Ok...so 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). Wow...talk 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 riding...my 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 system...so 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!