PR: CCW with S-Curve

Today was the only date on the calendar going down the S-Curves. This is the most technical race, and I think the hardest, PR offers. Rather than racing down a decently steep hill and then up a curvy, gentler hill (or the reverse), racers have to descend a technical double-hairpin. Those not in the front then need to sprint up a small rise to catch on.

I personally lasted for 4 laps – the preme lap, to be precise. I wasn’t in the back, but even in the middle it was tough as the yo-yo effect was that severe. People kicked it up a notch on the preme, and while I was finally able to catch back on as the pack descended, I was done. Waited for a lap, hopped back on at the end to finish it out, did another few laps… but oof. Tough race. Each sprint at the bottom of the S-Curves was over 1000 watts for me… which is up there with PPL sprints. Oof!

Mazama Weekend trip report

The Redmond Cycling Club ( ran their Mazama weekend trip this weekend. It its a 2 day trip that is 75 miles from Marblemount, WA to Mazama, WA via North Cascade Highway 20 and then back the next day. 6800 feet of climbing the first day and 4800 feet the second. I was fortunate to get a ticket because Mitchell Shoenfeld decided he wanted to not risk complicating an injury, and so I was able to buy his ticket off of him and do the trip.

Summary: Do this ride! The weather on the trip can be tricky as it has been known to snow and sleet some years in June, but if you can find a sunny weekend like this one, I have not ridden such a dramatically pretty stretch of road. Highway 20 parallels a river that leads up to a set of dams and lakes for Seattle City Light and then climbs up Easy Pass, Rainy Pass and Washington Pass at 5700ft. Having support on the ride is a requirement as there was definitely a need for extra water and food along the ride. By splitting the ride to two days, you get a chance to socialize with a bunch of bike enthusiasts and hang around the Mazama Country Inn and use the swimming pool, hot tubs, and just lounge on the porch.

Day 1 Highlights:
Driving up to Marblemount meant leaving Seattle at 5:30 to get up to the parking lot by 7:30 and start the ride. There we 3 different groups climbing the hill. The Bellingham Bike Club, Redmond Cycle Club and a third group. SAG wagons powered by the family members of one of the RCC group brought our bags and food and water up the passes. With all the riders climbing up we were in good company for our 8am start in ascending the mountain. The first and last 10 miles are relatively flat, which means of the 75 miles about 55 miles of it are either ascending or descending. The ascent is relatively fast as the grade averages about 3.2% over the total distance. The amazing part is the spires that rise over Washington Pass are stunning and still had snow fields by the side of the road. The descent off the mountain was uneventful other then being fast and almost running into a brown bear! I was screaming down the road at 35mph when a bear popped out across the road 50 yards ahead of my bike. I slammed on my brakes (slightly skidding) as did an oncoming car. We both waited until the bear crossed the road and made sure no other bears were following. The Mazama Country Inn was a great stop on the east side of the mountains. The weather was a warm 85 degrees and the RCC members were all in a great mood after the ride. Everyone was social and talking and either hanging around the pool, jacuzzi or the dining room. We ended up staying out until around 10pm when everybody went to bed for the next days ride.

Day 2 Highlights
Day 2 had everyone waking up around 6:00 to 6:30 for a 7am breakfast and 8am ride start. People were up early talking and breakfast was pancakes, oatmeal, granola, fruit and egg souffles. The ride starts with 10 miles flat and 10 miles of climbing up to the Washington Pass. I was a little worried about the climb first thing in the morning, but it was a beautiful morning and the road was clear and the climb was just finding the right gear. The descent past that point was swift, but with the persistent wind coming from the west there was a lot of speed shaved off what should have been an equally fast ride. The only thing to note coming back was that the views down the canyons and gorges were beautiful, and I got two flats on the way down. The first was easily replaced and patched, but the second happened 3 miles from the end of the ride, and without a spare, I had to ride the last 3 miles with a flat rear basically riding on the rim. Given that I need my bike next weekend for STP I will need to make sure that tire and spare is ready to go as it has had 3 flats in the last 200 miles of riding.

Seward Park, Clockwise

Northwest Velo (aka First Rate Mortgage) hosts the main Seattle Thursday night twilight crit series at Seward Park. Finally in my third season of racing I had a free Thursday night and went over for the 5:30 (4/5) race – 15 laps of fun along a 0.8 mile loop at Seward. I biked over from Amazon, paid my $10, and set off.

The course starts from the hairpin turn. Clockwise, there’s a false flat, then a nice descent, into a big sweeping left turn. This then rises and falls a bit, so there’s plenty of momentum, until a short, fast uphill. This brings you back to the hairpin turn, where things yo-yo.

My first time through, I was naturally cautious on the sweeper and turn… and managed to last maybe 15 minutes before getting dropped. I tried to at least stay away without getting lapped, but on Lap 14 (of 15), I was lapped going up the hill. Drat! Ah well, still a good workout, and good experience.

Boston Harbor Circuit Race

After my craptastic performance on Saturday in the Capitol Crit, I was thinking of doing the 9 AM 4/5 Boston Harbor Circuit Race on Father’s Day. However, my daughter really wanted to come see me race, which meant the Masters C (no D this time!) at 1:10 PM. Oof… OK, time to get the legs ripped off again. We packed up the wagon, and I headed down with the fam.

It was a distinctly different crowd at Boston Harbor than at the Crit. Only Craig returned, and he raced Ds along with 3 other Wines. In the Cs, we had 4 initially, and all of us are Cat 4 Cs, in comparison to yesterday – Harry, Eric, and Michael are 3s. From eyeballing the WSBA numbers, most were in the 600 – 800 range, which meant most of the people there were also 4s. Let’s see how this goes. After some good luck from the family, I was off with the field.

One of the more senior guys on our team, Byron, told me the night before that Boston Harbor was like a short, fast Mason. I was hoping this meant it was rolly hills. Kinda. Turns out it’s also very narrow with only one small section where the shoulder can be used to ride – which would be this fast down-and-up on the south end of the course right after the hairpin turn. The up is kinda steep, but then leads into the last 1000m of the course, the first ~700m of it being a false flat. The result is that it was pretty impossible to move around in the race, as the 43 of us rode 4 abreast in the main pack. There was some moving around at the corners and on the occasional attack, but for the most part things stayed fairly static.

On the final lap, as predicted everyone was jockeying for position on that final corner, thinking that whomever could get their first would have prime position on the descent and quick ascent, and then whomever the first 10 people who made it to the false flat would be in contention. The rest of us would be boxed out. This is pretty much what happened, and while there was some jockeying, it wasn’t terribly effective from what I can see as everyone was trying to hone in on the position that the guys in the top 10 were in – unsuccessfully. A few people blew up on the uphill (which was full sprint) and the false flat. I was towards the rear, so I conceded the sprint (although did sprint it out with a Fresca guy who was near me when I came over the line… not sure who got that one!).

All in all, a good race, fairly mellow actually. Few sections of ~15MPH, when some folks at the front clearly didn’t want to work anymore but nobody right behind them did either. Few minor attacks, but nothing stuck. Good headwind on the southbound east side, so that helped reign things in nicely.

Capitol Crit

Today I headed down to Olympia for the Capitol Crit – a fairly technical criterium at the base of the Washington State Capitol Building. I was feeling sluggish, so I slept in and went to the Masters C/D race instead of the early morning 4/5 race. Same time, but my experience at Volunteer Park told me that it’d be more manageable – 100 people filled the 4/5s, but Masters C/D was 69.

Well, number of people was about the same – 44 in 4/5, 42 in C/D. OK. However, as it turns out, C/Ds went with the “thin the pack” strategy. The course runs clockwise. The right side straightaway is uphill. The left side is technical and narrow, so even though it’s downhill, the pack yo-yos nastily. About 10 or so people in front were keeping the pace fast (Harry, who finished, saw that he averaged over 24 MPH the entire 40 minutes!), which meant that each lap through the narrow technical section, whomever was in the back was just getting pushed back and then having to go anaerobic to catch up on the uphill. Nasty.

I got yanked I think after 15 minutes; I need to look at my stats. Turns out only 15 people finished… brutal race. For the 4/5s, 26 finished. Still rough, but not nearly as bad. I was talking with Scott Jensen, from L’Ecole, who raced both 4/5s and C/Ds. He finished 12th in 4/5s, and early in C/Ds. That should help explain the difference in speed. 😉

Capitol Crit CDs

My first Cascade CATS ride

You know how some days you feel like you’re riding solo, going up hill, into the wind, and in drizzling rain on a flat tire?

Well guess what. Today I did. For 15 miles of 65 miles (stats).

I was so pleased with myself figuring out how to get in extra miles today. I had heard from Mitchel that there was going to be a change in plans for the Cascade CATS ride since he wasn’t going to be able to ride the (blue) 16-18 group for century much less 130 miles. He said likely a blue group was only doing 100. Since I did a century last week (and a hilly one at that), my plan was to bump up to a 130 mile ride as a max to “prove” I could knock out STP in a day. I was bummed until I figured out a plan that would get me a tiny bit more mileage.

I got up at 6:00, and was on the road at 6:42. I decided to ride up to Log Boom and back before the start of the ride. Well I had left a little later than my intended 6:30, so I had to cut it short by 1 mile at Lake Forest Park. I had done 1 extra hour of riding which felt fine.

I was back at Magnusson at 7:50 and saw Mitchel and signed in (and had 1/2 a Kashi go lean bar to eat). It was a much smaller group than RAMROD from two weeks ago, and much smaller than Cascades CTS rides (Green group = 14-16). I knew there was no way I could keep up with the Purple (18-20) group doing 130, so I stuck with the century. There was also a purple group doing the century, but that wasn’t happening either. There were only 2 other girls in the whole batch.

We left all as one big group, went through Windermere – and the first hill was steep. I was kind of at the back of the back and “happy” to hear one or two other people huffing and puffing up the hill AND that one of the other women was a little concerned if the ride was going to be that hilly about keeping up. Lemme tell you, I was *really* concerned. Particularly when I saw early on what the pace really is.

See I think of the blue group as 16-18. Meaning my 16.1. Apparently the ride leader thought it was closer to 18.5, because that’s where we were most of the times I looked down at my GPS. Even with my 1 hour warm up, I was dragging. And while the winds had been calm for me going to the top of the lake (thank goodness), as soon as the sun tried to peer out the wind picked up from the south at a good clip.

Let’s put it this way: I was working, I could feel it in my legs. I wondered if I would be able to finish the ride. What I figured is that if I could keep up with the group through until we were on the May Valley Road, I’d be good – I feel MUCH more comfortable riding a route I’ve done before. I had gone out to Flaming Geyser – so most of the ride down was ok. However, we weren’t going to Flaming Geyser. We were vering off and going to Black Diamond, then out to places I had never heard of: Cumberland, Palmer, Kanaskat and Ravensdale (although I have heard of this because of Erik’s racing). Here’s a map.

Our first stop was to be at Isacc Evans park down between Kent and Auburn – 32 miles into the ride (and 47 miles into my ride). Early in the ride (near Husky Stadium) one guy lost his bike rack, but the group kept on figuring he’d catch up. Then in Renton one guy slid out. He made an AMAZING recovery but his tire looked like it might have been out of tru or it was rubbing his brake pad. Everyone stopped for that one, and he was fine. I mostly kept up although there was once or twice I lost the end of the line – it wasn’t really a great paceline – very spurty, but then again they specifically said that this wasn’t a pace line ride – to give room. Still people were moderately drafting.

In Kent we wound up making a few left/right turns. In one turn – just near the King County court house, I thought I had slipped on something slippery – maybe because of the rain last night or because of the cross walks. Then a few blocks later the same thing happened. I looked down at First and Titus (about a block from a bakery none the less) and saw my tire was flat. So I told the group, they asked if I had everything (I did), and they went on.

I got a text from Ruben about that point – he was planning on taking Elias out to meet me at the bakery anyway. So this was perfect timing. I told him what happened and that I was changing my tire. He grabbed tires and the pump and started driving my way.

I spent a LONG time changing my tire and realized there was no way I’d catch up to the group at the park. I had a really hard time getting the new tire off – it’s one of those somewhat pricey foldable Vittoria, supposedly somewhat puncture resistant. However, we had gone over a lot of rocks and glass in the last few miles. Anyway, I couldn’t get my tire levers in enough to get out the tube. Finally I did. I could hear the leak but didn’t find it – it was too windy and noisy. So I just put on the new tube and stuffed the old tube in my bag to deal with later.

Product UN placement: DO NOT BUY Innova road tubes. They’re a piece of crap. I wound up buying a 10 pack of these from an on line retailer (I will tell you which if you ask, but I don’t feel like ragging on them in this post). Both Ruben and I have been getting a LOT more flats with them. But more than that, the stems just do not hold up to the bike pumps (both floor pumps and hand held pumps). They bend way too easily

Both the tube with the puncture AND the tire exchanged it with are Innova tubes. Crap. Crap crap. I got the new one on, pumped it up and the @)(*$*( stem got bent (this is the same type of tube/stem that blew out on Ruben on the RAMROD training ride). So the tire wouldn’t stay at 120 psi. It started to go flat again in a block. So I pumped again and this time I got the stem to kind of hold air. I didn’t put on the cap either – because I think that was causing it to push on the stem and lose more air.

So here I was thinking crap. Do I go on or do I have Ruben pick me up in Kent. I decided to at least make it the 4 miles to the park and use the facilities. I was right, no bike group there.

The tire was holding the little air it had at this point so I decided I could go an hour/15 miles and pressed on.

Little did I know it was hilly and into the wind. Then it started to drizzle. Which made it all feel worse. But slowly I pressed on – which slowly == approx 15mph. Which wasn’t bad considering it was about when I got the flat that we started climbing up 600 feet to Black Diamond. I did see one other rider from the group who was stuck with a flat in Auburn (under the overpass for route 18), but he had gear so I kept going.

I texted Ruben when I was about 7 miles away. About 3 miles away I got a text from him saying my group actually just showed up around 4 minutes prior. I suddenly thought “Oh I can catch them!” I wouldn’t keep going with them, but I could at least say I caught up, then fix my flat and turn back on the path I’m familiar with and go home. However that wasn’t to be. With about a mile to go I got REALLY hungry and my legs just wouldn’t press on much more. I could tell the bakery was devoid of all bikes (save one loan rider) when I got there. I was a bit bummed until I heard Elias’ voice from the car.

The other guy who was there had been on one of the rides, but was having an off day and decided to just go his own route on his own pace. Ruben had apparently seen both a RAMROD training group and my CATS blue group come by. He spoke with the CATS group, told them he was my husband (the one who go the flat in Kent), so they at least knew I was taken care of. He apparently gets the best husband/SAG wagon award from that group.

We decided to put the bike in the car and have lunch. It was 12:30… and I was really hungry so this sounded good. Plus the weather was looking like it was threatening to rain. I felt like a wimp because I had my wet weather gear with me. But I had done 65 miles, and I was concerned about the forecast for rain at 4pm. Plus mentally I just was done. I thought about going home and doing 2 more hours on the trainer, but opted to take Elias to the skate park instead. The irritating thing is that the a) the sun came out shortly after we got home at 1:30 AND b) the showers they promised late today never materialized.

Given that this was going to be my one big opportunity to get in over 100 miles in one day, I’m a bit concerned I won’t make it to Portland. Ruben and I have to figure out some kind of SAG support/back up plan of where we can stay or get picked up. I know I’ll need a light – I think I’ll start at 4:30-4:45 and I’ll probably get in around 9pm in Portland. If my legs will hold up that long.

Cookies to anyone who read this far!

PR: Flats Point Per Lap

Another week, another point per lap race. In addition, the course was slightly modified with a new earlier turn, due to a sand pit being added at the end of the dragstrip on the far west end. Anyway, we had one neutral lap, where I noticed the cornering was actually nicer than the previous route… banked well, new pavement. Cool. So, on the first real lap, I was in the lead, so I pushed it a bit to see what others thought of the new corner… and found myself way out ahead of the pack in front. I pushed a bit, challenging the pack… and they let me go! So, I settled in to an aggressive tempo… if they chased, they’d easily get me. And around the end of the drag strip they did, but I was by myself for quite a while.

5th or 6th lap I did the same thing with another guy, and this time we got away! The two of us had a huge gap on the pack. The other guy seemed to be content to do most of the work… in that he wasn’t pulling off. I passed him once, then he passed me back on the final curve… and then I just attacked off him for the win. He didn’t really contest, so I rolled over the line for my first PPL win! 2 points! And man, was I exhausted! Luckily, the Masters were there for me… I was struggling in the pack, but as we rounded the first corner into the drag strip we were neutralized for the Masters to pass us. Yay! We basically mailed it in on that lap and then back to game on. Woof! Thanks for the recovery!

I sorta contested another lap or two, but otherwise, took my 2 points and was done. Good enough for a tie for 5th place. Still no season points though. But we’re getting closer!

Century? What Century?

That would be Flying Wheels Summer Century. First the stats.

Anthony woke up at 5 and bike out to Marymoor. I took the more leisurely route by sleeping in until my body woke me up at 5:45 and drove to the start. (Hint, park in the East parking lot, it’s free). Anthony met me there at 7:30 and we were off.

We started out slowly so I could warm up (even though Anthony had his 20 mile warm up)…. well by slow apparently it was 18 mph on East Lake Sammamish. And yet we were being passed.

I knew what to expect from that first hill (Ingelwood hill) because last year it’s where I had to stop with Elias on the tandem 1/2 way up. Still, plodding along, still being passed. In fact we were passed a LOT for the first 1/2 of the ride. Then again I expected it.

Occasionally we found “trains” of folks we could latch onto. We couldn’t maintain hanging onto the crazy trains doing 20-22mph. Same paced trains (we’d find them just after stopping at a rest stop or light) – we could hang with with less effort, which was nice.

However, if they passed us somewhat slowly we figured we could hop on for about the same effort as what we were currently doing, only go a little faster. We’d mostly hang on until we’d hit a hill of some kind – then I just lose them (note to self: keep working on hill climbing). Some were good – nice and consistent, the annoying ones were spurty – fast, slow, fast, slow, fast, slow. We found a couple of smaller ones (i.e. 2 other people) and would hook on to them. One pair the guy had an Italia shirt on and (as it turns out) his boss was as Anthony put it – a human billboard (tall cyclist – great to draft!). In another case just outside Snohomish we hooked on to a pair, on guy in a Washington Husky jersey.

The route for the most part is beautiful. I still hate the part on 203, particularly since the road is or was under construction, has a horrible surface AND a ton of gravel just on the side. Plus the drivers there are totally obnoxious. I called out for folks to gear down just before the turn onto Stillwater Hill Road. one guy didn’t hear me apparently and totally died on that hill, and fell over. Ouch.

On Cherry Valley road I remembered how last year I was in tears at this point – exhausted from lugging Elias around on the tandem. Anthony called it “rickshawing” him… because really he wasn’t doing much work. I was feeling a LOT stronger at this point than last year.

I remember hitting the turn off for the 100 mile route at 9:50 and just being amazed. The loop was the same that we had done the previous week for the RAMROD training series, so I knew better what to expect. I also now know why I lost that train last week – it turns out that we had been going up what the cue sheet said was a 1 mile hill… and I remember last week not eating enough before it. This week was better, but I still got tired on the little blip right as we passed under route 522 the first time (the place I lost the train last week).

In Snohomish we skipped the pie and instead had coffee, and I had an orange cake that was mighty tasty. We had a slight tail/cross wind going across to Monroe, then a tail wind for a while. I couldn’t figure out where the winds were blowing from – up there it was out of the north and West, down on East Lake Sammamish it was blowing from the South and West. I don’t know how much of that has to do with the “convergence zone” or if it has to do with the hills and how wind get squirrelly near the hills. Probably both.

Until we hooked up with the metric century route we were still mostly being passed instead of passing. We found a pretty good train of people once we hooked up back up with the rest of the crowd. The Camp Korey food stop had almost run out of food by the time we came by the second time (as opposed to the bounty we found there the first time through).

West Snoqualmie River Road is one of my favorite parts of this ride – even with the headwind. We wound up hooking onto a medium sized train doing around 19mph. I almost lost them once or twice, but kept up at the tail end. Then my toe started to bug me. I think I was cramping up in my leg and the pain was referring down into the toe. Still I hung on. Later I heard from the other guys leading that they were cramping up too. So I didn’t feel so badly.

The next step is the 3 mile long killer hill at the end. Anthony did *really* well on this hill – he’s gotten so strong. I plodded up, but my plodding was faster than a large majority of the other folks on the road by this point. I have to say that made me feel a little better – like all this training has done *something.* However, by the time we got to the last food stop, I needed to have a slightly longer rest to “reset” my left leg and get it to stop hurting. Before then we were able to have these nice short “get food, use facilities and leave.” However the rest was good and I had enough energy to get through the last hill on 228th AND the rollers on E. Lake Sammamish Pkwy.

Now for irony: at the end of the ride we stopped at the light at Inglewood Hill Road. I turned and saw the dad of a kid from Elias’ baseball team last year (I had also seen him the previous year). He’s a strong rider and had done the century last year and this. So the light turns green and he zips on ahead with two other guys – one in a U of M jersey. A little while later a train goes by – a little faster than us, so we decide to hook on. After a while they’re going a LOT faster than us – like 21-22. Up hill. (we did have a tail wind though). I was having to push from time to time to keep on but it was FUN! Then the irony: one by one we wind up passing the three guys who had sped off at the light.

Anthony split off before heading to the finish line – he had to be in Shoreline by 5 and was pretty much amazed he could finish the whole ride AND get the ride up to Shoreline by 5pm. To quote him “I was so far ahead of schedule, I made it all the way home and managed a 90 second shower before the family left.”

Anthony’s gear said we averaged 16.1, but I have 15.7. His total mileage was 142, mine gear said I did 97.

And I slept 10 hours in a row last night. 🙂

PR: CCW with Escape Route

June began with another counter-clockwise escape route course. Scot Weeks, another 4 on our team, was racing with me. At the preme lap, I hollered at him to get on my wheel and as we rounded the corner for the downhill, I sprinted out. I told him to stay on my wheel until the bottom, where I’d have gotten a reasonable gap on the pack and he could hopefully power it up for the preme. Well, he decided to go BEFORE the descent… and was promptly swallowed up. He’s not as big as I. 😉

Anyway, we raced around until the end, and I was just in for the pack finish. However, on the final lap, pushed, and saw him pushing as well. Moved up to the top third, but on the hill was too tired to do much. But did hear, and then after the cool-down pace heard from Scot that he managed the win! He had good position on the downhill, followed a reasonable line up, and the guy in front of him was just gassed, so he was able to pull it off. Nice work!

My First RAMROD Training Ride! (and Pie!)

Ruben *finally* convinced me to go on a RAMROD training series ride today (ride 8 to Snohomish). Anthony met us over there. All three of us had our PPTM shirts on.

Ruben jumped off with the Rabbits (not the Bunnies as I tried to call them, and that Just Will Not Do). Anthony and I held back. Note: if you go on one of these rides, Per the ride leader is VERY strict about the safety rules.

I still am slower than most on the hills, but I felt like I held my own with the “last” group on the flats. Around mile 40 I wound up petering out up a hill and lost the group (I think it was a food energy issue – I just bonked). I still had them in my sights, but they were about 1/4 mile ahead of me.

Then I saw Ruben on the side of the road with a flat. So I pulled off an helped him. We go the flat fixed, but we were way behind and by the time we got to Snohomish – no one from the group was left. I insisted on Pie – you *can’t* bike to Snohomish and not get the pie. So we had a quick lunch and popped back on the road to hit the headwind.

It was brutal. Probably 15 mph. Big flags waving in the wind. Against us.

Anyway, Ruben was a great pull and we managed to make some good time. But Ruben’s tire was looking flat again. At one point we pulled over and I pumped it up using my pump.

And the tip of the Presta valve popped off when I pulled off my pump.

Meaning another tire change. I felt bad. Ruben was frustrated.

The other frustration (for me) was the horrible stomach ache I got last 15 miles of the ride I think because of the the turkey sandwich. But I pushed on. We skipped the last stop and made it back by about 4:00. There were still folks in the parking lot so I didn’t feel too terrible.

Meanwhile Anthony thought he was behind us, and was pushing hard to catch up, not realizing that he was actually ahead of us. He finished about 45 minutes before us, but also didn’t stop at the last rest stop. He apparently heard the tire tail of woe from folks who passed Ruben on the side of the road. Also Bill(?) from Microsoft had said that I had fallen back (he had passed me) but that I told him about the Pie, so Anthony helped out by showing him where the Pie company was. The shirts came in handy by folks noticing we were together and relaying info up the route.

Stats: 78.5 miles, 6:34 total time, 5:28 ride time, average speed 14.4. My legs feel MUCH better than after the 11+ hills of Kirkland 2 weeks ago. Oh and I should mention this is after a 11.4 mile run yesterday too.

WOOT! I survived. Thanks Ruben and Anthony!