride but for me it was a game changer.  Oddly, I rarely saw any other women out there, especially in the morning.  Was I the only one caught in the current? 

One of my favorite parts of this season was being a part of the awesome Tensegrity Physical Therapy team and Eugene cycling community.  Having other teammates and friends at races to cheer for, heckle, and spend time with was very rewarding.  Watching others develop, earn upgrades, and race successfully made me feel a part of something bigger and I am so stoked for everyone who is out there racing.  

While the season didn’t end as planned due to unexpected weather, I am very happy overall as I look back on a great season.  I am looking forward to racing in my new category next season on my new Stoemper.  Thanks to everyone who was a part of the fun this year!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fall Oregon Mountain Biking for the Soul ATCA!

Sometimes in our busy lives it's good to step back and remember why we started riding bikes. I didn't get into bike riding to race, although it didn't take long for me to think this way. Racing is fun, but epic rides with some buddies always comes out on top. This last weekend My wife Julie gave me the option to go race in Portland or ride bikes in Oakridge. The weather was mid 70s and looking amazing in Oakridge, with which I had a few rides this season. Riding won out over racing. 
Diamond Peak in the Distance

Oakridge is a hot bed for hard Oregon mountain biking. It has endless miles of trails linked with lots of climbing and descending. My plan was to go ride Heckletooth and Flat Creek which would have been a good 25 mile combo. But last minute debates turned the ride into something more amazing and special. We decided to ride ATCA. This is a new loop option only recently due to the hard work from the GOATS, DOD, and the people involve with the Cascade Creampuff 100. 
Diamond Peak
Three Sisters and Broken Top
In essence it created a missing connector to the greatest mountain bike loop that I have ridden in Oregon. There may be arguments for better trails in Oregon but not a better loop. This combines 4 of the best trails in Oakridge, it offers views of Diamond peak, The three sisters, Broken Top and Mount Bachelor. You ride through amazing old growth in sections and pass oak savanna cliffs. 
Agreeing how awesome cloverpatch is after bombing downhill.
But be sure this 39 mile loop has 8,300 ft of climbing and descending. Riding with regrouping our ride was 5 hours and 45 minutes of pure joy. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Viva la Vida (Live the Life)

Cyclocross! Wow, I love it! It’s been way to long for me since the last time I felt competitive in Cross and it was time to do something about that. So I put plans in place and recruited Deb to go along with my plan to race almost every day for a week straight. The Plan; Monday Race, Tuesday off, Wednesday Race, Thursday Race, Friday recover, Saturday Race, Sunday Race, and Monday Race. Deb decided to add a practice on Tuesday and take Saturday off from Racing. What a way to Live the Life!

Monday was the 3rd event in our local Twilight Cross series, the last 2 I had either had a mechanical or crashed hard so I was hoping to put something together and feel like I was racing. The main completion in my category, Single Speed, didn’t show up so I ended up racing solo. It was hard to find the motivation during the race without someone else to race against. Realizing this after 4 laps I decided to put in at least one hard effort and make sure I wasn’t passed by the other riders still racing in other categories. Overall I felt pretty good, the technical skills were there, and no crashes or mechanicals, what I found was that I needed to find something to race against.

Richard racing at Twilight Cross

Wednesday was a race in Portland called the Blind Date at the Dairy. I knew going into this race there would be more competition and I wasn’t quite sure how I would feel. It had been almost a year since I raced in a bigger group and that hadn’t gone so well. Deb raced before I did, as my race wasn’t scheduled to start until 7:20 and when it was starting to get dark. DARK! Yes, racing at night on my cross bike, without lights mounted to my bike or myself. They do put lights on the course but there are numerous places where it isn’t light enough to be confident in what is coming or under you tires! Deb and I checked out the course so that we knew what to expect and then she went and warmed up for her race while I hung out and relaxed, and tried to come the nerves….

As Deb’s Race started up I wanted to watch them race and check out how the lines were being ridden at race pace. I could tell Deb was a little nervous as well, she had a bigger field to compete against and she had reserved herself to racing but not putting pressure on herself to try and win. After her performances at the local Twilight CX races where she had been doing very well I had in the back of my mind she could do well here. As her race went on and she was in the lead I was getting pretty excited, she was racing and riding extremely well. She got off the front and held it to the end with for an awesome win!

 Deb racing in Blind Date at the Dairy

After Deb’s win and her excitement I was pumped up. It was my turn to warm up and get ready to race, legs were feeling good and the energy was good. As I lined up for the race I made sure I got towards the front to get a good position and ended up second line behind all the call ups.

The race started and I got in with the front group right from the start. As we were hitting the first gravel section one of the riders in front of me clipped a large orange construction cone and all of a sudden it is in the air in my direct path. I held my line and somehow missed the cone and kept on going. As we got to the first technical section I got caught up in some traffic and a gap opened up to a few of the lead riders in front of me. Lap 1 came to a close and I was feeling pretty good, I could hear the announcer talking about the lead of the SS field which meant I wasn’t too far back. As lap two got going I was starting to catch riders and pass them, which was the way of the course the next few laps as I slowly picked off riders. I was also able to keep from being passed and was feeling good, and then it started to get dark. I had caught up to around 7th or 8th wheel and passed them. When I came around a corner where there were no lights I picked a bad line and went over the bars. It wasn’t so much a crash as an it was a step over the bars and off the bike, but it cost me time and the riders in front of me opened back up their gap.

Night racing on CX Bikes!

Coming through the start/finish area I noted 4 laps to go. The next lap I struggled with the darkness and finally had the sense enough to tell myself to relax and let the crash go and get back into the race. The gap had opened up to around 20 seconds to the next rider and another 10-15 to the one in front of him. My goal became to catch the rider in front of me and then keep chasing the next rider. 3 laps to go. Something about the last 2-3 laps and the fact that you are being chased that gives you the ability to hold pace. The guy in front of me kept the gap steady for laps 3 and 2 to go, as I came into the last ¼ of the lap on the last lap though I could see that he was struggling in the technical sections. We hit the section of barriers coming out of the Velodrome and he clipped a foot and I was able to pass him. I poured on the power and got the gap and held it to the finish. Overall, 10th place out of 45 riders, legs felt good, technically good, and I was able to put almost everything together, Great Race.

Richard Racing CX in the Velodrome

The next race was in Bend so we opted to drive home after our races in Portland and get some sleep in our own beds. We were both amped from our races and could barely contain our excitement over telling each other about our races all the way home. This is what I missed from the racing I had done in the past, having someone to be excited with and share the experience. Live the Life.

Ok, 2 races down and a few more to go, but let’s take this day by day and see how we feel. Next up, Thrilla in Bend, at 4500 feet in elevation! Deb and I are were both game still so we made our reservations for the next couple nights and headed out on Thursday about noon to get there in plenty of time. With rain scheduled in the valley starting Friday and I wanted to race on Saturday in Bend we planned to stay in Bend to get some sunshine, altitude, racing and overall relaxation.

Race #3 in 4 days, time to go! Thrilla Cyclocross in Bend. Deb again went before I did and she raced well, it is so much fun watching someone have so much fun and do great. I was able to watch her race and see the lines through the corners and technical sections, along with all the dust!

A little dust for Deb in Bend

Thrilla did not have a Single Speed category so I opted to line up in the A race, could have done the old guy race but wanted to the race training and see how I would do against some of the best. Besides, Saturday I was planning to race A’s as well. During my warm up I notice my pedal was loose, I tightened it up and it seemed to be ok but in the back of my mind I knew something was wrong. The race started pretty quick, and the first I noticed was the aggressiveness of the field compared to what I had been used to. People were taking pretty sketchy risk and in the first 400 yards I was caught up in 2 crashes and gapped by the front group of riders. If I had learned anything from my earlier races it was to keep racing and get back into it quickly. Up and going, race pace and chasing the front.

Thrilla A start

As I was coming up a faster singletrack section two guys in front of me collided and took me down as well. 3 crashes in the first 3 minutes of the race, so far not so good. Keep going. I was able to get some distance on the group behind me and start chasing again. As I came through the lap I was starting to feel good again and picking up speed.  Out of the traffic and able to race my race I picked it up and kept pushing the pace. As I was coming into the start area again I could feel my pedal coming loose again. Wow, is this race going to get better or not! I road it through and jumped off to check it and sure enough it was backed out of the crank about ½ way and the threads were stripped. Race done. I was able to pedal to the finish area and finish the race. 2 laps down and last place but I finished and raced what I could.

Time for some rest, the nice thing about staying in a nice hotel is being able to relax and enjoy life. We opted for dinner in that night with some local Spanish Tapa’s food and nice bottle of wine. 3 races in 4 days, this adventure was turning out to be a lot of fun.

Friday turned out to be a very nice day in Bend with the sun shining and we opted for a nice relaxing day. A short hike along the Deschutes River, lying in the park in the sun, good food, and a short bike ride made for a perfect day.

The Deschutes River

CX bikes on Singletrack

Race day #4, Ride Hard & Finish Thirsty. Waking up to a little weather today with wind and rain showers and more rain in the forecast, this is cross weather. I didn’t race until early afternoon so we took our time, packed up and got ready to head to the course. As we got to the course there looked to be a lot of people and I was getting pumped up for another race. I was racing the A’s again and after a shortened race on Thursday looking forward to pushing the legs. I did a few warm up laps and decided to change my gearing on my SS to something a little easier, it was kind of hilly. I then went out and warmed up and took note that my legs felt pretty good and was hoping to have a good race.

Love the name of this race

As we lined up the line I noted a total of 9 people on the start line, all of them fast guys and looking fit. I settled into what I was considering a training race attitude and took to the start. The official counted down and we were off. I jumped on a wheel and did everything I could to hold on for the fast downhill start. As we came into a section meant to slow us down and spread us out I was right on the wheel in front of me, maybe 5th or 6th rider back. When all of a sudden I notice the guy in front of me starting to go down. This is one of those moments where everything happens in a split second but you see it all in slow motion. I saw his front wheel coming backwards and realized he had snapped his fork and he was going down. As his bike hit the ground we both went down with me flipping over him and landing hard. I could hear him and new he was hurt so I got back to him quickly. Realizing he was in bad shape I was able to flag a couple people to get race stopped and the group that was starting behind us aborted so he didn’t get hit from other racers. As we got 911 called and the medics showed up I was able to back away and take account of my situation. It was a scary crash, and I felt lucky.

The race got delayed and we decided to head home, I couldn’t get back into race mode and just wanted to go.

Onto Race #5….

Back to Eugene and the mud for the next race and Physco Cross. So far Team Tensegrity had flown our colors at Eugene, Portland and Bend over the past week and now it was time to come back to Eugene and show what we had learned. It was also time for some mud!

Deb working her way through the race on her way to a B!

Back in Eugene it was time to see some more Tensegrity Team-mates show up to race and cheer. Michael raced in the morning and looked strong; the course was wet but fast and tacky. Then it was time for Spencer, Taylor and I to line up, all of us in different categories but racing at the same time. Deb and Kaylee would race after us and get the biggest benefit of the rain and mud….

They decided to line the SS & A’s at the same time for the start which was pretty cool; it makes it for fun to race with the fast group and pushes you harder. At the start line we had five SS riders on the line, I knew that Sal would be the biggest competition but after finishing just behind him at Blind Date earlier in the week I had some confidence. The biggest concern I had was the 60 minutes, so far I had done all 45 minute races and this would push me another 15-20 minutes into the pain threshold and I wondered if I could hold it.
It was good race start and I was in a good position going into the first technical section, then there was crash in front of me and a gap opened up. I didn’t go down but lost about 5-8 seconds to the front group, which contained Sal! I set off in chase of the group and slowly worked my way back up to the group that contained Sal and settled in to recover for a few minutes. I decided I wanted to attack and picked a spot that I thought would be a good one, it was a fast section and it turned out that Sal had the legs to chase on to my wheel and keep up. We went through the next two laps trading some pulls and light attacks testing each other out. Coming into about 4 laps to go I was starting to worry about the duration as we were approaching the 45 minute mark. I put in a number of attacks but Sal was able to pull me back each time. He then put in a good attack and got up to another rider going into a head wind section. I was still recovering from an earlier effort and couldn’t respond quickly enough and they opened up a good 15 second gap and help it.


2 laps to go and I could feel myself starting to fade and starting the self-doubt in my abilities to keep racing at full speed. Again, I gave myself the pep talk and pushed it back up, if I am there to race then let’s race. I finished strong, had fun and raced well. Live the Life!

Richard in front of Sal

Wow, 5 races in 7 days that is more CX racing then I had have ever done in that short of time frame, but, I had another one to go….

One more race and then a day off, that was my mantra all day Monday. This will make you stronger and faster, at least that is what I kept telling myself as my body ached when I went up and down the stairs.
Back full circle and at the local Twilight CX race for the 6 race in 8 days, even with the ominous feeling of tiredness in the legs it was good to get back out to something familiar. By the time we got to the race I was getting excited about racing again. It was wet and slippery but not a total mud fest like the women’s race the day before.

Lined up on the line, and again the SS group was starting with the A’s, so a chance to race with some of the fast Eugene guys and see how I compared. The start was quick and I ended up 6th wheel coming into a short section of singletrack and right on Sal’s wheel. The gap to the top 4 opened up in the singletrack to about 5-6 seconds and there were 3 of us chasing them. What I noticed is my legs felt good! Race is on. This time I came around a corner and realizing my mistake from yesterday in dragging riders along I just went through the corner and attacked. I figured if I could get the gap early and get up to the front maybe I could hold off Sal. The plan was working and I was getting closer to the front and opening the gap behind me. We came through the start/finish area at full speed and I could see my target about 6-8 seconds in front of me. Hoping to catch him in the singletrack I did my best to close the gap and pull the gap back down. I knew if I could get on his wheel we could get more time on the guys behind us. Coming out of the singletrack and BAMM! There goes my rear tire, rolled the tubular tire right off the rim, and there went my ride. I jumped off the bike and started my 1 ½ mile run back to the pit and watched every rider pass me. I made it to the pit and changed my rear wheel to get one more lap in for the race, legs still felt good but last place was the best I was going to do tonight.

Do not use tape on cx tires

It was an awesome adventure, with great racing and great company throughput the week. I know I will be stronger for it, but today after a day off my body wants to know when it can go back to sleep. Viva la Vida.

Spencer, Taylor and Richard getting ready to race

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Gluing 1.1

Gluing v Tubeless 1.1

So I did my 1st race of the cross season.  The 1st race in the twilight race series in Eugene, and a great little place, we all know called Camp Harlow. These are great races for the “race into shape” mentality, as well as a good place to tune the bike and due to the rocky and sometimes thorny course, a good place to check the new tires.  Last year (2012-2013 season) I flatted out of the 1st two races, including a flat in warm ups, so a series of three early flats for the year.  These early flats allowed me to dial in my tire pressure and tubeless set up, to win a few in town races, and keep me from future flats on the bigger stage of the Cross Crusades, which allowed me to win a few of those ultimately giving me an upgrade into the B’s.  Hopefully I have the same luck…
Yes that’s the long way to say I flatted…  And it was the Tufo Prestige.  It was supposed to be the flat proof one.  I was really worried about the rear challenge with all the rocks I was hitting.  I felt myself bottoming out a few times in a few places, but they held up just fine.  I really enjoyed the back file tread and didn’t feel like I was loosing any traction, well any more than I would with any tire going around 180 turns on gravel.  There was no mud, and plenty of flat stuff for long hard rolling so the file tread of the Challenge xs, did awesome.
(I swear it looks like someone stabbed a knife into my tire)

Anyway to the race; I started of a little week.  I had a few people ahead of me that I should have charged past right at the beginning.  Ian too the lead, and pretty much just disappeared instantly… leaving about 5 or 6 of us to battle for 2nd place.  There wasn’t a lot of passing in the 1st few turns or straits, but coming up a gravel hill, and going into a series of s turns, I decided to make a move.  I’m terrible in the soft corners, so I knew I would lose ground on these people if I were in the back.  I surged, and passed 3 people and turned into the 1st corner…  wipe out… back to my spot no worse for the wear, just a little more tired.  I held on to their wheels, and managed to pass them again on a different long strait.  I caught up to David Wells, and road his wheel for a while, but he wiped just before he went into the single track, so I was in the LEAD!  behind Ian… well Ian rolled a Tubular, and had had enough time to get off his bike, find a way to re roll it on, and be getting on is bike to take off again.  So I was in the LEAD!  Dave, and I switched off from time to time, with Ian limping along behind afraid to corner due to his mechanical, and 2 more unbeknownced to me close behind.  Not a lot happened for a while Dave slowly gapped me. Then I got passed by this little guy, John Crandall (I had to look it up), like I was standing still… I fought to stay on his wheel, and would yoyo off the back of him.  I passed him once coming out of a technical, and then going into another one, but as soon as there was another strait stretch, he blew past me again.  We connected back in with David after he tried to bunny hop the barrier, and got hung up.  Pretty soon after that Nick Alden caught up to us, and I got pissed…  I couldn’t believe I let so many people back into the race.  We came out of the s turn again and I was getting ready to burry myself to pass everyone on the final stretch (or hopefully I was)…  and I heard the dreaded PSSSSsssssstttt… tire went flat.  So I had a hard race, a good work out, and an ok jog/run in for the last 3rd of the last lap…  what’s the point of DNFing on the last lap?

(Not as pretty, but only $22 on eBay)

I got home, found the flat, no repairing that, ripped it off the wheel, time to restart.  The flat was bad enough, I doubt that any tire that didn’t have some sort of anti flat Kevlar in it would have made it through.  I’m still not sold on Tubulars, so I’ll glue up a new front one (there’s no repairing the Prestige), and be ready to keep on racing.  Next front tire, Challenge Grifo… we will see how that goes.
(pretty sure it was this guy with a knife hiding in the corn feild, teaches me to invade someone elses habitat)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Time to Ride Cyclocross style!

Spencer, Kaylee, Michael, Ryan, Taylor, Richard, Julie, Deb
One of the most exciting aspects of racing bikes for me is racing Cross, I love riding bikes but when it comes racing Cross is the thing I look forward to every winter. Yes, I said winter! That’s because the majority of cross racing happens in the winter months, rain, snow, mud, and fun is the name of the game.

After taking a few (read 6 years) years off from racing bikes, and somewhat from riding, I am back and fit for this year. One of the best aspects this year is the Tensegrity team, we have a large contingent of people wanting to race cross and have fun. The practices have been super fun and keep getting bigger and more intense every week. I am really impressed with this group of cyclist, they love to have fun and ride their bikes fast and hard. I am looking forward to hanging out and racing with each one of them this year.
When I stopped racing the cross scene in Eugene was starting to grow, over the past few years it has really taken off and it is exciting to see something I worked hard at promoting getting better. There are two local race series, first starting in September on every Monday evening – The Twilight Cyclocross Series, and the weekend series -  Physco Cross. Both of these typically take place at Camp Harlow in North Eugene and are great courses for racing as well as spectating.

Hollis making the run up look easy
Speaking of spectating, cross is one of the best cycling sports for watching. The courses average 1 to 1 ½ miles in length and riders do multiple laps. With the obstacles such as barriers (riders have to jump off their bike, run and jump a wooden barrier and then jump back on their bike – all while at full speed!), run-ups, mud, turns, stairs, the list goes on and on…. Spectators get a chance to see racers challenging themselves while at the same time racing 100 of your closet friends. There are usually several different categories of racers on the course at the same time, which adds to the excitement of watching because there is always someone there. Did I mention you get to yell and scream them, and ring a cowbell! Can you tell, I almost like spectating as much as I like racing.

Deb doing some barries at Cross Crusade in Portland
The racing, oh! The racing – you talk about hard, this is quite possibly the hardest 60 minutes someone can spend racing a bike, and at the same time the funnest! Start with the spectators, they are hardcore, standing out there yelling and ringing the cowbell, you can’t stop or you get ridiculed beyond belief. Sometime the noise is so loud it is deafening. The other racers, did I say 100, well how about 1000+ at our biggest venue the Cross Crusade in Portland Oregon. They have grown the sport in the NW beyond what anyone ever expected. They can get over a 1000 people at the events, split them up into 5 or 6 races and you have 200 people at a time out on a 1 ½ mile race course. It is insane! You are bumping elbows, passing people with hairball moves and pushing yourself above any anaerobic level you thought possible.

The first Cross Race
Then there is yourself, or in this case myself, I’m sure we all have different reasons for wanting to ride our bikes, and for those of us who race cross there are numerous different reasons. For me, it is the pure fun of pushing myself beyond my limits. Every time I go out on the cx bike, for practice or for race, I can dig deeper into myself and push harder than I did last time. I also love seeing all my friends, racing against them and with them, and as I noted above this year is exciting with such a great group of teammates on the Tensegrity team.

It’s time to go ride my bike, Cyclocross bike that is.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Seattle to Portland report

Somewhat surprisingly, I still have a hard time calling myself a cyclist. I suppose it's just difficult for me to believe I am one even after a little over a year of riding bikes. Still, I agreed to ride the Seattle to Portland event with a friend for her 40th birthday. There were four of us riders in our group with another good friend offering to be our chauffeur up to Seattle and then back from Portland. We opted for the two day ride leaving us with a little over 100 miles to ride each day.

"Selfie" of the STP crew
We spent the night before the ride in dorm rooms at the University of Washington. While I was lying in my single bed I just kept repeating the phrase “I'm going to get a great night’s sleep” and thankfully it worked. We were off with the masses bright and early in the morning. And I do mean masses - this ride sells out at about 10,000 people. That's a lot of people and a lot of bikes. Don't let anyone tell you that it thins out, it doesn't. 
Just a quick ride with a few friends

Despite the tight pack of riders, the first day went smoothly as we quickly established our habit of stopping at every single port a potty offered.  There were after all three women in our group of four. Each food stop was well stocked and by about the halfway mark those peanut butter cheese crackers, the ones you would never normally eat due to that bright orange artificial color, became the best food in the entire world. We were wisely advised to camp in Chehalis just about 4 miles beyond the midpoint of the ride. Most folks don't want to pedal the extra 4 miles so luckily there were maybe 150 people at our camping spot versus the thousands at the real midpoint. Anyone who knows me knows I am much happier in a smaller, quieter, group.

Some yoga at the end of day one
We had the pleasure of naked group showers and of course after 100 miles in the sun any shower is the best thing that's ever happened to you. We then headed to a public house for dinner and unsurprisingly they were slammed. Luckily beer came fast, we won't mention how long the food took. We discovered a tap that said Odin and of course sent a picture of it to Taylor.  Another great night sleep after dinner (rumor has it I lay down, put on my eye mask, and was out instantly without a word).

We spotted this tap at the bar!

The second day started with a gorgeous morning and the only time I really felt like it was just the four of us. There were great country roads and despite still being in Washington I felt like I was home. The best rest stop of all was found on the second day. There was a handmade sign about snacks, drinks, and of course the most appealing part: a bathroom. It turned out to be a port a potty in a farmer’s front yard with homemade brownies, lemonade and one of the dirtiest dogs I've ever encountered. Clearly no one ever pet this dog and it is definitely not allowed in the house. But of course I pet the dog and it was instantly my best friend. I should also note that at this rest stop someone noticed my Tensegrity kit and said “oh are you a physical therapist?” I said “no but my teammate is!” That was the end of that conversation. (The still short but better kit story is that a random rider commented to Richard and I "sharp kits!" at some point along the way.  A testament to Julie's awesome design skills.)
Glad to be off the bike at one of the rest stops.
As we sat in the lawn chairs eating brownies, drinking lemonade, and watching the farmer’s son spastically flag down riders to stop and get treats, I thought I might just stay forever. Someone quickly noticed how comfortable we were getting and advised we had better get moving because we still had another 30 miles or so.

As we were finally rolling into Portland, only about half a mile from the finish line, we were in a pack of riders stopped at a red light. At this point just about everyone is hot, hammered, and just waiting to see the finish line. So there is pretty much silence. All of a sudden….pssshhhhh.  Someones tire just went flat. Of course it was one of us but luckily Richard can change a flat in about two minutes and we were quickly heading towards the finish line. We were greeted by cheering, smiling, friends and of course many strangers and thankfully ample food. We did it.

We're done!

People have asked “what route did you take?” My honest response is I have absolutely no idea. I'm pretty sure we were on a bike path at some point. The next question inevitably is “were you on I-5”? Thankfully never.
We cruised through the hometown of some of our own!

The coolest thing about riding the STP was seeing so many other people into riding their bikes. There were all shapes, sizes, shoes, and shorts out there. It was also a great reminder of the crazy fit cyclists that I compare myself to and ride with here in Eugene. The reality is they are an elite bunch and I am lucky to be part of such a great group. One day I may even really consider myself a cyclist.