29 April 2007

Lander's Sixth Birthday

Lander turned six today. Here are some pictures of the load of gifts he got and from his party at school (called Star Day) and his party with his friends.

Lander's school party

Birthday breakfast

The haul (before)

The haul (after)

Cool gift from Aunt Shauna and Uncle Sterling

Landers low-budget cake courtesy of Mom

Landers' boy party

28 April 2007


I wouldn't say that this weekend was relaxing, but I decided not to do any racing. That left me free to do all the other stuff I needed to do like starting to get our current house ready to put on the market and spend 3 hours at the new house with the electrician trying to make decisions on wiring that I am sure I will regret as soon as it is too late to do anything about it.

Saturday myself and a couple of guys from our team (Stewart and Chris) did the Bridge of the Gods ride. This ride is an absolute must if you visit The 'Couve, it's 90 miles of awesome views and scenic waterfalls. You get to experience the Columbia River Gorge in full. We went pretty hard on the hills going out the Gorge and I seriously wondered if I was going to make it back in one piece, my legs already hurt. We ran into Melissa as we were headed up the climb to Crown Point. I of course was struggling to stay on her wheel and tried to ignore the fact that my legs were unwilling to do what I wanted them to do, which was climb. The descent from Crown was fun, as it usually is. We made it home without any incident and not even one flat tire. That is always a good time

24 April 2007

Tour of Walla Walla

Ever since I moved to Washington I have wanted to visit Walla Walla, mainly because it has a goofy name. It also has a really awesome stage race.

Having never raced any Washington races I was really excited to do the Tour of Walla Walla and race against a new group of women. Here are the things that made me most nervous:
1. There were 57 women registered
2. Most of them were from WA or British Columbia (i.e. tough girls)
3. A small percentage of them were Pro’s (Um, Mara Abbott from Webcor and a bunch more)
4. Most of the girls were on teams, I was outnumbered

So, I decided to have no expectations about this race. Do the best I can and race smart.

The TT was all up hill to the turnaround, my absolute favorite, NOT! It was only 7.5 miles, but it was going to hurt. The overall grade wasn’t very steep, but there were a few sections that kicked up a little just to make it extra painful. As usual, I spent more time warming up than I actually did racing the TT, that is how it goes.

I always try to not go too hard in the beginning and allow my heart rate to creep up slowly to my TT zone. Well, that didn’t happen because right off the start you start to climb. I skyrocketed to 180 in about a minute and spent the next 4 minutes trying to get the lactic acid out of my legs and telling myself that it was too early to quit the race. I finally managed to get into some rhythm, climbing in my aerobars in the big ring. That just sounds so backwards to me. I was slowly creeping up on my 30 second girl and no one had passed me so I figured I must be having a pretty decent ride. I passed my 30 second girl right before the turn around, it was good motivation to push hard up the final grade. The ride down was awesome. It wasn’t so steep that I was doing 50 mph or anything like that, but I was able to go pretty fast. When I crossed the finish line, I thought I was going to toss my cookies. That is a pretty good indication that you expended the right amount of effort. My left quad also felt like it was going to explode, that made me worry about what would happen to me later in the road race.

Suz won the time trial by a huge margin, of course. I managed to come in 12th place, which really surprised me. Of course, then I immediately started worrying about the road race and the 4,000 feet of climbing that went with it. Hmm, how many GC spots would I lose over that course?

Road Race
I must admit that sometimes race profiles make them look a lot worse than they really are. Yes, the race had almost 4,000 feet of climbing and yes there was a 3 km hill that we had to climb 3 times, but it really wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. I honestly stayed in the big ring the whole time except for the 3 km climb. I knew I could just sit in and not work

The first time up the hill was neutral and I comfortably sat in and pondered who I could pay off in the lead car to keep us going this speed the next two times up the climb. What was awesome was the descent on the other side. Yes, it was sketchy because our group had not thinned out at all, but I knew that if I did get dropped on the climb on the next lap that I would be able to catch on. There were multiple attacks on the first lap, but none of them stuck. Things were uneventful on the first lap until the climb, when things picked up for the QOM sprint. Much to my amazement, I managed to dangle on the back of the group until the 1k to go sign and then turned myself inside out to get up the rest of the climb without losing too much time. I went over the top with 3 other girls and we could see the group in front of us so it didn’t take too long to chase back on. It was fun to actually go down the descent without having to brake all the time.

Our second lap was longer than the first and mostly rolling. I basically sat in and watched the attacks go off and matched the accelerations. No big deal. I had already decided that when we came to the final climb to the finish, again, that I was just going to go my own pace and not blow myself up. Again, to my surprise, they didn’t drop me as quick as I thought they would. I was also passing girls that were falling off and was grateful that my legs had decided to show up and race today. I finished in 27th place about 1’10” behind the winner (Mara of course). My GC position only dropped to 15th shockingly.

I had heard from several people how nasty the roads were for the crit so of course the weather turned bad and not only did we have bad roads, we had nasty, wet roads and it rained the whole time. I knew Kele Murdin (Pro trackie) would kill everyone, and she did. She rolled off the start before the whistle, which none of the judges seemed to care about, and basically attacked before the first corner. The pack was strung out immediately and lucky for me I had a good start and was in 4th position. I think we lost about ¼ of the field on the first lap. I kept up in the front while Kele and some strong BC chicks tried to get a break going. I tried to get in with them, but realized that might not be the best idea. I sat in for a bit and then 5 minutes in I had my “Oh crap, my legs are going to die and I am going to get dropped” phase. This always happens to me and I went to that special place in my mind where I think that pain is enjoyable and suffered through it. I vowed at that point not to look at my clock, or the race timer or the lap counter, EVER!!!!!!! The corners weren’t too slippery and I was able to keep my speed and even pedal through some of them. There was a crash early on in the race, but I was able to get around it easily. I finally realized we had 4 laps to go so I started to move up for the finish. I got a little boxed in on the last lap, but I had a gap to get through coming out of the last corner and managed to come in 6th place.

My GC position actually got better after the crit, that usually never happens. I ended up in 12th overall, evidently some of the girls ahead of me in GC were dropped in the crit. Lucky me. I can’t wait to do this race again next year.

16 April 2007

Kings Valley

Wow, I am lazy. I did the wonderfully hilly King's Valley race last weekend. I was really excited about this race as it's one of only a few road races on Saturday, then I got sick two days before the race. I decided to drive down with Bryan and see how I felt. I felt dizzy and a little feverish and against my best judgement decided to race anyway. I felt suprizingly good and just designated myself as pack fodder for most the race. On the final 1k climb to the finish, I found myself with the front 4 girls wondering what on earth I was doing in the front on a climb. Me, climbing, well? Wow, that's wierd. Anyway, my congested head and tired legs gave out 1/2 way up the climb and a few more girls passed me. I managed to come in 9th out of 19 girls on a hilly course with a climb to the finish. Maybe there is hope for me in the hills.

Next weekend, Tour of Walla Walla. I get to go get beat up by the Washington and BC girlies.

04 April 2007

Breaking Ice and Eating Cake

So Redlands has come and gone. It was a great experience and I learned a lot, and I can't wait to do more NRC races this year. I am planning on racing Mt. Hood and Cascade and I hope to also make it to Nature Valley and maybe Green Mountain. We will see how things pan out.

Icebreaker Criterium
Since my Redlands race was cut short due to me being cut in the crit (I vow to have this never happen again, I am built for crits!) I decided to have a wicked racing weekend. My legs were feeling pretty good on Friday so I headed down to Eugene with the boys from our River City Bicycles/Specialized team for the Ice Breaker crit. My plan was to race the Cat 1/2/3 women's race and then race with the Cat 3 men for training. Here are the suspects:

Tom, Tim, Joe and Gary with Chris (needs a new team kit) and Austin in the back

Ironically, Joe's antics in front of the camera with his tongue hanging out of his mouth foreshadowed the act of Joe puking after the Master's 35+ race. Joe was in a break with 3 other guys and they held it until the finish. The sprint began at 200 meters and Joe took 2nd place, then tossed his cookies. Way to go Joe!!!!

I was worried that my race would wind up a repeat of last year where we had 4 Cat 1/2/3 women race and it sucked because the back section of the course is always really, really windy. Well, this year we had 8 registered, but only 7 showed up. So, for the most part, better than last year. Kay Bork and Kori Kunz were there from the Eugene based Poplollies team, Jan Moss from Group Health, Marth Walsh and a couple of newly upgraded 3's. I decided that I wanted to do well in this race and decided to play defensive and not waste any energy launching my own attacks, which obviously wouldn't stick. I knew Kay and Kori would work together and I would be out numbered by them, that is exactly what they did. Kay went off the front and I chased. Jan launched several attacks and I chased. That was pretty much the situation I was in. This was fine with me because not only did I want to do well, I wanted a good workout, I wanted to be in pain and have to dig deep to win the sprints. I did manage to win 2 primes ($20 total) which also put me way off the front a couple of times. I would take this opportunity to make them work to catch me but not work hard enough to make myself tired. Kori was riding strong and her strategy is to go early in the sprints. Well, I am not a pure sprinter so that is my strategy as well. I knew in the final sprint I had to go before her to win. We both happened to end up at the back of the pace line, she was behind me, coming into the final corner. Not really a good position for me, reminds me of match sprints at the track (by the way, I suck at those). I think we must have both gone at the same time, she on the outside and I was on the inside. I managed to accelerate fast enough around our group that I had enough time to set myself up for the last corner and swing wide on the finishing stretch. I cut back to the inside fast and saw that Kori was a bit behind me. I can honestly say that the sprint to the line felt like the first real sprint I have done. I wanted it so bad and I knew I had to dig deep to keep my lead. It paid off and I won the final sprint. I was most pleased.

Immediately after my race I jumped in with the Cat 3 men which all of my teammates (except puking Joe) were going to race as well. I figured this would be good NRC crit practice as the speed and accelerations would be fast. I felt good the first few laps and then on about the 5th lap we came in to the back stretch and there was a flat bed truck 3/4 across our lane. I can't figure out how that happened, this crit is in a business park around one building, there was no one else there but us. So basically the whole pack got strung out and I was towards the back so I ended up having to chase into the headwind to get back on. My legs were screaming with pain at this point. I managed to hang on a few more laps but eventually fell off with Gary and Tim. Gary and I rode together and caught another couple of guys and were basically going to ride until the group came around again and we could jump in or they pulled us from the course. We caught up to two more guys, one from Paul's and some guy with no team kit. This was good, more people to work with. It was great until this idiot who wasn't wearing a team kit managed to end up behind me and when I would pull off the front of the pace line he would stand up and sprint. I always managed to be pulling off after I had pulled in the headwind so I had to fight tooth and nail to get back on because Mr. I Just Upgraded From Cat 4 had to accelerate when it was his turn. Does he know anything about a paceline? Did he honestly think we were going to catch the main field? What a DORK!! So my legs could only handle this a couple of times before I couldn't get back in. I tried to position myself so he wasn't behind me, but that is hard when there are only 4 of you. I gave up eventually and then saw that this guy managed to shake Gary and the Paul's guy as well. I caught up to them and we jumped back in the main field as they came around. I lasted a lap or two and then decided that was enough racing for one day and went to do my cool down and recover.

Piece of Cake
I was really excited to to PoC as a training race. Amy and I decided to race with the Cat3 men to get a good training ride in with a pace more similar to what we might find at an NRC race. PoC is pancake flat and I did it last year with the women and it was so boring. Yes, we had a lot of women, but it was rotating pace line for 51 miles with a sprint at the end. Basically a time trial. I wanted something harder. So the Cat 3 men's race seemed like a good idea.

The Cat3 men's field is an interesting group. You have a bunch of weekend warriors with hairy legs and seasoned racers mixed into one group, there was even a dude riding his rain bike with fenders. See where I am going with this? I wanted something hard, what I got was something scary. It was a 51 mile squirrel fest. You couldn't move up because the roads were narrow and we only had one lane. I can't even count how many times I had to hit my brakes and I heard and smelled tires rubbing. Amy and I set-up shop in the way back, far enough back to get around any catastrophes. This also put us in prime surging area. Every corner we had to sprint back into the field. I was fine with this, I wanted a good work out and it got easier as the guys on front wore out. It was pretty uneventful until the last lap when there was a big crash in front. Amy and I got around it but as I rode by I saw an unconscious Half Fast Velo guy and a few others on the ground. Two were taken by ambulance to the hospital and ended up with broken collar bones and one had a broken wrist to top it off. I was glad when we made it to the finish and Amy and I took 42nd and 43rd place. Woo Hoo, we're kickin' butt!!! David Hart and I rode an extra lap before the afternoon races started so I got about 70 miles in that day.

There were only 4 Cat 1/2/3 women that showed up for the afternoon race and I was tempted stay and race knowing that I was guaranteed cash for finishing, but I had been gone too much that weekend and I wanted to hang out with Bryan and Lander. I heard it was another 51 mile TTT so I didn't miss out much. The good thing is that my friend Mechele took 2nd in the Master's race. I think she can with the Master's BAR this year.

It was a good weekend. My fitness is coming around, too bad it didn't show up for Redlands!!!!