Saturday, August 31, 2013

Riding the D-Line

Today was another 70+ mile ride with the Team. Fortunately, Maria rode too. Otherwise there would have been a lot of solo riding on my part.

Once again, Bill and Melody called the route. We were going to ride to Littlerock, up to Mima Rd, then to Bordeaux, and over to Oakville. Initially, they wanted to continue south to Garrard Creek, then back in on Independence Valley. However, most of the group felt that was a little too long, so a shorter route (for those who wanted it) was proposed. Basically, it just cut out the Garrard Creek and Independence Valley parts. Maria and I thought the shorter route would be just fine. 

I was happy with the route because I have been wanting to go over Bordeaux to Oakville for a long time. Awhile ago, I rode Stella up Bordeaux thinking I would end up in Oakville. Instead, I ended up at the Cedar Creek Correctional Facility. Bordeaux dead-ended there. Turns out there is this road off Bordeaux called the D-Line. The D-Line comes out just west of Oakville. 

So, we're riding along at a blistering pace (27-30mph--I'm barely hanging on) on Mima-Gate Rd. We get to Bordeaux, but we don't turn. What? I heard Mark say, "What happened to Bordeaux?". All I heard was something about the wind...that's the thing about bike rides--they are very "fluid" and can change at any time. I didn't really have time to be disappointed--I was working too hard to stay on the wheel in front of me!

Just when I couldn't stay with them any longer, one of the guys passed me and said Maria had dropped off the back. Ahhh...perfect! Now I can slow down and wait for Maria (she was without her flat repair kit, so I didn't want to leaver her behind). She caught up and the two of us continued at a much more doable pace. When we saw that the group did not turn onto School Land Rd, I figured what they were doing was riding the opposite direction of the route. Yippee, we would still get to do the D-Line!

At US 12, we caught up to the group (they had to wait for a bunch of traffic--good for us!). They took it easy for a short while which allowed Maria and I to rest. Once they picked up again, we were able to stay with them. We came into Oakville parallel to US 12 and then out onto US 12. Shortly after leaving Oakville, we turned onto Elma-Gate Rd. I've been by this road, but never taken it. Although it was pretty rough chip seal, it was still far better than being on US 12. For one thing, 12 goes up a hill that Elma-Gate does not. Also, the shoulder on that section of 12 is not the greatest. I'll be doing E-G from now on (okay, well, when I happen to be out for a long ride in that direction--not an everyday occurrence by any means). 

We took a right onto Shelton Rd. (funny, since it is nowhere near Shelton). That took us back to 12 (but past the nasty part). We had to backtrack a short distance on 12 to get to the D-Line into Capitol Forest. I think all of us except Maria made the left before the traffic. That was okay for me because I knew the group would out pace me on the hill into Capitol Forest. Maria would eventually catch up as she is much better at hill climbing than me. 

I made it up the first climb, and down the hill. As I was riding along the creek (Cedar Creek?), I was thoroughly enjoying myself. It reminded me of one of my other favorite roads, Old Cascade Hwy just west of Steven's Pass. I was actually glad to have been dropped by the group. I could enjoy my surroundings instead of just trying to stay on the wheel in front of me. Maria did catch up with me and we enjoyed the road together. 

There were about three more long steepish climbs before the top. On the third one, one of the guys came back for us. He was worried we might have hit one of the potholes. He said they are hard to see in the shade. I told him at the speed we were going we could see them just fine! But, it was very nice of him to be concerned.

Everyone was waiting at the top. They indulged Maria and I a quick break where I was able to snarf down a mini Luna bar before starting the descent to Bordeaux Rd. Once we hit the flats of Bordeaux, I was once again dropped off the back (sometimes the guys are like "barn-sour" horses--in a hurry to get back to the stable). This time Maria was able to stay with them. I saw them make the turn back onto Mima Rd, but I couldn't catch them. No problem--I knew which way they were going.

After awhile, I could see Maria had slowed to wait for me. I caught up to her, and we both remarked how we were officially tired of doing hills. Still, we had a few more to go but, fortunately, some good downhills too. 

Maria was out of water, and I was pretty close. We opted to stop at a little mini-mart on Black Lake Blvd. We split a bottle of water which allowed us to make it back a tiny bit hydrated. We very much enjoyed the new pavement on Sapp Hill!

So, finally, I have done the D-Line! I should have stopped and taken a photo. You'll just have to take my word that it is a beautiful ride. Oh, and on the D-Line, I think I saw just one car! Also, since it is in Capitol Forest, there are several camping spots. It might make a good Sub 24 bike tour...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Whole Hog Hill Day

I'm not doing so many "Team Ride" posts these days as they are relatively uneventful and generally travel the same roads. Today, however, was notable in that I went on a couple of roads I have not previously been on. Also, had to deal with a few dogs.

Bill and Melody called the route this morning. They, along with some other teammates, are going to the Pyrenees in September, so they thought a hilly route was in order. Okay...if you say so. 

Besides the big rollers on 143rd, the first major hill was Flumerfelt up to Zenkner Valley. By the time I got to the top (well after the rest of the group), I "felt" completely "flumed". I'd been up that way a few years I remember why it's been a few years...and will be a few years more before I go that way again! At least the guy at the top, walking his dogs, acknowledged that we must be pretty strong to ride up that road.

The rollers on Zenkner Valley Rd. weren't too bad. For most, it was easy to get a good start from the downhill previous.

After a brief break at Schaffer County Park, we continued on Big Hanaford to the next big climb on Halliday. Right as I was nearing the top (once again behind most of the group, except Rick, who was within sight), two dogs decided to give chase. Well, they didn't really have to chase, as I was not going all that fast. A slow trot was more like it. I yelled my best "GO HOME!!", even though I was pretty well winded. They continued to chase for a bit, but then passed me off to another dog who also chased, but responded better to my yelling. That's the bad thing about being the last one. By the time I go by, even if the dogs have been sleeping, they are wide awake and ready for some fun! Lucky me...

Next up (literally) was Ham Hill. This little porker of a road was a new one for me. Lest you think this was just some little piglet of a climb, oh no, it was the whole hog! I think there should be someone waiting at the top with some bacon to reward us for making it to the top of this god-awful hill! But, no. Not even a nice ham sandwich! Hey, I can see it now!. Do a supported ride that includes Ham Hill. At the top, have a rest stop that has all things pig (pork rinds, ham and bean soup, pulled pork sandwiches, and, of course, bacon--lots of bacon). Hmmm...people might have a hard time getting back on their bikes...

Ham Hill "curls" to Seminary Hill Rd (often referred to as "Cemetery" Hill). Fortunately, except for a few short ups, we mostly went down Seminary Hill. Same was true for Grimes Rd. (another new road for me--although, I've seen it from both ends before). Grimes is significant in that there is a stop sign at the bottom of a really steep downhill. No lettin' 'er fly on that one!

Once on Salzer Valley to Little Hanaford, we had to regain a bit of the elevation we lost coming down Grimes. It wasn't too bad though and I was able to stay with everyone (I say everyone, but, by this time, two of the guys had headed back a shorter way).

We took Tietzel Rd to Big Hanaford. Part of Tietzel is fabulously smooth. It almost makes up for the part that is a lot less fabulous...almost. The last two big hills were on Tono Rd. Bill and Melody, on the tandem, stopped on Big Hanaford for a potty break. That gave me an opportunity to get up the first hill on Tono without being last. They caught me just as I crested the top. The descent was fast, but short-lived as the next climb starts not long after the descent. I was spent by the time I reached the top, but recovered pretty well on the descent into Bucoda. Everyone was waiting. I got about a 30 second rest, then we took off for the return up 507. 

At Tenino, the group continued back on 143rd. I opted for Hwy 99 to Offut Lake and the trail home.

Total miles: 77.5
Average speed: 17.5
And a whole hog's worth of hills!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Must Have Been the Full Moon

Something caused those boys to go ballistic on tonight's ride! 

On the Tuesday evening rides I always get dropped. I know it's going to happen, I just try to stay with them as long as possible. Usually, that means about half of the ride--maybe a little less if it's hilly, or a little more if it's flat. When we go south, I do just fine getting out of town, by the airport, and down Case Rd. If we cut over to Tilley, I'm usually okay. If we stay on Case, I'm usually okay. Tonight, however, that was not happening. Going by the airport, all of a sudden, the fast boys decide to sprint. Fortunately, I wasn't the only one who got dropped. The rest of us managed to catch up at the stop sign. 

As I was riding along, something hit my forehead and ended up between my sunglasses lens and the prescription adapter. I tried flicking the glasses to get it out, but that wasn't working. Then, it started crawling into my line of sight. I took my glasses off to find a yellow jacket stuck  between the two lens. It took several taps of the glasses on my handlebar before the bugger came out. Of course, I'm also trying to catch up to the group as I'm doing this. Fortunately, there was another stop sign. Glasses back on my face, I rounded the corner with the group.

The pace picked up, once again, on Tilley. This caused the group to look rather messy. Instead of a nice single-file pace line, there were riders scattered across the lane as people would hammer hard, then slow up and drift off the back. Once we hit the hills on Tilley, that was the end of it for Jean and I. A couple of other guys (a new guy and "T-shirt Bill") were even dropped behind us.

We made it up the rollers and steep section of 140th to the top of Reeder. Steve had called out a regroup at the bottom of Reeder. Of course, when we got there, no one was there. So much for the regroup. Jean and I continued. We decided to take a short cut straight to Littlerock in hopes of catching them. We got to Littlerock and didn't see anyone. We figured we had beat them there. We kept going as we knew they would eventually catch us. They did, but not for awhile. 

When they caught us, we got back in with the group. Jean managed to stay with them for a good chunk of Delphi. I did not. I was pretty quickly spit out the back again. Not surprising.

As I was coming up on the hill up to McLane School, I saw Jean coming back for me. She apologized for leaving me, but she had a good ride down Delphi with the pack. I didn't begrudge her for a second. I would have done the same thing! If you can hang with them, you gotta go for it! 

We rode back into town and up the Woodland Trail. As we came to the junction with Chehalis Western, we noticed the moon and Mt. Rainier.
Ahhh...a full moon. That must be the reason for the crazy hammering tonight.

I made it home just after the sunset (time to put the headlight on the bike for these evening rides). It was 48.4 miles and an average of 17.6 mph. As much as I hate the surging nature of riding with these guys, it does, fairly accurately, mimic a race (slow down, speed up, slow down, speed up). So, it's probably good training for me...but, what was the deal? Did you all have to be home before you turned into vampires or werewolves? Is that the reason for the hammerfest? The full moon made you do it!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Finishing the Way I Started

Today was, probably, my last race of the season. I don't have a cyclocross bike (and I do have a bit of fear of crashing), so I won't be doing the cyclocross season.

I finished my first racing season the same way I started--with a Time Trial. However, this TT was more than twice as long as my first one. Today's TT was 40 km (24.85 miles). My first was just 10 miles (although at the time it seemed like a lot). I discovered I like the longer TT! Really, not a surprise. What do I do most in the cycling realm? Ride by myself, of course! What is a TT? A bike ride by oneself! It just happens to be faster.

Today I was especially faster because I was wearing my new aero helmet.

I was also using my new Profile Design Carbon Stryke Aero Bars
Notice how they match the bike?

How much faster? Well, I don't really have a side-by-side comparison as I have never done a 40k TT, but I can say that I've never done a 40k bike ride by myself with an average speed of 21.77mph! 

I managed to pass three gals (one of the three passed me near the beginning, but I passed her near the end--woo hoo!). This is one of the rare opportunities to actually race against women closer to my age (Masters 35+ Cat 4 Women). I pulled out a solid 4th place finish. The three gals who finished ahead of me were all on actual TT bikes (the ones with the aero frames and wheels). I didn't feel so bad! I was happy with my time of 1:07:35.

Even though my racing season may be finished, I'll continue to ride with my team posse. I'll be thinking about next season...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Better Than I Thought I Would!

Back to racing! Today was the Boston Harbor Circuit Race. What's the difference between a Road Race and a Circuit Race, you ask? Not much, except the course loops are shorter, and, therefore, you do more laps. In the case of the Cat 4 Women's race, we did 5 laps of the 6 mile course for a total of 30 miles. So, not necessarily a short race, just a shorter course. Makes for a bit more entertainment from a spectator's viewpoint.

The course is good, but there is one mean and nasty hill. It comes in the last section of the loop before returning to the start/finish. I was pretty sure my time with the pack would end at that hill, and I would ride the rest of the race on my own (or with any other poor hill climbers like me--hopefully).

We had just 11 gals in our race. OOA (my team) had the most gals, with three of us-Jean, Debbie, and I. Sadly, Maria was not able to race today.

We took off at a reasonable pace. Down the first hill and into a curve we were braking more than I like, but, I know the road, and I know how fast I can take that corner--the other non-OOA gals don't. Up the hill into Corner 1, then down the steep hill and through the rollers (that mostly go up) to Corner 2, I was doing fine. After Corner 2, I made a somewhat critical error in going to the front and staying there until the next hill. I wasn't warmed up enough yet, so when we got to the big hill, I had burned up a lot of energy. Consequently, I got dropped off the back going up the big hill (it's the hill that keeps on giving--it goes up, then turns and continues climbing--that's the hard part). As I made the turn and had to continue climbing, Donkey had definately taken up residence in my lungs! I was working like mad just to suck in enough air!

As I was wheezing my way up the hill, I thought to myself, "Yep, just what I thought would happen--dropped the first time up the big hill!". BUT, I managed to catch back up to the pack (down to 8 now) once the road leveled out and then started going down. It was then that I had the great idea of NOT going off the front! My, how much easier it was sitting in the pack! I also think I was much more warmed up (especially my lungs). When it came time to go up the big hill again, I was actually one of the first ones up! A few passed me on the last part, but I was able to stay in the middle of the pack.

Third time up the big hill I was again in the lead. This time I managed to stay in the lead coming into the beginning of lap 4.
Just after the beginning of lap 4. I'm creating quite a wall of protection for those little things behind me!

I stayed on the front down into the first curve coming down the hill. I was finally able to take the curve as fast as I wanted. However, as usual, they passed me on the uphill into Corner 1. That was okay, though, because I didn't want to stay on the front too long (learning my lesson from Lap 1).

Things were going okay until the last part of the 4th time up the big hill. I was near the front again (it's because there is a nice downhill coming into the hill and, as we all know, weight always wins on the downhill!). Once we made the turn, they all passed me, and I just couldn't catch them. Oh, I tried! I hammered down the hills (but so did they). I pushed my legs as hard as they would go up the hills (yep, they did too). On the back side of the course, I finally got passed by the Follow-Car. The driver, a fellow teammate, told me after the race that he really thought I would catch back on. The thing is, even if I had managed to get back, I would have been dropped the final time up the big hill, because I would have used so much energy just trying to catch back on.

Overall, I did much better than I thought I would. I managed to hang in with the pack for most of the race! My average speed was 20.3 (after cooling down and riding back to the parking lot)--pretty peppy!