July 30, 2009

2nd Hottest Ride Ever

I once rode in 113 degree temps in 1993 in Death Valley for the Whitney Classic, a 136 mile fun race from Badwater to the Whitney Portal trailhead parking lot.
Yesterday was a close second when I rode the 20 miles home from Seattle. There is a large outside thermometer in the middle of a mile climb and around 5:30 pm it read 110. My water was not enjoyable:)
But the shower was:):)
Stay cool my fellow 2 wheelers.
Ty (aka saddledancer)

July 28, 2009

The Heat Is On

You may or may not know, and may or may not care, but the Pacific Northwest is stuck in a very hot and smoggy stretch. Well over 100 now with no real relief in sight for several days. It really started last Sunday when I raced OUCH.
Tonight I raced the flat course out at Pacific and I really thought only a few riders would show. I was so wrong. A large field and consistent laps (4:30 for around 2 miles) meant I hung at the back a lot. It was a good workout in record setting heat. I could just feel the heat radiating off the drag strip as we headed down the back stretch.
I was thanked early on by my breakaway partner from last week. That was a nice gesture. It turns out he did not win last week, but was caught just near the finish. I also helped bridge a gap after a prime lap, bringing the rest to the front group of 6 or so and was thanked for my efforts. Another nice gesture. I did have 2 full bottles of h2o and my sleeveless alter-ego jersey, but I suffered nonetheless.
In any event another fun and safe event. Just 5 more Tuesday night races left!
Hope my teammates stay cool. Too hot to write more:) And it's 10:50 pm!
Ty (aka Saddledancer)

July 27, 2009


There is nothing like getting up at 4:30 am, hitting the road at 4:55 for a 3.25 hr drive for a 16 mile hillclimb in record setting heat and smoggy conditions, then driving back in bumper to bumper traffic and getting home at 5:15 pm. Let me tell you the cold beer and even colder shower felt so good.
OUCH stands for the Oregon Uphill Championships, not to be confused with the Oregon State Uphill Champs. The race starts in Corbett, Oregon, just 30 minutes north of Portland in the Hood River area, or 3.25 hours from Issaquah, WA (including a stop at a Jack In The Box Drive Thru at 5 am for a Steak & Cheese Burrito (the perfect pre-race food:)) The race is put on by Ernie, the brain trust behind the Elkhorn Classic (a 4 stage 3 day race held in Baker City, OR in early June, which includes 2 LONG road races, a tt and a crit, and I was the proud Lanterne Rouge in 2007 (pre-53x11coffee days). I even earned a $20 cash award for my staying power. It was my first and so far ever stage race. I plan to go again in 2010).
OUCH is about 16 miles long and is held in tt format with riders going at 30 second intervals. I was in the Masters 45-49 cat and started about 1/2 way thru the order. There were 10 in mcat and I finished 9th. Riders can choose between a traditional tt start on the top of a ramp or a starting position on the ground. I went for the standing start and lost time getting clipped in.
I could not go all out for 2 reasons even though I felt good. First I did not know the course as I have never ridden the climb. A friend has and the only advise he could give was that "you will enjoy it." The website for the link includes an elevation chart and course description but they meant nothing as I have to experience a route first hand to know what is what. The 2nd reason was the heat. It must have been in the 90s with little or no wind.
I started sweating badly at 4 miles and experienced right eye irritation again. What is up with that? I did not stop though like during last week's training ride on Sunrise, but poured lots of water over my eye. I rode very even and finished in around 1:16:20, which I said earlier was good for 9th out of 10th in Masters Mens 45-49. Overall I was about 98th out of around 150 riders. The youngest was about 9 and the oldest in his early 60s. Yes I caught both:) I know I can go under 1:10 now that I know the route and given that MOST years the weather is more "saddledancer" friendly:)
The route started with a flat 1/2 mile followed by rolling 7 miles, with the last 6 or so a steady grade in old growth forrest. It was hard to tell I was on a mountain, as compared to the Crystal Mtn/Washington State hillclimb champs (held in late August), or the Mt. Baker Hillclimb (held in early September), or the Cougar Mtn 2 mile hillclimb (next week). The finish, meaning the final 200 meters, was a steep section into the parking lot at the top of the mountain). I finished strong after being passed by a guy who started over 16 minutes behind me (I heard him say he rode under an hour).
By the way, I inadvertently wore my Washington (WSBA) number on my jersey rather than my Oregon (OBRA) number. I heard the wrong number called out at the finish. However, I did have the correct OBRA frame number despite the fact that frame numbers are not required in Oregon. I had to clear up the confusion at the finish.
Despite that embarrassment I did get to spread the word about our team before the start while I talked to a few riders about my "plain wrap" titanium frame I bought 3 years ago on ebay. So many opinions on the brand.
They also gave out nice water bottles full of cold water at the finish and a "finishers" medal. , something to add to my collection of 51 marathon medals. I am thinking of making a wind chime out of them.
Not only was I the ony rider for 53x11Coffee, I may have been the only rider from Washington state.
In any case, I highly recommend this fun and low key event for anyone in the Pacific Northwest area in early July.
All the best to Evan, Owen and my fellow teammates.
Ty (aka Saddledancer)

July 23, 2009

My Sincere Apologies to Evan (not Ewan)

Must have been the shock over Jens Voight's crash as he is my favorite rider.
Sorry Evan.

July 22, 2009

Message For Ewan

This is a test message for Ewan. My emails don't seem to reach you of late. Anway, thanks for all you do for the team. Any news about awards for the Tuesday night series that ends in August?
Thanks again for all your efforts. I am honored to fly the colors (both alter-ego and red)!
Ty (aka saddledancer)

July 21, 2009


By now you know I really do enjoy racing the Tuesday night series out in Kent at Pacific Raceways. Tonight was a 50 minute race with a clockwise loop of the 2+ mile circuit up the escape route, my 2nd most favorite of the 5 courses out there. It was clear, hazy and HOT (low 90s). There were about 30 riders in the 4/5 group and we took it at a sane pace for the most part due to the heat. I am not a fan of over 80 temps and manage as best I can. I drank a lot tonight and never had cramp issues. I did ride near the back for the most part but did ride strong up the 400 meter ramp, usually being in the top 10 at the top. It is a beautiful course and we race in view of Mount Rainier.
Before the start I had thought of breaking away with 3 laps to go but as the race progressed I just wanted to feel okay in the heat. Unfortunately for me I did break away up the escape route with 2 laps to go. All I did was maintain my pace while the others eased up. Before I knew it I was crossing the finish line with 2 laps to go with about a 200 meter lead. One rider did join me and we worked for a lap. The group was not in sight and I had dreams of finishing 2nd and getting some points. Alas my legs were not as strong as my imagination and I had to let my "break buddy" go. I was caught with a 1/2 lap to go and then flatted (rear) at the base of the escape route, ending up walking through the finish. I did get a high five from the race director and I think my "break buddy" won.
All in all a very fun race as usual. And I took the flat (like my wrong turn 2 weeks ago) in stride-THAT'S RACING!
All the best to Evan and my fellow teammates.
Ty (aka Saddledancer)

July 19, 2009

Just What I Needed

I live in Washington state, about 10 miles east of Seattle. I have a training ride I like to do at least once a year out near Mount Rainier, about a 90 minute drive from home. It starts at the Crystal Mountain ski station, which itself is the location of the Washington State Hillcimb Championships held in August, a 6 mile UPHILL tt race. I like to scope it out at least once before the race, but due to snow and road conditions the roads are not usually opened til June. I descend the 6 miles from the ski lodge to Highway 410, turn left and climb steadily for 20 minutes before turning right onto Sunrise, itself a 14 mile or so climb up to the Sunrise park, one approach climbers take to Mount Rainier. I then turn around and go back to Crystal Mountain, finishing with the 6 mile climb to the parking lot. My race team shot is from last year's Crystal Mtn race. I love the climb but love Sunrise more.

I am also a clerk for the King County District Court and deal with DUIs, rapists, and all sorts of happy situations on a daily basis. My mental state had dropped of late and I desperately needed a pick-me-up.

I like group rides, and by group I mean no more than 4 or 5 (rides where it is acceptable to blurt out "This would be a good place to dump a body" and not be ridiculed or scorned or judged). I leave the pack riding to races. I do so enjoy my solo rides though, and I had not had a good long one for a very long time. Yesterday's solo ride took just over three hours, when you take out the 3 stops up Sunrise for severe sweat/right eye irritation (so bad I was riding blind at points).

So Saturday found me riding down from the Crystal Mtn lot at 8:05 am, a bit chilly of a descent as I was only in my alter-ego s/s/ jersey and bb shorts. The climb up to the Sunrise parking lot was a blast as there was very little traffic and the entrance to the national park was free (usually $5 for cyclists). However, as previously mentioned I had to stop 3 times for severe sweat.right eye irritation which just started this last week. We have had very warm and clear conditions and I always run hot since moving here from the Northern Virginia area in 2003. I am originally from Southern California but have had "heat" issues since 2003. I lived in NortherVirginia for 7 years (1996-2003) where I biked and ran a lot in hot and humid conditions. Since moving to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2003 I have had issues when exercise in "over 80 degree" temps.

IT was very warm and sunny yesterday, and I just could not stop my eye irritation. Anway, I did do the ride and finished in a respectable time. I even saw 2 of my friends climbing sunrise as I descended.

I felt so refreshed after the ride and am ready for another week of MIPs, DUIS, DVs and what have you.

Keep the rubber side down!

Ty (aka Saddledancer)

July 7, 2009

Blame It On the New Kit?

I felt more like an extra in Deliverance (as in "you've done taken a wrong turn) than a competitor in a bike race tonight at the Tuesday night series out at Pacific. I will blame my infamous move on the new kit rather than my inattention. After all it was my first race in the all red kit and I wanted to make a good first impression. Forget that I have been racing the Tuesday night series for 6 years now and know all 5 courses intimately. Forget that tonight's course was on the flat, about a 2 mile oval, counter clockwise circuit. Maybe my mind was on the barbeque that was going to be held afterwards, an annual summer event that brings all that much closer together. Or maybe I was just a real goof.
In any event I spent most of the race at the back, but did attack two times, both into incredibly stiff headwinds. The first time was at the start of the 2nd lap. They didn't let me go. After pulling the 40 or so riders about 200 meters I sat up and took up my position at the back. Twenty minutes later I did it again and this time got a good gap. I never looked back as I went from dead last to first in about 100 meters. When I did look back I had a 50 meter or so lead. The course was changed a few weeks back as they installed a new sand escape lane for dragsters, forcing us to turn earlier than before. The new turn is also sharper but not too bad. The 1/2/3s were ahead and I saw them turn. I kept my head down and hammered away, turning on what I thought was the right road. Alas I was one lane short and had turned on a narrow maintenance road that ended at a concrete barrier. I was halfway on it when I realized my mistake. It was about that time when everyone yelled at me. Two guys followed me and were able to get back on. I had to ride slowly along the barrier to the real road, and had to wait fir the pack to go by. By the time I got going I was unable to bridge the gap as the pack really pushed on a slight downhill with a tailwind. I finally sat up and decided to ride easy til they caught me on the next lap. But then the Masters passed me and I opted to sit on the back like last week. We eventually caught my 4/5 group that had to go neutral as the Masters passed. I was able to jump back onto the group and ride with them for the last 3 laps. I gave everyone a laugh, including myself. The veggie burger was very tasty as well.
Enough for now. Lesson learned? Just enjoy the ride!
Ty (aka Saddledancer aka Wrong Way)

July 2, 2009

The New Kit Rocks!

No race report. Just kudos for the new kit. It looks so good (or so my girlfriend says:). I can't wait to fly the new colors.
Have a great and safe 4th!
Oh I my race a crit on the 4th and of course will write about it if I do:)
Ty (Saddledancer)

July 1, 2009

Not Enough Words

I don't know how to describe last night's race out at Pacific in Kent. The Cliffnotes Version-my hardest ever?
The course was my least favorite, which was the opposite of last week's race, meaning D...O...W...N the S turn. The approach is down a straight ramp of about 100 meters, which comes about a mile into the race. You then hit the S itself, a severe chicane, another one hundred meters. Cars and motorcycles race out there year round, and if Porches and Ducatis crash, just think about our lil ol two wheel ti, steel, carbon and aluminum machines. I myself did crash a few years back going down the Escape Route, which is just a continuance of the entrance ramp. I was okay, save for some road rash on my shins, but my derailleur hanger on my Carbon Look was busted.
Anyhow, "Down the S" is not favored by many racers, and one of my training buddies even skipped out last night when he found out we would be riding that course. And he is much better (and younger than me:) The fear of course is crashes, especially with all the newbies in the 4/5s.
The 4/5s started first of the three groups, and we raced for 64 minutes, about 12 laps. We did have a crash, but it was on the long flat near the start and at the start of the 2nd lap when riders slowed and someone was not paying attention. A rider off to my right went down and I heard that familiar but unwanted sound.
I always hang back on this course, picking my line through the S, then working like heck to rejoin during the next 1/2 mile, consisting of a few uphill rollers. We then have about 1.5 miles of flat where sometimes I make a break. But not last night. Last night was no different except for the no attacking. I was able to ride the route 3 times before the start so I was a bit familiar with it. One positive aspect is that the S turn is a very nice and smooth surface, compared to the Escape Route which has a lot of ruts and pot holes (hence my crash).
I was off the back each of the first 3 laps at the bottom of the S and worked like heck to rejoin. Thank goodness all my local training rides consist of a lot of traffic lights at the start and finish which condition me to really work it for short periods (i.e. intervals). The 4th lap was a prime, and we were all (30 riders) strung out. The finish of the race was at the top of the rollers following the S turn, and when we crossed the line for the Prime I was way off the back with several others. I had pretty much thrown in the towel by then, thinking the next 40 minutes would be a nice tempo ride. But alas we were passed by the 1/2/3s, and a buddy of mine thought we could pace off them to rejoin our pack when it went neutral while the 1/2/3s passed it. It worked and I was able to pull 4 guys back up. It felt really good to be thanked for my efforts. I am more of a domestique than a star. But I was toast and hung at the back for the next 4 laps. I then pretty much gave up the fight at 40 minutes to go when we hit the top of the rollers, but right when I sat up and let everyone go, I decided to try and give it another shot. No real ego on my part. It just seemed that the group wasn't hammering. So I did. And again I caught the pack just before the S turn. 2 laps later I was about to sit up again when we were caught by the Masters and had to go neutral again. Some guys up front broke the rules and long standing tradition of going neutral and went with the "really good older guys and gals." The rest of us kind of neutralized. It still was a tough finish but I hung in there. I somehow ended up with a group of Masters mixed in with the 4/5s. I was so wiped afterwards but quite satisfied.
I even was approached afterwards by a rider from Garage (a very good local squad). He loved the Alter Ego kit (which is very similar to Garage in coloring-black with some red and white). I told him all about the company and the website.
My girlfriend describes me as Sticky. If you have read Ten Points you know what I mean. Last night I was more like Stretch Armstrong (if you are in my age bracket you know what I mean:)).
I may not have laughed or socialized but I did enjoy the ride. And that is what counts. Right Jeff?
Enough for now. Get well Jeff!
Ty (aka Saddledancer)