June 27, 2011

Frostbite in June

The way spring and summer have gone here in the Pacific Northwest it would not surprise me if we in deed had frostbite in June. But this Frostbite was a bit more pleasant-a 9 mile timetrial between Everett and Snohomish, a quaint little town full of antique stores and restaurants on the Snohomish River. The race was scheduled for last February but was reset due to snow. And it did seem to snow yesterday as I sat on my trainer as hundreds of cottonwood seeds blew through the air. The weather was such a surprise-clear and mild conditions.

I was so ready for a nice and strong race after last week's debacle in Carnation. I had raced Frostbite in 2010 so knew the course-not much to this out and back on one road. It was well paved with a good shoulder and cars were always respectful. I had been battling a cold since Wednesday and did not know for sure if I was racing until Saturday.

Once again I was on my single speed and entered in the retro category. I had 3 hours to wait so my gf and I drove to Snohomish for a quick breakfast at the Snohomish Bakery (awesome scones). We hung out at the river for a while watching 3 hot air balloons. What a start to the day.

We then drove back to the staging area where I set up my trainer and got to work spinning in place. I saw some old friends and caught up on "life" which was such a nice change from trading messages on Facebook.

I was to start 5th from last in the retro division but many riders were missing. My 30 second rider was not there so I had a minute gap to the rider in front of me. I had a nice chat with the guys at the start about my single speed, and then was off. Soon I was at top speed and really enjoying the day and race-a little windy but not bad. And the temp was perfect. I got caught by my 30 second rider at 7 mins 45 secs so was please with that as I was the only single speed.

The only negative came when I hot the turnaround. I noticed a rider standing on the shoulder talking to the volunteers. He was in a Hagens Berman kit. As I started back I saw him mount his bike and start my way. before long he was on my wheel drafting. He stayed glued to me for about 2, maybe 2.5 miles. I was a rather upset as he was not only violating all rules, but was an anchor. I did my best to not let him get to me but his constant shadowing did have some affect.

He finally pulled around me and blew by without so much as a glance or word. Unbelievable. he did not have a race number but I did see him pull into the staging area so he either had raced or was going to. I finshed strong, clocking about 24:30, about 18 seconds faster than 2010 when i was on my Merlin road bike. I was quite pleased.

After the race my gf and went back to Snohomish, where we spent the glorious day window shopping the antique stores ( I did get a nice Porsche Spyder for $5) and then eating outside at a mexican restaurant, drinking endless margaritas and watching parachutists and boats on the river.

What a day!

Postcript-I did notify the race organizers and the president of Hagens Berman about this rider but no feedback yet.

June 22, 2011


No, I am not talking about the feline persuasion, though I do have 5 (thank you Michelle:))

I am talking about racing categories (i.e. cats). I do wish bike races followed running as far as cats went. i ran for 23 years and there were age divisions usually broken up into 4 years:30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, etc. Usually up to 70 or so and then it was one big cat. Age was determined by your age on race day, not your age at the end of the year. So unlike cycling.

I am 48, turn 49 on October 31 of this year. In my book I should have another year of racing as a "40 something." But not so. A few weeks back I was at a race and presented my USCF license. The girl said "oh you will be racing as a 50 year old next year." That really shocked me. I know it does not make a difference really, and that I will get to race with all levels in the 50+ cat. But I wanted one more year as a 40 something as this was a semi-flat year for me, and not the way I wanted to leave the Masters C's.

Oh well, life goes on and the pedals keep turning....

The Letter "S"

Solstice, Summer, Seattle, Seven minutes, Sixty-Five minutes, Shifting, Separated, Splintered, Semi-satisfied:

Yesterday was the Summer Solstice, and the Seattle area was greeted with Sun and warm temps. What a way to start Summer!

I did my 5th race at Pacific and we were doing my favorite course, up the S turn. I have volunteered so much for the organizers at their other races that I get 8 free races at Pacific, which really helps as money is tight.

Before I left for the race a neighbor who rides came up to me and asked about the company and team. I was wearing an old team t shirt and he said he saw me in the kit all the time. He said he came across the coffee at a bike expo and loved it. It felt good to be able to once again promote the company and the team.

We only do this course once a year as it is not popular. It is about a 2.5 mile circuit that starts on a flat section, curves back and drops down some easy twisty rollers until you hit the short steep S climb that leads back to the start after a long false flat. It is a gorgeous course. And last night Mt. Rainer was quite visible several miles to the southeast.

It was quite warm and a bit muggy with a very light breeze from the west, making for a fast section on the top. I got there early enough to get in some easy warm up laps in. It felt odd Shifting as I have ridden my single speed most of the year. But I felt pretty comfortable going up the climb even though I was not that ready for it.

I was sitting on a short wall with 10 minutes to go when i decided to ride over to a shaded area on a grass strip to get out of the sun. I then discovered my rear tire was going flat. I have no idea what I hit but I was grateful I discovered it then rather than as we rolled out at the start. I jogged back to my truck with the bike, and changed the rear, forcing myself not to panic or look at my watch. the beginning women were doing their own practice race so I knew I would hear the call to the line. I did my fastest change ever and jogged back to the start. The who trip and change took seven minutes.

We soon were rolling out. We were to race about sixty-five minutes. There were about 40 in the 4/5s. The first two laps went well as I was strong on the climb, moving up to 5th or so each time. The 3rd lap was a prime and I almost got dropped at the top of the climb, but worked my way back on just before the climb the next time around. I was suffering but so into the race and the moment-the colors, the sounds of the shifting and hum of the tires and chatter of the riders, and the shadows we cast on the track. It really was a beautiful thing.

On the next lap I got separated just before the climb. A few women from the Masters race had joined us, and they were riding just off the back and I could not get around them. I could not bridge after the climb so resigned myself to riding solo or in small groups for the rest of the race.

There were 3 races held and riders were blown off each one, riders all over the course. It looked loke there were some crashes too, but none near me. I just saw riders standing off in the grass and shoulders holding their bikes and looking a bit stunned.

At 45 minutes however, they began pulling all dropped riders, including me:(

I was semi-satisfied with my effort, wishing we did this course more often. I have done great on it before and know I can again.

June 19, 2011

No Words

I really do not have the words to describe yesterday's race, a 27 mile tt in Carnation, Washington. But I will try.

First, I was not in a good mood driving to the race, having had a little tiff with my gf over the race and the rest of our day's plans.

The weather was chilly, cloudy and steady light rain, just like it has been for 90% of 2011. I got to the staging area and set my trainer up under a nice awning at Tolt Middle School. There were lots of riders warming up and it felt pretty neat to be lined up like that. At one point I went back to my truck for water and saw a guy in alter ego bib shorts on his trainer. I asked if he was on the team and he said "no," but that he had met Evan in Hawaii. I do not remember his name. He said he read my blog reports all the time which was nice though it made me feel like a blog hog.

Once again I was on my single speed and was the first racer in the Masters 4/5s, starting 2 minutes behind the last Women's 4 entrant. And once again I was the sole single speed entrant. It was a one foot standing start and soon I was on my way and in my rhythm. My 30 seconds rider did not catch me for 9 minutes which was a boost. Arounf the 5 mile mark we hit a one lane construction zone, forcing me to stop for 10 seconds for traffic. The roads were very rough with little or no shoulder, and there was a ton of debris (ie rocks) in the shoulders forcing the riders to stay in the main road.

A few miles later I had what could be my worst case of road rage ever, a large pickup truck that did not give me any room when it passed. There was no on-coming traffic and it had a great deal of room but it did not use it, driving very close to me at around 50 mph. I gave it a "what the heck" hand gestire (nothing crude) and he soon engaged me in several minutes of verbal abuse and hand gestures and racing engines and fast breaking. At one point I was very concerned for my safety and soon decided this was not worth dying for. It is amazing that certain "people" have not accepted cyclists as equals. They never will.

I then had a front flat at around the 54 min mark, forcing a 10 min stop to change the flat. I had issues with removing the damaged tube and there was a lot of vehicular traffic flying by at high speeds just a few feet away from me, making for a tense situation. Unlike the previous tt in Green Valley however, many racers and rec riders asked if I needed help. I did have my pump and was soon on my way.

Then, with about 7 miles to go we hit a roundabout and there were no directions or course marshals. Another rider and I went left, going about 2.5 miles on the wrong road, making for about a 5 mile wrong way. Unbelievable! I could not belive the race did not have course marshals at this crucial juncture.

I was soon on the right road, one I have ridden several times so knew I was near the finish. I ended up riding with tw0 cat 3 women. My legs felt strong the whole way which I was quite happy with, despite the seemingly endless line of challenges.

Anyway, another tt under my belt for 2011.

June 15, 2011

Just Like Riding a Bike

I had not been out to Pacific Raceways in 2 months, mainly due to the weather but also for various other factors. I decided to go last night after 3 good friends said they would show. They had not raced out there all year and this was going to be only my 4th race at Pacific for 2011. Our weather has been unseasonably cool and wet and yesterday was cloudy, blustery and still quite cool. My mental state wasn't all that good, but knowing I would see some good and old friends helped.

I got to the race early enough to get several good warm up laps in as the race was going to be an hour long. We were racing the flats again with points every lap, making for a fast fast race. There was a good wind blowing from the west, making for a solid headwind on the home stretch section and then an incredible tail wind on the back side/drag strip.

I saw my friends just before the start and had a quick "catch up" session before the 4/5s were called to the line. There were about 40 of us. The first lap was neutral but we still rode hard. i was at the back catching up with some other riders, getting used to riding once again in a pack at speed. The race flew by and I soon found myself having a ball and forgetting about life stuff.

I was focused on holding my line, moving through the pack at high speed, trying to make moves, all of which failed as we were flying. I did play around a lot, moving back and forth through the pack and trying occasional moves on the outside.

It really was a ball and I was having a very good time. One friend took a prime (won a loaf of bread) and then took 3rd in the final sprint, winning $11.

I thought I would have a difficult time, but like many things, racing is much like riding a bike-you never forget:)

Side note-I am going to see the World Naked Bike Ride on saturday, held in conjunction with the Freemont Fair and Solstice Parade. thought of riding in body pain with the team kit, but then thought better:)

June 11, 2011


I just have to tell someone. Anyone. I did text my girlfriend and 3 friends but only one response so far. So I have to shout it!
I have never used drugs nor will I ever use them. But I do ride, and that can be such a high. Today was perhaps the highest I have been in 31.5 years of riding. I rode my single speed on a 40 mile course that included a 13 mile loop around Mercer Island. I had volunteered in the morning for a local radio station's pledge drive, then started my ride around 1 pm. It was cloudy and very cool. We are having a very cool year, and though I wish we had more sun I am grateful we do not have the heat of the mid-atlantic or east coast. There are about 18 lights on this course and I made 90% of them, including all the major ones that make for long waits. I timed my Mercer Island loop and it was a personal record for the single speed, though I was not riding all out. The island loop not only was fast, it felt fas and so easy. My legs were so fresh and my bike just wanted to FLY. I was passed 2/3rds of the way around the island by a guy in a local team's kit (Audi). They are such a strong team and won last weeks State's TT. He was so strong and we greeted each other as he passed. But I caught him just 2 miles later. A serious ego boost.
I love to ride. Period. But rides like this just make me so grateful I do ride. And make me more than grateful for the bicycle.
Bikes just rock!!!!!!!!!!!

June 10, 2011

Free Press

A couple weeks ago I wrote about a ride that was organized for my city of Issaquah. Our local newspaper was delivered last night and I was pleasantly shocked to see a large photo from that ride on the front page of the Community Section. Talk about free press for the team and company!

June 6, 2011

1 Gear, 1 Eye, 40K but Not Last!

Yesterday was the Washington State TT Champs, a 40 k mostly flat out and back course with some rollers, held in Tenino, a little northeast of Olympia. It was the same course as 2010 but held two months earlier.

Once again I was the sole entrant on a single speed. The conditions were okay but ideal-a steady breeze and cloudy, warm and even muggy for me.

I had been given a free entry if I volunteered after my race. I was the first rider in the Masters 40-49 4/5s. We went at 30 sec intervals, and there was a 2.5 minute gap between me and the rider who started ahead of me. I started well and soon settled in to a nice pace. The bike felt good and the roads were very well paved with little traffic. There was a pretty good cross/head wind. I was not caught by my 30 sec guy until 5 mins into my race so I felt pretty happy. i was passed by 8 by the turnaround.

On the way back the wind did not let up much and I had a sudden issue with my right eye-extreme sweat that blinded me and was rather uncomfortable. I have dealt with it before but never in a race. I know it slowed me down some but I battled through it, having at times to close both eyes and ride blind for a few seconds.

I was passed by a few more riders but I did catch a one day female racer-I gave her a big thumbs up. i also thanked every volunteer and cheered on every rider I saw, even those that passed me. A couple noticed my one gear and were impressed:)

I sprinted the last 200 meters but already knew I was a bit slower than 2010. I clocked a 1:07:50 compared to 1:06:46 in 2010. I was pleased considering my eye issue and the wind.
I was 11th out of 13 in my category, and 111th overall out of 124 finishers.
soon after leaving the race I discovered my rear tire was completely flat. Whether I had an issue during the race I will never know...

I have a 27 mile tt on 6/19 and a 10 mile tt on 6/26. I will do both on my single.

Hope all is well with my teammates.