Sunday, April 29, 2007

Devil's Punchbowl yesterday morning, as I'm driving further and further from nice, temperate, sunny Santa Barbara, to go race my bike in the desert east of the middle of nowhere, I really wonder how psycho I have become! There are umpteen trillion beautiful, challenging, social bike rides I could do today, and yet I've decided to spend 5 hours in the car to race in the heat of the desert. It must be about the competition, or that I'm just crazy.

Anyway, I get to the race and as soon as I get out of the car I feel dehydrated. On my walk to registration, I see Dotsie! Wow, how cool is that. And she reminds me to keep hydrating...and I feel lame for having not brought a waterbottle on my walk to pick up my number...

The race starts, and it feels ok...but you can feel the heat radiating off the roads. My race started at 12:30, which was the hottest part of the day. As we're spinning along comfortably, someone remarks how nice it is that the women are friendly and chatty. Someone else says "just wait until the hill, I don't think we're going to feel like chatting then." And how right they were. I made it almost up the hill, but wow, the heat got to me and I got dropped! However, having adjusted my attitude recently, and reminded myself that I do this suffering for so-called "fun" outside my day job, I decided to make this my own suffer-fest, and keep motoring hard. So the WHOLE race I could still see them ahead, taunting me. There weren't all that many, and I wasn't losing ground, so I felt good about it. The coolest part was that when I made the turn after the LOOOONG amazing descent, there was Dotsie cheering for me! She actually said I looked strong, and that they were right up there, and to settle in...and it really helped! So very awesome. Anyway, I started catching stragglers from the 5s race, and that was helpful for the old ego. And then on the second lap, I only survived the hill thanks to some guy from another race who was climbing at the same pace. We talked each other throught the hill, and I actually made up ground on my group! So thanks, Simply Fit dude who saved me on the hill. Sometimes having someone to TELL you to go fast really does work! My own little voice sometimes doesn't scream loud enough!

The descent was about long, fast, and flat out awesome....I had a great time buzzing by people and my bike as always is so solid on descents that it encourages me to push the envelope.

So..that was all well and good, but I was still dropped. However, the finish is what is making me yearn for another bike race. Coming into the last turn for the finish (maybe 1.5 miles to go) this girl comes up to me. She was a triathlete I had chatted with at the start. However, it IS the last 1.5 miles of a brutal race, so there were no niceties. She passes me, and i take her wheel ont he descent...we make the turn, and I hold her wheel for a bit. She keeps looking back at me, and I was nice and eased up a bit, and a little gap formed. We passed a bunch of 5's, and she is working hard. I had looked at the mile markers before the race (thanks Steve Weixel for pointing those out.....) so I knew where I'd have to jump. She was SURE she had me because there was a big gap, but somehow I dug deep, and with 150m to go, I pretended i was field sprinting for a crit, and gave it absolutely everything. My legs didn't let me down, and I make up the gap and fly by her (thanks clean bike for being so silent), and beat her across the line. It would have been ultimatlely cool if i was sprinting for 1st...but hey, you take them where they come! I had been ahead of her the whole race, and I was NOT going to let her beat me! AFterwards, I pretty much collapsed. My heartrate went higher than it had ever been before...and I literally couldnt keep going! I had to just stop and lie on the top tube of my bike. And then i needed water, and two nice people just gave me their waters because I was so dead-looking.

One of these days I will get it all together, and not get dropped on the climb, and get to use my ability to pull all stops out to soem better use than a sprint for 7th! I called my coach to tell her about it...and she says, don't worry, we don't have you peaking I'll trust her! And I do have to remember, I've only owned the bike since last July...and had never been a cyclist I think there's time!

And I survived Devil's punchbowl! And nearly half my field didn't even finish! So I guess that's saying something.
Today I get to ride in nice cool Santa Barbara. And I won't take it for granted.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

the continued saga of bike troubleshooting...

so, I'm hesitant to say my bike shifting issues are behind me...but it's looking up! I survived the 8am group ride today with NO mis-shifting whatsoever. The newest attempt at fixing the shifting issues plaguing my races was to put a shimano chainring onto my FSA crank. it looks a little is an attempt to fix what has become a very annoying problem, and less expensive than the solution that I keep thinking of during races, which is to get off the bike and hurl it off a cliff (seriously thought about that during the CtC RR)!

So the bike worked perfectly for the first 5 months I had the crank. I estimate I put about 3000 miles on it in this time, and never had a mis-shift. Then, in the past 2 weeks, it has given me nothing but trouble! I do have a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, so it's not like the mechanism is hard for me to figure out! However, this just makes it more infuriating and more mysterious when it doesn't work!

So....when you see me on a group ride don't make TOO much fun of my FSA/Shimano composite crank/chainring setup :-). At this point, I don't care what it looks long as it gets me through a race without mishap! Then, if I get dropped, it will be all me, and I will honestly be able to say "its NOT about the bike"!


Monday, April 23, 2007

"mechanicals suck..."

to quote my friend Sonia...

and they do!

So the road race was full of weird happenings for me...and it wasn't a great one for me. The first lap was ok, no real issues there, in the pack, feeling good. The pace was pushed from the start--I knew we were in trouble when we weren't even done with one lap before passing some of the stragglers from the womens Pro/1/2/3 race which had started 3 minutes ahead! On the second lap, I dropped my chain shifting up into the big ring. I had been having trouble with my setup all week...and I had opened the stop up a tad to try and get teh derailleur to push the chain more...and it went too far and kicked it right over the top. I hooked it back on, but it took valuable seconds...and a gap formed. I chased back on, but the energy I had expended was too much, and then the hill came and there was a gap...damn. I tried really hard to stay on, but it was not happening. I was not that reckless descending is a skill I'm quite skilled at (have a nice grade 3 shoulder separation to show for a botched attempt last fall...), and I thought I could catch on. So after yet another dropped chain at the top of the hill, down I go...on the previous laps i hadn't truly been paying attention that much, I had just been riding in the pack..and partway down the hill were these cones in the road, and I couldnt remember which way to go! (and when you're dropped and there is no pace car, it was a free for all, traffic and everything) Needless to say I took a short wrong turn and remembered it was wrong, but of course lost more momentum and was really feeling lame! Anyway, I chased and chased and caught 2 people, adn the 3 of us worked together for a little bit, but then the hill came around again, and I decided to just go for it so I went on my own. I ended up finishing a couple minutes down, which was not bad considering all my mechanical issues AND the wrong turn! Ack....I just keep reminding myself I do this bike racing thing for fun! I ended up in 10th place in the GC after all that...not that it matters.

I spent a weekend racing my bike, and spending time with other people as psycho about their bikes as me, and that has to be a good weekend!

Next weekend...Devil's punchbowl!


Saturday, April 21, 2007

2 down one to go...

stages, that is!

This weekend is my first Stage Race. It is Conquer the Canyons, in Westlake/Malibu. So far so good! After the TT and Circuit race, I have ended up in 4th place in the GC! I'll have to write a report right now I'm feeling a bit tired, but things are going well. Tomorrow's the hilly road race...and I'm trying to get excited about that!
The cool thing about women's cat IV racing is that you start to know people after awhile...since we seem to race against the same 20-30 people every week! Plus, I love that the local SB teams stick together. Today I found myself without any teammates (for various reasons no one on my team could race this one with me), and yet the other SB team welcomed me, and was happy to work with me in the circuit race, and that was nice! It's so nice when we can help each other out, and I enjoy the comraderie, whether or not we're wearing the same color jersey! Who knows how it will all shake out tomorrow...

Another plus, is that I get to meet other bloggers! Today in my race was Cynthia, another bike blogger! It's fun to meet the cyber-friends at bike races!

In other news...Steve Weixel from Echelon had his first race today, and he was in 2nd place in the first timers category after 2 events. Way to rock the TT, Steve! I saw a couple of other Echelon jerseys walking around there....but alas the results postings were the most popular place at the I didn't get to take a close look. There seemed to be lots of the Chicken Ranch Team (mmm Chicken ranch is a great post-race meal) there, some Hazards guys, etc. Lots of locals! I hope everyone did well!!

full reports coming tomorrow, when this thing is behind me!


Thursday, April 19, 2007

the big screen

no bike riding today...thus you're all subjected to ramblings about the rest of my life.

About a month ago, I got a new macbook pro, and an external monitor. And not just any monitor, but the big 30 inch flatscreen one! It is so nice. However, I had not expected the reaction to it. EVERYONE Notices this puppy! Everyone!! Now I have to be conscious about which 20 things I'm looking at at any given people are immediately drawn to eavesdrop whatever is there...just due to the sheer size of it!

It sure is nice for watching dvd's when work gets boring...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Purging Sea Otter

Ever have a race that you just wish you could purge from your memory and your database? Well, the Sea otter RR was one of those races. It could not be over fast enough for my liking...and now this is my final attempt to blog about it in the hopes that it will leave my mind forever!

So, as you may have heard, sea otter had the worst weather imaginable for the Womens cat 4 RR. It was raining and raining at the start line, and before we even got going, we were all soaking wet! I had 2 pairs of socks and plastic bags inside my shoes, leg warmers (debatable that they did a shred of good), base layer, windshell, jersey, etc etc... and I was still shivering!

The race started innocently enough...although the neutral section was still plenty scary with all those anxious riders and wet brakes! Ack...I think the first chain dropped before racing even officially started! However, I was feeling ok. We start the first lap, and i get back into decent position in the peloton. My teammate looks super strong, which is good, and I try to follow her lead. My legs were feeling a little sluggish--probably from the extra work I had done chasing the day before...see earlier post...but I thought i'd be ok. We're moving along at a decent clip, and then we get to the hills. There is a lot of climbing on that race, which becomes eminently clear as things move along. I am still in spinning mode, so I click down to my easy gears and spin the hills. The only problem is, after hill 3, this just isn't feeling so much like spinning. My cadence is low, and I"m wondering what the h*** is going on! Then, on the turn into the second lap of the course (very sharp turn), someone misjudges their brakng distance and drifts outward....right into my line! I know I can't brake that quickly, and im on the outside, so I just roll off the road as I'm skidding to a stop, and manage to come to a stop right in front of a barrier! The official watching the barrier goes "nice stop" and I'm like "well, better than crashing into you!" and I take off again, of course not in the right gear, which causes me to fall further back. I chase back on, and get back with the pack. However, the hills are again feeling bad on the legs. My cadences are low, and although I'm still with the pack, it just doesn't feel right. I finally decide to actually peer down and LOOK at the rear derailleur/chain...and notice that although I have clicked to what should be my lovely 26, im really sitting on my 21 (or is it 22)! No WONDER im so tired...i have 2 gears im not using! I fiddle with the cable tension and get one more gear...but I never was able to get my 26...

I get dropped after about 2.5 laps. Which left me what I thought was about 1.5 laps to ride on my own. I remember my coach's advice "if you get dropped, just keep motoring, because you never know whats happening ahead of you" and keep going. I don't have a whole lot of experience getting dropped, and its demoralizing!!!! Wow. I was thinking, why am I dropped? I trained hard, I should be strong, etc. etc. and it makes me angry. and anger makes me ride I did. I hit the descents with reckless abandon and tried hard to enjoy the pain. There was a set of switchbacks on one descent which was sublime. Thanks for a useful tip that you could do the entire stretch with no was fun. I caught 2 people on that descent... one on each lap I was alone. They didn't quite have the gas to work with I was still on my own.

So after I had completed the 4 laps, I was ready to climb the hill to the finish, but when I got to the turn off, the official said I had one more lap. ONE MORE LAP???? NOOOOOOOOOOO! WAs I delirious? Had I counted wrong?? Anyway, it was pretty demoralizing, and I know I slowed down quite a bit... but then I got my head back on and picked the pace up for hte final lap. WHen I finished I found out that there had been some confusion and that they made us do 5 laps instead of 4. So, 4200 feet of climbing and 50 miles later, I had finally completed the RR. I ended up getting 12th. And the best news when I finished was that my teammate, Susie, got 5th, and had had a really good race :-) dispite the weather! Congrats, Susie!!!! (that makes 2 podiums in 2 races at Sea Otter for her...WAY TO GO!)

Now, 2 days later, it doesn't seem so bad, and I'm looking forward to this weekend's stage race! My bike is cleaned and tweaked again...and all is well. Now just tell my legs to get stronger....

time for my hill threshold intervals....


Friday, April 13, 2007

bike frustrations...and sea otter.

Well, day 1 of sea otter is behind me, and I've gotta say, I wish I could have it back! TOday was our cat 4 women's circuit race. It was a blast, in some respects. I mean, racing at Laguna Seca for the first time really was awesome. We got to the race (me and my teammate, Susie) in plenty of time, and she knew all the inns and outs of good parking, good company, and reminding me to eat at the right times. I don't know what I would have done without her!

So we get down to the racetrack around 3:15 for our 3:30 start time. We rode around a little, and all seemed well. WE climbed the hill once, just so I could see where it ended...but as there was a mens road race starting in the other direction, we didn't get to take a full practice lap. (note to self...mistake #1). We realized the wind had really picked up, and that the head wind was going to be significant...but not on the uphill, which was awesome. I can take a downhill headwind..but climbing AND headwind...well, that's just insanity.

We finally get to the start line, and I get my good spot in the first row. I"m good at that part--my coach would be proud. Echelon women are not letting anyone get in on OUR start position! The field had ~40+, which was awesome for a women's race! we go. As expected, the pace is easy the first lap...but alas my problems were just beginning. I climb up the first time nice and easy, and all is feeling good. Legs have spring in them, I get to the top with lots of gears left, and then I go to shift into the big ring for my trip down...and ack! My freakin' derailleur is not kicking the chain far enough. I get mad, and remind it again (as the pack passes me by), and instead, it not only doesnt work, but it drops the chain! Double ack... I remember rule #1 of the rules of cycling that someone once told me (and I laughed at at the time)...don't freak out, and downshifted and nicely pedaled the chain back on (as the rest of the climbing stragglers passed me). I finally get the chain on the big ring..and start the descent...I'm sure I said a lot of really choice words in that second or 2 which I can't repeat here....

Thank goodness for my ability to descend with reckless abandon...I flew down that hill and caught everybody, and still was back up front as we came around to the start line. Lap 2 was chain drop, and not too bad getting into the high gear. I actually descended up front, and that, too was awesome. Riding on the racetrack was flat out awesome, and the descents and turns were truly sublime. Even in my tired state, I found myself smiling on a few occasions...I mean, how can you not, flat out racing downhill, and feeling totally secure in thsoe wonderful banked turns... as not to bore everyone with the details of shifting problems persisted the entire race...and most laps went, great climb, feel strong, up in great position...get to the top, can't shift, get dropped, catch up ont he downhill and get back up front in time to do a little playing around and catching breaks. Susie and I chased down all the attacks (there werne't many) and were right in there so for that I was happy.

On the last climbing was fine....but at the top I again lost valuable time cresting the hill...and so I was down a few seconds, and they werent taking any mercy up in front of I just had to flat out motor. I caught at least 2 people coming around the back turns, and crossing the line, I was almost there...but not in any contention for the sprint. I thougth I was top 10, and my teammate was up in the I was thrilled for her!

Turns out I got 7th, and she got 3rd! I was not that upset with that finish, considering my issues, but I was really upset about the bike function... One of my friends watching me come in on the last lap, said, well, i dind't know what was going on, but you had your head down and were motoring like you were on a serious mission. Yup..that was it. to catch the break I thought i deserved to be in...oh well!

It was a bent deraileur, and I fixed it in about a minute after the race, with the help of a friend who knows a ton about bikes. Argh. Shoudl be ok for tomorrow, I hope! Now it is time to put it out of my mind..and move on...and get ready for the race tomorrow.

I'm feeling fine, i'm hopeful that i"ll have a better ride!

Ciao from sea otter!


Thursday, April 12, 2007

taxes completed....

I told myself I wouldn't leave for Sea Otter until my taxes were done...and YEAH..I can go to Sea otter! My returns were just accepted by their respective organizations...and I"m cleared to go! I hate taxes more than most anything (except maybe packing...see prior post)...and so it's such a relief to be done with it. And this year, I finally almost got it right and don't owe that much! Let me just say, I hate the alternative minimum tax!!!!!!

off to pack the car!



I hate packing. It doesn't matter if it is for a business trip to Turkey, or for a trip to Monterey for a bike race....packing is just the least fun part of travel. So by blogging today, I'm putting off the inevitable...figuring out the optimum way to pack my CR-V with 2 bikes, 2 trainers, food, clothes, etc...and still have some room to potentially buy stuff while there! I have the bikes in, one trainer, and so much stuff still in a pile in the house...that I'm certain will fill up the car in a hurry!

Oh well....I should stop procrastinating and just start packing! Life is good...I get to take tomorrow off to go to a bike race! And the bike race, will (should? might?) be more fun than packing for it!

see you all at sea otter!


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

almost sea otter time! I checked the forecast for Monterey....and they are predicting rain for Saturday. Hopefully it is just a mean joke on us Cat 4 women...and in reality it will be a beautiful sunny day, because I just don't feel like racing in the rain! This isn't to say I can't or won't do it...because of course I will, and maybe it will even be fun AND torture..but come on...couldn't mother nature have listened to me just this once!??

See you all at the Otter!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Photos from Santa Clarita Grand Prix...

Here are some photos from the Santa Clarita Grand Prix which was back in February. My friend said "you look like a real bike racer" so I thought I might as well post the shots! They are from the Santa Clarita Grand Prix credit should be given where credit is due--I am sorry I don't know the photographer!

This race was just plain hard! It was a 3/4's race with the 4's scored separately. As a friend of mine and world-class bike racer once told me (thanks Dotsie--you say such profound things), "sometimes you race with your head, sometimes you race with your legs, and on a great day you have both!" On this day, my fitness was pushed to it's limit and my head didn't have a chance!! I was just happy to finish with the pack, and get 6th place in the 4s :-).


Island View Classic Race Report

Another weekend, another bike race. This is becoming a theme for my weekends these days, and I must say, they are a blast! This weekend was no different, well, except that it didn't involve getting up so early, since the start/finish line was about 0.5 miles from my front door! The UCSB cycling team put on a great race, with a Womens3/4 race which had an 8:50am start time! I had 3 other teammates in this race, too, making it fun. It was a flat, fast course in Isla Vista with only 2 real turns, and a big semicircle on the other end of the course. The women's 3/4 field had 17 starters, and I think 17 finishers, too! We rolled out a bit late, and got going. The pace wasn't bad, and the race kind of just unfolded. I felt good, and my team had decided to practice some tactics, and ride safe, as most of us have sea otter coming up, and that is more important to me than a short flat crit! I felt solid most of the race. There was a prime about every other lap, or so it seemed, but I didn't go for those. I don't think I had quite warmed up enough, because for the first half my legs felt a bit sluggish and not quite up to the short fast bursts....thankfully I had it by the end! I looked at the lap counter for the first time with 5 to go! It seemed rather short to me, and it I'll explain later. However, thank goodness I was keeping track! With 3 to go, I was near the outside coming up on the first turn, when someone lost their line in the turn and veered right in front of me! I had to sit up to go wide..and nearly lost traction completely as I pulled the bike around missing the curb by about a foot. Ack! No crashing though...and as I was not riding tense I made the correction without crashing or crashing anyone else out! THankfully it gave me enough adrenaline to get back in there, and get up front so I could be where I needed to be for that final sprint. I'm a bit too new to this whole bike racing thing to know exactly when to make a move...and I always hear my coach's voice in the back of my patient...don't go too I waited and when I saw someone jump, I jumped. I am happy to report that I must be learning something, finally, because my brain did not shut off this time. I remembered to, in succession, be int he right gear to jump, get a decent jump, remember to shift, and stand up, all while keeping track of what was going on! I kind of expected my teammate to jump by me at the end....but she wasn't on my wheel. I ended up in 5th, which is actually my highest finish this year, and especially in a 3/4 race! After I crossed the line, I looked down at my HR monitor and it was blinking a wild 197. 197??? I have never seen that number on my HR monitor before--196 was what I thought was my max! At least I can't say I didn't give it all I had in my sprint! I was pretty happy with the 5th place finish. Later on we realized why it seemed so short! It turned out that there was a problem with the timer, and the race was less than 30 minutes, instead of the published 40! No wonder i barely felt warmed up!!! My teammates rode an awesome race. They made me feel really comfortable, we worked off of each other some (I'm still not good at sticking on Susie's wheel--I got bumped off it about 10 times in that race alone...about 9 of them by the same rider), and all finished strong.

On to Sea Otter!!!


Thursday, April 5, 2007

on riding rollers

For those of you who know me, you know that I hate riding the trainer more than almost anything! Even watching TV, listening to music, channeling Lance Armstrong..nothing is more boring or mind-numbing than pedaling that trainer! Thank goodness I live in Southern California, where I don't often have to ride inside. However, occasionally I have a workday when I just cannot find daylight hours to ride, and so I have to ride indoors.

About a month ago, I aquired a used set of Kreitler rollers. I have always been intrigued by rollers, as they seemed a lot more interesting than riding a trainer, since you actually had to have some SKILL to stay upright! I taught myself to use the rollers by putting them in a doorway so I could lean against something. It didn't take too long to get the hang of it, and it is really quite fun! But the weather has been so nice lately that there has been no need for them, so they sat in the den collecting dust. Until yesterday, when I was too busy to ride during the day. So I pulled them out and hopped on. After about 15 minutes, I started to get bored and a bit cocky, so I decided to use this workout to do some tricks. I've always been in awe of people who can do things like put on a jersey while on the rollers, etc. Now, I can't go so far as to say I have learned to do that, but I can say that by the time my 75 minutes on the rollers were up I could, while on the rollers, shift gears ( it was only my 2nd time on them), drink from my water bottle, ride one handed, ride no-handed (ok only for a few seconds), ride on one side of the rollers, ride on the other side of the rollers, get into my drops, sprint (not out of the saddle yet), pedal a cadence of 125rpm, and successfully dismount from the rollers without causing myself severe pain, grabbing on the wall, or crashing!

Happy rolling...

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

on women and bike maintenance...

I am a girly girl. I love shoe shopping, clothes and beauty magazines, manicures, lattes, hanging out with my girlfriends, etc...
I am an engineer. I pride myself in being really non-geeky for an engineer. I really enjoy it when I meet new people on a bike ride and they are surprised to find out that not only am I an engineer (I don't usually disclose this information up front due to the negative connotation associated with being an engineer), but a professor at that! I like to think that I am slowly helping dispel the myth that all engineers are frumpy, geeky, nerdy, and primarily male (ok, so engineers are still primarily male....but there are a few of us females). However, being a mechanical engineer means that I do enjoy learning about mechanical since I've gotten into road biking, so I like to do my own mechanic work, and enjoy learning about tuning up the bike! One of the problems with knowing too much about mechanical that you want to fix things that aren't working right. But this can be a benefit, too, as I'm often prepared for weird stuff happening. For example, I was on a ride out in the middle of nowhere about a month ago, and someone needed a wrench to tighten a loosening FSA crank (a common problem....or so Dave Letteiri told me when he installed my FSA ceramic bearing BB last month), I could open my teeny bike bag, and whip out just the necessary 8mm (not common in the bare minimum multi-tools)! And when someone's bike isn't shifting properly, or the chain is rubbing, it seriously bugs me! I can also change a flat in under 5 minutes, which can come in handy on a group ride!

Last night I was talking about fast cornering with a few of my teammates, and I whip out a pen and paper (thank god not a napkin) and start drawing curves to show them the ideal way to take a corner, downhill and on the flat...and started explaining the physics involved...ACK! I really am a geek! But if you ride with me, I guarantee I can pick a good line for a descent, and cheerfully corner with the best of them... and the fact that I'm really looking forward to Sea Otter if for no other reason than to get to ride my bike on the Raceway!

Happy Riding!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

On hill workouts...and cool Irish Setter photos

Ok. So this morning, i got out early to get my hill interval workout of the week. It's always fun to ride Gibraltar Rd for hill intervals, because in between you get the super-fun descending as the part of the recovery process! It's also fun to do this on Old San Marcos, but the UP phase is a bit steeper (ok..the down is a little speedier and smoother, though, too). On this particular day, as sea otter is only 1.5 weeks away, I get to push it a bit, so my legs got to feel the burn, and feel it again...and again...and...well, you get the idea! Always feels good to work that hard early in the day...and still have the rest of the day to get my work done! Workout Summary: 2 hours 45 minutes, 42 miles, 3100ft elevation climbed.

The photos for today are of my Irish setter, Aidan. His 'official' name is Champion Windrose Whisperin' Spirits. He is an AKC champion of record, but is currently retired from showing. His favorite activities are barking at me at ungodly hours of the morning, playing with his umpteen tennis balls, barking at seagulls in any venue, running with me, making friends with all children, smiling, and in general being happy and silly. Typical irishman in every way!


Monday, April 2, 2007

The start of the Quarter

Ok, so today is my 'rest day' otherwise known as my 'day of no bike riding' or in today's case, 'first day of spring quarter at UCSB'. This means that my day is filled with endless requests to be let in courses where prerequisites are not met, to hear excuses on why a F really does reflect true knowledge of the course material, and to sign a bunch of paperwork. And in the meantime, I was trying to get my brand new mac set up with virtual machine this week so I can load cycling peaks! I guess that might be relegated to the END of the week now, since things are getting crazy around here.

In addition, my Irish setter has decided that he has had it with bike racing, and is demanding that even though I woke up at 4am yesterday to go to a bike race, he was not staying in bed a minute past 5:22 this morning...and alas neither was I! Thankfully after a nice walk and a good game of fetch (with yet another new tennis ball), he was passified. Speaking of which, Aidan's tennis ball collection merits a mention.

Over the past month or so, Aidan has been aquiring tennis balls. I'm not sure if someone is playing a cruel trick on me/him, or what, but I would guess that he finds a new tennis ball on approximatly 30% of his walks! He will just reach his head into a bush or tall grass, and another tennis ball will appear! We have collected probably 11 new ones in that time period! What is more than likely is that some kid's parents are really wondering why their son or daughter loses SO many balls! Aidan is in dog heaven though...because for whatever reason, dogs LOVE tennis balls more than most any other toy...

back to investigating petitions/GPA's/other odd requests.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Garrett Lemire Grand Prix...

Today was the Garrett Lemire memorial criterium. It was a mile long course in Ojai. There was a hill, making it potentially interesting, with a tight turn at the bottom that my coach described as "crash central" in the past. The really bad part about it was the 7:01 am start time!!!!! I guess the theory is that not that many people are interested in watching womens 3/4 they make it at an hour when all non-insane people are still happily sleeping! Alas, my day started at 4am! Thankfully I carpooled with my teammate, so we could complain about going to a race this early together.

So it was so dark at registration that they were using FLASHLIGHTS so that we could see where to sign our release forms! Thank goodness we were it was also so cold out that the ballpoint pens had trouble working. And even leaving at an ungodly hour, we were still a bit late....having less than my desired warm up time on the trainer.

Ok. so on to the race. We rolled out at precisely 7:01am, a field of about 25 or so. It was a 3/4 race, and not being scored separately (bummer for us 4's!). It started out reasonable...everyone seemed to be wanting to check out the turns and no one wanted to go crazy. WE all hit the hill and then all the sounds of mashing gears and downshifting occured as everyone figured out what was appropriate gearing. Thanks to my FSA compact....i could big-ring the whole course, making it pretty simple. AT the top of the hill there was a right turn, and then a sharp left, and then a right to the straightaway. The peloton went hard up the hill, spread out a bit, and then things slowed as we did the turns back around to the start. On the straightaway start/finish stretch, the leaders seemed to want to chill things out and would slow down every lap. I had good position in the front of the pack for the early part of the race--even managed to (not willingly) lead a lap or 2. IT wasnt that windy, so i wasn't that worried about energy loss, and the good thing about being up front is that I could take the turns at actual speed! The turns were pretty darn slow for me, and it caused me some frustration (and lack of momentum that I wanted into that HILL).

So about halfway through the race I realized this was jsut not playing toward my strengths. I am a decent hill climber, and I have a sprint in me, but I haven't really been working on these sprinter-type efforts as of by pushing up the hill and then slowing down, all the sprinters were able to catch up and get back in good position. It really was a sprinters course (noted by the fact that Laura Van Gilder won the Pro/1/2 race in a massive sprint to the finish). A more experienced racer might have realized that this was the time to take some action and attack and try and break things up a bit... But alas, this was only my 4th race ever (3rd this year) and so I didn't think about this until AFTER the race! So I just kept my position near the front.

I decided that since this race was practice I would try and sprint for a prime about 5 laps from the finish. That went well, but not perfectly. I got 2nd in that prime. Oh least I can't say I didn't try!

On the last lap I got a little antsy waiting for things to go...and finally they did go. I had been blocked on the hill, so I wasn't as far up as I liked, and then I got stuck on the left turn that lost some momentum. I downshifted and sprinted hard, and I was nearly there. I did catch someone at the line (or so I thought)... definitely a top 10 it seemed.

When I checked the results, I got 9th. 8th and 9th had been switched... I was pretty sure I had caught that girl on the line so I went to ask the official...and he said there were 2 cameras, and 2 people looked at the photos...and one thought i had it, and one thought the other had it...and the 'official' decision was that she won by a millimeter! A freakin' millimeter! Oh well. Not like I really care about the $10 I would have won had I gotten 8th place :-) My teammate also rode a good race, and she got 12th, I believe. Yeah Echelon Cat 4 Women!!!

Another day, another bike race! As my coach always says..learn from every race. I sure learned from this one. And afterwards, since it was in beautiful Ojai, and the weather was warming up once the sun finally came out, I was able to take a beautiful ride up past Lake Casitas, still get 50 miles in for the day, and get back to Ojai in time to watch the Pro/1/2 womens race, which was a blast.

No matter how I placed--at least I started on time! The order of the day in the mens races seemed to be missing the start! I saw at least 2-3 people in the Mens 4/5 and the Mens 3 race miss the starts and start out chasing from at least 30 seconds back! I won't name any names here in order to protect the innocent...

Oh well...time for some Chicken Ranch!

-kimberly (no upgrade points today...maybe next time)