Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Bit of a Strange Race...But Goal Achieved...(and no lungs left on the side of the road)!

Independence Valley Road Race. Don't let the name fool you into thinking this is a flat race. Yes, there is a valley. The problem is, there are two valleys. What happens when you have two valleys? A ridge in between...a rather tall ridge. In addition to that, this is the longest race I do, at 41 miles. 

After last Sunday's race, I ended up with a cold (two nights of not great sleep didn't help). I registered for IVRR anyway, thinking I had a week to ditch this bug. I just did easy rides all week keeping my heart rate low, just to keep the legs spinning. Plus, I firmly believe that fresh air does a body good. It went into my chest a bit, but I was still sleeping okay; not coughing through the night. This morning, I felt a little better. 

Two years ago, when I last did IVRR, I got dropped on the first hill (Michigan Hill Rd.). It was supposed to be a neutral roll out to the top of Michigan (they just wanted us Cat 4s to get to the top together). I got dropped about 3/4 of the way up. So, basically, I got dropped from the neutral roll out! Consequently, my one and only goal for this year was to make it to the top of Michigan without falling behind the follow car (for the first go up--we had to do it twice). 

I rode to the race with Jasmine and Julian. On the way there, I told Jasmine this was her race to lose. She is very strong up the hills. The only issue she would have was the descents. She has junior gearing on her bike (a safety thing for junior racers), which means, if they hammer down the hill, she can't pedal fast enough to keep up. I told her it would be important for her to stay near the front to get a jump on the hill. Jean and I would just do the best we could. 
Me and Jas warming up.

We had 24 racers today; another good turnout for Cat 4 Women! Jonesie was back (the hypothermic gal from Mason Lake), but Emily from Starbucks was not racing today. Group Health staffed this race, so there were a number of them (actually only 5, but still the most for one team). Jasmine wasn't the only junior. There was another little thing who was only 12 (dressed in the most amount of white kit I've ever seen)! Kudos to this girl though, as she is diabetic. 

This time, the neutral roll out would only be to the turn onto Michigan Hill Rd. Still, that's a 2 mile roll out. We made the turn onto Michigan. Beep went the horn, and we were racing. Michigan keeps to a gentle grade for awhile, but then you come around a curve, and see what is waiting for you. The steep part is .6 miles (seems like much longer). Shift down, and keep pedaling--that's all you can do. I passed a couple, but got passed by several. Near the top, I was feeling a little dizzy, but I knew the top was not far. The tiny junior girl made it to the top before me, but I was able to pass her before the major downhill. When I started down the hill, I couldn't see the pack (the road has some curves). I love this hill, and when the road is dry (as it was today), I can fly! I got up to 44.7mph! I caught up to the pack before the turn onto Lincoln Creek. Yes, goal achieved!

The several miles along Lincoln Creek were kind of...messy. There was a lot of abrupt slowing going on. I was sitting near the back (I really don't like it back there). I was keeping an eye on Jasmine to make sure she stayed where she needed to. At one point, she was more middle of the pack instead of near the front. I told her, when she had a chance, to work her way back toward the front, which she did. Then, she was on the front. I had a clear line up to her, so I rode up the left to get in front of her. I knew Manners Hill was coming soon. Plus, it was to my advantage to be at the front as I would surely be slower up the hill. 

We came around onto Manners. As we started up, Jasmine came up beside me. I told her to go and do what she is good at. She took off up the hill (so envious of that ability). I drifted further and further back. Still, I made it to the top before the follow car went around! Turns out, Jasmine got to the top 20 seconds before everyone else! And, she didn't get dropped on the descent (but they, of course, caught up to her)!

I tried to catch up on this downhill, but it's not as steep as Michigan. Slowly, I caught up to a couple of gals (Brynn from Bike Sale, and Stephanie from Starbucks). On Independence Valley we took turns pulling. I thought we might catch up to the next bunch in front of us, but we never seemed to gain enough ground. 

We came back for the second go up Michigan. I told the gals if I fell behind on the hill, I would try and catch them on the downhill. Funny thing, they said the same! We stayed mostly together until the last bit of the steep part when I fell behind several bike lengths. Still, I caught up before the downhill. I did my usual fast descent, which turned out to be quite a bit faster than the other two. By then, it was obvious I couldn't catch the next group, so I slowed up to wait for Brynn and Stephanie. Brynn caught up first, then we waited for Stephanie. She was back soon, and we returned to taking turns pulling. We could see another person ahead. We weren't sure if it was a gal, or one of the dropped guys. We decided if it was a gal, she could join us, as long as she could keep up. We had a good thing going, and we didn't want to slow down if we didn't need to. Turns out, it was a Group Health gal (named Sarah, and this was her first race...ever). We told her to hop on. She was tired, but managed, with some recovery, to stay with us. So now we were four, one from each of the major teams! 

As we turned to go up Manners again, we saw the race was stopped. All the women ahead of us were there. I could see Jasmine was still with the lead pack. I waved, and gave her the thumbs up. The official for our race told us there had been a crash at the finish in the Cat 4 men's race. They had to call the medics. A couple of the gals in our race were worried because their husbands were in that race. The official didn't have any details as to who had been involved. 

We waited for a number of minutes. Everyone who had been dropped caught up. However, the official said, when we started again, that the lead pack would go first to regain the gap they had, then the next group, and so on. We got the go ahead to resume racing. The legs were on fire going up Manners as they had had sufficient time to cool down (fortunately, it was a pretty nice day, so I didn't get cold). At the bottom of Manners I looked to see that my same group was still together, and we hadn't added anyone. We went back to rotating. 

We came up a rise with me on the front. I could see the race was stopped again. Apparently, the guy's race in front of us (the Masters 40+ Cat 4) had not been started again (faulty radio--the official got a phone call). We had to stop and wait for them to get further ahead. 

Once we started again, it was the same thing. Let the leaders go, then put some space between the next group, and us four, then space between us, and those behind us. We finally reached the 1km mark. We were still rotating. As we came up to the 200m, Brynn said, "Shall we race it out?" I said we might as well. So, Brynn and I took off sprinting. Fortunately, neither of us were very fast, and I managed to cross the line ahead of her. 

Brynn, Sarah and I had a nice ride back to the parking lot (Stephanie had to stop to make sure the officials got her jersey number, since she didn't have a number on her bike). I was most excited to see how Jasmine had done. She got 3rd! That was a great job! I ended up 14th, which I am quite happy with. And, my cold is no worse than before the race. From a breathing standpoint, I did better than I thought I would going up the hills.
Jasmine on the podium! Jonesie won (she'll be upgrading to Cat 3 soon).

Notice no finishing times. That got messed up by the crash. My Garmin says 2:23:32 with an average of 19mph.

Now I have two weeks until the next race at Vance Creek. I'm going to ditch this cold!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Spring Brings a New Baby!

Ahhh, Spring! New flowers pop up, leaves unfold, birds return, and a new bike begins its life. Yes, that's right, a new bike baby has arrived! Now, he's just a newborn, unable to do anything for himself. He even had to ride in Mr. Ives to get home from the bicycle birthing center (aka Joy Ride Bicycles).

His name is Tilmann. I'll get to why in a moment. He is a Surly World Troller Frameset (frame and fork). What sets him apart from the Surly Troll is his awesome S&S couplers. Yes, he can be busted in half for easier flying. Here he is in his infancy, all shiny and brand new.

So, why "Tilmann"? Back in 2012 when my friend, Leandra, and I were touring the North Island of New Zealand, we met a guy named Tilmann Waldthaler. He was originally from Germany, but now lived in Australia; that is, when he was not touring. He had been touring for the last 35 years! He was nearing 70 years old. I didn't think too much of the encounter (although, I saw him again in Queenstown on my last day--but just from across the park--I didn't go talk to him). However, we did become friends on Facebook. Then, in 2014, when I was on my Europe tour, and visiting Alexandra and Markus in Bremen, Alex asked me how was it that I was friends with Tilmann Waldthaler on Facebook? I told her about meeting him in New Zealand. She told me he is quite famous in Germany, especially among cyclists, and has written several books. They had one of his books about his travels. He was also mentioned in a book put out by Rohloff. Geez, I had met somewhat of a celebrity, and didn't even know it!

Which brings me to my new bike. I plan to take Tilmann to Australia. I want to ride from Perth to Sydney, as well as Tasmania (I've always regretted not going to Australia after New Zealand since I was so close). Tilmann Waldthaler is now an Australian citizen (having just retired at 74 from touring). "Wald" in German means World. "Thaler" sounds a lot like Troller, seems obvious, right? "Tilmann", it is! I  have even messaged Tilmann on Facebook to let him know there will be a bike named after him.

Since I'm not planning on going to Australia until 2018, I've got time to "grow" Tilmann into a full-fledged expedition touring rig. My plan for the build, at this time, is a Rohloff hub, with a Gates Carbon Belt, disc brakes, a SON 28 generator hub on the front (power a headlight and charge electronics), Chris King headset, trekker bar, Tubus racks, Brooks saddle (or the Selle Anatomica off Stella), and...that's it for now. Derik at Joy Ride will build the wheels for me. I'll have a sit-down with him to decide what wheels are best, but definitely a 36 spoke, possibly tubeless ready.

And, so it begins...updates will follow.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Did NOT See That Coming!

Time for the final 2 laps around Mason Lake. Of course, it was another pouring rain-fest. At least it wasn't quite as cold as last week. I was only cold once I stopped. 

Julian and Jasmine (now an official OOA teammate--yay!) picked me up again this morning. Here's a photo of the three of us.
The Julian, Jasmine, and Colleen Show!

We also had Jean, Julie, and Karen racing today! This was Julie and Karen's first real road race. Jean was planning to work with them to keep them in the race. Jasmine and I would work together, staying near the front, in case there was a break like yesterday. I knew Starbucks would be working for Emily so she could win the series. However, since Alisha didn't show up this week, Emily didn't really have to have much of a finish to still win. 

After last week, I did some calculations to figure out what the final series scenarios would likely be. Unfortunately, there was little chance of Jasmine and I being able to place in the series. We were coming into this 3rd race with 12 and 11 points. Emily already had 24 points. Alisha and Olga each sat at 15. There were a couple of other strong gals tied with 10 points. My best finish had been 5th. Even if I managed 5th again, that would only give me 7 more points. But, like I said, Alisha didn't show (and Olga had upgraded to Cat 3 after the first race).

We started the race. I was about mid-pack through the neutral roll out, and while we were going up the first hill. About half way up the hill, I moved up on the right to get a better position in the pack. I wanted to be ready if they should get some crazy idea to make a break. After yesterday, we all knew it was possible to get a break, and stick it. 

I spent some time on the front. Just when I was thinking I need to not do this, a gal came up and got in front of me. Excellent! We continued around to the roller section. Not long into the rollers, a gal took off (don't think she was part of a team). At this point I was on the front. I glanced back and could see no one was chasing. Okay, I'll wait. The gal kept going. Before long, a Starbucks gal came up beside me. I said to her, "So, are we ready to reel her in?" I think it was a Group Health gal that finally decided to give chase. A bunch of us got on and we set to work. Well...we tried to get to work. Emily was yelling at everyone to start rotating. She would say, "Up and over, up and over!" Which means to move up to the front, then move over to the side so the next gal can move up, then move over. The message was not seeming to make it to the front. Finally, we had a rotating paceline going, but it was rather messy. It would take the next rider eons to get up to the front. At one point, I used that to my advantage to not get too far back. There was a gap, and I moved back into the rotation. 

Just after crossing the start, we caught the gal. We tried to tell her to get into the paceline, but I think she was cooked. A few of us continued to try to rotate. I couldn't tell if there was some kind of break, or even how many of us were in it if there was actually a break. I just kept trying to rotate. I was in the lead through Corner 1, but I eased up so someone could rotate by me, then come in front to give me a break. When that happened, it seemed like we did indeed have a bit of a break. I just didn't know how many of us there were. The rotating was still pretty haphazard. 

Coming down the hill, we finally really did seem to be getting away. There were four of us--Group Health, Bike Sale (I think), Starbucks, and me. Sadly, no Jasmine. I yelled to tell them to keep working together. We were doing okay, but I could tell Starbucks (not sure who it was) and Bike Sale were struggling. As Laura from Group Health rotated to come in front of me, neither of the other gals moved up. I caught back up to Laura, and told her it was just the two of us, and we needed to work together as best we could. I wasn't confident that we could stick it, because there are a lot of hills, and with just two, neither of us gets much recovery time. But, we kept at it. We were doing short quick pulls on the uphills, then taking longer pulls on the flats and downhills. We made it around Corner 2. I glanced back to see if anyone was coming. I saw a Starbucks gal. I yelled to Laura that maybe we could have three to work with but, Laura began to pull away from me. I tried to catch her, but she was very strong. I came through the curve, and continued to work as hard as I could going into the rollers. I looked back to see if the Starbucks gal was coming, but she was no longer in sight. I thought to myself, okay, it looks like it's time trial time! So, down into the drops, head down, and pedal! I could still see the lead car for most of the rollers, but I wasn't gaining on Laura at all.

I continued to glance back every now and then to see if anyone was coming. Nope, nothing as far as I could see. Not wanting to rest on my laurels, I continued to go as hard as I could. Besides, with no one to block the wind, if I slowed down at all, I would get cold. I did NOT want that!

Up down, up down, around the lake I went. Finally, I saw the 1km sign. A couple more ups and downs, and I was going by the 200m sign. Still, no one was coming. I crossed the line 25 seconds after Laura for 2nd place. Lauren, from Starbucks crossed 50 seconds after me, and Jasmine nipped Emily at the line for 4th about 50 seconds after Lauren. Karen and Julie did great coming in 13th and 19th respectively. Jean had a flat, ran the last mile, and still came in 21st!

I wanted to stay in my kit in case there was a podium, but I was soaking wet, and getting cold. I also wanted to get a photo of the 5 of us, but Karen's lips were turning blue, and Jean wasn't back yet. So, no photo. Jasmine and I managed to change into warm dry clothes before we were shivering too bad. We went over to the Community Center to get some hot cocoa. Jean joined us. 

After awhile we went to see if the results were up, as well as the series results too. Emily, of course got 1st. Turns out, I got 2nd, and Jasmine got 3rd! I did not see that coming! Check it out!

I asked Jean to take a photo of Emily, Jasmine, and I. 
Emily was smart and had a dry jersey to put on. Of course, she knew she would be winning too.

Today's swag was another water bottle, a pair of socks, a multi tool and some other things. Jasmine got the same, but for my 2nd place, I also got a certificate for a 10 race punch card for the Seward Park Thursday Night Cycling Series (in the summer). When I got home I messaged Emily to see if her team could use it. Starbucks has helped me a lot these last few races, and it may as well not go to waste.

Next week is IVRR, where my streak of top 10 finishes will likely come to an end (way too many huge hills). Another year of laps around Mason Lake is finished!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

7...It's a Magic Number!

No, I didn't get 7th place in Tour de Dung #2.

Debbie and I went up to Sequim last night as Julian generously invited us to stay with him instead of getting up at the butt-crack of dawn and driving up like last week. Kirk and Jeff were also staying in the same hotel. We all met at the hotel, then went to a great dinner at a place called Blondies. Highly recommend it if you are traveling through Sequim. Jeff was very generous, and picked up the check for the five of us.

In the morning, we had breakfast that I brought (baked steel cut oatmeal with strawberries and blueberries), then hustled over to the race. I did an abbreviated warmup, and headed over to the start. 22 gals were on the list today. There were only 6 Starbucks gals, 5 Bike Sale, 3 Group Health, 3 of us OOA, and singles of a few other teams. The weather was looking pretty good. Wind, frequently a factor at Sequim, was similar to last week--perhaps a little bit stronger.

We rolled out, up the hill past the finish, through Corner 1, down the hill, through Corner 2, and onto the straight away. The pace was going along much like last week (poodling along). Then, a Bike Sale gal came up the side and attacked off the front getting a fairly decent gap. I thought, so what, we are only a couple miles into a 36 mile race. She won't stick it. We'll catch her. I was on the front just going along. Then, Emily from Starbucks went after Bike Sale. I went too as my goal has been to stay as close to Emily as possible. Another gal, I think from Garage Racing, came with us. Emily looks back, and realizes we've got a break! The three of us keep it going, taking turns pulling. We catch the Bike Sale gal, let her know we are a break, and keep pushing hard, now rotating with 4 of us. 

Before too long, 3 more gals bridge up to us (2 Starbucks, and a gal from Ten Speed). But, they are it. There's no one else coming. We still had a break, but now with a larger group of 7. We crested the hill, and came down and through Corner 3. We still had a good size gap. Now it was time to work together to maintain the break. We started a rotating paceline. With 7 of us, it was great as we each got enough recover time, and spent mere seconds on the front. 7 was definitely the magic number!

Finishing lap one, the finish guy let us know we had a gap of about 3 minutes. We were thrilled! We all continued working together rotating, rotating, rotating. When the gals who happened to be on the front went through the corners, they (and me too, when I was there) would ease up to let the group get back together, then we would resume our rotating. 

Coming by the finish the next time (going into lap 3) we had even more time on them. Still, we kept up the pace. Even though we were averaging over 20 mph, it was a comfortable pace. Nearing the end of Woodcock, as Emily went up the line by me, I asked her what the end game was in this situation. She didn't say anything, so I just said, "Everyone for themselves, I'm guessing." 

We made the turn onto Kitchen-Dick Rd., then onto Lotzengel (possibly wrong spelling). We were still rotating, but as I got to the front, no one came up. Oh great. I can't finish well if I use up all my energy before we even get to the 1km sign! So...I slowed down. Sure enough, somebody came up beside me. 

Going up the first hill after the 1km sign, the Ten Speed gal took off. Emily and Courtney of Starbucks chased. I chased them.! I closed in on them, and finally got on Courtney's wheel. Just after the 200m sign, Emily peeled off to let Courtney go. I went with Courtney. We were both sprinting as hard as we could, out of the saddle. My thighs were on fire! Then...THEN!!!...Courtney sat down! That gave me the motivation I needed to stay out of the saddle and pass her! I got 2nd!!! Woo Hoo!!!
Notice the circled name? She was not in our race. She just happened to go across the finish line in between the 7 of us and the rest of the group. She is really a Cat 3 racer. So, Jean got 10th, and Debbie got 14th. They had their own interesting race, including a gal who somehow managed to be in the race on a TT bike (it's illegal). She was DQd. 
The obligatory podium shot!

Today was really fun! I felt like we were actually doing what the Cat 1/2s have told us to do in various clinics. Tomorrow is the final Mason Lake. Will there be another attempt to get a break? If so, I hope to be with it again.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Polar Bear Swim On a Bike!

Based on today's weather, one might think it's January, instead of the first day of Daylight Savings. Julian and Jasmine picked me up this morning. On the way to Mason Lake #2 we saw a sunrise rainbow. Not sure I've ever seen one of those! We arrived at Mason Lake in the rain, set up the tent in the rain, went down and checked in for our race in the rain, and warmed up on our guessed the rain.
Still bundled up while riding our trainers.
Julian doing his warmup.

I have been packing a long sleeve base layer for every race, but have yet to wear it. Today I did. I'm so glad I did! 

Seventeen brave souls lined up at the start for the usual 2 laps around the 12 mile course. Jean came out today, so I wasn't the only OOA gal. Starbucks, again, fielded a large group, although not as large as yesterday. I wondered who they would be working for today (a closely guarded secret, but one you can deduce by watching who is being protected). I actually hoped the race would be faster than last week, because otherwise we would turn into popsicles! As we were waiting to start, I was having trouble getting my Garmin to start. It kept stalling out on one part, then shutting down. I never did get it to properly start. 

The official let us go after suggesting we ride the first lap as a group ride, practicing a rotating pace line. Then we could race it out on the second lap. That didn't really happen. As we were riding along, we all just got progressively wetter and colder. I went up the first hill on the front, and finally drifted back just to get a little protection from the cold wind. Although the wind wasn't as strong as last week, the rain compounded the coldness. I kept waiting for my hands to warm up, but they just got colder. There were a couple of attempts to ramp up the pace, but then the leaders would get caught, and we'd slow down again. At the end of the first lap, the gal on the front got a flat. Selfishly, my thought was, well, that's one strong rider out. 

I spent the majority of lap 2 as an interloper at a Starbucks party. Four of the Starbucks gals stayed together on the front for probably 90% of lap 2. Occasionally, a different team person would insert herself into the Starbucks party. I still wasn't clear who they were working for. I just stayed with them. On the rollers, a Hagens Berman gal kept trying to steal the wheel I was on by inching ever closer to me but, I refused to give up the wheel. It was, however, a little nerve wracking! 

Not long into that second lap, I realized my hands were so cold I couldn't tell if I was shifting. I'd have to glance down at my shifter to shift into a harder gear. I could no longer feel my hands on the handlebar either. I just hung on. 

As we were riding the last couple of miles (me still at the Starbucks party), I heard Emily say a couple of times, "A fast finish is a safe finish". Good advice! And, the pace picked up quite a bit just after the 1km. I thought maybe they were working for Karen as she took off on the last downhill. I stayed glued to her wheel. But, at the 200m, Karen started to fade. I went around her. I couldn't get out of the saddle because my hands were so frozen, I was afraid I'd lose my grip if I tried to sprint. Like yesterday, I just hunkered down and pedaled my guts out (literally, I almost barfed after the finish). I came in 5th. Jasmine finished right behind me in 6th. Jean came in 8th. So, another top 10 showing for us OOA Women! Woo Hoo!
The results. Turns out the Starbucks gals were working for Emily. 

I headed straight for the car to change. I was so cold I couldn't grasp my gloves to take them off. I had to use my teeth (disgusting when the gloves are full of road grime). I finally got bundled up in warm dry clothes (so thankful for my down skirt). I was still shivering uncontrollably, but it was just a matter of time before I'd start to warm up. Jasmine and I were sitting in the car when Jean came over and asked if we wanted to go get something hot at the Community Center. Yes, yes we did! We all got some hot cocoa. As we were warming our hands around our steaming cups, we noticed something going on over in the corner. Someone was huddled under a blanket with a couple of gals rubbing her back. Emily came over and said it was Alicia (the Hagens Berman gal). She had won, but was hypothermic. They had called the medics. Not possessing much body fat, she also hadn't worn enough clothing. I told them to get something warm into her. They said they were trying. As Jasmine, her mom, and I were walking back to the car, we saw the medics pull up. I hope she was okay.

This was, by far, the coldest I've ever been in a race. I've been cold on rides before, but never in a race. I'm usually toasty warm. I'm so glad it was Mason Lake and not Sequim. I don't think I could have managed another 12 miles. As it was, 5 gals were DNF (we assume they must have quit after the first lap). They even shortened the Men's 50+ race from 4 laps to 3! 

Im hoping for better weather next week!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Where's the Fries? Or...

...Debbie's a Dangler No More!

Week 3 of road racing for me. Today was the first dose of the Tour de Dung in Sequim. For the first time, Debbie and I drove up this morning instead of going the night before. She picked me up at 6:15. We arrived at 8:30, which was perfect. The weather report had been predicting 80% chance of rain all week. In fact, three of our teammates opted not to go because of the bad weather. When I looked at the forecast this morning, it had changed. Now it was 0% chance of rain during our race. However, the wind was supposed to pick up. When we arrived at the start it looked like this.
You can even see the Olympics!

Indeed, as we got closer to our race time of 10:00, the wind had started to pick up. Because the course is a loop, we would have headwinds, tailwinds, and crosswinds. Still, it wasn't too bad--we've raced in worse wind. Best of all, there was no rain, and the roads were bone dry!

There were 26 of us who lined up at the start. This week, Starbucks was the team with the most members at 8. Bike Sale had 4, and Group Health only had 3. Hagens Berman also fielded 3 gals. We had 3 of us (Jean, Debbie, and I). The rest were singles representing their teams. Curiously, there were no unattached riders in this race (racers who are not on a team). Jasmine from RAD was also racing as the sole junior.

As we started our race, I noticed the wind was coming more from the north. That means we would be dealing with longer periods of crosswinds than anything else. The only headwinds were from Corner 1 to Corner 2, and the section on Kitchen-Dick Rd (yes, that is the name of that road!). I also noticed a rather funky smell. At first, I thought it was something from the fields. But, as we continued, the smell did too, and we realized it was coming from our Lead Car. What the heck? It smelled like a deep fryer, or stale cooking oil. It was like riding in a McDonalds! Everyone who was on the front noticed it. It was not pleasant (especially since there seemed to be no French fries forthcoming)!

Going down the hill after Corner 1, I just coasted up on the right. A short while after making Corner 2, I found myself on the front with Emily from Starbucks. She did well last week at Mason Lake, getting 2nd. I figured I would try to stay near her. We were really taking it easy on the front. But, I didn't want to be on the front too long. So, when some gals came up the side, I moved in behind a wheel. I drifted back a bit. 

The race continued at a fairly slow pace (much like Mason Lake last week). I noticed Debbie was actually staying in the pack! You might think that was because the pace was slow, but no. We've had slow pace races before and she has still been nervous about being in the pack. 

So, around we came, and into Lap 2. There were no attacks of any merit. One gal might go off, but as is typical of us Cat 4 Women, no one would go with that person, and we would eventually catch them. It wasn't really even very much work to catch them. There was even a Hagens Berman gal riding her rain bike, fenders and all! Oh, and one gal had a pump in her jersey pocket (it almost fell out at one point)! Then again, I was not much better as I had forgotten to take my phone out of my pocket.

On the flat backside, I was back on the front. Pretty soon, here comes Debbie up the side, and she gets in front of me! YES, she was still hanging in the peloton! I drafted behind her for awhile, then traded places with her. We did this a few times. From a race "tactic", as we were not off the front, it was not worth much, but for me, it was a great help. It saved my energy. In fact, Debbie did a ton of work on both the second and third laps. As we were going along on the second lap, I had a moment to tell her how proud I was of her that she was truly racing. She has shed her Dangler persona!!!

In the third lap, there still seemed to be no great attempts at getting away. I realized we would likely be a bunch at the final sprint. Emily spent almost the entire third lap on the front. I thought that was amazing, but I began to think there was no way she would have anything left for the sprint. But, she was still working hard, so I stayed close to her. At the 1km sign, we had the whole road. Jean told everyone to spread out. I was on the far right. There didn't seem to be much spreading happening. Oh well, I stayed in the draft. However, they really picked up the pace. I was glad I was still on a wheel. In fact, it was Emily's wheel until she faded (like I said, she did a ton of work), then I went by her and was on the next wheel. I stayed on that wheel until about 50m from the finish. I was going as hard as I could. Then, that gal began to fade just enough that I was able to go around her. I couldn't get out of the saddle (legs just refused), so I put my head down and gutted it out. I ended up 5th. Another top 10 finish--YAY!

Last week the Starbucks gals had been working for Emily. This week they were working for Courtney. Courtney got 7th. Jasmine got 3rd!!! Yay, Jasmine!!! 

Afterward, on the way back to the cars, Debbie and I turned and rode out to the Dungeness County Park and Wildlife Refuge. In my quest to see some of these places that we have raced at for 4 years now (example, Flaming Geyser at the Icebreaker TT), I wanted to check it out. The road led to a nice view of the water.
Looking toward Port Angeles.
Selfie time!

When we got back to the cars, I had Ron take a photo of the three of us.
Jean, Debbie, and I 

This was a fun race, and a big part of why is because there were 3 of us racing the whole time! Oh, and it was also nice that it didn't rain. Might have been even nicer without the fast food fryer smell!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Weather Looked So Promising...

...for a minute or two. March seems to be still coming in like a lion, even a week into the month. 

Julian, a former teammate now riding for Audi, had offered me a ride if ever I needed it. Since I was the only OOA Cat 4 gal wanting to do Mason Lake #1, I took him up on the offer. His daughter, Jasmine (races for RAD, but is my favorite 16 year old racer), was also racing with the Cat 4 Women. A testament to how generous Julian is, he said he would drive me, even if neither him or Jasmine were racing. How incredible is that??? I do hope it doesn't come to that; mostly, because that means I would be racing without my teammates (even though Jasmine races for RAD, I consider her my teammate). I actually rode with Todd (an OOA Cat 5 guy--today was his first race), but Julian and Jasmine came to pick me up with Todd. It was fun getting to know Todd more, and telling him about the course. 

When we got out to Mason Lake County Park, Julian set up his tent. Jasmine and I went and checked in. It looked like there were a few additions (day of registrations) to the list. We ended up starting with 27! As we were checking in, the weather looked pretty good--blue sky patches. Sadly, it did not stay that way. It started to rain before we were warming up. Todd didn't have a trainer, so he had to warm up on the road. I gave him my rain cape to at least keep him a little dry before his race. Jasmine and I warmed up on our trainers under the protection of the tent (so awesome, Julian!).

It actually stopped raining by the time we finished our warmup. However, as we were getting our instructions prior to rolling out, it started raining again. Great...not. The official finally let us go (something unusual this year, there were neutral wheels in the follow car--it's always been wheels in/wheels out).
The lead and follow cars.

Starbucks had their usual large posse (4), but Group Health took the cake for the largest team presence with 9! Bike Sale was actually quite small with only 3 (usually they have at least 5). Everyone else was just one or two, with three who had no team listed. 

We roll neutral until the first corner. Then we're off!!! Well, not really. It was a slow go up the long gradual climb. In fact, it was a pretty slow go the entire first lap. On the "front" side (the no roller side), it didn't help that there was a nasty cross/headwind with sideways rain pouring on us. We made it through Corner 2, and onto the backside rollers. I found myself sometimes near the back (I knew this not because I looked behind me, but because how many were in front of me). I do not like to be in the back. I would wait for an opening, then try to get back into the front third of the peloton. I really made a conscious effort to not get on the front. There were plenty of Starbucks and Group Health gals that could take turns working. I didn't feel the need to get up there and pull everyone. For anyone who has read my race blog posts before, you know this is a huge revelation for me. I have always spent some time on the front in every race. It never works out well (except that one Sequim race). So, regardless of how slow the pace was, I was happy to stay out of the wind. 

We finished the first lap, and I expected the pace to pick up. Nope, it didn't. And, we were all still pretty much together (by the end, we had truly dropped only 4 gals). I was thinking, as we came into the roller section again, that this was possibly going to be Mason Lake #2, of two years ago, all over again. The one where we were all together at the sprint and 17 of us crashed. I figured I should try and stay as close to the front as possible. I stayed within the top 5 or 6. As much as I did not want to participate in a bunch sprint, I was not terribly tired, and felt like my legs could definitely sprint. I was also stuck on the right side, but I just hoped they would take the whole road at the 200m, so I'd have some room. We came into the 200m, and the sprint was on! There was a small amount of road on the far right. I managed to squeeze by the gal who had been in front of me. I was yelling the whole time, "ON YOUR RIGHT, ON YOUR RIGHT!!!" I stayed out of the saddle until I crossed the line (See? I did have a sprint left in my legs!). With the exception of one gal who jerked a bit to one side (but was immediately yelled at to hold her line), the sprint was safe, and no one crashed. Yay for us Cat 4 Women!!!

After we changed out of our soaking wet clothing, and into many layers of dry warm clothes, we went over to the Community Center for a Women's Clinic put on by Gina and Sarah. Gina had been watching us from the lead car, and Sarah from the follow car. It was the usual stuff--how we should try attacks, break away, etc. I'm pretty sure most of the gals were thinking, yeah, no, not gonna do that. I know I sure was thinking that! You can do an attack but, unless they think you are a threat, they'll just let you go...all by yourself...and you will die (unless you are super strong and can totally get away). Anyway, it was nice to hear the info again, and see the new faces outside of the race.

Jasmine and I went to check results. Jasmine came in 6th, and I came in 8th. It's another top 10 finish. I'm happy with that.
Me and my favorite 16 year old, Jasmine.
The results.

Of course, after we were all done racing and changing, the sun came out. Well, that's okay. We've had our share of nice mornings only to start raining for the afternoon races. Here's a photo of the lake we race around.
Mason Lake.

Since I'm pretty much guaranteed a ride, it looks like I'll be able to do all three Mason Lake races. However, next up is Sequim next Saturday.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Where's the Flaming Geyser?

Even though last week's TT and Circuit Race was a real race and all, today's Icebreaker TT seemed to be the beginning of the race season. It could have something to do with the fact that there were 21 of us Masters 35+ Cat 4 Women (vs. 7 last week). 

There were 6 of us OOA gals racing the Masters category, plus Jen racing Cat 1. We were, in order of start times, Jean, Julie, Cindy, Karen, Debbie, and me. It was alphabetical (if there is ever a good time to have a last name that starts with W, this is it). There was only one gal who went after me. 

We planned to caravan to the race. We met at a Park & Ride near the freeway. Debbie and I rode together. Julie, Cindy, and Karen went in Karen's truck (there was almost a major catastrophe when Cindy's bike almost fell off the rack before exiting the parking lot--some hikers meeting up at the P&R saved the day by pointing it out).

We arrived and got parked. Julie had a flat front tire, so I changed that for her. Although we had plenty of time, I got on my trainer about 15 minutes before I needed to. In a 10 mile TT, a longer warmup is better, but I'd already accounted for the extra time. The sun had come out, and we were toasty warm. By the time I got to doing my real warmup, I was sweating! I still had plenty of time after 30 minutes of the real warmup, but I didn't want to be too tired for the race, so I got off, and finished getting ready.

After cheering on the rest of my teammates, it was my turn. As I pedaled down the road, I noticed I wasn't having that high heart rate, breathing heavy, start that I usually do. Yet, I was still going 23 mph. Hmmm...there could be something to warming up even longer than 30 minutes! I was feeling pretty good! The gal who had started just after me passed me on her TT bike about half-way through the leg going out. But, she didn't get far away, and at the turn around, I passed her. She didn't pass me again until near the end. Slowly, I passed Debbie, then Karen, then Cindy. Jean and Julie had started too far ahead of me to pass them.

At the 1km, another gal on a TT bike passed me. But, I was able to pass her before the finish. Yay! The gal who I had passed at the turn around, who then passed me at the end, ended up beating me by less than 2 seconds. Dang! My time was 27:24.78, and secured me 8th place. That's 30 seconds faster, and one place higher than last year. 

After the finish, we decided to cool down with a ride out to Flaming Geyser State Park. I've never been out there before (even though this is my 4th year doing this TT). I was interested to see this "Flaming" geyser. We got to the end of the park. I did not see any flaming geyser. In all fairness, if there is such a thing as a flaming geyser, it's probably not right next to the parking lot. Ah well, perhaps another time I'll do more exploring.

While waiting for results, we asked a gal to take a photo of all of us awesome Masters 35+ Cat 4 Women.
Me, Jean, Julie, Karen, Debbie, and Cindy