Friday, July 20, 2007


As I'm completely swamped with work, and there's not much new cycling to report on (i.e. all the other bloggers are covering such interesting topics that anything I can think to write about seems lame and boring...) I am diverting to puppies!

These are my dog Natalie's new babies! I co-own Natalie with a good friend of mine (she lives with my friend right now), and these are her adorable new babies the day they were born earlier this week!


Monday, July 16, 2007

Introducing iPhone! and other DC musings...

So today I'm in our Nation's capital. I'm here for a few days for an A_F_O_S_R program review (for the errant non-geek who manages to find this blog..that is AirForceOfficeofScientificResearch). Tomorrow I give a talk on the wonderful world of building synthetic reversible adhesives that work the same way Gecko's run on walls/ceilings/trees. I actually should be working on that said talk right now...but instead I'm blogging away, and catching up on everyone else's blogs! Addiction, anyone??

Anyway...I got an iphone last week. It's really cool. It's kind of changed how I do things. The web browser is actually functional, unlike the one on my treo which was so small and so slow and annoying, that i NEVER used it. This little thing worked great! Yesterday, while on the bus between the airport and the Metro (I always use public transportation when in DC--one of the few american cities where it really works), I was able to log in and see how the locals were doing in the Cascade stage race (still a bit annoyed that there was no women's race there this year...lame). They were doing well, and today when I checked again, I see Lindsay Blount won the masters 45+ and David Larsen won the 4s! The locals are doing us proud! Way to go!!!!!! I was also able to look up the Metro map on the fly, reply to tons of emails while browsing in the Smithsonian...and keep caught up in the meeting which happened to have NO free (or paid) wireless (the audacity of that is another thing altogether)! Plus, I was able to take a few snapshots while walking around as well. I can even blog (although this blog is coming from my mac...since I did open it to finish working on my talk) from it, complete with photos.

Anyway, i've gotta say that after almost 2 weeks of iphone, I'm really liking the little gadget. The only thing I don't like so far is the battery life, and it's not awful. I have found that if you turn off the wireless, it's just fine. It's very easy to turn on the wireless when you want to look for a hotspot or are in a known network, and having it off saves significant power. I've just trained myself to charge it at night, and I don't have to worry.

Oh well, i'll add the photos later...I must finish that talk and stop procrastinating already!


Thursday, July 12, 2007

On Missed Anniversaries

So I'm wholly expecting my bike to do something evil to me one of these days...because I missed it's anniversary! It was July 5, 2006, which was my introduction into this great sport of road cycling! Prior to July 5, I didn't even OWN a road bike (unless you count the sporty 10 speed Trek I got when i was 12, and promptly grew out of by age 15 or so--and YES, that was a LONG time ago).

It was actually July 3 when I decided to look into buying a road bike. I had been running a lot, and I was a little worried about my running volume and what it would do to my knees/ankles in later life. A few of my friends had been talking about riding up into the hills surrounding SB, and I was in decent shape, so I thought that sounded like fun. I went into Dave Lettieri's shop to "look at bikes." I had a price range in mind, and Dave was cool about it...he let me ride lots of bikes around for as long as I wanted. I had no aspirations of racing, nor did I really even know what racing was all about! I just wanted a bike that could climb those hills...I bought a racing bike. I will admit that I bought the one I bought because of the way it accelerated out of corners...maybe my subconsious liked going fast even then.

So on July 5, my bike and I got together. And now, one year later, and maybe 8000 miles later, we're having a superb relationship. The bike has had some changes, like a new crank, a new bottom bracket, 2 sets of new cables, a new cassette (just HAD to have that 11-26), and new pedals. I now own backup wheels, training wheels, race wheels, aero wheels, a TT bike (ok, so i made a good deal for that one). If someone had told me a year ago that I'd have 4 wheelsets and 2 bikes, I would have told them they were crazy! Just goes to show you how much I know! The bike has gotten me through a bunch of races, 2 victories, many nice placements, an impending upgrade to Cat 3, and cherished new friends associated with this amazing sport! I can't believe I haven't given him (or even a gender...until right this moment) a name! Maybe I should take a poll...

So, happy anniversary! My sweet bike, you have brought me so much joy, brought my fitness up to a level never previously achieved and given me back the fighting competitive spirit that challenges me to climb the next peak, chase down attacks, beat someone to the line, and just enjoy a fine Saturday morning playing with friends. You can't really ask for more than that.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

TT v4.0

Last night I did the local Echelon Goleta Time Trial. I didn't really want to do it, as TT's are really the hardest races for me. I even went so far last Friday as to tell a friend that if I won my race on Saturday, I wouldn't force myself to do the TT...but when it came right down to it, my coach's words were echoing in my brain (you'll get faster at TT's if you just DO them...), and also the realization that I needed to do this one if I was going to have any chance of completing the required 4 to get in the running for the end-of-series awards, so i decided to do it. It was to be my third high-intensity ride in as many days, so the old legs didn't quite have their 'snap,' and I was also running later than I wished I was, so I didn't have my full warmup.

Lately I have been able to push harder than in previous months, so I decided to push the heart rate up a notch today and try to work harder. As it is just a local TT, if I blew up, I'd learn a valuable lesson about how hard I can push myself... As it turned out, it was a really useful experiment! I started the same as always, but I ramped up a little quicker, and my goal was to be about 5bpm higher than last time for the entire time. I felt slow the whole way was windier than last time, and the speed was just not what I was hoping for. Thankfully I settled in and the legs got their normal tired but not dead feeling, and I held steady. Passing 2 people on this stretch did help the ego, as well. Going up the hill by DP I was finally feeling good. I was able to hold my speed up the hill, even though it was really hard, and get around the turnaround. However, I had to STOP for the light at the top of the hill! I did my best rendition of a trackstand, and when that was no longer an option, I kind of turned down the street to keep from having to get off the bike. Ack. The time was just clicking away. AFter that, I screamed down the hill and then again had to STOP at the next turnaround. There was so much traffic! Here i am thinking my time is shot....while fostering an increased motivation to really push it on the final leg in. The tailwind didn't hurt, either! I really got into a good rhythm, but felt super slow when Gary and Pops passed by me. Oh have what you have! I did get the increased motivation to pass a 4th person, and push the heart rate up to 200 to cross the line. My time, once I got it all calculated out was 26:44, a good 40 seconds faster than my first effort on this course. In addition, it was good enough to win the women's division. Maybe next month there won't be cars in the way! Maybe all these hard efforts are paying off and I'm finally able to push a little more power. Maybe it was just luck, or the lucky water bottle i had borrowed. I haven't yet looked at my average HR, but I'm guessing it was 185/187ish, which is a good 7 beats higher than my last TT effort.

Oh well...I sure hope these are making me stronger!


Saturday, July 7, 2007

V is for Victory! (or Very happy I didn't crash)

Finally, i have an actual race to report on! It seems like ages since I raced, as my last few efforts were all TT's or TTT's, which just aren't that interesting to report on! However, today, me and my teammate took the trek down to La Mirada for a circuit race. I would always prefer a road race...but at this time in the season, it seems that crits are where its at, so it was were I had to be!

I had to get up at 3:30am for this one! Considering that I went to sleep at 11, this was just not enough sleep! However, I can catch up tonight! The circuit was 2 miles long. There was a steady climb between turns 2 and 3, and then flat/easy descent to turn 4, with an uphill finish. It was a good course. The field was pretty big. They ran the 3/4 fields together, but they were scored separately. There were 30-40 starters...not sure exactly how many, but I definitely thought it was one of the larger women's 3/4 fields. I hadn't pre-ridden the course, so lap one was the learning lap for me. Thankfully no one went crazy from the gun so I had some time. I determined the hill could be big ringed (thanks to my compact setup), and learned about the turns. The field was a bit touchy, so there was more braking than I prefer. Someone even tried to give me the constructive feedback to use my brakes less....but alas there is not much you can do when someone in front of you over-corrects and the accordion affect helps. I am all for using your body to slow down...but in extreme cases sometimes a small tap of the brakes is just necessary... At one point I nearly was pushed into a traffic cone, but managed to casually avoid it....

So the hammer went down at the start of 2 laps to go. A couple folks at the front started drilling the hill. Later (i.e. after the race) I learned that someone was worried about the mens55+ race lapping us and thought that they might neutralize the main field but let the break go if one were to be created, and was trying to create a breakaway, which didn't stick. I did, however, keep that break in check, and felt pretty good going into the final lap. On the final lap, things were calm until the backside of the course, when you could feel some intensity building. I knew I had to get up towards the front if I was going to have any chance in the field sprint. I moved up to the front, and made the conscious decision to take the final turn from the outside. THe final turn back to the start/finish was a downhill turn, to an uphill finish. The course also significanly widened to 4 lanes following the turn. I decided that if I was outside, I could take the turn fast, and go outside, creating a bit of a longer line, but I would avoid any mayhem and could hopefully go up the side and grab a wheel. And that's exactly what I did! I took the turn flat out, and had tons of momentum for the hill. I saw people attack and got out of the saddle to respond. I pushed hard and accelerated quickly out of turn 4 up the hill, but at the same time as I was going hard, I heard that dreadful crash sound off to my right. My peripheral vision saw a person flip up. I was so far away from it on the outside that I just kept going. I was able to grab a wheel of someone (blue and white kit....don't know who you are), and she took me right into the final sprint finish. I popped out and around her and sprinted in.

I didn't know how I did, and soon the 3/4 combined results were posted and I had gotten 7th in the combined field. I was happy with that, as I felt good about my ride. My sprint was slightly tempered by the worry about hearing that big crash...but overall I felt good. That feeling turned to GREAT when I found out that I won the cat 4 race! Yeah!!! My teammate got 3rd in the cat 4's as well.

The girls involved in the crash did not fare so well. When I rode back to bring them some water, they were all coherent and ok, but it looked like there was at least one or 2 shoulder issues, a concussion or 2, and a lot of road rash. It kind of shook me. Cycling is not for the faint of heart, and it IS dangerous!

Anyway, it was a good return to racing for me. I hope the folks who crashed are all ok and heal up quickly. There were also a couple of crashes in the Mens 5s as well as at least one of the masters categories (and I left for the long slog through the LA traffic before any of the other groups had finished). An interesting quote from Steve Weixel, who was racing in the Mens 5s.

Me: Did you get caught behind the crash?
Him: Yeah
Me: What happened?
Him: Not completely sure....but at one point i saw a WHEEL rolling across the course, with half a FORK still attached!

Let's hope the other fields had safer races.