Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Data Crunching Begins...

This is my power data from the Hillclimb at Kern. I use a *gasp* ibike to collect this data. It's not as good as a powertap...but a heck of a lot cheaper, and still a lot of fun. I first bought it because it uses MEMS accelerometers and pressure sensors, and that is a technology I still work it's nice to see it ending up in products! How it works is it has microaccelerometers and tilt sensors to measure the acceleration and the road grade. It also has a pressure sensor which measures the wind forces acting against you, as well as you calibrate it to account for the frictional losses in your bike/tires/etc. Then it uses the equation P=F*v (power=force times velocity--all vectors of course) and by measuring speed on a wheel pickup, and remembering Newtons Law (F=ma (also vectors)), you can calculate power. Now, it has its good and its bad, but mostly I like it, and it is a MUCH cheaper alternative to a PowerTap.

Anyway, I took data in all my races at Kern except for the TT, as I didn't want to re-mount the thing between races. I didn't have time to go into the data set and delete the downhill part of this the average power isn't really that meaningful...from a quick look at the graph it looks like the average power for me on this climb hovered a tad under 200. Not bad for me, considering Im a lightweight (a tad under 130). I got what I got...although happily I have improved over the training season, so that's all good!

Of course I don't like to get too invovled with the it then becomes too much like work and not enough like fun...but sometimes it's neat to look at and look for improvement, etc. :-) And sometimes its fun to look at the really fun stuff like the 900W sprint at the end of a brutal relive the fun.


Wednesday puppy photo and cycling musings

So...the TTT is coming together! I survived practice last night, and it's seeming more realistic now. Once we ramped up the speed things became easier. We have the order down now, I have good strategy, we're communicating well, and feeling more confident about the wheels in front of us. We have a plan! I think I might survive this event yet! The stress and TT-position induced back/hip pain didn't show up until the very end of our 1.5 hour practice, and when I spun home it went away again :-).

And on the puppy photos is coming up on Mr. Aidan's (otherwise known as Poosk, or formally as Ch. WindRose Whisperin' Spirits) 7th birthday! He was one of 13 pups born on June 13, 2000. He was also born on a Friday the 13th! I thought I would start to commemorate his birth by showing some of his most adorable puppy photos and memorable wins. The first photo is is Aidan all grown up, taken at our place a couple years ago, and the second is the very first day Aidan moved in(he was 14 weeks old).


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Women Can't Descend???

Someone (cyclistrick*) happened to overhear a comment at mt. ham at the officials table about how they need to neutralize the descent for the women next year because "women can't descend." I must take offense at that comment...being a women, and one with a small ego problem at that!

Now....I would argue that descending is a skill, like many other skills. And beginners are sometimes not so good at certain skills. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. I have certainly seen sketchy downhillers, both male and female. I was even myself a bit sketchy for a couple weeks after healing from my downhill crash, while I was still fighting the nerves. The sketchy moves usually come from either pushing past your skill envelope, or letting fear rule you to the point of being unsafe. Both come from different core sources, and both can be equally scary to be around.

In my first crit (and 2nd bike race ever), I was terrified. I was told time and time again that I had good bike handling skills (for my level and experience) and that it would be fine. I had one sketchy move in that race, being caught inside going into a corner, and having someone from the outside cut in and give me nowhere to go. Thankfully I was aware, and did not jerk or brake crazily, narrowly missing the wheel in front of me, sliding out a tad, and not taking out anyone else in my little madness. However, I was beating myself up afterwards for being a 'bad cornerer'. But to solve this, every day on my bike commute, I would ride through the little windy bike paths on the way to campus, vowing never to use the brakes and to take things as fast as I possibly could..winding around co-eds on cell phones, skateboarders, and sticking to the path. I learned the limits of my leaning and cornering ability, and how to re-gain the bike when it starts to slide. I also went to crit practice with the guys, did the corners at super-high speed....if I didn't take the corners well, I got dropped immediately, because the draft was the only thing saving me.... The next race, I felt secure about the cornering, and my only worry was the other folk! Criteriums became fun, strategic pursuits rather than stressful occurances. I even reagained my balance when I did get in a bad situation in one and nearly lost it (and fought back for a top 5 finish). Practice helps a lot.

In the beginner categories, I think the spectrum of experience is huge, leading to a wide range of riding styles. And this can be scary....because the new people might not know how to react to certain things, and the more experienced people might assume behaviors which are not yet innate in new riders, leading to more crashes, etc. This very fact is one reason why I'm looking forward to being a 3.

That said, back to the point at hand: these issues plague ANY beginners...not just women!!! Being a woman who has fought so long to be treated as equal in a primarily man's world, these comments hit doubly hard. I have heard so many obnoxious comments about women in engineering (in my work life), from the way women engineers look, to the way they dress, to the fact they get more opportunities than men (????), to "you got the job because we had to fill a quota," to "Dear Sir" (you wouldn't believe how many emails I get from foreign students seeking a position in a US University research lab that have a Dear Sir salutation). The more offensive ones I cannot post here...

Anyway..let us women have our chance! And let us earn respect for our talents, and our hard work, and let us play your games, have the joy of winning, the agony of defeat, the satisfaction of teammwork succeeding, and the fun of a 50mph descent, when you are one with the machine.

...and for anyone who wants to race me'll have to catch me first!


*cyclistrick mentioned it on his blog because of how short-sighted and sexist this comment sounded...he is one of those great supporters of female bike racers--the people who are slowly changing these old-fashioned, frustrating viewpoints.

Monday ramblings on Tuesday

so because of the holiday yesterday, it completely feels like Monday, although it's Tuesday. I know that will make me scramble on Friday, when I still have lots of work to do, and a weekend of racing and dog showing ahead of me....

So I'm beginning to feel good I didn't race this weekend, after hearing about all these crashes! I am hoping it was just a fluke, and that we'll all be keeping the rubber side down in the future! Two of my good friends crashed mountain bikes this weekend. One broken collarbone, the other just a serious case of road (er. dirt) rash. And then I read on OV's site about AJM's crash. It just all seems a bit much for one weekend! And Steve got hit by a car last week (he's ok, thankfully, and in true Steve fashion probably rode 400 miles since then! Kudos!) and Marco's group slipped on some slippery pavement on the 101 and a bunch of them crashed (although no one injured, thank goodness). Hmmm. I must say I was a bit worried about taking the old TT bike out for it's morning intervals this morning. The Karma seemed bad...

..but all was ok. I'm successfully back from my TT intervals, and the rubber side stayed down. So let's hope this week of crashing is behind us all! And for those with injuries...heal quickly, and enjoy the time off the bike! I know it's hard to do...but just think about all the things that get swept under the proverbial rug in order to ride the bike more. I know in my life, that rug is pretty large!

So happy riding everyone! Good luck to all racing Mt. Hood-I'm jealous! That darn work thing gets in the way far too often. However, it does subsidize this crazy habit of mine, so I have to keep on with it! And occasionally it, too, is fun!


Sunday, May 27, 2007

the woes of the TTT I need some help! My bike and I have had a blissful relationship. Granted, it's only been going on 10 months...almost 11, so maybe we haven't had time to hit all the rough spots yet. We've been through so many firsts together, beautiful challenging rides, centuries, a week of camp, my first and only win, good finishes, bad finishes, but I always end the days looking forward to the next ride. The bike is my escape from the woes of the regular world, the things in life I can't control so much. It gives me great joy to fly down those descents, to give all I have to gain a new PR, to win a sprint, or even to lose if I'm giving it everything I've got! I give it TLC, and it rewards me many times over. Even the new TT bike has given me some fun as of late. I had a great time riding it to a win in our club TT ( I got 25th overall...but still managed to win the women's division, and finish mid-pack in the men), and it made me feel fast at Kern.

So why, then, am I sitting here dreading getting on the bike tomorrow? I strongly dislike TTT practice. It gets me stressed out just thinking about it, and after about an hour of practice, this muscle in my back/hip starts to scream loudly as well. I think its because the TTT brings out the weaknesses in my riding, and I hate feeling vulnerable and bad at things. It's one thing to not stick on a wheel in a race...but in a TTT, well, its kind of essential. And turning tight turns on the TT bike at speed..hmmm (thinking about dropping my chain in that TT last week). And descents when you have to follow someone's wheel AND stay aero AND not brake (normally descending is my flat out favorite thing on the bike, and people seem to think I'm pretty talented in that department). All of these things that I didn't have to think about before on the TT bike, because I wasn't riding around anyone else! The TTT just accentuates all weaknesses, and I don't like it one bit! I need to find something positive about the TTT and try to do a complete attitude adjustment this this week is all about the TTT. Next week I can get back to the riding I love, and me and my bike can re-aquaint (for a couple days, then I leave it again to go to Paris).

In my desire to become a better (and faster) cyclist, I'm leaving the ego out to dry, and trying as hard as I can to look for something beneficial in the TTT....

but right now, climbing a mountain just seems so much easier.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

On not racing...

I decided not to race this weekend. There was a race I could have gone to, the flat Barry Wolfe criterium in Woodland Hills. It had a cat 4 women's race, and although I'm just barely eligible for upgrade now, I am still a 4. The start time is a lovely 7:31am or some early time like that. This was the kicker...I realized that I wouldn't be home for many many weekends in a row coming is my schedule!

next weekend: The state TTT championships (Saturday) in Lancaster, and a dog show (Sunday) in Pasadena
Weekend after: Paris and Lyon! (and many many frequent flier miles to add to the account)
Weekend after: UCSB Graduation (now, I will be in town, but it will be filled with graduation parties, hooding 2 of my students who are getting Ph.D.'s, college dinners, etc. etc....busy but fun time)
Weekend after: Maybe a stage race in Oregon if I can get my act together (and my fitness peaking at the right time again)
And then it is nearly July! And I don't mention the at least 1 trip to the Bay area for work (Berkeley) and possibly a 2nd trip to Stanford in there!

So...I decided to bail on the race, try to sleep in past 5:45, and take my dog to the beach with a detour to our favorite bagel shop! I know I will feel a tad of remorse at 7:31am tomorrow, knowing I could have gotten up at 4:30 to drive to that bike race...but instead I got my favorite climbing ride this morning (3 hours, 5k climb, 44 mile ride, rode out of the marine layer and into a flat-out gorgeous day), and don't have to worry about my legs being a little toasted tomorrow. If I'm lucky, a ride will also come my way tomorrow!

So good luck all you so-cal cat 4' won't have to worry about me (Ha!)!


Postscript: I noticed the Kern results have been posted.... :-)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Daily Poll

I've decided to have some fun with this blog, by instituting a weekly poll :-) I must admit that the idea for today's question came to me after the whole pop-tart confessional on today (it made me laugh audibally while IN a session at this conference I'm stuck at today...almost got in trouble!).'s your chance, friendly commenters, to tell all your secrets (or mislead your competition)!

Question of the day:

What is the wierdest thing you have eaten during a race?

I'll start the answers off: The bug of unknown type that flew into my mouth last week in the Walker Basin RR. Must have made the difference...since i won! ICK!!!


Thursday, May 24, 2007

no more blogging...

until I finish this talk I have to give tomorrow! I'm so procrastinat-y tonight...Firefox is going off, and you'll all have to leave me fun and interesting comments that I"ll read AFTER I make up this talk. "A survey of nonlinear dynamics in Micro and Nanosystems" Sounds great, doesn't it? 30 minutes of pure powerpoint delight...

On a quick cycling note: I went on the Echelon almost-no-drop women's ride, and it was freeeeezing! If it wasn't for Ginger's quick wit and hilarious nature, carol's, I don't think i would have made it! My back was so freakin' sore. I have realized that I CANNOT ride that TT bike for over 2.5 hours at a shot without paying for it the next day. Last night I had TTT practice, and today I could barely sit on my road bike. Massage in my near future, it seems... I am not one who gets sore easily, and is not easily deterred (i.e. after crashing last fall and breaking my collarbone, grade III separation of the shoulder, broken rib2, a bruised hip and a banged up cheek i was back on the trainer in a week and outside riding in 2 weeks) but yet this achy pain is really annoying!!!!!!!!

Oh well...back to work. more blogging later!

when you think your day is bad...

...inevitably someone else's is worse!

I was feeling a bit b*tchy today....I have a ton of work to do, a conference here to attend all day tomorrow and ALL day Saturday (ssshhhh...don't tell anyone I'm skipping Saturday morning to go on a bike ride), a bunch of meeting this afternoon, a bunch of voicemails I've been avoiding...and then I get an email from Dotsie (my friend and amazing bike racer chick--see link). I didn't ask her if I could post her I will just paraphrase, but she wrote me from Venezuela where she is for the Pan-Am championships. After some airport/ticket hassles she finally gets there, but her bikes did not make it! And so she has a TT tomorrow and no bikes! And a bunch of the Track team are sick and on IV's, which she is of course trying to avoid, and it is too dangerous to go out without a police escort! Sounds like a darn lovely place...

So I'm proclaiming to all in the life is pretty darn good! And GOOD LUCK DOTSIE!!!!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

on women and weight loss...

As those of you who read my blog know, I just got back from a womens-only stage race. The racing was great, and I've hashed it over and over for all to re-live. As I said, the positive energy was really special, and it made for an event that I'll remember always. However, there are a few things that happened that made me go hmmmmm and I decided to record them for all posterity.

Now, for the record, I work with mostly all men. I am not used to hanging out with large groups of women for long periods of time. I observed that hanging out with super-fit women made me very self consious about my weight! Now, I have a long history with weight, due to a very serious case of Hashimoto's hypothyroidism. I was always the skinny kid who could eat anything and never gain weight. Unfortunately for my social status, I was also not blessed in the bosom department...something that now I find completely fine, but when I was 16 was not so great. But, I could eat and eat and never gain a pound. I was very active, ran cross-country, track, spent lots of time exercising my dogs, etc, and weight was something I never thought about. The 'fat kid' in my mind was someone who didn't take care of themself.

This all changed when I was in graduate school. My husband (rather new at the time) had a very very serious medical condition which transformed my role from student to student/caretaker, which threw me for a serious loop! All of a sudden my time was entirely consumed by things I would never have imagined. My progress on my experiments slowed, and I became exhausted. Even after the issues subsided, all of a sudden I found myself exhausted all of the time. I would come home from work, and fall asleep on the couch, unable to do even the simplest things like run the dog, cook dinner, etc. It all seemed to take so much energy! And although I continued to eat the same, I gained about 20 pounds.

This continued for like the next 6 years! I graduated, got a great job at UCSB, moved across the country, started a new life, and still had these nagging issues with weight and energy. Even with unhealthy amounts of caffeinated beverages, I could not stay awake for a 4-5pm seminar, or even drive home some days! I thought I was just working too hard, trying to establish my research program and show dogs on the weekends. I thought i was pushing hard, and pushing hard is the lifestyle I like! Thankfully when I turned 30 I had some bloodwork done, and my doctor called me the day the results were in. This is how the conversation went:

Doc: How are you feeling?
Me: Fine, tired.
Doc: You need more blood tests
Me: What's wrong with me?
Doc: Don't know yet, go get more blood tests. Are you sure you can drive yourself to the hospital?
Me: Yes, I've been driving for years.
Doc: Ok, but be careful.

The new tests came back, and I was diagnosed with severe hypothyroidism. My TSH was so high, my doctor was actually afraid of me being non-functional! She prescribed thyroid hormone replacement right away, and I had to go in for ultrasound scans to rule out cancer (my mom had thyroid cancer). Thankfully no cancer, but I did have an irregular and enlarged thyroid. The next problem was that the t4 synthetic hormone replacement did nothing for me. So here I was with this diagnosed condition, was getting a synthetic hormone that made my TSH bloodwork look fine, and yet I still had no energy, and I was still not able to lose weight. This went on for a couple years.

Finally I had had enough. This was just not going to take control of my life. I already lost 6+ years on it and I was not going to let it happen again. So I decided to do an experiment. I am a scientist...and I determined that there must be SOME level of calories I could eat and actually lose weight. So I went kind of anorexic like on my self, and started basically not eating. I was eating 1000 calories a day. I did lose a couple of pounds...but hardly any! And i was careful! I also started exercising like mad during this time. So I was running an hour a day, eating almost nothing, exhausted, and not even losing weight! (at this point I was still about 30 pounds heavier than I wanted to be). I went to my endocrinologist who proclaimed my thyroid treatment just fine. I explained that I wasn't losing weight and I still had no energy, and he looked me in the eye and said:
"if you eat less you will lose weight". Arrrrggggh. I lost it, left his office sniffling back tears, and vowed to figure this thing out.

Endocrinologist number 2 was a different story. He had a much more progressive outlook on thyroid disease. He said that although my TSH bloodwork looked fine, clearly my body was not responding to the hormone I was being given. He gave me a different hormone combination, one that combined the two hormones, T3 and T4, and I immediately felt a difference. All of a sudden my brain felt like teh synapses were firing again! Wow! Out of the fog! Due to the energy, my hour long runs became a lot brisker, and the weight started to come off! I was still eating way too little, but i was losing weight, and that made it positive reinforcement. I started figuring out why people become anorexic...the positive reinforcement is really addictive.

It still took a LONG time to lose the weight. And although I never thought I was that body consious, I guess I am! I lost 30 pounds and gained a lot of muscle. I trained for a marathon, and I eventually started cycling, which changed my body even more. I was feeling pretty good about the whole process, and I even adjusted my eating habits so I can eat pretty normally these days. My thyroid, while not entirely stable, is at least manageable these days. I feel like I got my life back.

However, the weekend of being around women bike racers...well, that brought some weird feelings into the old head... All of a sudden I felt fat again! I felt all self-consious in the skin suit, and noticed that when hanging out, the conversation would often turn to 'how thin someone was' or 'how great someone's body was' or 'why can't I have muscles like that.' It was bizarre... I also found myself not wanting to eat the twizzlers I like so much, or too much 'bad' food. :-) I even found myself staring at the computer with a bit of trepidation when looking at the race photos, for fear I would 'look fat'! How crazy is that! A situation that causes a normally self-confident, independent, successful woman to feel so self-consious about something like weight! Weird...

Anyway...I am determined not to get weight consious. I know I need to weigh a certain amount to be healthy, and I am not going to lose that perspective in order to climb a hill a few seconds faster. Just remembering to not take 2 water bottles on a 9 mile hill climb race will do that! And I'm going to remember that I am who I am...and a couple of pounds is not going to change matter what people may say about me or my appearance.

I am bigger than that. (pun maybe intended)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Kern Commencement (aka. the survival of kern and hopefully the beginning of a new phase in my racing)

OK. Stage 4. I didn't sleep as well Saturday night. I was so keyed up from the day's events, that it was hard to fall asleep. Me and Susan kept chatting, and also that was about when I realized that the cabin had I just had to check up on all the blogs, and my email, etc.! Silly internet addictions.... Anyway, I finally did fall asleep, and once asleep that was that. The next morning, we had to wake up at 4:30 because we were so far from Race 4. We left at 5:30, car fully packed, and I wasn't feeling so bad. Thank goodness for early morning cappucinos :-).

I was feeling good about the race, but a little worried. One of the problems with being new to bike racing and cycling in general is that I don't quite trust my endurance. That nagging negative voice in the back of my head kept remembering me getting dropped in the first (and so much easier it doesnt compare) stage race I did a month ago. Granted, I don't know why that little voice doesn't also remember that I got dropped because I dropped my chain twice and couldnt shift into my big chain ring...but it doesn't. It blames it all on my endurance...and gets me questioning things. This is where having a good teammate comes in. Susan (who also happens to be a therapist...) gets on me and banishes all negative self-talk. She tells me how strong I am, how she is going to blow herself up to help me do well, how I am peaking, how I should just not worry about it...and tells me that I am the one who convinced her to go to this race with the premise that "no matter what, we would have fun, and our main goal would be working as a team and finishing". So since that was my goal...I decided I better work on it!

WE get to the race, and I all of a sudden feel ok! I chat with some people, and then mee-wee-un comes over and strategizes with me about a plan. We have a plan! All of a sudden my race has meaning. I have to help someone else! I have to hang in there because someone else's result depends on me! All the nerves immediately vanished and I felt a purpose. It wasn't about me...and that made it okay to want to fight hard.

The race starts on schedule, and all went flawlessly except that I lost my gloves. I think they lost themselves, because in the earlier RR, my fingers on my left hand had fallen asleep because the pad in them is failing... :-) Turned out to be better to not have them. I found them riht after the race...of course!

We start climbing, and wow, my legs feel good! I mean, not fresh, but good! I was surprised about this. I'm spinning along happily and feeling like maybe I can do this! We get done with the first climb, and I enjoy the first descent. This is gonna be fun! Then we climb some more, and then comes a BIG descent ,about half way through the first 24 mile lap. I had just pulled at the front, and was now sitting in the back, when we round a turn and see the beautiful descent. Oh well, I think to myself, it will be ok, I'll be ok not taking this one at my normal breakneck speed...and follow. But around the turn, I see the good descenders up front start to get a big gap. ACK! My little brain is going, damn, I'm missing the break, I've gotta go! I pass one slow girl, and then another, and then I see my teammate. She is a good descender, and is not going to miss an apex..but i've GOTTA get by her! I yell to her to let me in, and she beautifully makes a hole and I scoot through, gaining time as I slide by and make up more time. I get by 2 other people and then I chase. Thank goodness for that 11 gear. I chased, and had to chase a little hard on the rollers that followed, but soon caught the break. It was a good thing I did, because that was teh key break that split the race. I ride up to mee-wee-uhn and tell her I'm back and she seems happy to see me. We're back in business...whew! She gave me her wheel so I could recover from my chase effort, and I settled back in and the legs were feeling good again.

We had some nice team-work around the was all good. We even got a rotating paceline going and going quite well! We passed some stragglers from the race in front of us, and we were having fun! Fun in a bike race...what a concept. This group of women was outstanding....funny, smart, silly, I smile just thinking about it. We continue working together quite well, through the finish line climb, and then start lap 2. Now things are stil going along now I know most of the people in our break by name, and we're doing well. Right on the first climb of the second lap, mee-wee-uhn gets her chain all tangled up in the derailleur! Now, I can certainly feel her pain here, and I didn't want the girls in 2nd and 3rd in the GC to attack her here (the 2nd and 3rd were on the same team), so I start telling stories about my dropped chains and how much it sucks. That seems to work..I stayed in the pack...tried to slow it a little, and other girls started talking about their stories, too. It worked..and soon she was back! Everyone was nice in this situation...and i was happy...

The second time down the big descent was truly awesome. It has to be one of my top moments on the bike...i was smiling cause I couldn't help it! I was back int he pack, but this is a pack of good descenders. We all started down, beautiful apexes...for a few turns I was happy to just marvel at the sight--what a great group of 4s (granted most are near upgrade)! Then I let loose...I have that great 11 cog...which allows me to get some serious momentum...and down I went. I caught up to everyone, and in my tuck, I did glance at my spedometer just in tiem to see it click from 49.9-50! Wow!!!! I don't even think I had to climb up the next hill! We were all excited about that afterwards.

The descent over, the rollers began again, and we again formed our paceline. One girl was struggling, and we knew she wouldnt sprint for the win, so we let her sit on while we shared the load. WE worked the backside quite well, but when the climbing started again, we had to stop wtih the pacelining. By this time, my legs were saying "ummmmm. we' have worked pretty hard for you these past couple days...when is this going to end," and I was not so happy. I kept drinking, and eating (I ate 3 gu's which is a record for me, since I'm not a good race eater...stil working on that), and hoping they'd hang in there. We all stuck together until about 2 miles to go, when a little gap formed between me and the three leaders. Dammmm. I tried, but the old heart rate would just not go above 179 (my max is 201). Legs burning at this point, but I tried and tried. Our plan was not going to work! I closed the gap mostly, but I got gapped again on the last climb to teh finish.

I saw them finish, and still wanted to minimize my time, even though I knew I was getting 4th. I make it a point to not look back...and I didn't want anyone to catch me (there was no one there...), so I wanted to sprint in. I downshifted, got out of the saddle, and went, but there were two racers from the 3's (who had an extra lap) right there in teh lane, spinning slowly! I made a big time wrong decision here...and went wide around them. I was so tired i wasn't thinking about the centerline. ACK. I'm such an idiot. I cross the finish line at the same time as I realize I crossed the centerline too. YIKES. I thought I would get disqualified, and after all that work! I crossed the line and had a complete meltdown. I am really not proud of it...I don't know WHY I am so hard on myself, but I am. Denise and Angie (my friends, who was there to support the Kalyra women) were there, and she tried to talk me out of my obnoxious crying state. Then mee-wee-uhn came over too, and this was sort of our exchange as i remember it:

Her: Sorry the plan didn't work
Me: I just couldn't hang on.. so sorry. You did awesome (she had won).
Me; I'm such an idiot
Her: No you're not!
Me: Yes I am
Her: No you're not...let me hold your bike (as I'm about to fall over)
Me: No
Her: You are not an were RACING your bike! You were RACING. Everyone makes these errors.
Me: Im an idiot.
Me: I'm glad you won everything! Thats totally awesome! Way to go!
Her: It was a fun bike race
Me: It really was!

The official comes over and says that I will probably just get a stern warning because I wasn't trying to advance my position, and I didn't pass anyone from my own race in my little craziness, but that I should be careful about my finishing sprints in future races...

Her: Let's spin out.
Me: Ok, lets!
Me; Congratulations again, you were awesome
Her: Sorry the plan didn't work
Me; it was my fault...the old legs just didn't have it in them on that final climb!
(I'll leave it to the readers to figure out what our plan really was...)

Anyway, I finished 4th, and 4th in the GC! I went from 8th after the TT, to 4th after Stage 4. I was super pleased with myself, and my teammates sacrifice for me. She finished 9th in the GC. And I have a new found respect for how great it is to ride with team members, even when they are from other teams, and you just are working for a common goal. It was so awesome...all 4 of us top finishers were friends by the end, and looking forward to racing again together. We were happy for each others successes, and that was just special.

So there you have it. My Kern. As the photos start appearing on the web, I"ll add them to these posts...but for now, you'll just have to use your imaginations... I know I will never forget any of it!

Congrats to all: Marian, Julie, Sarah, you were awesome. Susan, you were a great teammate-saved my race! Liz, it was fun to work with and ride with you.

With dreams of future bike races...


Monday, May 21, 2007

Kern Volume 3 (The Hill Climb!)

Time for the hill climb! When the hill climb came around, I was still high from the previous race, which was a good thing. It was a 9 mile climb, I wasn't sure about the elevation gain. I had seen the switchbacks the day before, and likened it to a couple of climbs around SB that I enjoy very much. So I was trying to think of it as fun, as I used to think I was a climber (before I met my teammate Susie who can drop me like a rock on climbs). I spun out as I was supposed to, and I was pretty psyched for it.

It was pretty warm when it started. It is a bit deceiving. The first few miles before you even get to the 'climb' were still uphill! My bike has a beautiful set of gears with an 11-26 spread! This gives me the climbing gear to spin up all but the steepest sections (I don't even use it that much...but it can help to be able to spin a 70 cadence on really quite steep slopes), but yet gives me that extra bottom end for the descending that I love so much.

I led the group up to the cattle crossing at the turn. It wasn't that windy, so I didn't feel like I was doing that much extra work, and the lack of stress associated with not have to follow a potentially sketchy wheel while climbing was ll worth it. I knew that I was just going to take the climb at my own pace. A group of us started up, and I think there were 6 or 7 in our group. I felt fine and in the groove for the first couple miles, but then I realized that I was working a bit hard in this section, and I needed to back off. I have the desire to nearly outride my ability (thus potentially puking, blowing up, bonking....anything can happen) so at least I realized it this time before it happened! I backed off, and watched a few of them get a leg up on me. However, as my coach said it would, I started reeling them back in. I passed the water stop nearly on my own, and didn't take water. I was in a groove, and still had too much water (feeling lame for bringing 2 water bottles), but the 'wow, you're a stud' comment from the feeders didn't hurt the old ego :-). I kept thinking about breathing, hearing the energetic songs from my warmup ipod track still thumping in my head, spinning easy, rhythm, etc. Soon I caught up to a metromint girl, who I knew was just near the lead pack. WE climbed together...we were really similar in climbing ability that day. We shared the climbing for the last couple of miles. We were reeling in the leaders by this point. I had been informally timing them as they passed landmarks to see what the time gap was (ever the engineer...geeky as usual), and we were cutting it... The 1 mile to go sign was nice..but it really was more than 1! Sarah (metromint) and i had some choice words for that when a mile was up and the finish was not in sight! When I finally did see the finish, the adrenaline rush allowed me to ride away from Sarah and zoom for the line. That was fun to look at on my ibike file!

I didn't win, but I finished strong...and that made me pleased. And the descent down the mountain, well, that was amazing. I love descending, and that was a fun one. I held back quite a bit due to all the other riders, but it was still fun!

The cold water at the top was most excellent, too!!

Ciao--one report to go...that one will have to wait for tomorrow...

Kern Reports (Stage 2)-my first victory! i sort of let the cat out of the bag on this one..but I couldn't help it! I finally won a race! For those of you who don't care, you can stop reading here..if you want the gory (potentially boring) details of the on!

So I slept REALLY well the first night. I mean, I closed my eyes, and didn't stir until the alarm went off! I woke up nervous...2 races in one day, including a really brutal hill climb. I wondered how things would go. I still think I'm no good at the flat windy races (see comment below regarding my change in belief), and so I wasn't sure. I was staying in a friend's cabin about 15 minutes from the start of the RR, so that was convenient!

I didn't do a crazy warmup today. My coach, Jill, said that the first lap would be the rest of my spin my legs out ahead of time, but not to go too crazy with warmup. Thank goodness, because by the time I got the whole extra wheels in the follow car, signed in, got my bike off the car, etc..I didn't have a lot of time anyway! I found out I was in 8th position after the TT, and being competitive I did not really want to remain there. I still don't fancy myself a sprinter so I didn't think the lap bonuses were going to be coming my way, although if I had to race it again I'm not sure I would have thought that.

So..the race started slowly. Girls were chatting. I kind of liked it. IT was like a recovery ride of sorts! Weird...a few girls expressed some displeasure at this pace and the way things were going, but overall the pack was clearly conserving energy. When we neared about 1 mile to the start/finish, the pace would pick up, people would try and position for the sprints. It was fun, but usually I was in a bad position. I only had 1 teammate in the race, and I hadn't told her I wanted to go for the sprints... but then when it comes to the final lap, I decide that I'm going to go for it. I have nothing to lose, and getting a time bonus for placing would not hurt me at all in the GC... So, my teammate and I start to strategize in the last lap. We see the metromint girls and the velobellas doing the same thing... I was on top of it ( brain is actually working while racing...what a concept!), and was maybe 5-6th wheel coming into the final couple turns. We get around the turns and I'm on the inside..just where I want to be. Someone is up ahead of me (can't remember her name a pink jersey), and there is a teeny opening between her and the gravel. i decide it's worth the risk, and I can hit the gravel if necessary...and I go for it. The legs feel great, and I slide right up the inside of the turn and by her. Then I see it wide open, with a mentromint girl and a girl in red sprinting for the win. I know I've got a big punch going, and i just keep the momentum up, and go right by the one girl and cross the line right with the other. It was awesome. What an adrenaline rush! Wow. I am maxed out on HR, and barely breathing at that point...but it was definitely the best feeling! Turns out that the other girl had skirted the wrong side of the double yellow line to get around the field, which was strictly forbidden by the officials, and she got a time penalty. So I got the win regardless. I felt a bit bad for her, but hey, i could have gone around the field too...but I didn't, and still got through in time.

So maybe I'm a sprinter??? Nah...but I did win a bike race! And the prize for it was a funny little plaque with 2 windmills and a level mounted on it. For the wind, and for the flat race. Two things I never thought I was any good at at all! That goes to show you how much I know!

With tired smiles,

Kern Reports (the beginning)

(Photo credits: Michael Hernandez-THANKS!!)

I'll start at the beginning in case I start forgetting stuff after it sits in the head for too long!
Stage 1: The Bena TT
So Susan (my illustrious teammate) and I get there really early, and realize that we should have brought an EZ up tent! Ack. We are such newbies... We find the portapotties first off, and then start to get nervous. Susan asked me if I was nervous and I said no. Way to x out those negative feelings. She says, "this is intimidating" and I try to talk her out of it.

Soon my coach and her team shows up, and I start to feel better. I warm up, and get in my zone. Thanks to the ipod, and my well-designed pre-race warmup playlist..all is well. I do my full warmup and am feeling good. I also ride part of the course to see how bad the hill is and get my gearing set in my mind. I'm a little worried about the TT bike, as it has a 54 (!) big ring (I usually race on a compact) and I know it is slow to jump from small to big rings. On the test ride, I feel good, and figure out the hill. It doesn't look too bad.

Ok. So I time my start a little too closely. Jill was giving us some last minute advice, and I look at my watch and am like, "my start time is in 3 minutes, i have GOT to go!" She says, "next time give yourself a bit extra..." as I'm riding away, completely panicked. I rip my ipod off just in time and hide it by the car wheel...ack. I get to the start line, and sure enough, the girl 2 in front of me is taking off. There is a dude taking photos of the start, who turns out to be no other than OV! He introduces himself, and then the girl in front of me does too...turns out she is also a fellow blogger, Marian (the eventual winner). I recognized her from Sea Otter. That interaction calmed me down,a nd I didn't even stress about the whole start. I got my gearing right, and easily ramped up the speed at the start, feeling super good about my TT position. It is not much to talk about...I kept Marian in my sights for the first half...and things were looking and feeling good. Until the turn around. I'm not that good at the whole TT bike yet...and the turn around was just a guy and a cone in the road. I slow to make the turn, but managed to catch a little gravel on the side of the road. No big deal, and i got going, but I had geared down too much, and when I mashed the was right at that instant when I thought "be easy on the pedals" that i heard the sound of a chain dropping off. Ack... OH well...I was going kind of fast by this i had to slow down, as there was no getting it back on from riding like i usually do. I stopped, and fixed it and got back on as quickly as possible. It was demoralizing...but then i decided I just had to go for it and salvage this thing. I managed to do so, and finished strong. The hill climb up was fine, I was mostly aero the whole way, and just got out of the saddle at the very top. I took my coach's advice and didn't blow up on the hill, and then used the last match for the acceleration to the finish. I can't wait to download my data!

Ended up in 8th place. Hopefully I'll collect up some photos at some point and can add them to this post.

Ciao--Stage 2 to come.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Kern Highlights and Lowlights :-)

Back from Kern, and too tired to write real race reports yet, so here is a small recap for those of you who are just dying to know.

Stage 1. TT.
Highlights: The new TT bike (loaner from David) made me feel really fast. The skinsuit (yes, I got one) and aero helmet didn't hurt either! It was not as hot as I have heard Kern can get....a balmy 89!

Lowlights: I dropped my chain near the turnaround...and it was bad enough I had to stop and put it back on manually...felt like a dork.

End Result: 8th place

Stage 2. Walker Basin RR.
Highlights: I won!!!!! My teammate was awesome, helped me in the race, which turned out to be an easy 4 laps, and came down to a field sprint. I found an opening and snuck up the inside wiht just enough time to get around most of the people. It was really great to have finally timed one right. And I'm beginning to think I'm more of a sprinter than I thought! (see Stage 3 highlights)
Lowlights: I crossed the line with someone else...but it turns out she had gone up the wrong side of the double yellow to pass the field rather than finding an opening in our lane...and we had been warned about that. So she got a penalty and I got the win. I felt a little bad for her...

End result: I won! Moved up to 6th in GC...things were looking up

Stage 3. Breckinridge Hill climb.

Highlights: I had a strong finish, got stronger throughout, and was closing the gap between myself and the leaders by the time the finish rolled around. I felt strong, and had a nice kick at the end to release the last bit of my energy, and get a gap on the rider near me. (granted she still was ahead of me in the GC...but you do what you can).
The bass clarinet player (I think thats what it was...I was delierious by this point) serenading us with 1.5 miles to go).
The guys cheering and giving us water (which I didn't take...not sure why...see delerious point above).
The beautiful scenery.
Lowlights: It was a LOOOOOOOONG hot hill climb
It was a LOOONG hill climb.

End results: moved up to 4th in the GC! Yeah...getting closer. Things were definitely looking up.

Stage 4. Road race.

HIghlights: The flat out fabulous descents. I went the fastest I've ever gone in a race (50.2 miles/hour)! I stayed with the lead pack the whole race.
The fabulous group of 4s I rode with! They were by far the most fun people I have ever encountered in a race. I am sorry I don't remember all of your names, but (Marian, Sarah, Julie, Kim, Liz, and one other girl I didn't catch the name of) you were flat out great to ride with. The nice rotating paceline we got going was far more than I have ever managed to accomplish in a RR to date! Awesome!!

The fact that my legs hung in there and I actually felt better than I thought I would!

Lowlights: I got dropped on the very last ascent...sigh. It was all I had. They just had one more match... Experience and strength I guess.

I got a warning for crossing the centerline at the finish. Ack! I kind of had a meltdown because I felt like such a moron, too! Ooops. There were 2 people I was encountering coming up to the finish from the 3s race, and they still had another they were not pushing. And I was trying to minimize time gaps and get in quickly so I was up out of the saddle and going fast, and they were taking up the lane. I SHOULD have sprinted to the inside...but alas I was delierious again and not thinking...and I went wide. I got off with a stern warning because I was not trying to advance my position but I can honestly say I feel really bad about it :-(. Thanks marian, for reminding me that it is JUST A BIKE RACE...and I should just let it go... you're awesome.

End Result: 4th place in the RR, and 4th in the GC!!!!!! YEAH. My best finishes to date, a win in a RR, and a bunch of new friends! Marian from Velo Bella had an AWESOME race, with 2 victories and a victory in the GC, and Sarah and Julie from Metromint were also super strong and fun to ride with! I hope to ride with you all again soon! Everyone was great, and I have to give a super thanks to my teammate Susan for helping me out this weekend, especially giving me a chance to get around her in the descent when I nearly missed the key breakaway. She saved my race! She ended up 9th in the GC.

Real reports coming...but in case you couldnt wait!

:-) tired, but thrilled. Kern is awesome!!!!

PS. Bobbi, thanks so much for letting us stay at your place 10 minutes from the RR start on Saturday! That was awesome..and Liz--great result! It was fun to ride with you.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wednesday Weirdness and Ph.D. quals.

I'm stuck in the office not much new bike news to report on. My efforts to obtain a skinsuit by Friday's Kern TT have all those people racing against me, you can all be happy that I'll be less Aero. (I also refuse to tuck my jersey into my shorts as suggested by a fellow blogger...just too much fashion faux paux for me)

Other than that, the most interesting thing in my day was sitting through a Ph.D. qual exam. Students get so nervous about those--little do they know that by this time, they probably know more than 3/4 of their committee about the topic they're discussing...and we (the academic professoriate) use these activities as a chance to learn new things. The probing questions are actually because we want to KNOW the answer...not because we already do and are just testing you! Ack...I'm spilling all my secrets--I hope no students are reading this! Anyway, the exam was on a really neat technology that could have a significant impact on medical screening in the near future, and it was interesting.

Oh well...time to stop procrastinating and get back to work!

One more's Bike to work day!!!!!! I did, but then again I always do, so it's really not that big a deal. I did take advantage of the free coffee and juice they had on the bike path this morning, though.


Countdown to Kern...2 days.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Figuring out this blog thing!

Hello all! I am finally getting around to linking my blog to everyone else's! Sorry for the delay!

Enjoy the new links. And if I forgot anyone...sorry! Just remind me with a comment! This is just a start...


Monday, May 14, 2007

on my first real TT

(Photos: Kimberly Weixel--Thanks!)

Success! I achieved everything I wanted to today. It was a roundabout way of making it all happen, but it happened, and I guess that's the important thing.

My racing club has a monthly TT series, which happened to be tonight. It starts early (so we can get everyone done before dark), so I knew I'd have to extract myself from the office way early in order to get everthing done. I also had to manage to get the new seat for my TT bike, and get that adjusted properly, and give myself an hour to warm up and ride over to the course, which is about 5 miles from my house. I got the new seat over lunch, but when I got home this afternoon and went to put it on, I hit my first snag...I couldn't for the life of me loosen the seat clamp! It was on there TIGHT! Ok...i tried and tried, I didn't think i was THAT weak....but I guess I am! So I didn't want to take the bike all the way downtown to my I called the bike shop which is 2 blocks away from my house, and thankfully the main mechanic answered, and said he would do it. So I rode it over, spare seat in my jersey pocket (sticking out the back), and he was able to get it switched out for me. I watched--it took him some serious effort, too, thus restoring my ego slightly. As I thanked him profusely and left, I said "thank goodness I'm a cyclist and not a weightlifter," which got a good chuckle :-)

On to the TT. I went early to pre-ride the course. I saw lots of other aero-looking people pre-riding the course. The one thing I saw that I didn't expect to see was a huge SNAKE in the bike lane! I had to swerve to avoid this 4-5 foot slithery thing! Ack. Thankfully that snake thought better of his positioning and removed himself before the race started. I got there and met up with David, who is the one who loaned me the bike. He said I looked great on it, nice and aero, and then gave me some pointers about how to ride a TT. It made me feel a lot better about the whole thing. Then I went and got in line. It's a self timed just line up and they send you off at 30 second intervals. David said that everyone feels awful at some point in a TT, and to just ride through it. Denise reminded me to be in the right gear at the start :-) (thanks denise!). I started mid-way through. I had a good start, got up to speed and heart rate quickly and settled into my rhythm. It always surprises me that in training it seems hard to get a 180 HR...but in a race or timed event of any sort, the little competitive spirit kicks in and I can dig a lot deeper. About half way through, I'm still rolling along, most of the hills behind me, thinking, I don't think I'm goign to be the slowest one! I then concentrate on smooth pedaling and steady breathing. And remembering where the turns are :-). After I negotiate the last turn (still getting used to the whole aero bar concept), I start back towards the finish, and it is time to ramp the heart rate for the final couple of beats. That is when the feeling showed up that David warned me about (the "i want to hurl my guts right now" feeling). However, I was almost done, and I decided I could just gut it out. So I pushed through it and finished with a 27:32. Now, the fastest time of the day was something like 22:40, but my time did happen to be the best woman's time (ok, so there were only 4), and also faster than a lot of other guys, so I am feeling good about it!

The Echelon TT is a really nice venue. It's low-key, everyone is super nice and helpful, and it just has a good vibe. I'll definitely go back again! I highly recommend it for anyone who happens to be in Santa Barbara on the 2nd monday of the month at 5:45pm! Now I'm feeling solid about the bike...and ready to race Kern in a few days. Now I just have to let the legs recover from my long weekend rides and this hard effort.


on RAAM training! and monday ramblings this weekend I was hanging out with my coach, Jill, and her teammates, who are in their final stages of training for RAAM (Race Across AMerica). about hard, my legs and body just hurt thinking about it. I attempted to tag along on one of their training rides this weekend, doing the "solvang loop", which is a 90+ (was 95 for me, but I rode some extra miles to meet up with them) loop which goes up the 101, through teh Gaviota tunnel, across to Solvang (bakery stop--yeah), and back over the san marcos pass (otherwise known as hwy 154). At the very end, we get the treat of my favorite descent, the Old San Marcos hill, a 3 mile, super fun technical descent (and killer climb going the other way). So this was a long ride for me, but I got a lot of paceline practice, as there were only 5 of us, and got a long tempo ride. I was afraid of holding them up, or just plain getting dropped, but thankfully my perseverence and ability to ride through pain paid off and I was not left in the dust. Not that I wasn't feeling the pain... It was about 50 miles in when my back started hurting on teh DESCENTS! I then realized that it was sore from all that TT bike darn hips are just not flexible enough. So I had to suffer through that dull ache any time I was tucked down from about mile 45-70. ON the last huge climb, it finally gave up and released, and then I got to enjoy the final few descents :-). Anyway, it was a fun day, the weather was cooperative, and I got to spend 5.5 hours on the bike, which was most fun.

On Sunday, I also did RAAM stuff, but it was a different kind of challenge. I helped them with a practice session. They were practicing rider transitions and the whole radio I got to sit in a car and navigate. Most of the time I was a 'follow car' which meant that I got to give the rider directions, tell them when to turn, when we were blocking traffic, when a transisiton was coming up, as well as various jokes/comments about riding/other fun stuff to keep it light. We had a blast. I truly wish I was able to crew for them on the real thing (although sleeping at weird times, living in a van for 7 days, etc sounds brutal...but not as brutal as RIDING the thing), but alas a conference in France is taking me to Lyon for 8 days at the same time! Anyway, I have the biggest respect for that team of 4 women (the Kalyra Griffin Women's race team-Jill, Sonia, Denise, and Lisa) and what they are doing. They are doing this as a fundraiser for Girls, Inc!

I also got the pleasure of another team TT practice, to try and erase my bad attitude of days prior. THankfully the 2nd practice session went much better...I'm getting more used to the bike, and my teammates and I realized we're all learning this together (we're entering the team TT so-cal championships in a couple weeks) and that all of us had things to learn. Mostly I just had a big-time attitude adjustment, and things are once again rolling along (pun intended) on the 2 aero wheels.

Kern is in a few days! Not sure whether to be scared or excited...but as with most things in cycling, I jump in with both feet (er..wheels? pedals?), so I can't wait!


Friday, May 11, 2007

the first ride...

So yesterday morning I took the TT bike out for its first ride. It was fun, once I got it out of the house! Getting air in the tires of the tri-spoke wheels took a little more effort than I thought it would, but thanks to a presta-schraeder adapter and my trusty compressor, that problem was solved (my floor pump head was too big to fit in the cutout on the wheel..). Getting used to the bike was fine, too. I felt sleek and fast on it, at least I looked fast (see earlier post on looking fast).

After about 20 minutes, I met up wtih 2 of my teammates. They wanted to practice team TT formation, as we have the so-cal/nevada TT team championships on June 2. (note to self: Do NOT try to learn to ride a new bike AND practice speedy TT formation on the same day!) Sure, I say, and off we go. Now, for people who know me that well know that I HATE being bad at something! I mean, really really hate it. So the fact that I had to listen to my teammates (who were trying to be nice and helpful) tell me all these pointers and trips was kind of infuriating! "your seat looks too high," "remember you can't brake when in the paceline," "signal when you're pulling off," "pull off closer," "steady when you pull through (i havent gotten the attachment to get the computer mounted on it yet...and since I'm so bad at gauging speed....this was most difficult)"...It wasn't that any of these comments are bad, or even non-useful! It is just that I am a fiercly independent person, and a bit stubborn, and I sometimes just have to figure things out for myself. Telling me things is all well and good, but until I figure out how something feels, etc...well, its just a moot point. It all just became too much. After about an hour of this I had had enough (well that, and certain parts of my anatomy are screaming bloody murder--2nd note to self: I need a new seat for this bike). Thankfully, a slightly bruised ego is all I have to show for it today. I am not sore, I feel good about the bike, and about the whole 'aero position,' and am once again looking forward to racing and to having fun with cycling.

I'll get to try it out for real in the club TT next Monday. The moment of truth...

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

On Awesome Friends and new TT bikes!

This is the TT bike I will debut at Kern next week! I was lamenting yesterday, on the morning group ride (the same one where we almost got tickets) about how I was going to have to buy clip-on aero bars for my bike for the TT at Kern and for the Team TT championships. David, the guy I was talking to, just happened to have upgraded to a new TT bike recently, and still had his old one! And secondly, we were about the same size! So he graciously offered to loan me his TT bike (the one pictured above)! Cycling friends are the best...I mean, how often is it that people you only know from group rides (ok, and camping at Sea Otter) offer to loan you multi-thousand dollar items to go race with?

I went and picked up the bike last night. The only sad part about it was how sad his poor son was about letting the bike go! The child is nearly 4, completely adorable, and was happy and willing to talk to me...until he realized that I was taking the red bike with me! Upon hearing that, he started was really sad. I tried to explain (as did his father and mother) that I was only borrowing it, and that I would bring it back...but it didn't really work. His dad put it in the car and that was that. Poor kid...

Another friend of mine loaned me the carbon wheels...and now I'm all set! I brought it to the bike shop today, got it all set up, and took it for its inagural ride this afternoon. tomorrow it will go on a longer ride with some real efforts...

Anyway, I'm excited about my new toy..even if it is only a loaner. Maybe he'll make me a good deal on it...


Tuesday, May 8, 2007

why couldn't they just go for donuts?

This morning, on our group ride, we had a run in with the local law was on the way back, after a lovely group ride, on a really warm sunny clear day. We were all having fun, and we were cooling down and chatting as we rode back. We made sure to stop at the lights in Summerland, notorious for bike tickets...although we didn't see anyone. Sometimes we see the cops there, as they like to catch cyclists (nothing better to do I guess). When we do see the cop on his motorcycle, and we are stopped, he always makes fun of us, saying things like "wow, cyclists stpped at a light, it's a miracle..." and things like that. Today, he must have just missed us, and decided to come after us by going on the freeway. We were headed back towards SB coming up to a stop sign, when someone alerted--MAKE SURE YOU STOP...there's a cop on the freeway... He was looking in at us from the freeway...(we were on a frontage road)! The front people didn't hear in time and rolled through...the rest of us stopped. Sure the next freeway exit we hear the sirens. He ended up just going after one guy...and the rest of us got to go. Ack! That was close!!! I guess it pays to be wearing the jersey of the that you won't be singled out! :-)

close call...I really didn't need to start out my day with a $200 ticket!!

A bit frustrating that they don't have anything better to do...where are they when cars do stupid things? Picking on the bikies is just not fair.


Monday, May 7, 2007

Mechanical Issue Solved!!!! this is a tad embarassing...after switching out the following:

1. Large Chainring
2. Chain (from slightly used SRAM to brand new Shimano
3. Cables (pretty worn)
4. Little twisty thing (sometimes known as a 'barrel adjuster')

My bike finally works again! I'm quite certain now, that it was just the little barrel adjuster that was broken! I noticed it being a little 'loose' during the sea otter road race (when I was dropped and had nothing better to think about except why my bike wouldn't shift properly), and I just suggested that it be changed out after numerous other things had not worked. What was happening is the following: The bike would perform perfectly in the stand, and the cable could be adjusted correctly and all shifting would work fine. Then, a few shifts into the race it would stop shifting (i.e. the barrel adjuster was not holding the cable tension and it would slowly change (i.e. shorten) throughout the race), causing immense frustration from me. And then to compensate I would slam the shifter and because I was worried about it not shifting and I had the stop set too far out, the chain would throw right over the top (I have a compact, and a standard derailleur, so there is a gap between the chain ring and the derailleur--a gap that a perfectly tweaked chain can sneak through)! It all makes so much sense now. I have a brand new barrel adjuster (free from LBS-thanks Dave) and all is well!

So now my bike works perfectly...and I am trying not to think about what those races would have been like if I had had such nice crisp shifting then! I do think the Shimano chain ring and shimano chain did improve the shifting as well (although my bike does look silly with shimanos titanium-y looking chain ring, vs. the black carbony FSA crank...).

I will chalk this up to in-experience...and hope that everything I have learned about bike drivetrains will help me or someone else some day! And I'm sure that my trusty bike appreciates all the TLC it has been getting--it has been spotless and sparkling for weeks now!

Ranting about it made me feel better :-)

On Not Racing

So this weekend there was no bike race! Ack! I was in withdrawal for awhile...but instead got to spend most of my weekend on the bike anyway, so it turned out well.

The weather could not have been more beautiful. The only downside is that due to my fair complexion and ability to burn/tan easily, my cycling tan gives away my addiction way too easily. I even have tan fingers with a big line where my short gloves end! Ack...I'm so not a fashion statement these days! But those leg muscles....

Anyway, I re-converge. So this weekend I got to remember how much fun the social rides are! (and tiring, too!). On Saturday, I started out with the normal Echelon ride. It was much bigger than the last few times I had attended, probably because there weren't any nearby races on Saturday. That ride is a reasonable pace through Santa barbara and Goleta, and then there is a rolling section that takes Cathedral Oaks out to Glen Annie, where there is usually a sprint. This week, the speed was not crazy--I was able to stay up near the front without working too hard. I like to be up front cause its' usually safer...but due to the slower speed this week we were all bunched up leading into what is usually the final sprint. As luck would have it, some contact was made and a couple people went down. No one was hurt though, and we were reminded that this really IS a training ride...and that the sprints don't matter THAT much! That excitement passed, and a small group of us headed out to Refugio road for some extra miles. It was a good ride, and I was pleased to see the fitness jump I've made since the last time I went out there. We were going at a reasonable tempo pace, and I didn't get dropped like a rock on the freeway like I used to! I was able to hang in and take advantage of the drafting and felt strong the whole ride. My total for that ride was about 65 miles. It was a beautiful day to be on the bike.

Sunday was another Echelon ride, this one organized out in the Valley. We did a nice figure-8 type loop around Los Olivos, hitting towns including Los Alamos, Sisquoc, solvang, and the wine trail of foxen canyon. Also a lovely ride, good pace, strong people to draft off of (key for me) and a lot of lovely climbing. My legs were feeling a bit beaten up by the end of that ride, as I had done a lot of climbing this weekend...but it was all fun. I met some new people (one of these days I'll actually learn the NAMES of the nice people I ride with), and had a great time. And plus, it's all good practice for I'll have to get used to the repeated beating up of my body on that one!

So...although I didn't race this weekend, I did have a lot of fun social time on the bike..and I realized that I had kind of been missing that when I race all the time! I guess it takes a balance...just like most things in life.


Saturday, May 5, 2007

Cycling and Life..waxing poetic

so, I find myself not racing this weekend, and am using a little of that extra time I have not driving to the middle of nowhere to reflect on what cycling has done for me in the past 9 months. Last month, Trek had a contest where you had to write a 500 word email about what cycling has done for you. They seemed to be looking for women to test new products, be part of ads, etc. I certainly don't think I won the contest....but at least I can re-use the essay I wrote on my blog! :-) Of course I had a feeling I wouldn't win..because all the photos I sent them were me on my Giant Bike...not exactly showing brand support..oops!

Without further adieu...(with a few extra comments added in parenthesis):

Why would I be a good choice for a “Women Who Rides?” Well, because I love what cycling has done for me. In the past 9 months I have 1. Bought my first real road bike 2. Ridden about 6000 miles, 3. Finished my first race (and wasn't last...) 4. Placed well in every race I have entered, 5. Achieved the best fitness level of my entire life 6. Encouraged many other people to become passionate about cycling (the LBS loves me...I give them lots of business by convincing everyone around me to buy fancy bikes), 7. Crashed and came back stronger (broken collarbone, grade 3 separation, 1 broken rib, 2 weeks off the bike), and 8. Love to talk about bikes and all things cycling!

By many measures, 3 years ago I was successful. I was 31 years old, a tenured professor of Mechanical Engineering, living in Santa Barbara, and yet I was suffering from undiagnosed hypothyroidism. I was so tired all the time, about 30 pounds heavier than I wanted to be and I just attributed it to overworking. Thus began a journey of treatment, which was resolved in 2005. Now, you may ask, where does cycling fit into all this? This is where the story gets interesting!

Once I got my energy back, I started running to lose weight. I was running so much that I was a bit worried about ruining my knees. I had friends who cycled, and so completely out of the blue, on the 5th of July in 2006, I bought a road bike. The very next day, I headed for the biggest climb in the area (known for it’s similarity in grade to Alp d’Huez), and up I went! It was exhilarating. The next week, I showed up for the local racing club ‘women’s ride’, and had a blast. A couple weeks later, I went on the co-ed club group ride, and surprisingly could keep up on that, too! So of course the next thing to do was enter a race! It was the end of the season, but exactly one month to the day after buying my bike, I completed my first road race. It was a Pro/1/2/3/4 race with 4s scored separately, and little did I know how hard that would be! I ended up in 6th place, and completely hooked on racing!

In the fall I went to camp, and trained hard all winter, and have had good placements in my races so far this season and I'm having a great time! I’ve done a lot of things in my life, and I love to talk with people about most anything. Cycling is this huge new thing in my life, and a new outlet for stress-relief and enjoyment, on some of the best roads in the country. I have new friends all over the country that I would never have known without the bike (and even more through the blogs). I can’t even remember my life before cycling. I can’t believe what I had been missing out on for so long!

So why should I be a Trek ‘woman who rides?’ Well, because I ride! And it has changed my life.

ps. and on racing notes (since i'm not racing this weekend, I have to salute the people who are)... at the Tour of the Gila, my friend and mentor Dotsie Bausch won stage 3 yesterday! Yeah Dotsie, and best of luck in the GC (she is currently third after 3 stages). And my friend from bike camp, Christina, is racing the 3/4's race there, and after stage 1 yesterday is in third place! Yeah Christina! (she always could smoke me on the hills..)

Thursday, May 3, 2007

On Looking Fast

Thanks to Steve Weixel, my first stage race led to some nice cycling photos, if not the GC result I was hoping for! My friend, Ginger, upon seeing these photos, sent me an email saying "you sure look fast!" upon which I replied "well, maybe some day I will actually BE fast AND LOOK fast" to which, she replied "I didn't mean to say you WEREN'T fast already!"

Looking fast is half the battle, right??


Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Friends and weird places

Sorry for the lack of blogability this week--I've been at a nsf workshp in Reno. Let me just say that if you're not into gambling, Reno is really not a fun place! I couldn't even find good shopping, which is pretty much my second addiction (after bike racing). However, some of my really good friends were here, and so it was a good time to catch up (and play with mac photobooth).

I have also enjoyed 2 days off the bike! I haven't really enjoyed them, but I'm trying to remember the mantra "your workout is only as good as your recovery" and thinking good recovering thoughts...

I am, however, craving my ride tomorrow...and also craving the cool SB air, the smell of the beach through my bedroom window, and the 6am cold wet nose on the face wakeup from my lovely early-rising irish setter, Aidan.