Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Ridge TT and Circuit Race--Round and Round the Race Track

Today was something new! Shelton has a new Motorsports Park called The Ridge. It's a car racetrack, but today it was a bike racetrack! Today's female OOA representatives were myself, Jean, and Karen (TT only). Karen gave me a ride out, and Ron and Jean brought me home. I'm very greatful to them, because I really wanted to do these races.

The weather was mostly cloudy with a wind out of the West.

The Time Trial

The Masters 40+ Cat 4 Women were first up at 9:00. Karen was at 9:03:00, and Jean was right after her at 9:03:30. I was last, at 9:06:30. Funny thing though, when we doing loops in the "pit" area of the racetrack, keeping an eye on the official start clock, it kept changing. As in, going back in time. We looked at it, at one point, and it said 8:59. Next time we looked, it said 8:56! By the time the first gal went, it was well after (real time and official time) 9:00. Oh well, no big deal...I guess.

Finally, it was my turn. It was going to be 4 laps around the 2 1/2 mile course. It started with the end of a long straightaway, and a tailwind. Then the road turned and went up a hill...a rather steep hill. It was fairly short, but when we pre-rode it, we quickly realized we would need to drop to the small ring in the front, and get out of the saddle to pedal up it. My first time up, in the race, I got into my small ring, but did not shift up enough in the back. I was barely able to turn the pedals over in the last bit of the hill. Note to self...shift into an easier gear for the next lap!

Then, there was a slight downhill that went into, what many were calling, a false flat. Well, it didn't look like a false flat to me. In fact, it looked like a flat-out hill! Although I had shifted back up to the big ring, I found myself having to shift up in the back a couple of times. No big deal, except, since I do not have a TT bike with shifters on the aerobars, it meant I was out of aero position (at least with one arm). Also, that part of the course was going into the wind.

It flattened out a bit, swept around to the left (tailwind), then came down into a sweeping right hand turn (back into the wind). That was great as it gave a little momentum into the next hill. I could get about half way up before getting out of the saddle again. 

The course did two more sweeping turns, then I came to the hairpin into the steep steep downhill. I braked a tad into the left hairpin, but let it fly through the next right, left, and final left at the bottom and back onto the straightaway. I was not on my aero bars as it took all the stability I could get from the bike to make it down that hill and through those turns. Once I was back on the straightaway, it was a tailwind, and I was able to go pretty fast.

Laps 2, 3, and the final lap were pretty much the same, except I shifted better going into the first steep uphill. Since it was a loop course, and people went off every 30 seconds, there were times when there would be several people in the same part of the course. I passed a few people that I knew were in my category, and was passed by women from the other categories, and some men. In a TT, until the results are posted, you only know that you beat the ones you passed. When they posted the results, I managed to get 3rd place! I was 7 seconds out of 2nd. Karen got 4th, and Jean got 10th--top 10 finishes for all of us!!!

Podium shot (the 2nd place gal had already left)--Beth, did very well. She won by over a minute!

So, what does one do in between the two races? Well, eat, drink, chat, and in the case of today, play with these two little cuties!
This is Evie (4) and Rowan (7) from British Columbia (their brother, a Junior, was racing today). They were the sweetest little girls! I gave them each a dollar, and thanked them for wearing their helmets. I know they're Canadian, but they were headed onto Cannon Beach, and there's a great candy store there.

The Circuit Race

At 12:01, we started the circuit race. The wind had picked up a bit more which made it a little suckier on the headwind sections. We would be going around and around the racetrack for 60 minutes. We figured we would do 8 laps (I think we did 9). We went a minute behind the Cat 4/5 men. The first time up the steep hill wasn't too terrible as we didn't go quite as hard as in the TT. When we came to the downhill, I think we were all a little bit nervous about coming down the steep twisty-turny hill as a group. It was okay. I quickly learned that I couldn't do as Ron had recommended and stay to the outside on the right hand turn. I had more speed, but then the group cut into the apex of the left hand turn and I was almost pushed off the pavement (on the first lap, anyway). 

Round and round we went. After the second or third lap, the fast girls got away. There was a group of four of us that worked together, but we were only able to catch another two that had also been dropped. Round and round we went some more. Apparently, one of the gals (the Junior) had sat out a lap (according to Jean), and then got back in with the group of us dropped gals. I did not notice this, but I can rarely keep track of who's doing what, except the ones just in front of me. Anyway, she rode with us for a few laps. 

At one point, as we came by the Finish again, the clock said we had 3 laps to go. We all groaned as we really were hoping we had just one more. When we saw that, the pace slowed considerably for that next lap. Then it was two more. As we were nearing the top of the steep downhill, the main group of 4/5 men passed us for the second time. We slowed waaaaaay down so as to not get into the mix on the downhill. When we came to the Finish, the clock said, You Are Done. Well, the 4/5 men were done, but we still had to go around again! It was a little crazy as the men were cooling down, chatting, and whatnot, as we were still racing through them. They finally figured that out, and got out of the way. The last time up the steep hill, I fell off the back. Fortunately, I was able to catch back on after the "false flat". I stayed with them up the last real hill. All that was left after that was a few more turns, then the downhill, and onto the straightaway with a tailwind to the finish.

Coming down the steep hill, I followed my preferred line and managed to pass a couple of gals. There was a gap, and with a couple of pedal strokes before the next left (another Ron instruction), I was able to slip in in front of them, and not get pushed off the track. I was drafting behind two of the Bike Sale gals. At, I don't know how many meters from the finish, I got as low as I could in my drops, and hammered the pedals in my hardest gear. I passed both of them, but just before the line, one passed me. I ended up in 8th place. Whew! I was glad that was over!

Overall, I really enjoyed this course. There was never a dull moment, and even in the hardest parts, I knew a tailwind or a downhill was coming soon. 
My "prize" for my 3rd place finish (the Montana Hucklberry is my favorite).




Sunday, March 22, 2015

Mason Lake #3--The Planets Aligned

Ah yes, the third and final Mason Lake for the season. It was my best race so far for this year, but why?  I'll get to that in a moment.

Neither of my usual racing companions were racing today. Instead, it was just Cindy and me. This was Cindy's first go at a road race. We arrived and did all the usual pre-race stuff. As an added bonus, the race organizers were giving out free packages of Shot Blocks! How nice!

It was a pretty big field for Cat 4 Women. There were 30 of us. This was also a mentored race with Sarah and Jen from Starbucks (Jen, formerly of OOA). Sarah was in the lead car, and Jen was in the follow car. 

Since Tessa was still suffering from a cracked front fork, KITT got to race today. I, of course, took off his fenders, thus turning him into a racing stallion. He was very excited to try this thing called "racing". I was interested to see how he would handle.

We rolled out neutral for the usual stretch to the first turn. When we made the turn, it was kind of funny because the follow car beeped the horn, and it was as if everyone "startled". The group kind of instantly slammed on the pedals, only to, not 5 seconds later, settle down to our usual slow pedal up the hill. I'd say that was the last time we went slow. Once we got to the top, the front girls ramped up the speed, and never seemed to slow it down. I had one plan, and only one plan for this race--stay off the front on the front side! In the past, I have gone to the front (easy to do with the downhills), then had trouble getting off the front, thus spending a lot of energy, and not having anything left for the rollers on the back side. I was successful in that endeavor. 

Coming into Turn 2, I knew there was a good chance the front gals would take off down the hill. I did not want to get dropped, so I made sure to sprint right out of the turn to stay with them. Again, I was successful. By this time, we were down to about 18 of us. 

I stayed tucked in through the rollers. We were moving so fast that no one was able to get away. I could see Sheila trying, but everytime, we caught her. Her teammates were working with her, taking pulls so she could recover (we all know it's not good to let her recover, because then she just takes off), but we were all staying together. The Starbucks gals were keeping the pressure on too (although, in the end, they didn't take it away).

Into lap 2, there was a surge up the hill. I managed to stay on. Then, a group of about 5 or 6 staged a breakaway. I didn't have enough in my legs to bridge alone to the break, but I took turns with a few of the others to get us back to them. After that, according to the mentors, there were 11 of us. Into Corner 2, I again made sure to not get dropped going down the hill. 

On the rollers, I found myself at the front for a couple of short pulls, but we were rotating pretty good. I wanted to mostly stay in the middle of the pack so I'd have something left in my legs for the finish. None of this go-to-the-front-and-pull-everyone-along business of last time! I'd see Sheila get out of the saddle at the front, but by then, she couldn't sustain it long enough to get a break. She would sit down, and we would catch up to her.

We passed the 1 km sign (didn't even see it on the first lap). We were flying, but still as a group of 11. No rash moves were being made. We hit the zoom (200m). There was still no massive sprint because we all know it's more than 200 m. Soon enough though, we were all sprinting our hearts and lungs out (seriously, I think I left a partial lung on the side of the road)! Even though my lungs were gasping for air, and my legs were shooting flames, I stayed out of the saddle until I crossed the finish line. I got 9th, and was the last for the pack finish time of 1:02:50 The next 2 gals were just 4 hundredths behind me--good thing I kept sprinting! As I was trying to suck in gallons of air between coughing and gagging, I quickly glanced at my average speed. It was over 22mph! That is the fastest average I've ever had!

As I said at the beginning, this was my best race so far this year. But, why? There were so many variables. First, the obvious change was racing on KITT instead of Tessa. KITT is a little bit heavier, but has 25mm tires vs. Tessa's 23s. I've been reading about how 25s are actually being found to be faster/better than 23s. Is that it? Should KITT be my new race bike? But, what about the fact that I didn't ride at all on Wed., Thurs, or Fri. of this week? Was I more rested? I did do a gravel ride on Mama Cass yesterday with over 2900 feet of elevation gain. So, was I really that rested? Or, as Kirk seems to hypothesize, am I actually getting stronger??? Of course, maybe I just raced smarter. Maybe I have finally figured out that pulling at the front really does me no favors. Regardless of why, I'm still on my track of steady improvement. Although, it would be nice to know which variable it was. Maybe it was all of them put together, an alignment of the planets...so to speak.

Here's Cindy and I--all smiles! Cindy did great! She worked her butt off, and stayed with the group as long as possible (for her first race, and a very fast one at that)! I'm very proud of her effort! Way to go, Cindy!

The results. As you can see, we actually had a DQed rider. Apparently, she jumped before the 200m, crossing the center line, then proceeded to cross the finish first. They frown upon that.




Sunday, March 15, 2015

It's More Fun to Gravel Ride in the Rain Than to Race in the Rain

I had two riding options for today. Race around Mason Lake for the second weekend in a row, or do a gravel ride. I chose to gravel ride with Karen. We were going to go up to Capitol Forest, but since it was raining pretty solidly, Karen suggested JBLM. I called, and Area 20 was open. 

We accessed JBLM at the end of Johnson Rd. I've been this way a few times. It wasn't too bad, just a few puddles to dodge here and there. We came out of the trees and onto the prairie. The gravel road then comes out to Rainier Rd. Since we'd only gone about 10 miles, we continued down Rainier, and got back on JBLM on the oil and graveled road. But, that was only for a moment as we took a road parallel to Rainier Road. Not wanting to just ride on the gravel roads across the prairie, we took a road that pretty much goes along the edge of the prairie at the base of a ridge. I had done this before (when it was a whole lot drier). We came to a small lake (okay, it was a puddle-- but a really big puddle). It covered the whole road. I opted to ride through it, thinking it probably wasn't that deep. Yes, it was that deep! I was splooshing through the lake with water coming up above the bottom bracket. I had my boots on with the gaiters, but the water still got into the boots. Karen watched me, then...walked around the water. Good choice!

We continued on, going around puddle after puddle. That section of gravel came back to the "main" gravel road, but there was also another offshoot that, again, stayed closer to the base of the ridge. Being the adventurous sort that we are, we decided to continue on the offshoot. It could easily be called "The Lake Route". In some places we had to go on the side, through the grass and mowed-down Scotch broom (which leaves stubby sticks poking up, making one wonder if they could puncture a tire). 

We came to a steep road that goes up the ridge to the upper prairie. Last time I was out this way, I saw this road, and later tried to find it from above. I wasn't successful. So I asked Karen if she wanted to go up that way, so we could see where it came out. There was just one little problem. There was a huge body of water between us and the base of the road. The only way to the other side was to go through it. We decided to save it for another, drier day.

We still had to negotiate more lakes. At one point, I was "off-roading" in the prairie grass for about 100 feet. I was thinking, at some point, I needed to get back to the road. There was finally a break in the puddles, and I bounced my way back to the road.

We came out at the oil and graveled road. We decided enough was enough. We would head back. So we rode the oiled and graveled road back to Rainier Rd. When we got back to the place where we had come out to Rainier Rd, we opted to go back the way we came on the gravel instead of riding Rainier Rd all the way back. We came to an intersection. I, mistakenly, thought we were supposed to go straight to stay on the road we had been on earlier. Pretty soon, both Karen and I were questioning if we were on the same road. We kept riding, thinking there were more puddles because it had continued to rain. Eventually, we came to the conclusion we were not on the same road (JBLM can be tricky that way). In my experience, most of the roads either loop around and come back to the main road, or they come out to Rainier (or 510 if you are on the other side). We continued on, thinking we would probably come out on Rainier Rd...at some point. We seemed to be looping back in the direction we had come from. Finally, we stopped to look at my phone (good thing is, I got a Lifeproof waterproof case for my new iPhone 6--bad thing is, it wouldn't scroll the map very good to allow me to find out where we were in relation to Rainier Rd.). Not really being able to tell if we were headed toward Rainier or not, we continued on. Maybe 300 feet more, we came out to the road we had meant to be on in the first place! Whew! Now we knew where we were. 

We were both getting cold, so we were happy to get back on the road and ride the rest of the way home. We rode 27 miles. That's three more than I would have ridden at Mason Lake, but it was much more fun! I apologize for not having any photos, but it really was a rainy day. Photos would not have turned out very good.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Tour 'd Dung #2--Not By a Long Shot!

Back to Sequim for another go 'round of Tour 'd Dung. Unfortunately, the forecast was not as steller as last week. Oh, there was only a 34% chance of rain, but as always, we managed to find 100% of that 34%. 

Let's get to the race. This week there were only 21 Cat 4 Women racing. Most of the speedy gals were there, but not the young Junior who won last week. Sheila, the gal who won Mason Lake was there. She said she probably wouldn't be that fast because she rode 100 miles yesterday. What??? Who does that? Who rides 100 miles the day before a race? Now, one would think, this could be good...

Off we rolled in a spitting rain. Not only did we start earlier, but the amount of time we rolled in neutral was also shorter. You might think that was no big deal, but it did have it's consequences later in the race. 

As we came down the hill into Turn 2, I started to say, "Watch this corner it can be slip..." At that moment one of the Starbucks gals hits the corner, and her bike slides right out from under her. She slides across the road. I said, "Yeah...like that." Everyone else made the corner. 

Before the race, Ron had said to stay to the right of the peleton on the straightaway after Turn 2. The way the wind blows, staying to the right allows you to pretty much be sucked along with little effort. He was absolutely right! Part of the time I wasn't even pedaling! It was awesome! I was near the back (not my favorite place to be), but we still had lots of race to go. 

Sheila was off and on pushing the pace by getting on the front, then speeding up. Then she would slow down and get back in the peleton. What this serves to do, is make the rest of us very tired. It's called surging, and it is not fun. I just tried to hang on and not get dropped off the group.

We complete Lap 1, and I'm thinking I'm dying. I choke down a Shot Block early into Lap 2. As we come up the longer hill after the straightaway, I'm thinking I'm going to be dropped. We come down the other side, make the corner, and they zoom off. I passed Jean, and I heard Debbie yell at Jean to catch her wheel. The bulk of the group has broken away, but there are still stragglers spaced out in front of me. One by one, I pass them, yelling that we can catch them. Finally, I caught back up to the front group. I was keeping my eye on Sheila. I, somehow, managed to get in behind her as she headed up to the front again. I stayed as close to her wheel as possible. Then, she did what she is very good at--she slowed down and got back in the group. But, a little later, as she went by, I was able to tuck back in behind her. Soon she was back on the front. I was still right behind her. Again, she slows down. This time I stay on the front. I'm no longer feeling like I'm dying (can't really explain why--I doubt one Shot Block would make much difference). I pull for awhile, feeling good because I am not having to surge. Then Sheila goes by and says, "Good pull." I slip in behind her again. We make the turn onto Kitchen-Dick road. Now we have some help with the wind. Sheila and I stay one and two all the way along KD. The water is cascading down my face from her wheel. We make the turn. Now we've got a tailwind. Sheila peels off the front, I peel off right in front of her. The next gal comes up and peels off in front of me, then the next...what do ya know, we've got a rotating paceline going!!...until the hill up to the finish (we still have a lap to go).

We go through Turn 1 and head back down the hill (with the wipeout corner at the bottom). The group of about 10 take off. I work like mad to catch up. They make the corner. I make the corner. They take off...I get dropped. Eventually, the follow-car goes around me. I can still SEE them. I tell myself I...can...catch...them... Slowly, they get further away...I...can't...catch...them...BUT, I keep going as hard as I can, because you never know what might happen. I'm hoping we get neutralized by the Cat 3 guys (like the week before). If I can stay close enough, I can catch back up...if the front group gets neutralized. 

They are still in my sight up the hill, down the hill, and around the corner onto Woodcock. But, they are still getting further away. Where are those Cat 3 Men??? This is the consequence of starting earlier. Finally, I resign myself to not catching up. Instead, I get into my drops for some Time Trial practice. I try not to let my speed drop below 18mph. I'm pretty successful. 

I make the last turn onto the finish road. Just after the 1km sign, a lead car goes by me. I think, uh oh, what do I do now? I don't want to slow down. I'm almost done! Two guys go by me, then their follow-car. Okay, it's a breakaway. Now, I'd better hurry up before the rest of the group catches me! I need not have worried, I finished with plenty of time before the next batch of guys came by.

Ron was at the finish taking photos. I went back to him to wait for Jean and Debbie. Turns out, the two guys were a breakaway of Cat 4s. They had passed the Cat 3s! 

I ended up getting 11th with my solo time trial of about 9 miles with an overall time of 1:48:07. That is 10 minutes faster than last week's pack finish! I was 4 minutes behind the 10th place gal. Yeah, I guess I wasn't catching up to them...not by a long shot! However, I did improve over last week!

Oh, and Sheila, who had done 100 miles yesterday...she got 3rd. Amazing!
Although you can't tell from the photo, we are soaking wet, and pretty dirty!

The results.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Mason Lake #1--Dude Does NOT Look Like a Lady!

Another appropriate title for this post would be, "Half Group Health, Half Bits and Pieces of the Rest of Us".

Another beautiful day, but with the time change we lost an hour of sleep (I'll try not to fall asleep as I write this). Jean picked me up at 7:00, and we headed out to Mason Lake. Even though this is the course that we had the major crash last year, the circumstances were different this year (dry roads, less people, no mentors), so I wasn't overly nervous.

There were 22 of us starting. Eleven were Group Health gals! There were three Starbucks, two Hagens-Berman, us two OOAs, and the rest singles (only one Bike Sale gal). The total newbies (first race) were all from Group Health (about four of them).

We rolled it pretty easy up the first long hill. I was at the back. I had thought that maybe I would try and push the pace, so I went up to the front. When will I ever learn? No one would go around me for the longest time. I was even serpentining across the road. Nope, they all just followed me! I thought, briefly, to make a game out of it...get them all zig zagging back and forth...but I didn't. 

Finally, a few went by fast enough to create a small gap where I could hook on to the last wheel. But, when we went around the second corner (which goes into a good downhill), the gals on the front bolted down the hill. I caught up to Jean's wheel, but she had also been dropped--along with another bunch of us. As we came around the curve at the bottom of the hill, I took over so Jean could draft off me. (That's the beginning of the rollers.) I heard Jean say, something like, "Ack!" I thought she was just just having trouble catching her breath. Turns out, her front tire was going flat. Unfortunately, by the time she figured out what was happening, the follow car (carrying her extra set of wheels) had just gone around her. In the meantime, I was trying my hardest to catch back up to the group. 

As I was pedaling, apparently, there were three Group Health gals drafting behind me. I thought I was alone. Finally, they came around, and I caught on to their wheel. It was better, but I was definately gassed out. Then they started doing a rotating pace line which, in theory, is a good idea. I, however, was still not recovered, and there weren't enough of us to give me any recovery time when I wasn't pulling. After about four cycles, I couldn't do it anymore. I told them to go ahead. At this point, we could still see the group, and the follow-car. I figured I was done for, and would be riding the rest by myself.

As I was coming back to the start, finishing the first lap, I saw the follow-car pull over, and they were getting something. I took that opportunity to get back "in" the race. Since I was alone, I was able to take the first corner pretty fast. That allowed me to catch up to the group. Whew, now I could really rest going up the hill! I know, sounds weird, but once I was back in the draft, and they weren't going super fast up the hill, I was really able to rest and recover. 

I noticed, as we were riding up the hill, that there was a guy riding with us. I thought, "Oh, he's been dropped, and we're passing him." Strangely, he stayed with us. He was definately drafting behind the last gal. We were in a double paceline. I ended up riding next to him. Finally, since he did not seem to be backing off, I said to him, "So...it's a bunch of Cat 4 gals...and one dude?" He said he was a rookie, and this was his very first race. Being pretty sure that what he was doing was illegal, I said to him, "Well, you are no longer racing. Us women are racing. You need to stay out of the way!" Still, he continued to stay with us! Everytime I would look back, he'd be right there! Our follow-car was still behind us. I don't know why they didn't tell him to get out of our race! 

I continued to recover, staying on the wheel of the person in front of me. Again, we came around the second corner, and they shot off. As I passed the one Bike Sale gal, I said, "Come on! We can catch them, right?" Well, not so much. The group took off, and left about 6 of us. Pretty soon, it was evident that we weren't going to be able to catch them. So, we had our own little race. One of the gals had a loose bottle cage. One bolt was gone, and the other one was loose. The bottle cage kept rattling around, and she would hit it with her calves as she was pedaling. She really should have stopped and taken it off, or ridden behind. I was very worried it was going to catch and make her crash, but, she kept going. At about 500 m, the cage broke off. Fortunately, it went where there wasn't anyone riding. If it had caught in someone's spokes, they would have crashed badly.

At some point before the 1 km, I was back on the front. It wasn't too terrible, as I had had several miles to recover. Also, since there is some really good downhill, I didn't have to brake, because I wasn't behind anyone. As we approached the 200 m (which is really more like 300 m), I was still on the front. Then, with about 150 m to go, most of the group came sprinting by me. I sprinted enough to not come in last of our group, but my legs were done. 

I rode back to the car. It was there that I found out the group I had caught back on to, was not the lead group. I kind of suspected so, because I couldn't see the lead-car. So, which one of the 11 Group Health gals won? None of them. Sheila, from Hagens-Berman, won...by a lot. Of course, GH took 2nd, then 4th through 8th. Lindsay, from Starbucks took 3rd. Me? I waltzed in at 14th. Seemingly, better than yesterday, but not really, because there weren't as many racers today. As for Jean, she had gotten some CO2 from a kind stranger. It allowed her to finish (but the tire was flat again by the time she crossed the finish line), and she wasn't even last!

A few of us among a sea of Group Health!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Tour 'd Dung #1--Overachieving My Goal

Today was the first road race of the season. It was the Tour 'd Dung in Sequim. Last year, I won this race, then proceeded to finish progressively worse in each race I did before heading to Europe. The year before last, I also won my first road race (Mason Lake was first that year). Then, also finished progressively worse in each race. My goal this year was to not win my first race. My theory was that if I didn't win the first race, maybe I could get better as the season went on...

This year, Debbie and I went up the night before, and stayed in Sequim. It was nice to get to sleep until 7:00, and for Debbie to not have to drive for 2 1/2 hours the morning of the race. We arrived at the Tall-Grass Parking Field (the field was not mowed as in previous years) at 8:30. It was a beautiful sunny day, with not too much wind (wind is frequently a factor in this race). The Cat 4 Women's race was at 10:00. We had plenty of time to check-in, say hi to fellow Cat 4 women, and get bikes set up on the trainers. Debbie and I used the big U-Haul blanket to set the trainers onto. It worked great.

We finished the warm-ups, and headed over to the start. There was quite a large group of Cat 4s. Some familiar faces, but a lot of new ones. It's always a little nerve wracking to see so many new gals. For most, this is their first race ever. They are unknowns, so we don't know how they will ride. Sometimes I think they don't even know how they will ride! 

Bike Sale, Starbucks, Hagens-Berman, and Group Health teams each had a number of gals. There was one Junior Rad Racer. The rest of us are from a variety of teams with just one to three teammates each (we had three--me, Jean, and Debbie).

As we started the race, it was clear the Bike Sale and Hagens-Berman gals would be forces. They have so many gals. They can, and do ride across the lane, or they do a mini rotating pace line. In the first lap, I went to the front coming down the first big hill. I took the corner in the lead, rode on the front for awhile, then wanted to get off. So, I just started to slow down, hoping some would go by and I could hook onto a wheel somewhere in the upper half of the peleton. Nope. They all went by in a tight group, and I couldn't find a hole to get into. I finally ended getting in somewhere near the back. That was okay, since we still had a lot of race to go. 

We finished the first lap (there are 3), and I was still quite aways back. Once again, coming down the hill, I went to the front (it was easy to get to the front on the right shoulder). I pulled for quite awhile on the back stretch. It was fine, until I didn't want to pull anymore. Again, I couldn't seem to insert myself into the middle of the pack. I guess that was okay, as we still had 1 1/2 laps to go. On the first lap, I was worried about getting dropped on the rollers if I was too far back. Not a problem. Either I've gotten stronger on the hills or, and more likely, they went slower. Either way, I was able to stay with the pack easily the whole way. On the "roller" section, we got neutralized (stopped to let the men go by). We were brought to a complete stop. I finished off my Shot Blocks, and drank most of my remaining water bottle. It was a nice rest. 

At this point, I had managed to get closer to the front without being on the front. It didn't last long. As we started our final lap, I had decided I would not go to the front. I would save my energy for the finish. I ended up being in the very back. Once again we were neutralized. Debbie commented how she liked it in the back. I said I didn't, and when we started up again I tried to work my way back up. As we came around to the rollers, there was a bit of a breakaway (a few H-B gals, I think). I thought I should make some attempt to "bridge" to them, but found myself being too chicken to try and pass the knot of the rest of the group. Gradually, we caught the breakaway. 

Coming around the last main corner, Jean and I were still way back from the front. Neither of us could manage to move around the group of gals directly in front of us. Since we were still in a big bunch, flashes of Mason Lake (last year's big crash) were running through my head. 

We were to get the whole road at the 1 km mark. We passed it, but no one crossed the line out of the draft (that would be a bad idea, unless one was super strong). It's uphill, so everyone wanted to stay in the draft as long as possible. Jean and I were on the right side, and opted to stay there. At the 200 meters, I saw, still, no one was crossing the line. Since there was a bunch of Group Health gals not really seeming to sprint, right in front of us, I moved over to the wide open lane. As much as I was giving it all I had, my legs were not following commands. I passed a number of gals, but there was still a huge bunch ahead. I was definately going to achieve my goal of not winning. I just didn't think I would overachieve it by such a huge amount! I came in 25th (out of, I think, around 34). I believe that is my worst finish ever. On the bright side? There's no place to go but up!
Well...we finished...

Oh yeah, who won the race? The Junior from Rad Racing! Good for her! She earned it!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

No Ice a Breaking at This Time Trial!

As promised in the last post, here's the rundown of this year's Icebreaker Time Trial (and an added bonus post TT bit at the end).

This year we had our same awesome group of OOA Chicks representing in the Cat 4 Masters 35+ category (all of us definitely on the + side of the age group). We arrived with plenty of time to stand around and enjoy the sun on this, the last day of February. Soon, however, it was time to get down to business. Trainers were set up, and warmups begun. Karen did her warmup out on the road (she rode to Flaming Geyser State Park--next year, I may do that just to check it out). I was, literally, warming up while riding in the sun on the trainer! I thought about removing my base layer, but I figured it would be cooler once I was actually on the road.

One by one we finished up on our trainers, put stuff away, and donned helmets. Jean and I were very stylish in our TT helmets!
Clown selfie

The Walk-Like-an-Egyptian pose

Jean was to go off first of the 5 of us. I was last at 8 minutes behind Jean. Cindy was 4 minutes ahead of me, and Karen and Debbie were 1 minute and 30 seconds, respectively, ahead of me. We positioned ourselves in line, and each waited our turn to go. Debbie and Karen would be my "carrots". Cindy would be my distant "carrot". There would be no way I could catch Jean with an 8 minute lead.

I took off, and so did my heart rate. In the blink of an eye, my heart rate was up to 154, then 160. As it continued to creep into the low 160s, I thought, hmmm, I wonder how long I can maintain this? But, once my legs were warmed back up, I felt pretty good, even though my heart rate was still hovering in the mid 150s.

I came around one of the curves, and could see Debbie in the distance. I closed the gap and passed her. Next up was Karen. As I passed her, she hollered encouragement. On I pedaled trying to keep my speed in the 22 to 23 mph range. There seemed to be sometimes a tailwind (or no wind), and sometimes a bit of a headwind. It was still better than last year.

Before I reached the turn-around, I saw Jean, looking very focused, on her way back (little did I know what had transpired before she got to the turn-around). Then, just a bit before reaching the turn-around, I saw Cindy heading back. Could I catch her?

I made the turn, and got back up to speed. Again, the wind was variable. I could tell my legs were getting tired (that, or my air intake was just not quite enough), because my cadence was slowing down. I shifted one gear easier and felt a little bit better (still gulping air like it was some vanishing commodity). My heart rate was staying more around 160 by now. About halfway back, I was starting to dream about seeing that 1km sign, and looking for it around each corner. I could now see Cindy on the longer straight stretches. I told my legs to pedal harder! I rode by the 1 km sign, getting closer to Cindy. At the  "zoom" (200 m), I put my head down and pedaled as hard as I could. Spit was flying out the side of my mouth (it was open so wide, trying to suck in more air; making one think I had unhinged my jaw). I was closing in on her! But...I ran out of race. Cindy crossed the line before me (I know, you were expecting some triumph on my part, but...no). 

Lungs heaving, I came around the corner after the finish, and saw Jean. I stopped beside her. She was breathing hard in that close-to-full-blown-asthma-attack way. She said she had crashed. Her wheel had hit a vertical crack, and next thing she knew she was flying off the bike. I assumed it had happened somewhere near the finish, but it had happened before the turn-around! Remember, when I saw her coming back, she was looking very focused. I thought it was amazing that she was less than halfway, but managed to get back on the bike and finish! She thinks she lost about 3 minutes. Here's the cool thing--she wasn't even last! The last place gal was more than a minute behind. 

Karen found some 1st Aid supplies (bandages and neosporin), and we patched Jean up. The abrasions were not too serious, but definitely the kind that sting. She probably won't feel so good tomorrow, but she is in one piece, thankfully.

We waited until the results were finally printed. Here's a photo.
I got 9th, with a time of 28:00. I cut 11 seconds off last year's time, and moved up 2 places. Debbie finished 17th with a time of 30:18. Karen finished 22nd at 31:21. Cindy came in right behind her at 23rd, with a time of 31:53. Jean was 24th at 33:33. All in all, a good showing from us OOA ladies!

(L to R) Debbie, Cindy, me, Jean, and Karen

The Post TT Ride

As I said at the beginning, there was a post TT bit. After Debbie dropped me off back at home, I decided 10 miles was not enough riding for such a nice day. I hopped on KITT and headed south on the trail. I met a former OOA rider (now does mostly track), and rode with him as far as the train tracks. 

I didn't want to run out of daylight as I didn't have my front light. I rode into Rainier (the pull toward Main Street Cookie Company was great, but I resisted). Took a left on Centre and headed back on the road. When I got to the stop sign at the end of Hubbard, I had moved to the left side of the lane as I was going to turn left. I was waiting for an oncoming vehicle to go by. It was a full sized SUV. The driver, instead of turning left of my left, turns into the wrong lane between me and the right side of the road! She stops halfway through her turn. She rolls down the passenger side window, and says she didn't even see me. I said, "You really cut the corner." She agreed! About that time, a Sheriff's car comes speeding up Hubbard with lights flashing. He stops at the intersection and, seeing the odd juxtaposition of me and the SUV, asks me if there was a collision. I said no, but before I could tell him how the stupid lady totally cut the lane, he said, "I gotta go!" and sped off, lights still flashing. I'm thinking it was that lady's lucky day! I rode the rest of the way home thinking how, not only was I lucky that woman didn't hit me, but if she hadn't stopped to talk to me, her and the Sheriff's car might have hit each other head on! That would not have been pretty!

What a day! Next week is the Tour d Dung #1.