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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Weekend Wrap-up

I have no pics, sorry. I'll try to be more visual in future posts.

The Winters Road Race was held Saturday, the 28th. My home turf. I know every dimple in the road, I ride it so often. It's never boring, as so many variables come into play: wind, irrigation of the orchards, harvest of various crops, composition of the groups. I've ridden this route for over 4 years and it's still fresh.

Chris, the dogs & I drove to the start. I wanted to ride to the start but the ride home would hurt. He set up the trainer and I started my warm up. About 50 min. into it I bailed; Kameo & I soft-pedaled the local roads and chatted. Chris had Kameo's daughter and our dogs, which is essentiallyl like having 3 6 yr olds. That man is a saint. His patience knows no bounds.

He took the kids and headed to the the neutral feed zone, but not before hanging around to get pics of the start (to be posted later). When we were on the frontage road he honked as he blasted past on the interstate.

I lost my front row placing but no matter; I met every surge and had no gap until the feed zone. I slowed down to get a bottle and got gapped. As I grabbed the bottle I began to accelerate and started to pick people off like ripe fruit. I passed a dozen women on the hill and only one passed me on the downhill; I passed her on the flat and eventually she joined the paceline.

Six of us hammered behind the lead group. We were a strong, helpful group, and we were going great guns. I love this; that competitors work together to help each other out. Eventually we were a party of 8, a sweet rotating paceline covering ground efficiently. We crossed the finish line for the first time. The woman leading pulled off to the left and sat up. As I cruised past I saw the "oh, snap" look on her face. She asked no one in particular, "Do we have another lap?" I laughed over that. Hello, who's not paying attention?

Fast forward a few miles. We're making a 90* right turn. The first woman goes wide, hits gravel (wtf? the county was to have swept the roads) and goes down hard, the next woman following hits her and goes down. I'm 4th in line, taking the turn more narrow, and as I see#3 not crash I hear the pro/1/2 men holler behind us. We quickly neutralize so the peloton can blast past us, then we resume our paceline. All's well, we gasp, hyperventilate, and resume our line and I notice that my front wheel is flat. My friends all relate but on they ride. And that ends my race.

I called my husband and 3 friends who were at the feed zone; no cell coverage f0r anyone. I had a couple people ride past and ask for my status but no one stopped. Eventually Dana from Velo Girls pulled over and helped me inflate my tire enough to ride back to the start. She had a rough gt of it and bailed. I was happy to see her; she's a strong rider and an interesting person too. Out on the road you have to haave the skills to change a flat or have a back up plan. And never under estimate the impact you have on people: Because we rode together at Dunnigan Hills, Dana (and others) knew me and wanted to ride with me.

That was a huge revelation.

I can't wait to race again with these women.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Just Add Water

Ooof, what a week!

Hill repeats with Jen and Diana on Friday, and I was late arriving. My neighbor pulled up on his way to work and wanted to talk real estate. And who am I to say no to that?

I was 10 min. late leaving and couldn't get my legs to pedal faster; thus I met Jen on the road and we rode back to pick up Diana, who wondered if she'd told me 8:30 and not 8. I hate being late. I apologized all over and the girls were very forgiving. I love you two!

We did one repeat of Cantelow, 400' in .9 miles. On the east side I picked a goathead out of my front tire and heard the "whooooosh" of air leaving said tire. So Jen stepped in to help, since recently she's had practice, and by a team effort we had the tube stripped, replaced and reinflated. Onward we pressed.

Jen had to bail early so Diana and I continued our efforts. I used a bigger gear than I'm used to and stood as much as I could. I did 3 full repeats, she had 2, we met at the top, went down the west (steep) side and rode back to Winters. We split a chicken/spinach sammich and she drove me the 11 miles home that I seriously did not want to ride. What a friend!

Today Joann and I drove to Wlinters and did the course twice, not at race pace but not slacking either. I'm hurting but not too badly; I think I'm ready for the race and know I'll pick people off on the hill. Having a home-course advantage helps but I know others will also use that. My thought is that I know when to attack, but we'll see.

Joann is an accomplished triathlete. I ride, I run, I'm thinking I need a pool. Just add water and I can triathlete, too. Maybe.

All that, and our 28 yr. wedding anniversary on Saturday, has made for a full weekend. I wish I could add Monday as an extra day off, but I have a listing to take, and a short sale to keep moving forward, and some buyers to find property for, so I will be facing Monday with my race attitude on. Bring it, baby!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Back in Action, or Beginning with the End in Mind

Today I raced the Dunnigan Hills Road Race, Women's Category4.

All week I vacillated about it -- one minute I'm all over it, the next I'm bailing. Tuesday I was ready to ride the hell out of it, Thursday I was ready to not show up and never race again. I spent too much energy angsting over it, for sure.

I started the day by oversleeping, not paying attention the time, and just starting on my caffeine intake when Kameo arrived. Oops. Still in my glasses and bathrobe I ran upstairs to get myself together. I'd packed my kit and equipment the night before (good move, me), so I, popped in my 'tacts, pulled on my pre/post race clothes, applied sunscreen, and hustled downstairs.

Chris is a saint. Kameo loaded my bike and floor pump while he made me a PB&homemade peach jam sammich, filled bottles with water and Accelerade, tossed in a Bonk Breaker. A kiss goodbye and we were off.

The race isn't far from my house. Kameo & I caught up on our lives and I sucked down the rest of my coffee & ate my sammich. I loved this; we ride too fast to talk much, and we had much to discuss.

We arrived early, got our numbers early, warmed up early, waited a long, long time for our race to go off. While we were pinning our numbers to our jerseys a friend and accomplished triathlete came to say hello. We shared how we prepare for a road race.

J: I hydrate well and lay around with my compression tights on and my legs elevated.

Me: I drink too much, eat Nugget Deli food and stay up too late.

I finished well ahead of her. But how much better would I have placed if I adopted her habits?

So, Kameo knows freakin' everyone because she's raced so much this year, and generally you'll see the same people every race because of the category you race. I recognized a few faces, had some friends in the race, and made some new friends (I hope).

At the start I couldn't get my right foot clipped in (damn lack of practice) and I lost my position as a result -- second row to near the back. After the neutral lead-out we got down to business. Because we didn't start until after 10, the wind was up, and the flat portion of the ride had north wind as we headed left. The fast women went off the front right away, and I got into my gear and started picking people off.

This is a good time to tell you that I was nearly overwhelmed with the urge to hurl everything from Friday's lunch forward for the 1st 20 min. or so of this race. I also toyed with the idea of faking a flat or something so I wouldn't have to race. As these thoughts passed through my brain I kept my pedals turning, overtaking people along the way. But that urge to puke? That was really strong, surprisingly visceral.

So we hit some rollers and I find myself with J, so we started working together. I seemed to take longer pulls than she, and when we turned into the headwind paralleling the 505 I began asking for help. We came up on other women and worked with them as well. Eventually I rode away, since they were really slow and I needed to go fast.

There were rollers, some huge, some shallow, and I kept catching up to women from my group, working with them a bit, determining that they were too slow, and moving forward. About a third of the along I glommed onto a group of women and they let me work in. We had a rotating paceline/echelon depending on which way the wind hit. This was excellent practice for me. I can paceline all day, but echelon riding takes more concentration -- it's easier to cross wheels, for one thing -- and we don't get to practice this on our group rides much. The Velo Girls (3 of 'em) seemed to know what they were doing; one was incredibly strong and we had to yell at her to slow down. The other two women and I just did what we had to do. I especially appreciated the pacelining up the hills; something I've never done and found that I'm good at.

All during the race I was acutely aware of every pain, tweak, twinge I had. My feet, my hips, my back, my shoulders, my (healed) broken wrist -- at any given moment, while concentrating on my position and keeping my line and pulling through -- these pains made their presence known. I acknowledged that I hurt and kept riding anyway.

The last overpass before the downwind leg I got dropped -- my legs just wouldn't turn the pedals faster -- and my group left me. Nooooooo! The VeloGirls had something left and off they went. I eventually overtook the other two women, thought they were with me, but no, I dropped them.

The last 10+ miles were downwind, flat, and I time-trialed them. Except for the half-dozen times I had to get out of the saddle and stretch (the chamois in my kit shorts officially sucks). I kept wanting to let up, but my goal was to finish, and finish strong.

So the last 500 meters to the finish I shifted up and gained speed. I was gaining speed as I crossed the line. Damn, that was fine, hearing "Great finish!" and my friends cheering and clapping.

I rode to a T intersection, turned around, and rode back to my friends for a post-race hug. I had to lay down my bike in the ditch and sit down so I wouldn't pass out. Seems my Gu, my 3 bottles of water, my 1 bottle of Accelerade, weren't enough to keep my hydrated and fed. I was light-headed, sick-feeling, and various-muscle-cramping for hours after the race. I drank so much water I sloshed when I walked, and it wasn't enough. Finally I drank a small can of V-8 and immediately felt human again.

The muscle soreness I'm used to, but the cramping concerned me -- that ain't right. Note to self: Eat and drink more when riding 41 miles with fierce winds at high intensity in about 2 hours.

The official results aren't in yet. Kameo finished 2nd and stayed to watch until I showed up. She thinks I was in the top 25 of 50. Since this was my first individual race in 5 mos. I had no expectations of my results. My goals were to ride hard and finish strong.

Mission accomplished.

And it feels awesome!!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

We rode up Mt. Diablo today. We rode our half-bikes and made it all the way to the top.

Here we are, posing at the summit. We waited for our heart rates to slow down before we took the pics.

We did this ride with our friends Gordon and Michelle, on tandems, in Nov. '07. We made it all The Wall (200 yds. at about 18% grade). We had to walk the tandem up, and we were shamed by that. Let me qualify that: We had done steeper, more difficult climbs before, but we were in better shape. By November we were done with group rides, training rides, endurance rides. We thought we had what it took to make that wall. WRONG. Fail.

We aren't the first, not the last, but as competitive as we are, this hurt. So we had a date for redemption.

Today was it. I was ahead of Chris for most of the ride, and at the end he surged ahead. I let him -- my goal was to finish strong. I was working hard at the end and wanted to get off the bike ASAP, but cruised through the parking lot at the top, avoiding the dozens of classic Mercedes manuevering in the parking lot. Nonetheless I was grateful to climb off my bike.

The downhill was hard; my wrist and hands hurt and every bump in the road made the pain worse. I'd rather climb than descend. I haven't mastered the art of relaxation while descending.

Ever since I've been on a high: we accomplished an important goal and did it in fine fashion. I wish I could bottle this feeling and chug it on a crappy day.