Thursday, November 20, 2008


It is always fun when you finally figure out something new. In my case, it was during my last cyclocross race when I finally learned how to 'leap' back on the bike after barriers. And even better when someone captures the event on camera!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

"stop sucking, already!!"

is the motto of the day. you had to be there.

So this fall, I have decided to take up 'cross. Motivated by some friends who were always talking about how much fun it was, my desire to improve my bike handling skills, my desire to not get lazy/fat in the off-season, well, and just curiousity caused me to try cyclocross this year. I was a little late getting started...I just started practicing 2.5 weeks ago, but now it is all systems go! My first race was last weekend, but I had a busy week, and didn't quite ever get around to writing a race report. So today I have 2 race reports! I'll try to keep them short.

SpookyCross (Irvine): This was my first-ever 'cross race. The course was pretty easy as far as cross courses go, which was good for my first race. I took the line with a LOT of other women...Dot said it was the biggest women's so-cal cross race ever! I took off fast at the start, and got a good position, and then just rode hard. I slid out in one turn, and fell over another time when a guy crashed right in front of me leaving me nowhere to go. Nothing like a little dirt to make things fun. I ended up in 3rd place! It was really fun. My new training buddy and friend, KimL, got 8th (it was her first race, too). Very fun all around. There were 5 or 6 santa barbara 'crossers there and it was so nice to have people cheering and encouraging. And I've never gotten a beer on a road podium. Sweet!

ConvertCross (Ventura--Lake Casitas): This race seemeed like it was at home, since I pass by Lake Casitas on bike rides on a regular basis. Let me just say that the local effort was outstanding, and it was great to see people just coming out to cheer us on! Awesome. So I raced the 3/4's again. There was again a strong field. I didn't have a good start position, but on the first straightaway I used my road skills and powered around most of the field into a good spot in 3rd. I sat there for awhile, and even made it up to 2nd for awhile before dropping my chain. Not only did I drop my chain, but it got all tangled in my derailleur and was a big old mess. I did catch up again, and the girl in 2nd and I battled it out for most of the race. My turning still needs some serious work...but I feel good about the barriers and runups. I also was thrilled that I was able to bunny-hop a little log... ( I just learned how to do this a couple days it was awesome to do it right in a race, more than once!) Afterwards, I was so tired I had to just sit on the ground for awhile so as not to pass out. Another 3rd place! Yippeeeeeee.

Up and over

Battling it out

My cheering section was, well, in a league of their own! Marian gets the award, though :-).

Ciao!! (photos were taken by RTinney)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Nat the Brat

This blog is called 'of Dogs and Bike Racing,' after all, so it would be good to occasionally put some 'of dogs' content up! Well, today, there is actually canine content worth bragging about! Little Natalie, despite her small stature, used her good looks, athletic prowess and sweet personality to pull out a huge win on Sunday! She was winners b*tch (it is what they call a female dog after all) for a 4 point major, and then took best of winners as well! She couldn't have showed better for me, and was so much fun! Plus, she has let her win go directly to her head, growing an insatiable ego that seems to have affected the 'manners' section of her brain. Although I can't be certain which dog did it, one of them decided to take a bite out of a cake on the counter last evening when I had folks over! I'm guessing it was Miss Natalie...

In our class...round 1.

Best of Breed Competition, Round 3

Finally the "win" shot. The "win" photo is the hardest part for me!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Welcome Natalie!!!

Roclyn Natalie Attired

Since Linc died, Aidan has been lonely. He was pretty much never an 'only dog.' He always had Linc around. Over the past couple months, Aidan has been less energetic, more mopey, less interactive. I finally realized that he must be lonely. Thanks to a really great friend, who also happens to be an Irish setter breeder, Natalie came to live with us on Friday! Natalie is a 2 year old irish setter (who also happens to be Aidan's neice). She is beautiful and sweet, and has the silliest personality. She walked right into my house Friday like she owned the place, and has never looked back! She stole all of Aidan's toys, she chews his bones, and she tells him when and where he can go, and you know what? He loves it! He is more active than he's been in weeks! And he smiled more than a few times this weekend, which is something he hasn't done in awhile.

And as an added bonus...I have a show dog in the house again! And her personality is contagious! She is so darn much fun!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

the things you hear on group rides...

Overheard at the start of Worlds, a local Sunday morning group ride

girl 1 "I can't believe how lame professors are"
girl 2 "yeah, they sure don't do much"
girl 1 "I can't believe they don't even show up for their own exams! I mean, at least have the nerve to show up for your own exam! We have to show up!"
girl 2 "yeah"

At that point, I started chuckling, and stopped paying much attention. I was plotting a witty comeback, but then I got distracted. It was a bike ride, after all, and I started having fun playing around, and stopped wondering about it. I started thinking about it again on the way back, after the sprint, but I looked around for those girls, and they were gone. Too late...

I guess people really do think all we do is teach a class now and then and just sit around...when in fact the teaching is such a miniscule part of the job, it's actually laughable! Sure, sometimes we don't show up for final exams. But that is becuase we have worked our travel schedule so that we fly out AFTER the last day of instruction, so that we WON'T miss student time, to go to conferences, or to meet with research collaborators, or to recruit new graduate students, or to serve on national committees or proposal reviews, or meet with program managers who fund our research.

Oh...and to any UCSB students who might read this blog: Sometimes your professors race their bikes, AND show up on group rides! :-)

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Ok, so I was feeling like I had pretty rotten luck today. But in context of a bigger world, my life isn't really so bad. I went on a 60+mile bike ride, my house is not burning down, I didn't have to evacuate, and I even found some clean air to breathe! And I'm at my house, and already thinking about my bike ride tomorrow....but when reflecting on it, my bike ride today was sort of a funny story, so I'll try to tell it with some sort of brevity (fat chance).

This morning I went on the 8am group ride. It was speedy on the way out, as is often the case, but I was having fun. I got dropped on the climbs, as I often do, but I wasn't last, and I was feeling surprisingly good, so I decided to go with the group around the Lake. It was a fun ride. I didn't just sit on the back, I rotated through, and successfully reached 'really-tired-but-not-bonking'. I was pretty sure I could at least hang on until the freeway, but then I got a reprieve when someone got a flat. In contrast to the guy in front of me, who was saying "damn, damn damn" under his breath, probably because we were no longer going to break some sort of speed record back to town...or because he had to be back at 11...or...well, who really knows. But I, was secretly kind of happy for the little break and time for my heart rate to drop below 180 (just a guess...I wasn't wearing any sort of data measuring device). Someone actually said I was riding well, and that made me kind of happy to hear :-). Anyway, I decided in the interest of not holding folks up, that I would ride on ahead while the flat was being changed (it was taking a LOOOONG time), and then they would catch me in a couple minutes. The only problem with that plan was that I got a flat myself, not a minute after leaving! My tire had a big cut, but I managed to boot it with a dollar and put it back together quickly (quicker than the other flat of the ride)...thus not making the group who had by then caught up to me, wait very long. All seemed well, and we got on the freeway. I tried to do everything I need to in order to stay attached when the hammering begins: Start up near the front, don't let a gap form, if you are going to blow up, at least have the sense to lead the guy behind up to close the gap you're about to make, etc. I did all these things...but when I did finally have to get out of the paceline or die, I rotated to the back, and just as I was catching back onto the forward line, the tire boot failed and I flatted again. The only problem was, that we were on the freeway, so my yelling went unheeded, and since i was the last one in line, fastly becoming the DROPPED one in line, no one heard me. So there I was, on the freeway with no way to change my tire (i.e. note to self--why don't you carry TWO tubes and cartridges...). Oops. So I made a couple of phone calls, but of course no one heard them because THEY WERE ON THE FREEWAY and it was loud. So I decided to ride the rim until the next exit. It wasn't that far, maybe 1.5 miles or so. I did that, and then when I got off the freeway, I realized that 1. I have no friends or 2. All of my friends are out doing fun things like riding their bikes and not answering their cell phones. I hope it's #2! I decided I would ride on the rim to the nearest town and go to a bike shop. That was going to be about 5 miles....and I had resigned myself to the fact I might trash my rim by then. I also was rather hopeful I would flag someone down. Although that plan wasn't working. Two cyclists passed me when I was thump thump thumping up the road, and I actually yelled and asked if they had any tubes, and they looked at me like I wasn't speaking english! Hmmm...Note to self: Continue your practice of asking people who look in trouble if they actually are. (maybe I look normal riding a flat tire?) Finally, my friend Olivia came to the rescue, when she got done with her bike ride and got my message. I applaud her for actually driving 20 miles to come get me, after listening to my rather irate message :-).

So a few hours later, one iced coffee, one veggie breakfast burrito, a little tire swapping, an attitude adjustment, and I'm feeling significantly better. I can even see the humor in all this.

Strangely enough, though, this is the thought that keeps running through my little mind: If you were a little bit faster, and not hanging on for dear life at the back, maybe they would have heard you and averted all this... The problem is, unlike fixing a flat(when you have the supplies), writing too-long blog posts, and inventing things, getting faster isn't quite so easy!

I guess if it was easy, everyone would do it!?
I'll be out again tomorrow morning in endless pursuit of my quest to become faster.


PS. And I'll be hoping that the weather cooperates and the fire can be brought under control. Speaking of which, I better post this soon, before the nightly power outage kicks in (the past 3 nights the power has gone out right around now..)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Drag racing...

on a bike is cool!

I just got home from my ride and it's 10:15...but like I told my buddy Marian as we were riding home, I have my excuses all lined up for why I get dropped from the group ride in the morning...

But it was fun!

Marian and I went to check out the Fixed-gear Drag Races they have on Wednesday nights in downtown SB. It is a totally different crowd than those I usually ride with, but after Dave's fun report (see ChickenRanch Team Blog) on it last week, I just had to see what I was missing! Marian said it was fun, so off we went! She informed me on the way down that I had to carry the 'beverages' in my pack, because it was bigger than hers. She also informed me that she was more of a 'heckler' than a racer, so she wasn't going to race. I said I was just going to watch, too...but come on, those who know me know that I'm not one to let a competition pass me by without trying it!!

We get there....a side street in between a warehouse and a garbage truck repository. Lovely. It was dusk, and the riders were gathering. I felt about 15 years too old, and like I had the wrong bike. I don't own a fixed gear i had to just go in one gear on the road bike. They called us up for qualifying....and off I went. I'm not sure how long the course was...but it took all of 23.79 seconds for me to ride it in the qual round. I went pretty hard, but I didn't have the gear chosen exactly right.

In a few minutes, M comes over and tells me that I made it through the qualifying round. Ok...what does that mean? That means I get to race against someone else in round 1. Yippeeeee! Ok, so the guy I got seeded with is a 16 year old kid! It comes to our turn, and we start. I am in a harder gear this time, so it takes me a bit to get on top of my gear. I suck his wheel for a bit, and pass him about 2/3 of the way through. I win, and make it to round 2! I wonder how that poor kid feels about being beaten by a 35 year old 'girl' (I use the term loosely). On to round 2 . I start to get worried when I figure out the guy I'm racing against (Matt) is the guy who is kind of running the thing! Ack. Thankfully no one told me until AFTER that he has won the event before.... Needless to say it was no contest. By the time I got on top of my gear, he was too far in front to even think about. Oh well. My 60 seconds of fame were over shortly after they began. I don't know who won, because I had to start the ride home before the next round began.

Some of my roadie friends were out there....they really have to all get out and race next week! Unfortunately if they all race, my chances of making it out of qualifying will significantly reduce....but hey, bring it on! Dave put in a good showing, and the people were nice and welcoming, even to us 'roadies.'

Here's the video of me in Round 1, and Dave in Round 1.

I'm hooked! I could get used to these 20 second races.... :-)


ps. I need to get a video camera so I can record Marian's every move. It would be priceless...

Since we don't have a track...

Sounds like fun!!

Monday, June 9, 2008


I have awesome friends.

I had a business trip last week. A week in Hilton Head, SC. No riding, no forced exercise...I proclaimed it my "mid season break" after last month's VeloNewz' training article said it was a useful thing to do!

I hang out with a lot of athletes...people who are very driven and don't miss a workout, and feel bad when they don't ride...and I always thought I was one of those people. Until...

I was off the bike for 10 days. Secretly, I didn't miss it one bit. I was having too much fun working (yes, sometimes work can be fun), sailing, swimming in the much-warmer Atlantic ocean, playing in the sand, trying to get my phone to work in the hotel (lost cause--doesn't anyone care about contacting the outside world when they are on Hilton Head?), talking to people (networking?), listening to talks, giving talks, drinking (water and more interesting beverages--it was in the 90's (and humid) the whole time), eating at the Squat & Gobble, etc.

I rode my bike yesterday for 4 hours. It was fun.

When I got home...I opened my courtyard door to find these:

said "because every house needs a gnome" and I'm guessing the teeny Jesus is there so I don't actually have to ride my TT bike to "see Jesus 4 times" as Mee-Wee-Uhn likes to do.


Friday, May 23, 2008

In Memory of Lincoln

Wyttsend Loaded for Bear, CGC (aka. Leapin' Lincoln)

April 22, 1995-May 23, 2008

May he leap freely again with no pain.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Kern--The Rest of the Story

Well, since I'm sure race reports will come out in due time, and there will be plenty of those, I thought I would dwell on some of the other "fun" that went on at Kern. Those who were there already know all this...and those who weren't will never really actually I'm not sure what the point is to all this, but...some Kern randoms:

On the way to the races on day 2, we had to stop for cows in/on/near the road. Not once, but many times! Here is a photo I took during one of these stops. Over the course of the weekend I saw: Cows, Calves, snakes (2, both alive and dead), spiders, ticks, squirrels, buzzards, other birds, heard frogs, a bunny, and an assortment of lizards.

Day 2's road race started and finished at a cemetary! Kind of eerie, and yet cool. This was just a weird day...on lap 1, at mile 2, we went neutral for a bit so a girl could stop her bike from making this annoying ticking noise (her speed sensor was hitting her wheel magnet....). Then, a few miles later, we (the cat 3 peloton) again stopped, this time to take a pee break! How pro do you have to be to take a pee break? It was certainly a race first for me... The follow car got a good show!

I have such mixed feelings about Kern which changed throughout the weekend. I went into it very excited. I had such a good race last year, and so much fun that I was looking forward to it again. My training has been going ok, and I really thought it would go better than SeaOtter for me. After the TT, I was pretty mentally beat-up. That effort took a lot more out of me than I would have hoped, mostly because of the heat, and it was hard to get re-motivated for days 2 & 3. In addition, I have been fighting some inner demons about racing lately, and they came back to haunt me on Day 2 as well. I am usually mentally very tough but sometimes things out of your control affect you more than you know...and I was a bit of a victim to that on Day 2. Thankfully by the evening, I had mostly compartmentalized everything, but was still pretty blown apart about posting a less-than-stellar hill climb, and didn't sleep well at all. Sunday I decided to work really hard on the "have fun" part, and try to be realistic about the results. This is against my very nature, and it is so hard. However, I think I did ok with it. I even sat up a couple of times to wait for others in my field so we could work together, when I got gapped by the leaders on a steep climb. However, that call turned out to be a poor one, as the other folks near me didn't have anything left, and I didn't want to be out in the heat any longer than I had to be! So I got 25 miles of solo riding to think and ride and bake in the 100+ heat! I got 6th at the end of the day, both in the stage and overall.

Here's me with the $20 (in fives) I managed to win :-).

And here's Susie, with the significantly more that she won!

And here's a shot of some of the Santa Barbara area women near the finish of the final days RR. We all look happy it's over!

After all that, I'm glad I did it...I just wish I was: 1. skinnier, and 2. faster! I guess both of those things are variables that I have control over, though, so watch out Kern next year!


Friday, May 16, 2008

Kern Day One (or...baking in Bakersfield)

Well, I survived the first day of my second was hot and windy. I am kind of tired and dehydrated (even after drinking 1 recovery drink, 2 water bottles, 5 gatorades, about 5 glasses of water at dinner, and 2 diet cokes (ok, so the diet coke didn't help, but it sure tasted good...) so this will be short and sweet.

It was the worst I have ever felt on a bike. The temperature was well over 100, although I'm not sure how much! I didn't really want to know. And it was windy, too. The wind was so hot, however, that it felt like being in a convection oven (I can only assume that's what being baked feels like). Although on a good note, I accomplished the following:

1. Finished.
2. Didn't throw up (came mighty close though)
3. Didn't blow up/pass out/ride off the road
4. Achieved my max heart rate at the finish (201)
5. Ran a higher avg. heart rate than I thought previously possible without blowing up...
6. Felt like I was racing in a sauna
7. Didn't drop my chain this year!
8. Got 4th.

And on a great note, my teammate Susie won!!!! She has over a minute on me, and with us sitting in 1st and 4th, we'll have our work cut out for us tomorrow. Tomorrow we have a 50 mile RR in the morning (with 7 time bonus opportunities), and a 13 mile Gibraltar-style hillclimb in the afternoon.
(sorry about the image quality..the lighting was very poor in the hotel hallway)


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Twas the night before Kern...

and I'm excited!

I'm sure this year will be epic as well.
My goal is to have fun.

Oh....and I'm feeling fast!


(photos courtesy of Weixel)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Waxing poetic...

...or maybe just waxing.

Anyway, I apologize to my faithful blog readers (all 3 of you) for not posting in awhile. It has just been one of those months I'd rather just forget. The whole world has seemed rather "blah" and nothing has seemed worth blogging about! So maybe blogging about not blogging is interesting? (I think not).

So the month in recap. I raced a lot. I didn't blog about any of them. The short recap:
Island View Crit: Super fun until I crashed about 1/3 in, and my bike got messed up so I couldn't continue.....bummer. I got to watch my teammate have a fun race, though...

Ojai 3/4: A bit sore from crashing the previous day, and a 7:01am start time. I just wasn't quite feeling it, and didn't quite have the fight in me. I got 10th. (again, my teammate had a great race, finishing 4th)

Ojai P1/2/3: In order to redeem myself (or maybe just beat myself up more) I toed the line for the women's 1/2/3 crit. It was kind of cool to just BE at the starting line with such a large group of amazing women. So many of the big teams were there...that in itself was cool. I didn't have unrealistic goal was to hang on as long as I could, and race until I got lapped. It was 100 degrees, and a hilly course, and my 2nd race of the day, so I knew it was goign to be painful. And it was. I made it through 35 minutes of the 60 minute race, and I was ok with that. It was actually fun at times. I made it a grand total of 6 laps before I got gapped, and I was ok with that, too.

Sea Otter: Let's just forget it ever existed. It was not an A race for me, and I knew my climbing wouldn't be in gear, and news-flash, I didn't have enough! The circuit race nearly killed me. It was demoralizing, and it was really hard to get up the next morning and do the road race (which was not a good one for me last year--even more reason to not want to do it at all). However, the RR went better for me. Although I got gapped on the climbs, I was able to chase back on in every case, and rode the entire race with the lead group. I only got gapped on the final climb up to the finish, when my legs proclaimed loudly that they were done with this climbing crap, and should NOT be required to do it any more. Oh well...I actually felt ok about this race, even though my result was still only 12th place.

I skipped Devil's punchbowl and the following day crit in the interest of having a weekend away from racing to find the joy in cycling again. The weather was beautiful in SB, and it would have worked out perfectly if someone didn't manage to take me out in Sunday Worlds! I mean completely and quickly. I'm back to form now, but unfortunately my poor bike is not! I am looking at new bikes today. And I've had a loaner bike for the past week. Anyway, I guess if you're a racing bike, it's not a bad way to go....

So Kern is coming up...and my expectations are different this year. I'm going to go and have fun. I know it is going to be hard, the longer distances in the 3s are going to be no picnic. But Kern has such a special atmosphere, everyone is so competitive yet supportive, it's just a really unique thing. I wouldn't miss it for anything, even if I'm not quite where I want to be form-wise.


Monday, March 31, 2008

I thought SoCal was supposed to be warm and sunny?

My San Dimas Race Report
Stage 1: The hill climb. So I am no climber. Last year, I thought I was a climber, but that was just because I didn't know how to ride on the flats. Now I have that figured out....and I've realized climbing is just NOT my strong suit. Not that I mind it or anything....but I'm just not the tiny speedy type! Plus, with my injury last fall, it is still pretty early season for peak in sight yet. So my goal for the TT was to ride steady and hope to be in the mix afterwards. I rode my most consistent TT to date, so I was really happy with it. I wasn't happy that it was only good for 23rd place...but alas, you take what you got, and that's what I got! I should have been happier that the weather was nice.

Stage 2: RR. The 3/4 road race was supposed to be at 8am. The hotel I was staying at was only about a mile from the start/finish, so I just warmed up at the hotel, and rode over. This seemed so cool--to RIDE to a bike race. The only problem was....the start was delayed, and it was extremely COLD! I guess a park gate was locked shut, and they had to open it before the start. So we all froze. I was physically shaking by the time the start actually happened, a good 30 minutes late. It would have taken me a long time to warm up, except that about 1.5 miles in, someone slammed their brakes ahead of me, and I had to do some evasive riding to avoid causing the folks behind more issues, and nearly ran into a lane barrier. After being happy that no one crashed, my heart was in my throat and I was suddenly plenty warmed up! Ack! There went a match... Anyway, soon after, I said to Olivia, who was next to me "I have GOT to get out of this spot, this is terrifying," and with that, she sees a hole I couldn't get to, and is suddenly right up in front, exactly where I wanted to be! Damn, she's good!" Anyway, that was that, and soon I had my position settled again. However, the race would continue to go like that for me. Some of the teams were really organized, and I was just not picking good wheels, and found myself jettisoned around the pack more than I would have liked. I guess I need to work on reacting quicker, but I'm learning, so that is good. On the last time up the climb (there was a KOM climb in the middle-nothing too crazy, actually a pretty good climb for someone like me who can at best consider herself a power climber, and at worst not a climber at all), I got behind a bad wheel and had to use a lot to pop around her, finding myself gapped at the top. I chased back on because there was a really awesome descent, and I love to descend. That was when my "see your life flash before your eyes" moment occured. I was catching up on the descent...spun out, full on chase, and there was a spot where the road turns, and then there is a climb. There were 3 girls on the climb, going rather slow. They were all towards the center line, and I decided to go around them on the right, as there was no room between them and the center line to go left. It should not even have been close...but as I was approaching at high speed, the one girl pops and swerves to the right! I screamed something (have no recollection as to what) and changed my line, narrowly missing her as she realized what was going on and heard her say "oh,sorry!" I couldn't breathe or swallow for a split second...but somehow I kept pedaling and managed to catch back onto the lead group. Yippee! Thank goodness for all those mornings of hammering with the guys. Alas, as soon as I hit the back of the group, someone attacked, and a bunch of girls went. I was too far back to respond quickly and had to dig deep. I found a hole and bounced through the people who did not bridge, and then put my head down and hammered. I caught the lead group (one other girl bridged as well) just as we were in the finishing sprint. I didn't get to pass anyone, but I did finish with the same time as the leaders, in the pack sprint, so I was happy with my effort. I had given it my all, made up for some errors, and worked my a** off. 16th place. hmph!

Alas, when I toed the line for Stage 3 yesterday, it was anything but sunny in SoCal! The raindrops started at the exact moment the race begain, and it rained for the entire crit! I usually love to race crits, but racing with 50 cat 3/4's in the pouring rain was more than I cared to deal with! There were no crashes in the race, which was excellent, even when someone dropped their chain! The problem was that my glasses fogged up completely and I couldnt see a shred. With 2 to go, I decided to sacrifice some position to fix the problem. I had no pocket to throw them in (darn skinsuits), so I went back a bit, got to the right and threw them in the grass. Then I had to work my way back up to the front for the sprint, and never quite got there. Oh well...decisions decisions. I can always second guess myself, but at the time I decided that seeing was better than crashing, but I really did lose position and any hopes of a podium. Anyway, I saw this morning online that I got 14th.

So my results are nothing to write home about. I don't know my final GC yet, but it was 19th after stage 2, so I'm assuming it is about that now, as well. I did have a ton of fun, though, and learned a lot, and got a few more races in the experience bag. I'm chomping at the bit for Garrett Lemire and Sea Otter now!!

Photos coming when I find some!


Monday, March 17, 2008

Finally a Race Report!

LA Circuit Race (is it still a circuit race when it is just on one road with 2 u-turns????)

A few of us girls ventured south for
the LA circuit race. There were actually 7 SB area women in the women's
3/4 race today--a great showing by the locals!

I was feeling quite organized--I even left the house on time (ok, 1
minute later than planned) this morning. However, due to a little time
loss picking up Marian (new cat 3 in the area) I was late getting to
Olivia's. I knew I was in trouble when Olivia called me on our way
there, and there was no salutation to be had, only a terse "where are
you." Oops...we weren't THAT late! Anyway, we did finally leave the SB
area, after our much needed Starbucks stop. In Starbucks, I asked
Olivia if she was nervous, and got "no....(small pause here), well, only
about not getting there in time!" Oops again. On a good note, we
managed to fit 3 people, 3 bikes, 3 trainers, 3 duffel bags o' random
stuff all in one small VW Golf! We were probably the only ones who
actually followed the directions on the race flyer which said "please
prevent global warming and consider carpooling to the race in cars of 3
or more!"

We fit ALL of this into the car? How are we ever going to get it back in there...

Anyway, we did get there, and got out of the car only to be nearly blown
over by the wind! Hmmm. It was going to be a chilly day at the races.
Turned out that the riding direction was exactly perpendicular to the
wind...pure crosswind the WHOLE course. As I was getting readyW3/4 ,
Olivia was following me around like the paparazzi--I felt so famous.

On to the race....the race was about as interesting as one could expect
from a flat road with a U-turn at each end! There were about 30 women
in the 3/4 race. Susan Farber was also racing for Chicken Ranch, and I
had "stealth teammates" Olivia and Marian. As Olivia said...(based on
her inability to fit into the new kits), "she is just too big for the
chicken ranch britches," but can still be a "stealth chicken rancher."
(note--Olivia is a lot smaller than I I'm not sure that this is
quite accurate) And stealth teammate she was! She attacked on lap 2
because "the race was too slow" and I got to see who was strong when
they chased her down. I was happy to block for her, even if she was
wearing the frog colors of Echelon :) . The race really came down to
the final sprint. Marian attacked on the final corner, which was too
early, but managed to string it out a tad. I had a pretty good wheel
going into the sprint, managed to time it better than I have all season,
but I still have some work to do. The wheel I picked didn't quite get
me where I needed to be so I had to do some dancing and managed to get
3rd, still accelerating at the line.

Checking the results...and watching races in the background.

The rest of the Ranchers...
Susan Farber 8th
(stealth racer) Olivia Walling 14th
(stealth racer) Marian Hunting 18th

We stuck around just long enough to hear the race results and pick up
the cycle computer that I managed to win, and then it was back home,
with a nice stop in Malibu for lunch. Good up, San Dimas!

How'd everyone else do this weekend?


Monday, March 10, 2008

Too sad for words.

Two cyclists (one an olympic hopeful) were killed in the Bay area yesterday morning when a law enforcement officer crossed a double yellow line and ran into them. A third is in the hospital. I was in the Bay area yesterday for some work was a beautiful day, the kind of day where being out on the bike is a joy. My thoughts go out to the families and friends of these folks whose lives were cut short while doing something so many of us love to do.

Life is too short.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Cold Case...solved (with forensic analysis)!

Over the past couple of months, people have been offering lots of opinions on my riding style and form on the bike. Now for those of you who know me, know I don't take criticism well, but I've been trying to suck it up and learn from those who have oodles more experience than I do! I've learned so much from my friends about riding and racing, and I really do appreciate it. I really have fun with my cycling buddies, and they keep me on my toes. However, it is not always easy. It has been frustrating over the past couple of months when my form came into question. After watching me race at Mothballs last month (and again in Arizona), the consensus from the gallery was that I was bouncing too much on the seat...speculation was that my seat was too low...and that I was spinning too easy a gear. I also offered that maybe my pedal stroke wasn't good...although I had been working on my pedal stroke, so I wasn't sure about that. I asked a few people about my seat height, and people gave all sorts of opinions, including this classic "it's ok to look funny on the bike if it works for you." Anyway, while all this has been going on, I have been slowly losing confidence in my riding. I did feel myself bouncing more, and just feeling inefficient. When gaps formed on the fastest rides, I couldn't always hang on. People would say "you're stronger than that, you need to ride tougher." (however, when I look at my data from those rides and see those surges into the high 190's...I was just not sure how much tougher I could ride!).

So yesterday morning, preparing for the Saturday AM group ride...I finally decided to play with my seat height. I was kneeling down by the bike, oiling the chain and loosening the seat tube clamp. I go to stand up, and I happened to put my hand on the nose of the seat to boost myself up. Low and behold, the seat flexed a lot more than I expected. I pushed on the middle of it, and it flexed a LOT. I decided that this needed more investigation. So I took the seat off, and then i could clearly feel that there was at least one crack in the plastic was flexing in a VERY bad way. So I am intrigued now, so I cut apart the plastic fake-leather coating, and sure enough, there is a huge crack right across the middle, and the seat is in 3 pieces, held together only by fake leather and the Ti rails (it is a specialized top of the line women's saddle)! Hmmmm.

Anyway, I swapped seats with my TT bike, and went off on my bike ride. This weekend's rides were the strongest I've had in awhile. No more bouncing, no more feeling squishy when I need to put power into the pedals. No getting dropped or even feeling close to it....well, except if you count the flat I got while rolling back into Santa Barbara today.

The embarassing part of this is that I think I've been riding with a broken saddle since I crashed in late November! I am guessing that would be the only impact hard enough to break this saddle the way it cracked. I guess this explains why my masseuse has been complaining about me being asymmetric....and why my bike shorts are all rubbed on the left side but not the right, an issue I never had before. The princess and the pea I most certainly am not!

I'm sure hoping my next set of races finds me in better form! (speaking of which, my race report from Az can be found on my team's blog)

Photos of the seat autopsy forthcoming when I download them...


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It's no fun being a "3" least a Female 3 that is.

The Ronde van Brisbane only has a women's 3 race on the first day. The circuit race, no luck. There is a women's 4 race that day, but nothing for the 3's (or the 1's or 2's either...)

The Cascade Cycling Classic only has a Pro/1/2 women's race.

The Mt. Hood Cycling Classic only has a Pro/1/2 women's race.

Oh well...guess I better get stronger so I can race with the guys. But by then I'd probably also be strong enough to be a 2! (that is, if there were races to enter so I could get upgrade points)

There's always Kern...


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Crying Game or Lust on a Schwinn (guest Blog)

(I have a guest blogger today... who happens to write better than enjoy!)

by Sadie LeSueur

Cyclists take a perverse interest in the details of other people’s crashes. How many feet did so-and-so slide? How much road rash? Did he cry like a guy (dry gasping) or like a girl (moist sniffling)? We rarely take such a keen interest in our own accidents and, in fact, attempt to de-narrativize them, probably to avoid humiliation. I was recently enjoying a good gossip about some crashes, and I realized that my first sexual encounter occurred as a result of my first massive cycling wipeout. I had apparently de-narrativized them so successfully that both had been long forgotten.

I was riding a Schwinn metallic yellow-green, banana seat bike with the white plastic handlebar basket decorated with pink and yellow Daisies. It was my first bike. I got it for Christmas the year before when I was not yet 6. My older brother and I got bikes at the same time, and he unknowingly tormented me by learning to ride it immediately while it seemed, in comparison, to take me forever. It was a heinous crime, and I cried like a little girl (wet gasping). His other early crimes included being able to saw a piece of plywood in half and being allowed to walk without an adult on our balcony, which had no railing. People imagine that children are innocent and pure, but this is a fiction adults embrace so that they can patronize precocity and pretend that they were once entirely good. In fact, I hated him with a pure and childlike hatred for being better than me at biking and sawing and standing at a great height.
I was cycling comfortably once a year had gone by. Times were changing; my mother got divorced, and a wiry man who resembled Ronald Reagan was trying to get her to marry him. (In retrospect, I realize that my mother must have been really hot because she gave several serious suitors the heave-ho, before she settled on my father, in spite of having three kids, 2 horses, 2 cats, and a dog.) In order to impress my mother, Wiry Ron invited our entourage to his race horse stable for the weekend. My brothers and I resented him instantly. His game was pretty obvious from the start. He gave us an elaborate tour of his large and empty house, and the race horses just ate. He was on the make for our mother and was practicing an artless, soulless form of bribery.

Wiry Ron conveyed my mother off somewhere, and my brothers were busy, probably throwing horse manure or pond scum at each other. The foul object wars began that summer. The arms race eventually moved on to leeches and other invertebrates and the things to which they cling. Left alone, I decided to take my Schwinn around the farm, which was criss-crossed with dirt roads that were dusty from the lack of rain. I headed out, down the hill from the house. I soon realized that there was a truck following me and panicked. I felt that I shouldn’t hold up the truck, so I began to pedal faster and faster. I gripped the hard plastic handlebars and labored on in a dust ball, feet helter skelter on the pedals like a crazed Raggedy Ann doll. There is a limit to how fast a 7 year-old girl can move her legs on a single-speed bike. I reached that limit as I made the sweeping left-hand turn at the bottom of the driveway. A manic comet of dust, I missed the turn and barreled into a ditch. I flew over the handlebars and landed entwined with the Schwinn. I did what any child would do. I got up and tried to act as if I just happened to be there. Discerning the difference between having done something wrong and having been the victim of a terrifying accident is difficult when one is 7.

As I looked up at the truck, I saw a tall, tanned man in faded jeans approach me. He picked me up and set me on my feet. He was mesmerizingly beautiful with sandy colored hair and heavy, dark eyes, and his skin glowed. He told me that he was Wiry Ron’s, 17 year-old son and asked if I was all right. I was too terrified to speak, and I tried to hide my bleeding elbows and knees. I didn’t feel the pain. I felt only the stinging humiliation of being exposed as a total wanker in front of this steaming, gorgeous god of a man. I sat in mortified silence as he took me back to the house. Even worse, while I was in the shower, he opened the door and leaned in just enough to put a bottle of iodine on the counter. I slumped against the shower wall in despair, a creature so lost to humanity that I didn’t even merit an “Excuse me” or a privacy knock.
I wasn’t hoping that he would waltz in and kiss me or grope me (please). I wasn’t in love with him. Romantic love is too advanced for a small child. If I hadn’t managed to go down in the maenadic frenzy, I would have stalked him secretly. It was a pure, childlike sexual attraction, impotent and miserably angry. I cried like a guy.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

A pair of 7's

Data from my 2nd race of the day

The blog lives! A new season of bike racing is upon us, which means that the blog can re-invigorate! I was supposed to be in a work retreat all day today...but I managed to escape it after the morning so I would not miss the first crit of the year, our local Mothballs!

My time was very limited today, so I had gone over earlier and registered for my 2 races before work. Then I went to the retreat, and escaped just in time to rush back and get a quick spin on the trainer before my first race, which also happened to be my first 1/2/3 crit as well. I was in such a hurry that I forgot my bike computer, which is all fine and good, but that meant I had no idea what time it was in the race! Oops...I was racing blind, so to speak, until the 5 laps to go came out! I just wish I had the data from that was a blast. Everyone is so smooth, and fast, and knows how to corner, and it was fun. I was kind of sad I missed the key break when a couple girls got off the front, but honestly I'm not sure I would have been able to hand on up there anyway! I ended up finishing in the pack, and having timed my sprint a little wrong (I haven't sprinted since last August....), I wasn't quite there but pulled of a 7th, about 1/2 a bike length back. Oh for improvement! I was pretty pleased with how my legs felt under me. They actually had a little jump when needed, which is good! It was a fun time for sure.
In the interest of good old training, I decided to do the 3/4's race as well. For this race, my tactics were different. I wanted to stay out of trouble, and work hard and get a good workout. So my goal going in was to be a player in this race, not just to sit in and let it happen around me. I spent lots of time up front, put in a few attacks, and chased down everything that got away. I was pretty happy with the way I legs were getting a little fatigued by the end, but overall I was happy with my race. After being way too far back in the final corner, I worked hard to get up there, but again the sprint timing isn't quite there, and I again finished 7th, this time it was just a field sprint. A pair of 7s. By the 2nd race, I had time to go get the computer, so I have data. What a huge difference between this year's race and last years Mothballs crit! Anyway, it was a fun day. I had lots of fellow Chicken Ranchers in many of the races, so there were lots of folk to cheer for, and I got lots of support when I was racing. It was a very fun day.

Echelon Santa Barbara put on the race, and they did a fantastic job! Congrats everyone!


Thursday, January 3, 2008

on lame drivers.

Leave it to a lame driver to put a damper on what was almost a really great ride today! There was a pretty sizeable group of us out this morning for the 7am, pre-weekend-storms lake ride. The sky looked a bit ominous...but at the same time, the forecasts looked almost OK for making it in time. We decided on freeway-first since it is no fun to be out on the freeway in heavy winds (unless of course they are directly behind you...). Aaron Olson pulled the ENTIRE ride, giving us a nearly 20mph average, which is pretty speedy for an off-season training ride! That guy can sure hammer! (so can his wife, too, I'm in awe...) I'm not sure, but that might have been my quickest Lake ride ever, even counting the ones I did in the middle of race season last year! I still feel slow on the climbs, but today all the speedy people came back down the final climb to collect us all up and we rode in together. That is a small thing that makes a big difference...riding the last 15 miles of a 65 mile ride as a group is just so much more pleasant than by yourself! Thanks, guys!!

The only damper in the whole thing was in montecito, where a driver nearly took us out. Some woman in a very large sedan made a right turn RIGHT in front of our whole group, causing some fast braking to go on. Me, by chance, being near the back of the group, was caught a bit by surprise at this sudden stop, and unfortunately my bike caught in someone else's rear wheel, and took out a bunch of her fancy carbon spokes. Ack! Nobody went down, but what a bummer... we tried to find this driver...but when she saw the cyclists coming, she made an abrupt turn and left the premises. Lovely. I feel really bad about the dead wheel. It was a new Mavic R-sys, too... I guess things happen, but ...

And then, on my drive home (in my quest to keep today under a Century, I had driven to the start of the ride), someone on the freeway changed lanes RIGHT into me, and caused me to do some serious evasive driving to avoid being sideswiped at 70mph. I felt like i was in a crit!

I feel like today just has some bad driving karma going on, and I should just hide inside for the rest of the day. Good thing I have a lot of work to do...