March 27, 2010

My Impersonation of a Peanut

As in shelled.I raced the Masters 30+ 4/5s this morning at 9 am in Rochester, WA, a 2 lap 41 mile affair that included 2 climbs (one not so short but steep and one short but not so steep), and several miles of rolling terrain in beautiful farm country.
I don't know about other states, but Masters racing is HUGE in Washington, and recently they changed cats so 4/5s would not race with much older but better cat riders. Up to this year the 4/5s Masters over 30 raced with 50+ all cats. I understand the need and want for safety (I myself don't feel all that comfortable with newbies) but Cat 4 racers do have experience, if not the talent or desire to move up. I am a weekend racer only, and wanna stay upright and be a factor. But if I have the chance to race with much better Masters (like the 2007 Elkhorn Classic or the Blackberry Crit in Bremerton, WA) I will take it. Nothing like toeing the line and trying to chase down the likes of Kenny Williams.
Soapbox aside, I did this race in 2006 in similar conditions-mostly clear and cool with a slight wind (aka very nice!). Like 2006 I got dropped on the first climb that came at the end of neutral, and like 2006 I connected with 5 or 6 others. Our group worked very well together picking up stragglers, a lil like 2006. Unlike 2006, however, I knew what was coming so dropped everyone on the 2nd climb and waited for them to catch me at the bottom (unlike 2006 where I let everyone leave me on the descent and never reconnected for the 2nd and final lap).
Our group of 6 had an incredible paceline going through the finish at the end of the 1st lap. We did split again on the 3rd climb and I was leading everyone, but for some reason did not push the advantage so they could catch me on the descent. End result? A group of 3 left me and I could never reconnect. So, just like 2006 I rode most of the 2nd lap on my own in tt mode. I could see the 3 guys just up the road and I almost bridged but could not and gave up the ghost. I did see one guy looking back for me, and after the race he said he asked the others to wait as I was such a strong rider and good contributor (I have to represent 53x11 coffee!). And just like 2006 the women almost caught me at the line, but I did push it the final K and beat them by a good margin.
I heard after that bad crash occurred at the finish of our group as a pack raced for 2nd. I did not see any carnage but did see a Medic driving to the finish. Never good to hear or see.
Bikers and bike racers are such an incredible family. I have said it before and I will say it again. My number was falling off just before the start and a woman waiting to start her race pinned me straight. I had good conversations with many of my co-conspirators after the race, and my car neighbor left his shorts at home so scrambled to find a pair before his race-which he did. We may race and compete against each other but we are always there for one another too.
So cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
PS-I am 11th in the series so I hope I do well todat at Gent - Wevelgem .
Ty (aka Saddledancer)

March 24, 2010

The Wait Is Over

I had been waiting for last night since the end of August, 2009. Last night marked the beginning of the Tuesday night series at Pacific Raceways in Kent, WA, a weekly race series on a closed car/motorcycle course that offers 5 courses, ranging from 2 to 2.5 miles in length. Races are offered for 3 cats-1/2/3s, Masters and 4/5s. Although I have raced for years and often race in Masters cats for sanctioned races, I ride the 4/5s in the unsanctioned Tuesday series. I think I will move to Masters in 2011.
Last night was the flat course, a very friendly oval with gentle turns on a flat 2 mile route. The weather was awesome-cool with partly cloudy conditions. Mt. Rainier is often viewable about 30 miles to the southeast. There was a very large turnout, about 60 in the 4/5s, 60 in the masters and 40 in the 1/2/3s.
The 4/5s started last and rode for 40 minutes, or about 17 miles. We rode hard from the get go with very few slow sections. I rode primarily at the back, catching up with old friends. The biking community is very close and is just awesome. Where else will you see a Cat 1/2 racer riding with his 2 year old before the start? Where else will you hear 4/5s yell for their teammates that are in a 1/2/3 break who pass the 4/5s? We ae at different levels and abilities but the desires and dreams are the same-to ride well.
I did attack at the start of the 3rd lap (a prime lap as well). I went from the very back to the front and got off a few yards, taking one other rider with me. After a few pedal turns I pulled off and looked back. The one rider pulled through and I jumped on his wheel but I knew the pack was letting us dangle. I told my partner that we were about to get caught and we had a good laugh-"you gotta try" he said as we rode through the first turn at the head of the flying pack. Once through the turn I pulled off and let all 59 riders ride through. It took everything to catch the last wheel and I never recovered-so much for my off season training!
I was at the back with one lap to go when a crash occured just ahead of me-no other sound like that of bodies and bikes hitting the pavement. I hate it. I somehow avoided the falling bikes and bodies and did not hit the guy in front of me (a good buddy too) as he maneuvered around the carnage. Three of us ended up way off the back and tried to get back on but could not, so we 3 rode in together side by side. It was good to finish with 2 buddies, knowing we were fortunate not to go down (one buddy broke his collarbone a few years ago on the same course and made it on youtube).
All in all a very good start to the 2010 Pacific Series. I think I wore the team colors with honor. Starbucks changed their kit up some and I do not like it. So glad the alter-ego has remained!!!!!
More to come in the following weeks. I do have my first USCF sanctioned road race this Saturday in Rochester, WA.
All thbe best to Evan and my teammates. Keep the rubber side down!!!!
Ty (aka Saddledancer)

March 22, 2010

Quick Iowa Gravel Grinder

My wife and I blew through our hometowns in Eastern Iowa this past weekend. This is always a great excuse for me to get a good gravel road ride in between our homesteads and always makes me appreciate this area of the world a little more. To most people this may not smack you as God's country, although as the old adage goes, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," or is it:

"Is this Heaven? No it's Iowa."

I only got about about 2 hours of riding in on the rural gravel roads and they certainly were not in their best of shape due to the winter thaw, although it was a great ride and great weather given the time of year. Where I live in SE Wisconsin it is pretty tough to even find a gravel road, much less make a ride out of one. This ride was so good, I may even try a gravel grinder race this year, especially as these types of races continue to grow in popularity. A good one around these parts is the TIv6 - the annual Trans Iowa race every Spring.

I truly love to visit family and friends, but I really love to ride too and when you can combine the two... why not? Now if I can just remember which way was home???

March 15, 2010

Naked Riding

I went to Sanibel Island on vacation in February, 2007, and came across a t-shirt I just had to have-"Bike Naked, It's Harder Than It Looks."
Today I was not naked but I felt that way. It was my first weekday, post work ride of 2010 (thanks to Daylight Savings). I did a quick 12 miler with some very good effort catching lights and then up a steady climb. It was warm enough that I wore just bib shorts, a jersey, helmet with no hat underneath and regular gloves. My arms and legs were so white and undercovered (no leg or arm warmers). Given all that I really did feel naked. But oh so light! I am so happy to be back in the tan line part of the season! I hope this warming trend continues but the Pacific NW has been known to get slammed some in March. I do hope to commute home tomorrow from Seattle.
All the best to my teammates,
Ty (aka Saddledancer)
BTW-are the gray t-shirts and clear water bottles going to be available again?

March 6, 2010

Single For A Day

I have been in a relationship for almost 3 years now with a very loving and supportive woman. But today I just had the need to be single. The 10 mile Icebreaker TT was held near Flaming Geyser Park just outside Black Diamond, WA, just north of Mt. Rainier. I do not have a timetrial bike and am not fast, so I decided to ride my single speed Specialized Cross bike. It is currently set up as a 44x17, which is set up nicely for flat rides around town. The longest ride I have done on it has been 3 miles. I bought it last yearr on Ebay and have never raced it (though I am tempted to do so in the 2010 World Sing Speed Cross in Seattle). It has been signed by Tim Johnson.
The drive to the race was spectacular, a mix of heavy fog and clear blue skies with a vertical 1/2 moon low on the southern horizon. The race start was still in heavy fog and chilly temps when I set up my trainer next to a field full of horses. Soon however the sun broke through and the fog disappeared and the temps became almost mild.
I got to see some old familiar faces from the peloton during my warmup, and again felt like I was being welcomed back into the arms of one inrcedible family. Cyclists just rock!!!!!!
I went off about a 1/3 of the way down the start list, and rolled up just as my name was being called to get in line. Before I had too much time to reconsider my decision to go single I was off.
I immediately got up to top speed and settled in. The course was incredible-generally flat (though slightly downhill for the first 1/2), with some nice curves that went through beautiful farm and ranch country. I person caught me and I caught one rider just before the turnaround. I held my effort for the return and even negative slitted by a few secs, clocking 27:15 for my time, coming in around 80th out of 111 starters in the 4/5s. I believe I was the only single speed out there.
There was one negative, a rude truck driver on the way back who honked and gave me the bird for no reason. There was a wide shoulder which I was in. It did not take away from my overall happiness and satisfaction with the race or trip. It was just one incredible day and a good 2nd race of the season.
I have a full season planned and will write a lot more in the months to come.
I wish all my teammates well.
Ty (aka Saddledancer)