Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Beauty of the Buddy Flap...

Or...When Fenders Alone are not Enough

The Team has a rule about riding in the rain. You must have, not just full fenders, but also buddy flaps attached to the end of the fenders. Today was a perfect example of why.

The rain was coming down steadily as I left my house this morning to meet those other hardy souls for a Saturday ride. About 9 of us showed up ready to ride. Most everyone was fully decked out in rain jackets, shoe covers, and warm gloves. I had my helmet rain cover on as well (keeps some of the water off my glasses). Everyone also had fenders and buddy flaps (Jean's is my favorite with the red bike and hand painted British flag), except two people. The two had fenders, but...NO BUDDY FLAPS!

As we took out from the park, it was immediately evident that riding behind someone without a buddy flap is not a good place to be. The rooster tail of water flying off the back of a buddy flap-less bike is akin to a hydroplane boat on Lake Washington during the Chevrolet Cup! Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but you get the picture. It's a lot wetter and dirtier (let's face it, the street is not exactly clean).

The two riders without buddy flaps were also pretty strong riders, which means they are less inclined to be hanging off the back of the group. So, the double paceline was sometimes not so double. There would be a couple of pairs of riders riding side by side. Then there would be another pair, one of which was buddy flap-less. After that pair, the rest of the group would line up behind the one with the buddy flap. In a single file paceline, it was a little trickier. There was some definate jockeying to not get stuck in the rooster tail. At one point one of the women was behind the rooster tail. The water was not only hitting her, but also flying over the top of her to me. I backed off a bit.

One of the guys had a flat well into the ride. The rest of us stopped and took the opportunity to eat a bar or, in the case of me, some Shot Blocks. Apparently, the usual scenario is that either everyone continues to ride and the person with the flat takes a shorter route and rejoins at some point, or everyone goes aways down the road, then circles back. The circling continues until the rider with the flat is ready to ride again. That method makes sure everyone stays warm. However, today the consensus was to stop and wait (and eat). Fine by me!

Just before the guy with the flat was done, us three remaining gals (the buddy flap-less gal and guy headed home) started riding (I knew where we were going). The guys caught up to us not too far down the road.

Turns out we were not the only hardy souls out riding today. We passed two guys (one of the guys hollered, "Don't ya know it's raining?"), then just a little later passed another group of three or four on the side of the road fixing a flat of their own.

We went up the really steep hill on Carpenter Rd. I had to drop down to my small ring and was still out of the saddle. Fortunately, at the top we turned right and went downhill so I could catch my breath.

We worked our way back into town and then back to the park. For some reason, my computer was only working sporadically. Based on Jean's computer, I figure by the time I got home, I had ridden about 56 miles or so. I was drenched from head to toe, but not cold. As I've said before, as sweet as I am, I don't melt.

I'm planning on riding again tomorrow, so my shoes are stuffed with paper towels to hopefully dry them. I'm not sure why I'm bothering as I'm sure it will be just as rainy tomorrow.

Today was a great ride, I'm just hoping the two without buddy flaps will get them soon (like before tomorrow if they are also riding).

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Weather Karma Strikes Again!

Too bad Speed Karma opted to stay home!

Woke up to rain this morning. Looked like it was going to be a good day to check out my new rain jacket. Yes, yes, I know, I already have an awesome rain jacket so why did I get a new one? Well, as awesome as my Showers Pass Elite is, it is kind of bulky for this fast road riding. It is really much better as a touring rain jacket. My new jacket has a closer more athletic fit, is lighter weight, and will easily stuff into a jersey pocket. Plus, it is in the team colors (red and black) so I don't look completely like the newbie that I am. Anyway, by the time it was nearing time for me to head to the park, there were big patches of blue sky! Could it be possible? Could the rain magically hold off?

When I got to the park there was no one else there. But, I was early. Just when I was starting to think I would be riding alone, a guy pulled in (Dan--add that one to the list of names I am slowly learning). Then Monik rolled in. Not long after, about 7 more people showed up including Lauren (woo hoo, I was not the only female!). Mark from last week, Tim, Adam (Lauren's hubby), a 15 year old named Alec or Alex, and a couple others that I didn't catch their names. The guys decided on a route and off we went. I heard mention of Waddell Creek. That road counter-clockwise is definitely on the hilly side. But, first we had to go over Sapp Rd hill and then up 62nd to Delphi. They dropped me on Sapp, but I caught up at Black Lake (only because they waited for me and Adam, who came back to make sure I was coming). I lost them again going up 62nd, but they waited for me at Delphi. I told them they would be waiting for me all day at this rate and that they didn't have to. They were real nice about it, but I still don't like slowing people down. We made a plan that, at Waddell Creek, those who wanted to do the hilly part could and those who didn't would continue on Delphi and meet up with the hill riders at Littlerock. At Waddell, Lauren, Mark, Monik, and I stayed on Delphi. The rest headed up the hill. Delphi is not as hilly as Waddell, but there are still some hills to go up. But, there are some to go down too--more rolling. Lauren, who is quite fast, was doing a nice job drafting behind Mark. Mark goes pretty fast and neither Monik or I were able to keep up but, Monik kept up better than me. I felt like I was giving everything I had, yet still not going as fast as they were.

We made it to Littlerock just as the fast boys were coming down the hill off of Waddell. We regrouped and headed back up Maytown Rd. Pretty soon it was just Lauren, Monik, and I. Lauren was going slower so I could stay with her. We even took brief turns at the front of our group of three.

At the freeway interchange, Adam came back to us. The others had slowed down and we were back with the whole group. That was short lived though as they decided to go up Reeder Rd. Once again I was slogging up the hill on my own. Adam, Monik, and Lauren waited at the top. We stayed together to Tilley where we caught up to the others. Monik had to turn for home. I told the rest of the group that, although I was good for the distance, I didn't like them having to wait for me. Lauren said she would stay with me, which was very nice!

We turned off Tilley onto 143rd which was the way we went last Saturday. More hills! We came into Tenino and headed over to 99 to head back home. Lauren, Alec(x), and I went up and over 99 to Offut Lake Rd. Adam was there to make sure we made the turn. We were all back together as we turned onto Waldrick and then Stedman. We took Stedman to Rainier Rd, then turned again on Firtree. At the trail crossing, Lauren and I took the trail. The rest of the guys continued to Rich Rd. a number of us live along the way back to the park. I peeled off at Horizon Point. Lauren got back on the trail, then Yelm Hwy to Boulevard where her and Adam live. I think, Dan was the only one who drove to the park. Everyone else rode from their homes.

Today's not being able to keep up felt different than the Tuesday night getting dropped rides. I suppose there were more hills, but I didn't feel like I was doing my usual on the flat either. It seemed like the only pace that I could stay with was 19 to 20 mph. Usually I can manage at least 21 to 22 without feeling like my lungs are going to burst.
Maybe my Speed Karma took a day off??? Weather Karma was definitely on the ride as we had blue sky and sunshine for the whole time. Now it is back to gloomy and rain.

Total miles: 48
Average speed: 15.6 (should have been more than that!)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I'll Call it...Progress

Yep, still got dropped, BUT...we made it two miles further than last time!

There were only 5 guys and Debbie and I. We were just doing a short loop of 20 miles due to decreasing daylight (of course, for me that means a total of 33 miles).

At first I thought it would be easier to stay with the guys because we were going on Littlerock Rd. which is pretty flat. Well, I suppose it was better than the hills, but flat just means they go faster! At one point I looked at my bike computer and noticed we were going 25 miles per hour on the flat!

As we got close to 110th where we would turn, the boys started pulling ahead. Debbie said, "Looks like we're getting dropped." I stood up out of the saddle and passed Debbie telling her, "Come on! Let's catch them!" Yeah, that didn't work. Well, we made it two miles further than last time before getting dropped.

The thing about trying to keep up with the fast guys (the gals too) is that you use everything you have which is, of course, how you get stronger. But, by the time you get dropped, you have used up everything you had. Oh, we still cruised along pretty good, just not anywhere near 25 miles an hour!

There was a possibility the guys were going to do an extra 4 miles out and back. Since we never saw them again, we don't know if they did the extra 4 miles. When we got back to the park, none of the guys were there. We decided to tell ourselves that we beat them back (probably not).

Anyway, it was a good ride, as fast as we could go. Each time we get faster. In all likelihood, we will never be able to stay with the guys the whole way. But, we'll keep trying and I call tonight's ride progress in that direction!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Part of the 20%

Awhile back I read someplace that going carfree 80% of the time is not too difficult. It's that last 20% that is harder. It takes more thought and definitely more...gumption. This afternoon would, perhaps, qualify as part of that 20%.

As I walked in the house from another great ride with the women from the racing team (where I might add we managed to dodge the rain...mostly),I got a text from Lorraine asking if I wanted to meet her at Lacey Cinemas for a movie. Well, of course I did! As I was sitting there in all my sweatiness, hungry, and just a tad on the tired side after two back-to-back days of 40+ mile rides, I texted Lorraine back, "Sure! Just need to shower and eat. What time?" The movie was "Argo", and there was a showing at 2:40 and one at 3:40. I told Lorraine I probably couldn't make the 2:40, so we settled on 3:40.

I took my shower and dressed in another set of biking clothes (no, not lycra). It was only 1:20 at that point, so I called Lorraine and said I could make the 2:40 show. I ate and headed out to the garage. As I was getting ready to go, I noticed it had started raining. I thought to myself as I longingly looked at my van sitting in the driveway, driving would be sooooo much easier--not to mention DRIER! But, I pulled on my rain pants and rain jacket. I put my helmet on with the rain cover. It was still wet from the earlier sweatifying ride. Off I went to ride the 6 miles to the movie theater.

At the theater there are no bike racks. The best place I could find to lock up Stella was a light post. I covered her seat with a plastic bag and left the poor girl in the rain (sorry Stella).

In the lobby I stripped out of the wet rain gear and we went in to see the movie. By the way, it was a good movie. I give it a thumbs up!

After the movie I rode home in the rain. As I took off my wet gear and pulled the insoles out of my wet shoes, I thought, yes, this was part of that 20% that is just a bit more difficult. But, I did it, survived, and probably burned a few more calories too!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

And Now the Rain

It was good while it lasted--this ultra-long dry spell, but now it is truly Fall. And, Fall means rain in the Pacific Northwest. However, it doesn't necessarily mean no riding.

I decided to see if they were right. Supposedly, year round, there are Saturday and Sunday rides from Tumwater Falls Park--even in inclement weather. I knew there was a mountain bike race today, but I thought I'd see if any road riders would come to the park. Well, there were three of us--one team guy and two of us wannabe team people.

Mark, the team guy, suggested Johnson Creek. That would give us some options should the weather get really nasty. We headed South out of Tumwater on what I have determined is the team's usual route. At 93rd we cut over to Tilley. At some point I told Mark he didn't have to lead the whole way, especially since the wind was coming from the South. On Tilley, he drifted back and I took the lead. Unfortunately, with me in the lead, we weren't going quite as fast. I let Monik (the other team wannabe) take the lead at the top of a small rise and I drifted to the back where I could catch my breath, and still keep up.

In an effort to get out of the headwind for a bit, we turned off Tilley onto 143rd. It's a little bit shorter to Tenino. It's also a bit hillier. Mark was back in the lead, but I couldn't keep up with him on the hills. Just as I would catch up on the downhill and flat, there would be another hill and I would fall back again. Monik took over the lead from me to give me a break (actually, I think he is a better climber, and was just being nice).

As we caught up to Mark in Tenino, he asked how we were doing and if we wanted to keep going (we could have shortened the ride by heading back from there). We were both good for continuing down Crowder Rd. to do Johnson Creek. It was just a couple more miles into the wind before we would turn and have a crosswind instead. It was raining, but I wasn't at all cold.

When we turned off of Crowder at 184th, Mark gave Monik and I some instruction in riding in an echelon (okay, so it was an echelon of three) to battle the crosswind. Unfortunately, I was not able to keep up with Mark. Monik wasn't either, so we were an echelon of two (would that be a duechelon?).

Mark slowed up some and we were able to rejoin him. He apologized for getting ahead. I told him it was no problem. I've had those times where you just get in the groove and go. You look back at some point and realize those who were with you are...not.

Turning onto Johnson Creek, we finally had the wind at our back. It was still raining, but who cares when you've got a tailwind! Once again, Monik and I didn't really keep up with Mark, but we kept him in our sight.

At the end of Johnson Creek Rd., we opted for the trail back. That was totally fine with me as it meant I could peel off when we got close to my house and not have to ride back home from the park. Mark would do the same as he neared his neighborhood (on my way to the park, Mark had pulled out from one of the neighborhoods--I recognized the team kit and knew there would be at least one other rider). Monik lives close to the park. Because we all started from home, we would have the same miles for the ride (so far I have always had about 12 1/2 more miles on each of the rides).

On Rainier Rd at Horizon Point, I said goodbye and turned off for home. I was thoroughly wet, but still not really cold. When I got home I was able to ring water out of my gloves.

A hot shower has been taken and hot soup for lunch has been eaten. Now I must go wash the 20 lbs. of pine needles of my bike and dry her off.

Total miles: 49
Average speed: 16.5 mph

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dropped after 6...

...but I knew that would happen.

I met the team at 5:30pm for one of their regular Tuesday/Thursday rides. The route was announced. I knew all the roads (and I also knew what hills we would be going up *gulp*). There were about 14 or 15 of us--4 of us, women. Among us women, 2 of us were non-team members (yet).

As we headed out, I stayed near the front (at least give myself more time before being dropped). I chatted with Jeff, who remembered me from the first ride I did with the team.

As we approached the first hill (a short but steep sucker on Sapp Rd.), I geared down, but I didn't want to drop down to my small ring. Because of that, I was out of the saddle on the steeper part but, I stayed with the group (albeit at the back now). Fortunately, there was a downhill on the other side and I was able to stay with the group even though I was wheezing like a donkey!

I stayed up with the group until the second big hill. Then, it was all over (the fat lady wasn't singing though, in fact, she could barely catch her breath, let alone belt out a tune!). The other non-team gal and I had made it a mere 6 miles before getting dropped. Although our lungs were burning and our legs were shot, we were pretty happy with how long we managed to stay with these Cat 1&2 racer guys.

We continued on the route not even seeing the group in the distance. We knew the way to go, and we had a designated regroup spot with the other two gals (and any guys who wanted to hang with the ladies).

We caught up, took a tiny break, and continued on. The pace was a little more within my realm and I even recovered some lung capacity. We kept up just fine which is good because it would have really sucked to be dropped from the dropped group (yes, they had also been dropped, just not as quickly as Deb and I).

We worked our way along Evergreen Parkway to Cooper Point. From there we did a beautiful little road called French Loop. We got some nice views of the water with a pink tinge of the sunset. If we weren't flying along so fast, I might have stopped and taken a photo!

We came down to West Bay Drive, which took us to downtown. At Capital Lake, Deb and I turned to head back to the start by riding the paved then packed gravel path to Marathon Park and back to Tumwater Falls Park. I had already turned my rear flasher on and at Marathon Park I also turned on my headlight. It was definitely getting dark. At Deb's car, back at the park, I switched back to my long finger gloves for the remaining 6 miles home.

I got home at about 7:30 totally spent, but I had a blast...even though I only lasted 6 miles with the group!

Total miles for me was 32. Average was 16 mph (not bad for the number of hills).