Sunday, February 24, 2013

Team Camp Day 2--Less of Everything Except...

Crashing...It wasn't me, but I'll get to that in a moment.

After a somewhat less than restful night's sleep (not at all due to my roommate, Debbie. She was as quiet as a mouse), Day 2 of the OOA Team Camp began at the crack of 7:00. A bunch of us met at Berry Fields Cafe for breakfast. Some of you may know BFC is my favorite take-myself-to -lunch place. This was my first breakfast there. Their breakfasts are as good as their lunches.

Before I go further, I'd like to point out something that we cyclists are well aware of, but I don't think the general public often thinks about. That is the impact that cyclists have on the economy of the small towns. In our short stay in Centralia, we patronized a coffee shop, 3 restaurants and a hotel (and even a consignment shop--somebody forgot their pants). That's a chunk of change!

Back to the day...After breakfast (in which neither Debbie or I committed the faux pas of wearing our bike clothes to), we went back to the hotel, finished packing up, and checked out. My bike was a filthy mess. Fortunately, it was dry, so I was able to brush off a lot of the dirt (out on the sidewalk--not in the room). We all gathered out in front of McMenamens. Once again, our fearless President, Brad, went over the details of the day's ride back to Olympia. There was a slightly larger group doing the long route (92 miles) than the "short" route (59 miles--not that short). We all rode out of Centralia together. Debbie's legs were trashed from all the hills the day before, so she turned off at Old 99 and headed home from there. The rest of us continued onto Galvin Rd. on our way out to Lincoln Creek (and the first climb of the day). Along the way, Jean and I were both too hot in our jackets. We pulled off to remove them. The group got ahead, but I didn't care. I knew where we were going and I also knew the "short" route bunch would regroup up the road.

Sure enough, as we pulled up to the turn for Michigan Hill (that was the long/fast guys route--not ours), the short-routers were waiting. We continued on along Lincoln Creek to our turn up Manners Hill (not as steep at Michigan). We even worked a rotating paceline (with Michelle making sure the boys didn't push it too fast). Going up Manners it was everyone for themselves (or, in my case, by myself). At the bottom of the descent we turned onto Garrard Creek Rd. we regrouped once again and had a moment for a snack. About that time, the fast guys came around the corner from Independence Valley. Of course, they kept going.

We rolled on and resumed our rotating paceline. All of a sudden there was that unmistakable sound of a bike crashing to the ground. We all stopped and turned to see who had crashed. It was Jean. She was on the ground crying in pain. In a moment of someone braking, she had bumped the rear wheel of the bike in front of her. We happened to have Jen (an ER Physician) and Andy (a Chiropractor) with us (how handy is that???). They checked her out and we helped her to calm down and bring her adrenalin back to normal. Her hip and knee were the most painful. We knew the follow car for the long route was just up the road. Unfortunately, there was no cell service. Fortunately, a car came along and we asked them to flag down the follow car to have them come back for Jean. We got her up to move her to the side of the road where we promptly laid her back down as she was about to pass out. We elevated her legs which helped. Before long she was ready to sit up. She was feeling better and thought she could ride (her bike was okay). We helped her to her feet. That went well, so she got back on her bike. I was amazed!

We promptly had to climb a long hill. Michelle and I stayed with Jean. At the top, Trisha, who was driving the follow car, had made it back to us. We said our goodbyes to Jean, and they loaded her bike onto the bike rack. Unfortunately, she would not be going right home as the follow car still needed to stay with the long route riders. Fortunately, she was doing okay.

The rest of us continued on. We came down the other side of the hill. Michelle continued to keep the group from getting stretched out by asking the guys to slow up when someone was falling behind. It does make the ride much more pleasant. I can tell my strength has improved because I'm staying up with the group most of the time and, even more telling, I'm in my big ring in the front much more than I used to be able to do.

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful. We went on a couple of short roads that I hadn't been on from Oakville to Moon Rd. I did enjoy the curvy, rolling section on Mima-Gate Rd. We rode Delphi to 62nd, Black Lake, over Sapp, and back to the park where we had started yesterday. We arrived at 1:20. Our average for the day was 17.2. The wind was not bad. We had only a spit or two of rain, but not much sun either. There were far less hills today. Except for Jean crashing, it was a pretty good day--almost 66 miles by the time I got home.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Team Camp Day 1--Wind, Rain, Sun, and a Whole Lotta Hills!

When I got up this morning I fully expected to see rain. But, lo and behold, there was blue sky! While checking my email, I saw an email from one of the team guys. Basically, it said not to be fooled by the blue sky. We were still riding rain bikes.

I got to the park about 9:20. We were to meet at 9:30 to load our bags in the vehicle going to McMenamins. We could also put a bag in the sag car, but there was a good chance those of us not doing the long route would not have access to the sag vehicle (turns out it was behind us for most of the section to Centralia).

After Brad had everyone determine who was doing which route, we headed out. There were at least 40 riders. A group of us (most of the women) planned to do part 1 of the long route to Centralia, then part 2 of the short route loop from Centralia and back to Centralia where we were staying at McMenamins. That meant we would be with the fast guys for the first half of the day.

As usual, the ride started out pretty fast. We didn't formally regroup until Tenino. We lost a few riders who weren't going all the way to Centralia (other obligations).

We went down Crowder Rd and onto Hwy 507 (after a freight train went by--where Vaughn almost got hit by the gate coming down). At Bucoda we turned to go over Tono. This was the first big climb of the day (yes, there are hills on 143rd into Tenino, but not long ones). Debbie, Andy, and I brought up the rear on that one.

We rode along Big Hanaford past the Steam Plant. It started to rain. Once again, my rain jacket was doing a fine job of keeping the inside of my jersey pocket dry. The rest of me, however, got a little wet.

We turned off of Big Hanaford at Halliday. Usually I go Teitzal. Now I know why. Halliday is another long climb. Teitzal goes along the other side of the valley. Both roads come out at Little Hanaford.

We regrouped at Little Hanaford and decided we would continue on the route into Centralia. That meant another big climb over Seminary Hill. I had also never done this road (staying on Little Hanaford to Salzer Valley is much flatter). At least the rain had stopped. It was quite fun coming down the other side of Seminary.

We rode the last bit into Centralia. After a potty stop at McMenamins, we went over to Santa Lucia coffee shop. The long route riders were still there. I was surprised since they were doing 102 miles. I expected them to be long gone.

Brad did another talk about who was doing which route, then we took off. Debbie, Michelle, and Derik were done for the day. We were down to 5 of us doing the shorter route (well, 6 actually, counting Jo, but she was way faster).

We headed south out of Centralia to Salzer Valley Rd. We turned onto Centralia Alpha (I call it Alpha Centauri). This was the beginning of long climb number 4 for the day. Jean and Scott were first up the hill (after the long route guys left us behind). I was third, followed by Maria and Manek.

Once we passed Logan Hill Rd, I was in new territory for me. This time, there wasn't a big climb! We rode as far out as North Fork Rd. Then we rode through a valley (maybe called Newakum) with no steep hills. The sun was out, but I could see a big black cloud in the distance.

At Jackson Hwy, we stopped at a little market so Maria could get more fluids. That black cloud came over us and it started raining. I zipped up my rain jacket. We could see to the right that there was blue sky after the cloud. The route actually went left, but we opted to not follow the rain and went right instead.

Sure enough, soon, we were out of the rain and into some sunshine. We rode Jackson Hwy through all of its name changes back to Centralia.

We arrived just in time to check in at the hotel (3:00). My bag was already in the room thanks to Debbie. I carried Star up the stairs and put her in the room.

I quickly hopped in the shower. Funny thing, after I finished my shower, and was just starting to get dressed, the lights went off (blew a fuse). Since there was no window, the bathroom was pitch black. Fortunately, I had laid my clothes on the top of my bag. I managed to get myself completely dressed in the dark (I would be good at being blind--except, it would be kind of hard to ride a bike...).

A bunch of us went down to the cafe for some food since dinner wasn't until 6:00. The long route riders arrived at about 5:00. They reported a rather grueling ride.

We figured, out of our 70+ mile ride, we had a headwind for almost all of it (except the last part back into Centralia).

At 6:00 we all headed over to the Gibson House for the Team dinner. There were a number of presentations and we got our racing numbers. My number is 333 (better than 666!). We had a good dinner.

Debbie and I came back to the hotel so Jo could get her bike out of our room. We looked to see what the others were doing, but didn't find anyone. Debbie was exhausted, so we called it a night. Breakfast is at 7:30 in the morning.

It was a good ride today. New roads for me and okay weather (for February).

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Torrential Time Trial (Practice)

They say, "Train heavy, race light". Today was sort of like that, only I would say, "Train in the worst possible weather, race in the sunshine (one can hope, right?)".

Jen, our top Time Trial racer (also our BARR--Best All-Around Road Racer), offered to do a practice Time Trial with us newbies and those who haven't done a TT. We met at her house at 10:00. I rode over, of course, which was a nice warm-up for me. Since I didn't want to start the practice soaking wet, I wore my rain pants over my kit from my house to Jen's. I also wore my helmet cover and put the rear fender on Tessa. I had put the aerobars back on as well.

At Jen's, I took off the fender, rain pants, helmet cover, and water bottle. The Time Trial part itself was just under 9 miles so I wouldn't need water (there was plenty of that coming out of the sky anyway). Debbie, Maria, Jen, and I rode down to East Bay Dr. We would start at Glass St., go out to Woodard Bay Rd, turn around, and come back. This course is hillier than most time trials.

Not only was it pouring down rain, but it was also very windy. It was cold and nasty. Without the rear fender, my backside was soaked right away. The wind was blowing hard from the south, so that meant the first half would be a hearty tailwind. However, coming back would be a terrible headwind.

I opted to go first. Since there is no drafting allowed on a TT, we would go off the start at 30 second intervals. Jen held my bike so I could clip in to both pedals. She counted down from 10 and off I went. With the tailwind, it was easy getting up to speed. The trick was to not go out too hard. I knew I would need a lot of strength on the way back in the wind. The worst part going out was dodging all the debris and trying to stay out of the rivers running down the road. At the halfway mark I was at 13 minutes.

At Woodard Bay Rd I made the turn around (there were no cars--yay!) and headed back into the wind. My speed plummeted. Now was the hard part. The wind was blowing the rain right at my face. My glasses were coated to where I could only see about 6 feet in front of me. I came down the hill near Priest Point Park. The trees and the uphill were doing a good job of blocking some of the wind but, as I came up and around the curve, the wind blasted me full force. If I had stopped pedaling, I would have gone backwards! After Priest Point, the road goes slightly downhill. I couldn't tell though because the wind was doing its darnedest to blow me back the other way. I pushed as hard as I could on the pedals, couldn't see a thing out of my glasses, and crossed the finish in 30:22. Maria came in just a little over 2 minutes after me, and Debbie was a little over 4 minutes after me.

Jen took the shortest way back to her house as she was freezing cold from standing there waiting for us. Debbie went back the way we had gone to the start. Maria and I took a longer way back to cool down (or rather, spin the lactate out of our legs--we were none too hot). Maria was kind enough to offer me a ride home in her car from Jen's house.

So, what did we learn today? Well, we learned that even in a torrential downpour and strong winds, we can do it. The Icebreaker TT is a flat course, so even if the weather is just as bad as today, it will still be easier. Frankly, I don't think the weather can get any worse...unless it snows!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Another Great Ride With the VBC!

At the end of my Friday ride with the Vancouver Bike Club, Dick told me there was another ride on Sunday at 10:00. Since I had so much fun on the first one, I thought I'd do it.

This ride met at Fred Meyer out Salmon Creek area (on the other side of the freeway from the previous ride). I took the same route out to 134th that I did Friday. This time I turned left to get over to Fred Meyer. One of the, sometimes, tricky things is finding where the ride REALLY starts from. Fred Meyer is a big place. Fortunately, as I came into the parking lot, I saw a Hi-Vis yellow jacket. Turns out it was Kelly from Friday (he was the guy who asked if the pace was what I was used to). He was the first one there. He was very nice and even printed (and laminated) a map of the route for me!

Once everyone got there (not as many as Friday, but several of the same people--Kelly, Dick, Debbie, Joe, and Kristen), Joe, the ride leader, went over the route and regroup spots. Once again, everyone introduced themselves (I think this is a great idea). I think there were just two (or maybe three--I don't remember if Debbie's husband, Curtis, was on Friday's ride) additional guys, Henryk and Russ that I don't think were on the Friday ride.

We took off out behind Fred Meyer to 10th Ave. After a few turns off of 10th, we came back to 10th at I-5. We rode parallel to the freeway. I even knew where we were! Okay, not a big surprise considering you can see this road from the freeway. We were going by the fairgrounds. Kelly and I got ahead of the rest. As we rode along, Kelly pointed out the next turn and told me the top of the hill would be the regroup spot. So I headed for the top of the hill. We regrouped and continued on.

We did some good downhills as well as some uphills (this was a nice rolling route). We came around over by the Columbia River. The rolling route continued until we returned to Fred Meyer.

At the end, Kristen said something about taking the Salmon Creek Trail to WSU. My ears perked up when I heard "trail". We figured out the way I could go, then head back to my dad's. So, I did another new trail!

At the end of the Salmon Creek Trail we came out to 119th. I rode that back to 50th Ave. then over to St. John's and back the way I went on Friday.

Today's ride was 39.5 miles for me. Average was a little slower due to all the hills I'm sure. I really enjoyed meeting all the new people through the VBC. I hope to ride with them again next time I'm down.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Rest of the Day, Or...

...Some New Trails.

After the ride with the VBC, I came back to my dad's house for lunch. I ate my lunch, then hopped back on Tessa for some more time in the sunshine and now 65 degree February weather.

I've been wanting to see where this one bike path leads next to Hwy 99 near Ross St. So, I rode to the beginning at Ross St. I rode the trail south alongside the exit ramp from I-5 to Hwy 99. The trail came to a "Y". To the right, the trail went over the freeway to Main St. Left, it became the Ellen Davis Trail. Much of the EDT is an unpaved walking path. This particular part is paved. It spit me out at Leverich Park. Okay, onto the next trail...

I rode the Burnt Bridge Creek Trail (also called the Discovery Trail) from Leverich Park all the way to the other end at 92nd Ave. The part from Andresen Rd. to the end was new for me. 92nd eventually took me over to Burton Rd. I had a vague memory of this road. I think I used to take this road to Evergreen Highschool, when I was a senior, for a Nursing Aide class (I could be wrong). Burton had a bike lane, and I wasn't ready to turn back just yet, so I continued east. I rode under I-205, past 112th, 119th, all the way out until the bike lane ended. At that point, I turned around and headed back (if I hadn't already ridden 43 miles, I may have continued on). As I came back on Burton, I started seeing the bike route directional signs (the ones that give a destination and tell how far it is). At first I thought I would ride to downtown, but then I started seeing signs for a "Padden Parkway Trail". Hmmm....never heard of this one!

I followed the signs. I went past Vancouver Mall (can't remember the last time I was there), and came back to Andresen. I followed the signs north along Andresen to Padden Parkway. Sure enough, there, running parallel to the multi-lane Parkway was a nice paved path. I would have liked to go east, but it was time for me to head back, so I went west. The trail ended a short distance later where Padden Pkwy. rejoins and becomes 78th St. I rode over to the "old" 78th St. and found myself heading back toward Andresen. Since I didn't want to go back on Andresen, I turned off onto a residential street. Although I didn't really know where I was going, I knew the general direction I needed to go. I just kept working my way in that direction. I came out to 63rd which I knew. From there, I drew upon my childhood bike riding memories and crossed 63rd back onto more residential roads. Well, things have sure changed! I have no memory of all the houses (because they weren't there, of course). I did, however, get to familiar ground and managed to come out to St. John's right where I thought I would.

22 miles and 3 new trails (or parts of trails) later, I returned to my dad's house. The weather was so nice today that I was able to take the sleeves off my jacket (is it really just February???)! Unfortunately, it is supposed to get cold again. At least it was a nice taste of Spring and a great day of riding!

Riding With My Hometown Bike Club

That would be the Vancouver Bike Club. Vancouver, Washington, that is.

Son number 4 is spending his weekend as a member of the All-State Symphony Orchestra in Portland (yeah, yeah, I know...but...isn't Portland in Oregon? Why is Washington All-State in Oregon? It's a long story and not the purpose of this blog.). For me, it means four days to hang out and do some riding in my hometown.

A few weeks ago I looked up the Vancouver Bike Club online. They have a pretty decent website with a nice active ride calendar. I found a ride that looked good and emailed the ride leader. He was happy to have me along.

I showed up at the start after an easy 6 mile ride from my dad's house. There were about 15 of us. We all signed the roster. There were three other women, one of which was also a guest. Dick, the ride leader, went over the details of the ride and introduced us guests. Then, everyone else introduced themselves (I'm generally good with names, but not that many--I just tried to remember the other gals' names (Kristin, Debbie, and...well, two out of three anyway) and a couple of the guys--Dick and John (oh, and Chris).

Dick said they would probably split into 3 groups--a fast group, moderate group, and a slower group. Really, something for everyone. He said the fast group would probably go about 18-20mph average. Sounded good to me. There was also an option for an extra 5 mile loop. That, too, sounded good. It was probably the most beautiful day, weather-wise--blue skies, sunshine and mild temps. I could have ridden all day! I even got to wear my SUNglasses!

We took off on the ride. Before long, we were on a quiet road following Salmon Creek. We crossed the creek and climbed up a steepish hill (on Strava I got 2nd overall on that hill!). Then, there were a whole bunch of turns, through neighborhoods with speed "humps", and a short dirt trail section at the end of a road. I had absolutely no idea where I was. I was loving it!

We re-grouped at a gas station about 12 miles into the ride. One of the guys asked me if the pace was what I was used to. Actually, I'm used to going a bit faster. I told him that. He said, "Damn you!". Of course, it was all in fun. Apparently, the pace we were going was a little bit more peppy than some of the folks were used February. I think the nice weather was encouraging the peppy-ness.

There was a group of 6 of us that planned to do the "China Ditch" loop (the extra 5 miles). Part of it is a long straight stretch. We did a nice tight paceline, taking turns on the front. It was a little windy, but certainly not the worst I've been in. There is also a Strava segment for this section. I got 2nd overall.

After the straight stretch, Debbie was leading and I was behind her. As we passed a street to our left, one of the guys hollered, "LEFT!" Apparently, Debbie didn't know the route that well. Her and I turned around and went back to the turn. By this time, the group was a little ways ahead. I decided to pretend I was pulling a "teammate" back to the group. We were back to the group in about a minute. Kristin was surprised we caught up so fast. Woo Hoo!

For the next turn, the guys decided to have a little fun. Each of them made sure to tell me several times that, after the train tracks, we would take an immediate left ("After the tracks, take an immediate left." "We're going to cross some tracks. Go left after the tracks." So on and so on.)

Near the end of the route, we rode through the WSU Vancouver campus on roads and bike paths. Too soon, we were back to the start. Because it was so nice out, I opted to not have coffee at Starbucks (I don't drink coffee, and I didn't need a hot cocoa) with the group. I thanked Dick for letting me join them. I really enjoyed the ride. I told him I would take the long way back to my dad's. He told me a good way to ride when I told him where I needed to go. I followed his directions and made it back to my dad's a little after 12:30. Total miles for me was 43. My overall average was 16.7mph. But, that wasn't the end of my riding for the day...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Good Call Jean!

For tonight's ride I so wanted to ride Tessa! I asked Jean which bike she was going to ride tonight. She was opting for her rain bike. There had been some rain, but it seemed to be drying up. Nonetheless, I followed Jean's plan and rode Star (my, now designated, rain bike). On the way down to the start, I was wishing I had ridden Tessa. The road and the trail were both dry. It was misting just a little, but by the time I got to the start, it wasn't misting anymore. Carter and Roger both pulled up on their race bikes (Carter riding his new Ridley). Everyone else was on their rain bikes.

Brad said we would go South. Jean, Ron, Roger, and Carter were all going to turn around early. The others (fast boys) would go on to Rainier. I had time to go the whole way, but not with just the fast boys--unless I wanted to ride by myself!

The further South we went, the more it was raining or had been raining (I did have my rain jacket, but I had stowed it in my back pocket because it was too warm). The trail was pretty wet. Following Carter or Roger was not so much fun. I tried to stay to one side when I was behind one or the other. I told Jean she made a good call to ride the rain bikes.

The five of us turned around at the second Waldrick crossing. Coming back, Jean was following one of the race bikes when she got a chunk of mud in her eye (even with her glasses on). We stopped and she tried to get it out. We took off again, but she still was having problems. When we got back to the roundabout, Jean was no longer with us. We waited for her to come along. She did eventually get to the roundabout. She was still having problems with her eye. Ron stayed with her as they rode back.

I peeled off at the bridge as usual. It was still raining. Because I never put my rain jacket on, I was wet, but I wasn't cold. Ride was 33.4 miles at 16.9mph. Not bad for the ol' rain bike!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Half Fast--Half Moderate or...

A Breakthrough Ride for Debbie!

Due to a meeting later in the afternoon that I will have to ride downtown for, I opted to not go the full distance the main part of the Team was going (70+ miler).

We all met at the park, and started together. Manek, Jeff, Debbie, Katie, her friend, and I planned to do Johnson Creek. That would be about 50 miles. We figured we would stay with the Team until Tenino. Then, they would continue South and we would continue to Johnson Creek.

It was a cloudy day, but 0% chance of rain. Most everyone was on their race bikes or had at least taken off fenders. I was, of course, on Tessa. The pace out of town was fairly peppy. A bunch of us got stopped at a light. Fortunately, DJ and Trisha (on their tandem of awesomeness--really, it's DJ and Trisha who are the awesome ones) were also stopped at the light. After the light turned green, we took off. We made the turn onto Lee. DJ and Trisha were ahead by about 20 feet. They slowed down until I caught their wheel, then they pulled me back to the group that hadn't had to stop at the light. When we were near the main group, DJ and Trisha dropped back to pull the rest of the group up too (I was able to close the distance and catch up). They are amazingly good at that (as well as being extremely kind)!

I wondered if Manek, Katie, and Debbie were already dropping back but, pretty soon, Debbie pulled up beside me (Woo Hoo! Good job Debbie!). In fact, I was wildly impressed as we made the corners and Debbie flew through them and stayed with the group. She was riding nice and close to the wheel in front of her. If the guy pulled ahead a bit (like on the corners), she would jump out of the saddle and catch the wheel again! That's the way to do it!

I was paired with Bob when we got to the front of the line. I knew Debbie was right behind us. Bob and I peeled off and that put her in front with Brad. I heard her say she wouldn't stay too long. Brad said to stay just 90 seconds on the front. After their pull, they peeled off and Debbie was drifting back. I was paired with someone else now. As I saw Debbie moving back I asked the guy I was with if he could let her in (it is too difficult to keep up if you end up at the very back in all the turbulence). About that time, she asked another guy if she could get in. Of course he let her in, and she was back in a good position in the middle of the pack.

Next we had a couple of short rollers. Going up the first one, Debbie started to drop back. I came up beside her and urged her to fight it up the hill. We had a downhill on the other side. If she could just stay with the pack to the top, she could rest on the downhill. She fought (and complained) and did it! She stayed with the group!

We made the turn onto 143rd (after a sketchy incident with a dumb-ass driver who actually roared around us just as an oncoming car had almost reached us--the oncoming car had to pull to the side to avoid a head-on collision with the dumb-ass driver!). 143rd has some more rollers plus a couple little longer hills. I had a sneaking suspicion this was going to be it for Debbie. The longer hill and the pace at which the guys go up it would spit her out the back. I hung with the pack, knowing we would be splitting at Tenino anyway. I was doing pretty good on the hills. There is a part where we come down the hill, go over the train tracks, and make an uphill curve. I actually managed to fly up the hill with no problem (first time I haven't had to work like a dog to catch the group!).

DJ and Trisha came up from behind. I heard them ask if we were just going to leave "that gal" behind. I knew they were talking about Debbie, so I said I would circle back to her. As I was headed back, I saw one of the team guys coming. He signaled for me to turn back around. I did, and when he caught up to me he said to catch up to the team. Debbie would keep coming. I would circle back for her at Tenino. So I hooked on to his wheel and he pulled me along. We caught up to the team right at Tenino. They went on, and I went back for Debbie.

She wasn't that far behind, so I didn't have to go back that much. The team guy (I'm blanking on his name) had told me to tell her to unzip her rain jacket. So I did. The rain jacket is great, but it was in the mid 40s, and it's just too hot. Plus, she had a polar fleece vest on too (she didn't want to be freezing like yesterday).

We waited for awhile before we saw Manek, Katie, and her friend coming. When they got to us, they took a little break. Sergio came back. We told him we were doing Johnson Creek (we had told Brad at the beginning). He had to head back the way we had come.

Once everyone was rested and fed, we headed on over to Crowder Rd. About half way down Crowder we caught up to Jeff. He was still planning to do the shorter route. We did a single paceline, taking turns pulling on the front the rest of the way down Crowder, onto 184th to Skookumchuck, and over to Johnson Creek.

As we were going along Johnson Creek, up and down the little rollers, Jeff took off up one of the rollers. I pretended he was executing an attack and went after him. I caught up to his wheel, but we didn't really slow down. Pretty soon we were ahead of the others. We eased up a bit and talked about which races we were doing. When the others caught up, we agreed to take a break on the trail after crossing 507.

We decided to take the trail back. Jeff and I got ahead again, but that was okay. At Fir Tree, Jeff got on the road to head back to the park. I circled back to Manek, Debbie, and Katie. I told them how I like to do Form Sprints at the street crossings. Katie gave it a try.

After Rainier, when we got back on the trail, I started riding closer and closer to Debbie. She was wise to what I was doing, so I put my hand on her shoulder. Then she took her turn and put her hand on my shoulder. After a couple of wobbles, she smoothed it out and did just fine. I was proud of her, and she was proud of herself!

At the bridge, I headed for home. We all did great today, but I was especially pleased with Debbie's performance. This was truly a breakthrough ride for her skill-wise. She took to heart what we learned yesterday and put it into practice. Great job, Debbie!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Bring on the Cap and Gown...

Today, Super Biker Woman took a class on how to ride a bike. Okay, it was a little more than that. It was the Intro to Racing class put on by Cycle U in Seattle. There were quite a few cyclists. OOA was well represented by both men and 5 of us women.

We started out by signing waivers (WHAT? There is danger???) and giving our USA Cycling License numbers (so we can receive 3 Mass Start upgrade points). Then we went to our trusty steeds and rode to the UW parking lot for the "lab" portion of the class.

First up was learning simple cornering. We split into two groups and did big ovals around two cones. First clock-wise, then counter-clockwise (or, as Jean would say, "anti-clockwise"). Then we paired up with a buddy (Jean and I were a pair, and Debbie and Fumiko were a pair). Now we had to continue going around the oval trying to stay close beside our buddy. It was a little tricky at first, but pretty soon Jean and I got the hang of it. We switched inside to outside and also direction.

Once most were comfortable with that, we moved on to one person putting their hand on the other person's shoulder. After a few wobbles (because the one person has only one hand on their bar), I got pretty comfortable with that. I would just let Jean pull me through the corner. Then we switched and I pulled her through the corners (Now, if we could just get a whole line of this one hand on another's shoulder, we could have a circus act!).

Then we moved on to bumping and riding along touching elbows, then shoulders. First we were supposed to just touch elbows, then progress to actually leaning on each other while rolling along. Jean and I could even lean on each other through the corners! Debbie and Fumiko were a little more nervous (I'm sure Debbie would use the term "TERRIFIED"). Jean and I were following them around the oval. Most of the time they were a good two to three feet apart. Jean would say, "Touch elbows!". We would see their elbows come out, but they were still about a foot apart from each other! In all fairness, it is tricky to do when you are going slow--and we were definitely going slow--maybe 5 miles an hour.

Through with the touching, we moved on to adding a third person (we added Katie) and riding around the oval as a trio. The goal was to stay close together and do the corners as a unit. We took turns on being the middle, outside, and inside person. We were moderately successful.

For the final skill (by this time we were all freezing cold and there was a light misting rain), we counted off 1 through 6. We enlarged the oval into more of a rectangle and rode as a peloton. First the ones, then the twos, and so on. As we were riding around with Kristie as the "lead car" (even though she was on a bike), Colin would holler out for the sixes to move up to the front. They were supposed to work there way to the front of the peleton. Then the fives, and so on, until the ones had their turn moving up to the front. Then it was fives and sixes moving up, then threes and fours, and, finally, ones and twos. On one of the corners, two of the UW riders got tangled and one gal went down. Since we were still going slow, she wasn't hurt. In fact, she did a nice little roll, almost like it was in slow-motion!

We warmed up a bit on the ride back to the Cycle U building. We put the bikes back on the bike rack on Fumiko's car and went inside for about an hour of classroom work. Colin went over the different types of races (road, circuit, crit, time trial, and stage race). He also covered some of the nuts and bolts, such as how to pin your race numbers on your jersey.

Then it was time for the final. I think I passed the test (no, I'm SURE I passed the test!).

I was hoping for a graduation ceremony, but no. We just handed in our tests and were free to go...not even a little Pomp and Circumstance! What kind of University is this???

Well, at least we had a post-graduation dinner at The Ram in U Village...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Doing It Again...Just For Kicks

In the last blog post, I said there would be a next time because I had to do it right (well, left actually). Today I did just that!

This time I rode Stella instead of subjecting Star to the dirt and gravel. Stella is much more capable of "off-road" riding.

I was really only interested in doing the Fort Lewis property part, so I didn't ride to Yelm first. I just rode from home out Yelm Hwy to 510, and then to the "pothole" road. It's maybe 10 miles to get to the turn (just past the "Military Crossing Ahead" sign (yes, that sign is for the road I was going to go on).

Once I was on the road (a term used somewhat loosely in places), I went the same way I went before, until I came to the "T". This time at the "T" I turned left. The road was similar to the other way--more potholes, some packed dirt, a variety of gravel and rocks. There were more longer and steeper hills (one I even got down to Super Granny--that's saying something on Stella--probably would have had to walk Star). There was also a pretty steep downhill. Again I went VERY SLOW. I was down in the drops and had the brakes pulled as hard as possible. If the hill had been any steeper, I would have had to walk down.

This went on for, seemingly, a long time. I came to another "T". This time I did not trust my instinct. I pulled out my phone and looked at Google Maps. I determined which direction led to Rainier Rd. (this time right was correct). The road even had a name--Johnson Rd.!

I continued on. Again I came to an intersection--this time a "Y". Out came the phone--this time, left was the correct way. I was still on Johnson Rd. In some places the road was pretty good--not too many water-filled holes and just the right amount of gravel.

Finally I came out of the forest, out into sunshine, and a grassy prairie. Oh, and a big sign that said, "STOP!". It also said, "NO-vehicles, NO-horseback riding", and a bunch of other "NO"s. Hmmm...what to do? Since I was at another intersection, I looked at the map on my phone. Yeah...the option with the big "NO" sign was the way to Rainier Rd. Had there been no one around, I would not have thought twice (I would just hope for no camouflaged soldiers lying low in the grass waiting for some unsuspecting intruder, such as myself, to pass by). As it was, there was someone on a tractor off to my left. I decided to just go for it, and beg forgiveness (or ignorance) if I got stopped. I knew I didn't have far to go to make it to Rainer Rd.

There was an oncoming vehicle (didn't appear to be military), but it turned before it got to me. I kept going. It didn't come back to me. I saw the vehicle that the tractor came on, but didn't see any people. I came around one last corner and there was Rainier Rd. I made it! I rode the rest of the way home on the road.

This loop was only 25.8 miles, but it took me 2 hours to do it. The pothole/dirt/gravel section was only about 8 miles, but it was a slow 8 miles. Now I can say I've done the road from Hwy 510 to Rainier Rd. I don't need to do it again!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Workout AND an Adventure!

On Tuesdays I usually do the Night Ride with the team but, since the other gals weren't going tonight, I opted to do my own training ride in the daylight. According to my workout plan, I was to do a 2 hour ride working on Force Reps (big gear--low cadence). I also wanted to work on Form Sprints and Intervals. My plan was to ride the trail to Yelm and the road back. After my warm up, I thought the trail with its upward, but never too steep, trend would be good for the Force Reps. It's also good for the sprints (there are several street crossings). So, I did all that on the way to Yelm.

At Yelm, I worked my way over to the 510 Alternate. Once I was on that, there was a pretty strong crosswind and occasional headwind. I worked on more Force Reps.

I had not worn, or brought with me, my rain jacket so, of course, it spit rain off and on. It was nothing too terrible and I was riding Star (my now designated "rain" bike) anyway.

When I got to the road that goes off to the right and onto Ft. Lewis property, I decided to ride it as far as the bridge over the river (Nisqually?) then back to 510. It means a steep downhill to the river which I would then have to come back up. I did it anyway. As I came down one of the steeper parts of the hill (the part with the curve in it), I got going pretty fast. Into the curve I got a little nervous and started to brake. Then, in my head, I was saying, "DON'T BRAKE! COUNTER-STEER! COUNTER-STEER!!! HOLD ON!!!". I made it through the curve holding a pretty good line. My max speed was 47.9mph. Whew!

I turned around, as planned, at the bridge. Coming back up wasn't too bad. I don't think I had the 12-27 cassette last time I came up this hill. Plus, last time, coming back up the hill was much later in the ride.

When I got back to 510, I decided to cross the Hwy and go on the road that goes on another part of Ft. Lewis property. The guy, Tim, had told me, while we were on the other ride out this way, that this road went over to Rainier Rd. He had said it was paved, but with potholes. I thought, no problem, I can dodge potholes. So, off I went.

There were indeed potholes--lots of potholes! I was dodging and weaving around them without problems. I had gone, maybe a couple of miles, when I came to a section with a lot of potholes and gravel. I picked my way through, then realized I was no longer on any kind of pavement. The dirt was packed and although I was still having to negotiate around holes and rocks, I felt I was doing pretty good. I thought, maybe the pavement picks up again down the road. No, it did not.

I continued on, thinking this road must eventually come out to Rainier Rd. It reminded me of when I took Stella to the end of Thompson Creek Rd and kept going onto Weyerhaeuser property because I was sure it would eventually spit me out onto Tono Rd. (not quite, but close). Only this time, instead of Stella's beefy 32mm tires, I was on Star's less than beefy 25mm tires. But, I was doing okay! Except on the downhill parts where I went VERY SLOW!

I came to a "T" in the road. My sharp instincts told me to go right. Right would take me to Rainier Rd. Left would take me...who knows where? More gravel, more dirt, and lots more potholes later, I started seeing signs of civilization. Well...bunches of garbage. I figured I must be getting close to the road as people would not drive too far down a dirt road to dump their trash. Sure enough, after I came down an awfully steep hill, and around a corner, I saw a car go by out on the paved road. Ta da! I had made it to...Hwy 510. I was NOT on Rainier Rd. In fact, I was only about a mile from where I had left 510!

I guess my instincts were not so sharp afterall. Where I turned right? Yeah...I should have gone left. Next time (and, yes, there will be a next time--I've got to do it right--I mean LEFT!) I'll go left at the "T". Maybe I'll take Stella. However, Star certainly held her own (makes me think maybe with some cyclocross tires Star could be a worthy cross bike???).

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Planets Aligned...

...For a great day on the bike!

First, there was 0% chance of rain. Yay! I can ride Tessa! Next, I chose the perfect combination of clothing to keep me warm, but not cooking. I do so much better if I don't get too hot. I also brought just the right amount of nutrition to keep me fueled for the whole ride. Finally, there was a large group, including 6 of us women. The guys were generous in not going at race pace the entire time. We also regrouped a number of times (and I wasn't always the one having to catch up!).

The route for the ride seemed like it should have been longer in miles. In looking at the map, we did cover a rather large chunk of Thurston County. We started in Tumwater, worked our way up to Capitol Forest, came down back to Delphi, then kind of cut across all the way over to Hwy 99 on 113th/McCorkle. Then it was a short jog over to Waldrick, where we continued our cut across the county. About half of the guys did the Tempo Lake loop. The rest of us just stayed on Steadman.

On Spurgeon Creek Rd., we all did the Sun Lakes loop. This was a new road for me. I had actually looked for it when I rode Tessa for the first time on Friday (Brad had mentioned it on a night ride a few weeks ago). I thought it went off to the right, but it was the left. It was a hilly little number, but still kind of fun. It came back to Spurgeon Creek. We took the briefest of breaks, then continued on to Yelm Hwy. After a short section on Yelm Hwy, we turned at Meridian, then right at Mullen. I thought to myself, I know this section and it has hills. Fortunately, there are good enough downhills to get a decent run on the uphills. I kept up just fine!

On Hwy 510, I stayed pretty close to Jo, Jean, Michelle, and Derik up one of the longer hills of the day. The rest of the guys circled around until we caught up on Reservation Rd.

Coming down Old Nisqually from Reservation, I was already thinking about (read...DREADING) the next hill we would be climbing. It was the Steilacoom Rd. hill (a segment on Strava called Salmon Lane). Years ago when I started riding more and training to do the STP on my Giant Cypress DX Hybrid, I mistakenly went up this hill. That bike had a really low gear, but I still had to stop at a driveway about half way up as I felt I was going to have a heart attack at any moment. I rested, then rode the remaining section but, since then, I have never gone that way again. I've come DOWN it many times. Coming down, it is one of my favorite hills to see how fast I can go (I think my top speed is 47.9 on my Trek). Well, no amount of dread was going to get me out of doing the climb. I dropped down to the small ring in the front, and progressively shifted the back until I was out of gears. Tessa has a pretty decent easy gear on the back. Still, I was popping little wheelies as I pumped up the hill. Strava puts the hill at either an 11.4% grade or 12.7%, depending on whether you look at the Salmon Lane, New Version segment or the Salmon Lane Climb segment. All I can say is, it felt like about 27%! I was most definitely last up that one ( least I could still see the other stragglers ahead of me!)! AND, I did not have to stop and rest!

Now, you might think we just continued straight on Steilacoom back to town. No, no we did not. We turned on to Dutterow and crossed Martin Way in Hawks Prairie. We worked our way over to Willamette, came around by Jubilee, and over to Marvin. At the next roundabout, we swung right on to Hawks Prairie Rd, and followed that to South Bay Rd.

Where South Bay Rd. crossed the Chehalis Western Trail, that was my cue to leave the group and head for home on the trail. I must admit, my butt was getting tired. The saddle on Tessa is different from Star. It doesn't have a cut-out. However, since I am able to comfortably ride somewhere around 60+ miles, I'm not going to change it out. Besides, it perfectly matches the rest of the bike! My butt will just have to get used to it!

According to Strava, I rode 70.7 miles. The ride time was 3:55. My average was 18.0 mph! There was 2146 feet of elevation gain. Aside from being a little tired (no duh!), it was a perfect ride. The planets were definitely aligned to make it a great day!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Plays Well With Others

Today was our first women's team training ride. It was orchestrated by Michelle with the assistance of the other veteran women racers--Jen, Maria, Jean, and Jo (hmmm...I think the rest of us are going to have to change our names to ones that start with either "J" or "M"). There were the 5 veterans and 5 of us newbies.

We met down at the Farmers' Market. Michelle went over some nutrition tips and we learned a handy trick of licking and sticking Shot Blocks on the top tube for easy access. Jean had some with her and, lo and behold, it worked! After the nutrition tips, we went over to the parking lot and practiced cornering, utilizing counter steering techniques. That seemed to go pretty well.

Next we headed out toward Boston Harbor. We watched the "J"s and "M"s demonstrate a rotating paceline (a constantly circling double line), then the rest of us joined in. First we went counterclockwise, then later, clockwise. To me, clockwise is more intuitive, but I was getting the hang of both.

We continued doing the rotating paceline onto Zangle (after we all made it up the hill). At the top of 81st we regrouped to pick up those that had dropped back a bit. Next up was observing Michelle and Jen carrying out an attack (if you are picturing them going at each other with swords or something, you'd be mistaken). I discovered Tessa is pretty responsive and easy to accelerate. I also discovered, at high rpms, pedaling out of the saddle was a little squirrelly. I sat back down.

Sarah had a mechanical (dérailleur cable broke--I think the front?) just at the beginning of the downhill on 81st. The rest of us circled back. They got it so that she was in the small ring on the front (so she could go up the hills), but she was also having problems shifting in the back. She seemed to be pretty much stuck in one gear.

We practiced some more attacks (namely, going like mad to catch up to either Jen or Michelle when they would initiate the attack) on the way back to Boston Harbor Rd. on Woodard Bay Rd.

Back at Boston Harbor, a few gals had to head back (Sarah, because of her cable). The rest of us did another "lap". This time we took turns attacking and bridging. I found myself in the front too much (just wears me out faster). Jen was telling me not to be at the front all the time, so I drifted back and let everyone go by (except Michelle). Then Michelle told me to bridge up to Jo who had attacked. I did and, voila, I was back at the front! I guess I'll have to work on that strategy a little more.

When we completed the second lap, we headed back into town, again practicing the rotating paceline. Back at the Market, we commented on how we were all just a little wheezy. Katie thought it was abnormal, but we told her we all felt the same.

Jean and I rode together as far as the bridge over Yelm Hwy. where she went right and I continued down to 67th, then home through Horizon Point.

Today I learned a lot and had fun doing it. Tessa played well with the other bikes. The biggest adjustment I have to get used to is not having a rear view mirror. Fortunately, in a race situation, you don't spend a lot of time looking behind you!

When I got home I wiped every bit of dirt off Tessa. White bikes do not look good with dirt on them!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Introducing...(drum roll please)...

The latest addition to Super Biker Woman's stable of Super Bikes...TESSA!!! Tessa comes from the royal lineage of the Scott CR1 family. She is of the Contessa Team line, sporting the 2013 color scheme of white with beautiful bright lime green accents (the photos do not do her justice!). Her Shimano 105 gruppo along with her mere 17.4 lb. carbon frame, will propel her down (and up) the road with ease. TESSA everyone (I can hear the oooos and aaaahhhhs)!!!

Now, I think I'll go for a ride!