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, 

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.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Team Camp 2015--This Looks Nothing Like February!

Team Camp 2015 marks the beginning of my third year of racing with OOA. For the first time, we've been able to ride race bikes. I, of course, rode KITT, since he is pretty close to my race bike, even though he has fenders. I wasn't the only one riding a fendered bike, so I didn't feel too bad. Besides, KITT is awesome! He is really built for endurance riding. Lightweight, but stiff enough to move along at a good clip, while absorbing the road vibrations, and leaving my hands feeling good (no numbness whatsoever).

Day 1

There were a number of possible routes. Jean and I had decided on the 73 miler. But then, Ron made up a better route that was just 80 miles. His route kept us off Jackson Hwy, and from going through the industrial area of Chehalis. I had no objections to avoiding those things. I printed off a few copies of the cue sheet for Ron's ride, and gave them to the other gals that wanted to do the route.

Around 40 of us rolled out of Tumwater Falls Park at 10:00 (overnight bags having been dropped off for Scotty's wife Jen to ferry down to Centralia for us). The plan was the same as last year, going the quickest way, and staying together until Centralia. In Tenino we regrouped. Someone had pinch flatted going over the train tracks. Those of us not doing the hundred mile route (and, therefore, slower) opted to roll on out with the idea that we would meet at the coffee shop in Centralia, if they hadn't caught up by then, or we would regroup at the turn onto Centralia-Alpha Rd. Just as we reached the intersection where we would turn to go the one block over to the coffee shop, the guys caught up to us. So, no coffee shop stop. Not that I would want coffee, but I wouldn't have turned down using the restroom.

We regrouped at Centralia-Alpha. We let the hundred miler group go off ahead of us. Then, us 80 milers got going with a plan to regroup at the top of the upcoming 1 1/2 mile climb. At the top of the climb, I had an opportunity to pee...which I took without hesitation.

We continued along Centralia-Alpha, regrouping as necessary. We lost a few at some of the right turn options. All the roads to the right return to Jackson Hwy., providing many opportunities to shorten the route. Still, we continued to wait periodically for everyone to catch back on. We were down to10 of us when we reached Hwy 508. Along 508 in Onalaska we made a pit stop so some could refill their bottles. At this point, it was blue sky, sunny, and felt like Spring! Geraldine even removed her leg warmers! I had already taken the sleeves off my jacket.

Not too much further, we came to Jackson Hwy. Knowing we still had about 20 miles and a few hills, Debbie, Cindy, Karen, and Scotty decided to go ahead and ride back into Centralia on Jackson Hwy. on the original 73 mile route. That left me, Jean, Michelle, Geraldine, Andy, and new guy, Dave, to continue on Ron's 80 mile route.

We continued straight across Jackson Hwy., rode over I-5, and up the hill into Napavine. This was the only section I hadn't been on before of the entire route. Once in Napavine, we were on the STP route briefly, then the Two-County Double Metric Century route on Hwy 603 all the way to Hwy 6, and over to Scheuber Rd. We rolled back into Centralia at about 3:30. We did have to negotiate a new freeway interchange at Mellen (we rode on the sidewalk), but we made it. For me, since I started from my house, it was 84.6 miles. 

After the Ride

Since Debbie was already back, she had taken my bag up to our room (a different room this year!). I just needed to get a key. We took showers, then headed downstairs to the Olympic Club restaurant for our usual pre-dinner appetizers (and almost-dinner for some). The hundo riders arrived not long after us, so Ron joined Jean, Debbie, Dave and I just as we were preparing to order. The other table--Derik, Michelle, Heather, Jeff, Cindy, Karen, Geraldine, and ??? Gave us their leftover Tots and Thai Sweet Potato Fries, even though we had ordered our own. When ours came, we ate what we wanted, then gave our leftovers to a table of total strangers! Just paying it forward!

Checks paid, we walked over to the Gibson House for dinner and the evening program. Jeff, Board Prez, went through some stats from last year's race season. Pretty impressive number of races and finishes (of which I contributed 8 races and three top 10 finishes) across all the disciplines! Chip had brought in pro racer, Ian Crane, to talk to us about his racing career, and what it is really like to be a Pro and get paid to race. It was quite interesting. In addition to his up and coming racing career, he spoke about his devastating crash in Colorado about 6 months ago. He was severly injured, and quite frankly, lucky to be alive (his jugular was severed when he went through the rear windshield of a car in the caravan...among a number of other injuries). This young man has an incredibly positive outlook. He will resume riding and racing as soon as he is cleared to do so. It is a testament to his perseverance that he has ridden either trainer or rollers everyday this winter...everyday

After the program, many of us retired downstairs to O'Blarneys for dessert (it really is all about the food!). I give kudos to the waitress who kept everything pretty straight, even when we proceeded to pull about half the restaurant's tables together to accommodate the bunch of us!

Day 2

Ready to roll on Day 2--The Chicks--Jen, Geraldine, Debbie, Karen, me, Cindy, Michelle, and Jean

Most of us met for breakfast at Berry Fields Cafe. Again, too much food, but nonetheless delicious! Back at the hotel, bags were packed and loaded back into the Hile's van for the return trip. Bikes were checked, tires pumped, routes decided, and we were on the road by 9:30. The fog was burning off, and it was shaping up to be another beautiful day. 

There were, basically, two main routes, with a few people doing their own thing straight back to Olympia. The bulk of the gals, and a bunch of the guys (even some of the fast guys--Erik, Kirk, John, and Ron to name a few) opted for a route of about 50-55 miles. Ron, Jean, and I had kind of hashed out the route the night before. We would avoid Gerrard Creek, and the "Dog Bite" Rd. Instead, we went back south a bit to Cooks Hill Rd. Yes, there is a hill on Cooks Hill Rd....just a little 14% grade...wall. It's not really too long, but it definately gets one's heart thumping! The great thing is that, on the other end of Cooks Hill Rd, there is a 14% grade downhill! Well, that was just awesome!

Onto Lincoln Creek, the guys kept the speed in check so we could all stay together. If someone on the front would start zoning out and ramping up the speed, someone would shout to ease up. We got up and over Manners...then, Ron and Erik got on the front. They pulled all of us the entire length of Independence Valley to Moon Rd, and onto Mima/Gate. I was really beginning to think they were going to pull us all the way home! When they finally rotated off the front, those of us behind groaned a bit. They had been riding at such a perfect pace! It was okay, but we had to go back to shouting to ease up a bit now and then.

We had thought to continue up Waddell, but when we reached the turn to go down into Littlerock, we realized some of the group didn't need to do more hills than necessary. Down into Littlerock we went, and after a pee break, we decided to go up Littlerock Rd to 113th, to Case, and back to the Park that way. 

I got home about 1:15, after 56.3 miles. It was a great weekend! With this kind of warmth and sun, it's hard to believe it is still February! Next weekend, racing season starts! Stay tuned to see how the Icebreaker Time Trial turns out...

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Colt Has Been Added to the Stable!

Yes, it's true, a colt has joined the stable of fillies. Up to now, all my bikes have been female. It's just the way it is. They tell me their names...I don't plan it. In fact, oftentimes, I'll have a name in mind, but when I actually get the bike, it ends up being something different. But, still, they've all ended up being girls, okay, women. Then, along comes this new rain/winter bike. It's a 2014 Norco Valence C3. Derik, at Joyride, said "Valerie". Good option since it's a Valence, but it doesn't look like a "Valerie", or even a "Val". Nope, that's not it. It's black with blue accents and the labels are silver/grey. I thought, maybe "Bruce" because it kind of reminds me of "The Dark Knight". Better, but still not quite right. 

I find out it's ready for me to pick it up (getting fenders, different saddle, pedals, and my Thompson stem and carbon bar from Star put on). I get to the shop. I look at it all finished, and I think, "Knight Rider". You know, the TV series from the 80s. And, what was the car's name? KITT (the voice was William Daniels). So, KITT it is! Perhaps he's not an "artificially intelligent super car", but he is a good looking super bike!

So, now there's a colt in the stables. There's another one coming at the end of March. At least, I think it will be a he. Then again, I won't really know until I see him...he could be a she!

By the way, Star, the bike KITT has replaced, will be gussied up and in search of a new owner.

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Birding Bike Ride on Valentine's Day

Mama Cass is becoming quite the traveller...for such a big girl! This weekend we are in Spokane. Nolan has All-State Orchestra, and I am, once again, staying with John and Annette. 

Today, Valentine's Day, Annette and I planned a bike ride involving gravel/dirt. We made up a loop that would be around 33 road miles plus whatever we would do on trails. That's a good chunk of miles for Annette, but she was confident she could do it. Yesterday, we inflated her tires, and did some adjusting to get her mountain bike shifting good. Mama Cass, having ridden over in the back of the Hyundai Santa Fe rental car, just had to have her wheels put back on.

We took off from the house about 9:30 or so. Right away we were on gravel because...well, the road they live on is gravel. That soon ended, and we were on pavement. We went over a ridge and down amongst fields of nothing at the moment (maybe hay in summer?). As we were riding along, we saw a large hawk flying ahead, then land on a power pole. As we rode under the pole I could look up and see him sitting up there looking for something to eat.

We continued riding on these great country backroads. We were working our way to Riverside State Park. As we were riding along, I spied a few quail running along next to the road. Such cute birds! Continuing further along the road, a beautiful pheasant flew across in front of us. It was beginning to seem more like a birding outing, than a biking outing!

We came out to the highway that goes along the Spokane River. As we crossed the Little Spokane, Annette saw a crane fly low over the water. Okay! Add "Crane" to the bird list! 

Not much farther, we came to the bridge over the Spokane and into Riverside State Park. It's at a place called Nine Mile. On the river is Nine Mile Dam. The volume of water spilling over the dam was incredible! 

We rode by the ranger station and up this one road. As we started riding up the hill, we noticed a trail off to the right. We decided to take that trail. Up up up the trail went. As I came around a corner, the trail leveled off. I stopped to wait for Annette and there were two deer looking at me. So, I took the one's picture.

Here comes Annette!

We rode the single track to another parking area. I could see the trail continued across the road, so we went that way. There was more climbing, but the trail was good, so I didn't have to walk any of it.
The trail continues up.

We rode along the trail for awhile, then came back to the road. First I thought we would have to ride the road back down, but I saw the trail went alongside the road. We passed about 5 mountain bikers going the other direction. The last gal said, "I wish we were going downhill". 

When we got back the the parking area, I noticed a pile of snow. Oooo...I could try MC out on some snow! Okay, so it wasn't very much...but, it was something.

We took the same trail back down that we had come up. Strangely, it was much easier and faster!

Back at the ranger station, I noticed there was more trail across the road. So we went there, rode a bit more, then stopped at a bench overlooking the river to eat some lunch. It was very nice. 

Afterward, we thought we should probably head back as we still had a good chunk of miles to do to get back to the house. We needed to go on a road called Rutter Parkway. Annette said it was flat. It wasn't. I commented to Annette that she had an interesting concept of flat. She said it was flat at the top. Funny! Although it was indeed flat for awhile after that initial climb. It was, by no means, the last hill we had to climb.

We came around again to the Little Spokane River. We crossed it (a different place than before), and as we were riding up another hill away from the river, we saw a flock of wild turkeys. More birds to add to the list!
Wild turkeys!

We came down a long hill and made a hairpin turn at the bottom. As I looked ahead, a white-tailed deer went trotting across the road, right where there was a "deer crossing" sign. Smart deer! It knows where to cross the road! (There was a radio talk show where a woman called in to complain that the deer were not crossing the road where the sign was. She seriously thought that the deer should read the sign, and know that was where they were supposed to cross the road! Needless to say, the radio guy had some fun with that one.)

We climbed some more hills. It had been foggy most of the day, but it finally burned off, and we had some blue sky and sun for the last few miles home. We ended up riding a total of 39 miles, and doing almost 3000 feet of elevation gain. And...we saw a lot of birds!

When we got back to the house, we hopped in the hot tub for a relaxing soak. Now, that's what I call a great Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

I Must Have a Tracker On Me!

For the second time, I've been stopped by the JBLM MP. Today, Geraldine, Karen, and I headed out to Area 20. It was the only area open in our neck of the woods. The last time I went that way with Brian, we cut through Area 22 to get to 20. I decided we would do that again. The only problem was that I forgot exactly which turns to take once we were on the gravel/dirt. No problem! We would just ride around until we came to something familiar. We ended up coming back out on Spurgeon Creek Rd not terribly far from where we had gone in on Rainier Rd. This was familiar to me. I knew we could get back on the gravel, still in Area 22, and stay off the paved road.

Just after we pulled back onto the dirt, we stopped for a brief moment. We could still see Spurgeon Creek Rd. About that time, a black military pickup pulls onto the road behind us. The MP stops and gets out of his truck. I'm not too worried because both Geraldine and I have Access Permits. He asks us what we're doing. We tell him we're trying to get to Area 20. He says we can't get there from here. He says it is way over by the casino. I say I thought that was Area 19. He says 20 is next to 19 (this, I know). Geraldine pulls out her brochure that has a very poor map on it. The MP gets his much better map. He tells us we can go out to Rainier Rd and ride to the old paved (now chip sealed) road. That road goes between Areas 22 and 21 (this, I also know). He says it will take us to 20. Okay we say, we'll do that. After he gives us a few pointers on what we should do if we were to get lost (call 911), he sends us on our way. Never once does he ask to see our permits! Then again, I think, in our conversation, we made it pretty clear we have them.

So, we did do as we were told. Did some riding around in Area 20 (or maybe 19--who knows?) and came back on the road. No one else has ever mentioned being stopped by the MPs while out gravel riding on JBLM. I've been stopped twice now. It makes me wonder if I have some kind of tracking device that I'm unaware of somewhere on me, or Mama Cass!