First Track Race

I did my first track race with 12 of my closest friends. Wasn’t sure how my fitness and sprints would be, but no time like the present to find out.
We did three races: 10 lap point-per-lap, 8 lap scratch, and 5×4 points (20 laps where each 4th lap is worth a point).
First race, two guys went off early. I chased, and went off after a lap to let the guys behind continue. Unfortunately, the three JL Velo guys behind me were content to sit there – ugh! Well, turns out they were sitting for Koji, who would take the day’s omnium. I was gassed, so I just mailed it in.
Second race, I went from the get-go. I was a quarter-lap in front all by my lonesome for 4 laps of the 8. Turns out the JL Velo crew was content to see me suffer. They then reeled me in, and Koji again took the win.
Third race, I and Don (another random rider) had a plan to go on Lap 2 to see if we could do something. We did, but just towed the pack around. I sat in for most of the laps, then went at lap 6 to see if I could get some points. Nothing happening. I ended up leading for the last 3 laps until the end, with a pack finish.
Fun night. Didn’t win, but that’s OK – wanted to just figure out where I was compared to the field. Good news, I was in the mix. Bad news, just didn’t do much of anything.
Next up, tomorrow for PR hill climbing…

Mazama Weekend trip report

The Redmond Cycling Club (http://www.redmondcyclingclub.org/) 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.

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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.

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An Earwig Lives Up to its Name

Ruben and I did a hilly bike ride today that involved getting all the way out to May Valley Road. We met at a friend’s house in Bellevue because her 16 year old daughter had said yes to an extended bit of afternoon babysitting. (He rode and I drove with Elias and my bike.) I hadn’t eaten since 7:30 this morning, grabbed lunch on the way over and crammed it down around 12:45. Mistake. We left around 1:20 and the food still hadn’t really hit my system.

Within a few minutes we hit some big hills up through South East Bellevue – taking 100th NE instead of going out to the busier Bellevue way. I’m still getting used to the Look pedals and my legs felt underpowered so I didn’t feel so secure on the steep hill we hit, I actually had to get off and walk a bit. Not a great start to the ride.

Once on the Lake WA trail (south) the food started to hit. Ruben commented that he never goes southbound on Lake WA Blvd. I have to admit, the pattern of hills did feel “odd.”

We took a left at 44th Ave NE and went eastbound towards May Valley. It’s a long climb I wasn’t looking forward to, but I made it. I haven’t been out to May Valley Road in a while, and it’s still as gorgeous as ever.

Around about mile something flew into Ruben’s ear. At first he didn’t stop, but I made him pull over at a driveway. He was holding onto his eardrum and I could see little legs and antennae sticking out. It was gross and freaky and something out of a science fiction movie. I was pretty sure it was an earwig and those things totally gross me out. Fortunately I had a pair of small tweezers, and he had a light on his bike and I was able to grab one of the thing’s legs and pull it out. I got so freaked I threw both to the ground. But then we couldn’t see for sure if I had gotten it. I used the light and peered in as far I could. Ruben also checked with a piece of wet tissue.

The rest of the ride was relatively uneventful. We rode through Issaquah, up Sunset Way/Highline Drive, onto the Highlands. Hills hills hills. I just had to take it at my own pace. On the Sammamish Plateau we continued eastbound for a while, and even detoured onto Beaver Marsh? Road. Eventually we headed towards East Lake Sammamish Pkway but first stopped at a park to refill my water bottles which were empty. I was happy to note that the “hills” on E. Lake Sammamish Parkway didn’t slow me down at all – we cruised quite nicely (or maybe there was a tail wind).

We stopped at the Pete’s near Whole foods in Redmond, cut through Marymoor park and to the 520 trail. I was a little worried about the hill going up as we headed westbound – I’ve only ever come down that hill and it seemed so steep. But I made it up without stopping and Ruben made it up strong! There was another guy on a Trek bike that just totally charged up the hill too. I have to keep reminding me that “that’s not me.”

We wound up going across Northup way to Bellevue way because it was the most direct route back to Elias and the babysitter. I wasn’t looking forward to that hill OR the hill on NE 24th, but I did make it up both and felt pretty good about it.

Final stats: 51 miles. 3 hrs 42 minutes ride time (avg 13.7 mph), 4hrs 27 minutes total time. I am still a little concerned about the speed issue with respect to STP in one day (I’d feel more comfortable averaging 16) but I have to remind myself this was far more hilly than STP. Also the other thing to note was that there was no numbness in my foot. So the Look pedals may be helping.

Dropped in 10 minutes

Well, that sucked.

I did the Ravensdale Road Race Re-Do… it was canceled due to snow in March, but on a nice sunny May day, game on! I was ready, as were about 62 other people in Cat 4. Good warm up, feeling fine… get to the line a bit late so I’m towards the rear, but shouldn’t be a big deal. We head out, and we’re already doing 21… speedy! Worse, I’m feeling.. taxed. That’s not good. Someone at the head drills it up the hill, which comes after about a 2-mile “neutral” lead out… and I’m dying trying to keep up. That’s not right. The hill crests, I’m dropped with a few others. I notice my rear brakes are a bit close, so I open them up and head on out.

I caught a Starbucks guy who had been dropped at the end of the first lap, then we picked up 5 more. The 5s passed us, and then on the end of the 3rd (of 4) laps the women 1-2 break passes us. Then the main women 1-2 sorta passes us at the top of the final hill on the 4th lap… but by now we have some energy, so we stay in the rolling enclosure behind them. It’s fine, they’re mailing it in due to the break.

End the race, I’m 45 / 63. Wow, that’s a third after me? Turns out there was a wicked crash at the descent on the 4th lap. Ben Collins, a pro TT (but Cat-4 racer), was moving up on the left to the front of the pack, and the leader, Ian from Cucina Fresca, clipped him. Huge crash, everyone in front. Ugh…  bunch of Wines guys were there, they went down.

Ah well.

Turns out there were also crashes in the 5s (on the hill), 3s (at the finish), and Masters C/D (on the hill). So, just a crash-tastic day all around! Sometimes, it’s OK to roll in.

Seward Park: Clockwise

My third season of racing, I finally had a free Thursday night to head over to the twilight Seward crit. There are three races: 5:30, 6:00, and 7:00. I decided to try the 5:30, and felt good but tired after finishing the hills race Tuesday. The race started off slowly for a crit, with maybe 60 people in the field. I only had one lap to warm up on the course, but went the wrong way. So, time to figure things out on the fly.

The toughest bit on the map is the 140′ corner, but what I was having trouble with was staying on a line fast in the downhill. Basically, the clockwise route is a flat just after the corner, then a slight descent, then a faster descent around the loop. Then a quick hill back to the corner. I took the descent on the brakes the first few laps, as I wasn’t sure how well the pack would hold their lines (nor how well I could hold mine). After 8 or 9 of 15, the pack got away on the hill. As I finished the 14th the pack lapped me for the uphill finish. Fun crit, but woof! Certainly different than PR.

Yeah! and Ouch!

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The Yeah! I biked 20 miles up a hill with Ruben today! We biked from Sunriver up to Mt. Bachelor (the main lodge) at 6400 feet. It was more of a mentally daunting task then physically. I don’t think the grade was more than 8% at any point, mostly probably a 3-5% grade…although this was my first time biking above 1 mile up. We took 2 hours to get up, had a great latte and snack at the lodge, then flew back down in 1 hour.

Ruben split off from me and went to the Pauline lakes (another 17 or so mile out and back). I gave him the rest of my food and water and headed back to our condo. My plan was to take the long way around passed the airport and stables like I had done with Joe yesterday.

The Ouch! As I was making a left into Sunriver, there was all this gravel. I saw it too late and completely came down on my left side (hip, shoulder and hand). I couldn’t move for a good few minutes (felt like forever) but eventually was able to get up with the help of this wonderful woman who stopped and helped me out. My front handlebars had been wedged under the frame with the force of going down, but other than needing to re-tape my handlebars, I think the bike is fine. (I heart steel frames).

I biked back to the condo the long way anyway – probably stupid but keeping my leg moving seemed to be the right thing to do. My shoulder was stinging from the wind on the road rash up there – and I’ve ripped my older jersey (I guess it’s a good thing I bought extra in this last batch).

The interesting thing was the pain hit once I got home and took off the shorts, THAT’s when the pain got bad. I guess the shorts were putting compression on my hip. Darn. Just as I was healing too. Now Ibuprofen and ice are my friend. I guess this gets me out of cleaning the condo though.

How much for the Steelers bike?

Officially, Union Bay Cycling / Wines of Washington‘s colors are now black, silver, and gold. Or perhaps yellow, but I’ll still think it’s gold. Why? Well, because here’s next year’s team bike:

madone55pro_speedyellow.jpg

That’s right… it’s a Speed Yellow Black & Gold Trek Madone 5.5, and you’ll be seeing a number of the team racing around on them next year.

Now, I need to think of something to convince Mary Kaye… perhaps, it’s what Troy would ride!

p1_polamalu.jpg

Sunday STP Training Ride

Sunday Elizabeth and I went for an enjoyable ride up and around the lake to Redmond and back. To clarify, it was enjoyable for me, Elizabeth was pulling Emmett in the trailer and doing a fantastic job up and down the hills that become meaningful when you are hauling an extra 40lbs + two extra tires of friction. The weather for the day was cold and cloudy, but fortunately the worst it got was a minute of light sprinkles. The headwind held up long enough to be a glorious tailwind that pushed us home. Emmett was a trooper and just had a great time eating trail mix which mysteriously consisted entirely of M&M’s while all the peanuts and raisins ended up on the floor of the trailer.
I wish I had complete data for the trip, but apparently I forgot to turn my watch on in Bothell and the last leg of the ride was lost. The total ride was 18 miles out and 18 miles back for a nice 36 mile trip. That said, I think I will add one more layer of clothes if the weather remains at 42 degrees.

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Your humble scribe,
Ruben