Friday, October 26, 2007


natalie dee

How can you not love Wikipedia? It seems that no matter what I'm Googling, there's always a Wikipedia result on the first page of results. That in itself means the information is accurate. Right?

I don't know, it's just funny to me that I will actually scroll halfway down the Google results and choose Wikipedia over the other, probably more valid sources. I'm hooked, which means you should never rely on what I say.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

It's Thursday...

and we're only one episode from being caught up on The Office. I think it's impossible to watch this show and then not be compelled to quote random lines from it all day long. Just ask my co-workers.

more quotes from the office

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fixed Gear Goodness and Base Building...

I'm finally getting comfortable riding fixed gear. George made some adjustments on his Pinarello Pista and I've been riding her lately. The plan is to train on her most of the winter, breaking out the multispeed bike only for climbing rides.

Speaking of fall/winter, George also suggested that I start base building. What does that mean? Well, today it meant that I had to divert my normal route on Pacific Coast Highway inland to resist the temptation to chase the rabbits, err...I mean, other cyclists, out there. This is going to be really, really difficult for me but it's a chance to prove my dedication to improving, or at least that's the line that George fed me this morning when I called mid-ride to confirm I was following his plan correctly...minus one minor and totally illegal u-turn on PCH to chase a group down and couple of repeats up a hill to see how the gearing on the fixie felt. Oops.

I shouldn't complain, it really wasn't that bad. It might help if I just visualize the fat melting off of my thighs from all of the long, steady, low intensity effort. Yeah, that's it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

...and six months later

okay...technically, it's a day shy of six months later, but who's really counting? A quick catch up:

~I finished the Planet Ultra King of the Mountains Series and was happy with my results...4th place for women under 50. After this series I definitely felt that if I put more training in next year that I could cut my time somewhat. I really needed more hill training!

~I finished my third double century, Eastern Sierra on June 2nd. It was tough because George crashed 70 miles into and my head wasn't really into it for the rest of the ride. Well that and the last 30 miles of headwinds were a bitch, but I'll stop complaining about something that happened four months ago. This completed my California Triple Crown and I am currently awaiting my snazzy finishers jersey.

~Crewed RAAM, it was long, hard and rewarding all wrapped into one.

~Got a job...had some fun, decided I wasn't happy there.

~Slacked off on training for most of the summer. I suck.

~Totally bonked on GMR one Sunday and went through two bottles and still overheated 2.5 miles from the top. Please see the above comment about sucking. ;) Thankfully George came down after summitting and gave me one of his bottles.

~Redeemed myself with a personal best time up GMR (sub-1hr) a couple of weeks later. YAY me. Now I need a new goal for that road. Note...riding with a PowerTap helps, but only if you're looking at it and pacing yourself accordingly. :)

~Got a new job, much better. Fit into my schedule perfectly...W/Th/F...the days that the kids are with their dad.

~Have been sick for about a bajillion weeks. Okay, maybe not a bajillion, but at least six. The snot has floweth long enough and needs to stop. Pronto.

~Crewed Furnace Creek 508 for George. WOW. Fixed gear, he's a total nut. It was painful to watch at times, particularly on the major climbs, but he's an animal and he made it. I'm so proud of him. See his blog here... and check out all of the pictures. Particularly the ones where I turn the handoffs into diva-esque posing activities. ;) I'm working on a report on my experience, hopefully to be posted soon.

~I've made out my event schedule for next year and now it's time to start training again. I'm finally starting to feel a little better, so I made it out on the fixed gear today. Someone thinks I should be training on this bike for the winter (unless I'm climbing) and who am I to argue? It was fun. I'm still a little nervous about getting going again after stopping, but I did about 16 miles this morning and I survived. I only forgot that I was riding fixed once, for a nano-second when I thought I might coast. OOPS. It sure tells you otherwise, and quickly!

~We got a tandem...finally! We've been waiting for this thing for what seems like forever. I freaked out a little bit the first time we went out and I'll admit that it feels strange to not have control back there in the stoker position. I've taken to closing my eyes when he's turning, it stops me from trying to steer the bike. We're hoping to do a couple of the early season double centuries on it and I decided that I have the goal of doing a sub-5 hour century on the tandem...even if we only do it in 4:59. ;) to Target for the little guy to spend his birthday money. More later!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Mulholland Challenge

Where do I begin? I suppose I should start with the drive up to Calabasas, which took two and a half hours thanks to my decision to leave at 4:00 p.m. on a Friday. It was okay though, I got to make a few phone calls, talking to my friend James who committed to crewing Race Across America with us (sorry about the unemployment thing though!!!) and then to Phil who was about twenty minutes behind me dealing with the same horrible LA traffic that I was dealing with but sounding much less irritated about it than I did. I arrived, checked into the room and then went to the registration area to check in and get my number and route slip. I ran into some Bike Forums friends...Lee, Frank, Gary, Jim...then Phil arrived. We all talked for awhile and Phil and I eventually decided that we were hungry and that dinner was beginning to sound like a good plan. I was trying to wait for George to arrive before eating, but with no word from him my hunger won out and we headed out in search of food. We ran into Mike along the way and he joined us at the Italian restaurant across the street. George eventually joined us, starving and a bit wacky from the long drive. ;) We enjoyed our dinner, then made our way back to our rooms to prep for the early morning start.

The alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. Ten more minutes? Please????? No? Damn. I guess I should get up and start getting ready. In contrast to the wonderful pre-ride breakfast that I was spoiled with at the Solvang Double, our breakfast this time was Bonk Breaker energy bars. It was quick, easy and required nothing more than opening the package, so I was happy with that. We filled our bottles with Sustained Energy and set out for the start. George was starting at 6:15 a.m., as he was doing the double century, and I was taking the 6:30 a.m. start, which was the earliest start for the century riders. I ran into more Bike Forums members at the start line...caligurl, sirlance, Tony, Karen, Lee. I ended up rolling with Karen, Tony and Lee, but took off, trying to gain some time in the beginning of the course. I went into this ride with the expectation of riding by myself all day. I've found that I climb better if I'm alone and can ride at my pace, ensuring that I'm not blowing myself up trying to keep up with others.

So the morning air was cold...okay...I'll take that back. The morning air was FREEZING! I immediately regretted my decision to leave my full fingered wool gloves in my suitcase and though I recall starting the ride with fingers, by the time I reached Pacific Coast Highway, I was beginning to wonder if they were still with me since I couldn't feel them. At all. Oh well, minor details, who needs fingers anyway? Once on the coast, I joined up with a group that formed a paceline to make our way south to Topanga. We weren't moving as quickly as I would have thought we would, but when I considered that I'd be putting out more effort on my own, I decided to stay put and conserve my energy for the climbing that was yet to come. The next turn on the route sheet took us onto Topanga Canyon, where the climbing would begin and the group would break up. I was alternately passing and being passed by people on the climb and jumped on with a couple of guys as they were passing people. I kept pace with them for a bit, but as they gained speed I decided to let them go and do my own thing. Not paying attention to the route slip, I thought that the first stop was a full rest stop, so I was making an effort to finish both of my bottles of SE before I arrived at the 27 mile point. Of course, I roll in and it's just a sticker stop! I filled up with water, got my sticker and took off for the real rest stop, which was 12 miles away.

On the way to the rest stop at Peter Strauss Ranch, I realized that the velcro on my saddle bag was rubbing on my new shorts, so I knew that would be something I would have to take care of when I rolled in. When I got to there I saw Bill from Bike Forums volunteering and I asked him for tape, a band aid...anything to cover that exposed velcro. He tightened my bag as much as he could and told me that the ladies out front had the tape. After filling my bottles with SE, loading up on Endurolytes and Advil, I went in search of the ladies with the tape. They kindly fixed me up, so that I wouldn't have to worry about it for the rest of the day, and let me know that the next sticker stop would be at the bottom of Deer Creek. I might have whimpered a little bit at that point, the memory of descending that road the weekend before, still fresh in my mind. They told me that it would be fine, and off I rolled. I still had quite a bit of climbing to do, so I tried to concentrate on that instead of the Deer Creek descent that I was going to have to deal with. I was in and out of the next rest stop quickly, just long enough to fill my bottles with more SE and be on my way. I had done this portion of the course before, and it was helpful to know what was coming next. After a steep climb on Cotharin I was approaching Deer Creek. I knew that I had to descend this section in the drops, trying to do it on the hoods last week was unsuccessful and resulted in me having to stop at least five times on the way down. Taking a deep breath, I was off. My speeds were higher and I felt more confident descending this time, but I still had to stop once to shake my arms's better than five though! I couldn't believe how many people were flying down this descent...I'm not sure that I'll ever have that level of confidence. I made it to the sticker stop at the bottom, declared "THAT SUCKED!!!" as one of the volunteers kindly topped off my bottles, and I was off, turning south on PCH and heading toward Decker.

I was behind a group approaching the turn onto PCH, but I had to stop to wait for some cars to go by before I could make the turn safely. This was one of the only "flat" sections of the ride, so I was trying to catch up to their little paceline, but was having a hard time. At that point another paceline rolls by me and one of the guys created a gap and told me to jump in, but I had just been on the verge of blowing up trying to catch the other guys, so I opted to latch onto the back so I could drop off easily if I needed to. I was with them for a short while before deciding to let them go so I could take it easy and conserve for Decker. Ahhh Decker...the climb about which I declared "it's not that bad" after our little preview ride last week was kicking my ass. Of course, I made that declaration having taken it on 26 miles into the ride and here I was, facing it at mile 68 and eating my words. I saw a guy get off and start walking his bike and decided that I would take a minute to recover before I kept going, and pulled off to the side of the road to rest. Surprisingly I didn't feel discouraged by the need to do this. I had really been on top of not wasting anytime at the rest stops, felt that I was riding smart thus far and that I should take the rest when I really needed it. Getting clipped back in and going again was a challenge, but I resumed my climb feeling better from the small amount of rest I had just taken. I made it to the sticker stop located a few miles up the climb where I talked to one of the volunteers about how Decker was hurting a lot more today than it did last weekend and he said "you weigh nothing, you should be flying up these hills"...ummm...thanks, but it's far from the truth and I told him that maybe if I dropped ten pounds, that might be true, but at this point I wasn't flying...I was eeking my way up! Back to climbing Decker again, I was off...the last part isn't as steep as the first section, but the climbing was starting to add up and my legs were beginning to feel it.

The Decker climb out of the way, there were some rollers before the descent down Mulholland. Thanks to some coaching from George, I've abandoned my death grip on the brakes style of descending and have learned to enjoy this part of riding. I'm still more cautious than some, but have come a long way from where I was at a few months ago. The descent down Mulholland was great, and well deserved after all of the climbing we had done up to this point. I made my way to the sticker stop at Peter Strauss, asked Bill to "sticker me" before I filled my bottles up with SE one last time and ran to the bathroom so I could roll out quickly. Before I left Bill told me that I only had 30 more miles...some rollers and then two more good climbs before the finish. I love when people tell me what to expect. Yes, I could look at my route sheet, but I wouldn't have known to expect the rollers on the way to the Stunt Road climb, so it was easier to pace myself with that knowledge. Thank you Bill!! The ladies at the front cheered me on as I left, which always feels good. The volunteers at these events really make the experience great and Planet Ultra seems to attract the best ones, everyone was great!

The next ten miles seemed to drag on forever, but along the way a group of guys passed me and told me that I was doing great, and that made me feel so much better. It's the little things that keep me going on these rides. Usually I have George there motivating me, but this ride was different because I was riding alone. It seemed though, that every time I needed that extra little bit of motivation, either a volunteer or a rider would say something encouraging...their timing was impeccable. :) I turned on to Stunt Road and began what would be one of the harder climbs of the day. Four miles long, it was not nearly as steep as Decker, but at mile 90, it felt like it dragged on forever. Shortly after the climb began, another rider began riding alongside me silently. We seemed to be pacing each other up the climb, but the funny thing was that we probably rode side by side for over a mile before we finally looked at one another. It was when another rider passed us and shouted out "we're almost to the top...only 1.5 miles and another 500 feet of climbing" that we both went "HUH????" He said "I don't know about you but..." and I replied "yeah, my idea of almost to the top is half a mile...tops!!" and we had a good laugh about perception. As I continued to climb, wondering if I would ever reach the summit, a car drove by and one of the Bike Forums members yelled "go Brandy!!" <~~~See...more motivation just when I needed it!!!

As I approached the final sticker stop at the top of Stunt Road, I noticed that Bobbi Fisher was working the stop. I yelled "STICKER ME BOBBI" and she told me that I was doing great, that there was just one more good climb, then a short but steep climb on Cold Canyon. It was so nice to see her smiling face there, but I didn't stay long, probably under a minute because I knew that I could recover on the descent down Schueren before I would have the last significant climb of the day which was Piuma. Feeling good, I climbed Piuma and got a little shout out from the ladies who had been working the Peter Strauss stop, and enjoyed a wonderful descent. I was about to take a corner and a guy behind me says "I'm behind you" I thanked him for the heads up and he says "the only time I can pass you is on the descents, you drop me on the climbs!" and I realized that he had in fact been passing me on descents since at least Little Sycamore earlier that morning. I caught up to him again on the Cold Canyon climb and after the little ego boost he gave me, I had to step it up and get that last climb done! From the turn onto Mulholland, I felt amazing! Nothing like knowing that you're a short six miles from the finish. I hammered the whole way back and rolled in at 9 hours and 4 minutes according to my Garmin. Of course, dismounting, parking the bike and making my way to the timekeeper, they recorded me at 9 hours and 7 minutes.

Overall, it was an amazing day on the bike. I accomplished my goal of taking only short, but necessary stops and ended up with only 31 minutes of off the bike time for the whole day. I didn't have a time goal in mind, as I've never done a course like this before, but I have to say that I am very happy with my effort!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Solvang Spring Double Century

We arrived in Solvang just in time to check in for the ride on Friday night, after a long drive in heavy traffic. Much of the time in the car was spent trying to decide what time I would start in the morning, in relation to George's 7:30 a.m. start time. Recalling that I had a 45 minute head start at Butterfield Double and that he caught me by the first rest stop at mile 38, we decided that a 6:30 a.m. start would be good. It would be the earliest that I could safely leave without carrying lights, which we would drop with the ride organizers in the morning and pick up at a later rest stop.

After checking in, we were off in search of some food and Firestone Vineyard where we would be staying in a guest house on the grounds. We got settled in, and then it was off to bed for me. I was exhausted and facing another early morning start. When the alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. I didn't want to get up, thinking that I could easily enjoy a day relaxing around the winery and exploring the town (just kidding...though I was asked at registration if I would just be hanging around town while George was Ummm...HELL NO! I'm riding too!) but I dragged myself out of bed and started getting ready. George made a breakfast of bacon, eggs, bagels and yogurt while I rushed around trying to make sure that I had everything that I needed. We left Firestone and headed toward the ride start, slightly behind schedule. As we drove down Foxen Canyon, we saw some of the first riders who must have left at 5:00 a.m. The farther we drove, the more cyclists lights we saw, what a great sight!

Having left a few minutes behind schedule, we of course...arrived at the host hotel a few minutes later than we would have liked. I ended up rolling out alone at 6:40 a.m. Brrrrrrrr...that pretty much sums up the first hour of my ride, at least! I was freezing, having opted to suffer for a short time so that I wouldn't have to ride with knee warmers in my very tiny jersey pockets for the rest of the day. I rode alone until the first climb on Foxen Canyon, where I joined up with a group that had left shortly before I had. Following George's advice, I secured myself a spot in a paceline with a great group of three brothers, one of their wives and a friend of theirs. I stayed with them through the first rest stop and we all left together. We rotated several times and after I dropped back after a strong pull up front, we were suddenly being passed by a train of tandems and a split second decision was made to jump on the back. The tandems kept a fast pace and we were with them for awhile, until a few of us decided that we were pushing too hard to keep up with them through some of the rolling terrain and opted to take it easy and let them go.

At this point, though I was trying to get as far along as I could before George caught up to me, I was also thinking about conserving some energy, knowing that I would be pushing a higher pace once he did join me. As we made a sudden turn, we lost one of the guys from the group, so we pulled off of the road as someone went back to find him. We weren't rolling for long before one of the riders needed to stop for some water, so we pulled off again. I had a feeling at this point that George couldn't be too far now and that he would show up any minute, as I'm standing on the side of the road, motionless, waiting for this rider to buy some water at the store across the street. Sure enough, just a couple of minutes after we stopped, there he is and he shouts "I WASN'T SUPPOSED TO CATCH YOU YET!" I think that was code're going too damn slow. ;) I said goodbye to my new friends and we were off. Shortly after meeting up he turns to me and says "I'm going to push you today, but you'll thank me later." Huh? What? Ahhhhh crap, I'm in for it now. With that, he picked up the pace as we made our way toward the second rest stop. At some point (NOTE: this ride report may or may not be accurate, it's all a blur now...hell, it was all a blur DURING the ride!) he threw me into a paceline with some very strong 7:30 a.m. starters. I tried hard to hang on and was able to for a while, but eventually I couldn't keep the pace that they were going, so I let go. Shortly after that we reached the second rest stop.

It was a mad rush to refill bottles, grab electrolytes and Advil, and use the restroom before hitting the road again. As we rolled out, the same tandems that we had joined up with earlier rolled out as well. George didn't even have to say it because I knew what was coming next. The words were familiar as I've heard them before ~tandems punch a big hole in the air and provide a great draft ~never pass a tandem on rolling terrain ~if you have the wheel of a tandem, don't let it go! So grab the wheel of a tandem, I did! George was right, the tandems do provide a great draft, but they were not easy to keep pace with unless we were climbing. That seemed to be the only time that I felt like I could handle the pace comfortably.

As we pulled out of the "not so secret control point" in Morro Bay, we saw M.E., Joel, John and Bill who appeared to be on a restroom stop. We waved hello and were on our way. This is where my competitive beast reared it's ugly little head, I'm woman enough to admit this much. I was thrilled to have passed them, knowing that they had started before me, in the dark. As hard as I was pushing and struggling, seeing them gave me a boost, assurance that my hard work was paying off and that I was on my way to finishing my second double century with a decent time. Feeling like I was fueling well with the Sustained Energy provided at the rest stops, I asked George whether we were stopping for lunch. One of the tandem guys answered that they were planning to eat and we made the decision to stop as well so that we could continue on with them.

At the lunch stop I grabbed sandwiches and V8 as George took care of refilling our bottles and grabbing more electrolytes for us. We sat to eat, keeping an eye on the tandem riders so we could leave together. As we were standing in line to use the restroom, M.E., Joel, John and Bill pulled in. I shouted "Happy Birthday Joel!" across the parking lot and M.E. came over and snapped a picture of us and then we were ready to roll again after a 28 minute stop. It as during this next section of the ride that I hit my low point for the day. Unbeknownst to those I was riding with, I was seriously suffering. Not that I hadn't been suffering trying to keep pace with the tandems all day, but this was different, I was really suffering. It was apparent within several miles of leaving the lunch stop that I made the wrong decision and that I should have stuck with liquid fuel. I spent at least 20 miles nauseous with my lunch in my throat and the V8 would have been the first thing to come up...I could taste it right there. I rode in silence, not mentioning how horrible I felt because I knew that if I did, I would totally lose it. George realized that there was something wrong when I was refusing to drink when he prompted me to. I tried to sip, but I couldn't and finally I told George how awful I felt. Not wanting to lose the tandems, George took over, literally pushing me in order to give me a couple of minutes to recover. It wasn't the first push that I would accept from him, nor would it be the last. Those little reprieves from the hard pace were just what I needed at the time.

With much effort, we made it into the next rest stop having not touched my bottles at all since the lunch stop. I believe that this was the point that I started telling George that I hated him. He was pushing me to my limits, limits that I never would have pushed myself to and I was feeling beat and didn't hold back in telling him, or anyone else who would listen for that matter! I remember one man asking me how I was doing and I answered back "HE'S TRYING TO KILL ME!" As we looked around the rest stop, he pointed out that I wasn't the only one who was hurting. The exhausted looks on the faces of most of the riders said it all...he was right. As we were getting ready to get back on the road George told me that there were only 50-ish miles to go...a club ride, that's it! One of the tandem riders said..."even better, only 30 miles to the next rest stop!" Okay, 30 miles was do-able, even if it was going to hurt. I started fueling right away and was beginning to feel a little bit better. I don't recall much of this section, though I was feeling better than I had on the last section, and that's all that matters! I'm sure that I told George that I hated him a couple more times, but he can take it.

The first thing that I saw when I pulled into the last rest stop was...lots of people resting! As tired as I was, we were less than 20 miles from the finish and I just wanted to be done. We went to our routine of bottle filling, restroom breaks and quick "hello's" to other riders and volunteers. The Cup'O Noodle was calling my name, but fear of more solid food and desire to just get it done, had me skipping it. George and I left the tandem riders who were resting and headed out to climb Drum Canyon. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. What sadistic freak puts that at mile 175 of a double century? Oh, who am I kidding? If I organized the ride I would have done the same torturous thing. ;) If I recall correctly, I stopped telling George that I hated him on Drum Canyon, but only because he was hurting more than I was, riding on a 49x15 fixed gear. Finally reaching the top, I was ready for a fun descent...but OUCH! OUCH! OUCH! The road was horrible and as I passed George on the descent he warned me to be careful, so I slowed it down considerably.

After descending Drum Canyon I felt great! My spirits were high, I turned on my iPod, grabbed George's wheel and we took off. The closer that we got to the finish, the more riders we passed. I had gotten a second wind and George was now counting down the miles for me. 7 miles! 4 miles! <~~~that was the best, four miles. Anyone can ride four miles...and I was going to do it...and do it fast! The road was familiar again, I knew exactly where I was and how far I had to go. As we came up the final hill into Solvang, I asked George what time it was...6:38 p.m. I told him that I was so close to finishing sub 12:00. It wasn't a goal of mine, as a matter of fact, I would have never dreamed of having a time anywhere close to that considering I did Butterfield in 14:25 and was very happy with that time. Suddenly at that moment, it became the goal and I was so close, but even the sprint to the finish couldn't seal the deal. I came in at 6:41 p.m. which gave me a total time of 12:01.

The second that I got off of the bike, all of the pain, all of the suffering I had all went away and was replaced by smiles, hugs, sheer joy and pride. George was right, he pushed me and though I wouldn't have said it until that very moment, I was thankful for that. I tested my limits like they had never been tested before and I never would have known that I had that in me, had he not pushed me to achieve it.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Breathless Agony Preview

Breathless Agony...the name alone implies a painful ride. 112 miles and 12,000 ft of climbing in the mountains of southern California, it promises a long, hard day in the saddle, challenging one both physically and mentally. The organized ride is taking place on May 5th, but that's not enough for some of the members of the so Cal Bike Forums. They need to preview the route. Ride a portion of it in the name of training, you're thinking? Nope. Their idea of previewing is riding the route. The whole route. Every. Single. Mile. Of. It. I didn't register for the BA ride prior to it selling out, so this was my chance to do the route. George posted the idea of the BA Preview ride on Bike Forums back in January and the response was great, with many of the members willing to come out and ride with us. One last detail...finding someone to drive SAG for us, and Mandy came through. I had heard of her superior SAGging abilities and was assured that if she did this, we would only need one support person despite the fact that we would be all over the mountain with our varying abilities.

Fast forward to late Saturday night and the tickle in my throat, stuffiness and general feeling that *CRAP! I'm getting sick!* Bad timing, but this event was on my calendar for way too long to bail on it now. I woke up on Sunday morning feeling worse, but trying to tell myself that I felt just fine. My pride (sometimes I wonder if this thing I often call pride is really just stupidity masking as pride...maybe I'll figure it out someday) wasn't going to let me back out now. No way.

I had planned to start the ride at civil twilight, which was 6:20 a.m. but didn't arrive at Sylvan Park in Redlands, until shortly after that. I didn't feel like rushing to roll out quickly, perhaps it was the feeling of hesitation, not knowing how the ride was going to go in my current state of stuffiness and snottiness. After greeting some of the other riders and meeting some of the new ones, I gave Mandy my bag with some clothing and decided to roll out with Bob at 6:49 a.m. He stayed with me for a while, but I was having a hard time warming up so I wasn't making any effort to keep up with him. I knew at this point, having rolled between the anticipated slower group and the fast guys, that I would be riding this alone.

The first pass of the ride was Jack Rabbit Trail, which is an unmaintained road. It was so quiet and peaceful and I really enjoyed this section. It was somewhat of an obstacle course, as I found myself swerving and turning to avoid potholes and patches of gravel. Mandy came by to check on me and give me a report of where the other groups of riders were. She assured me that the fast guys were a couple of miles behind me, so I took the opportunity to find a bush before they caught me. <'s been a long time, but I'm back to posting about my public urination. Such a lady, I am. ;) Back on the bike quickly, I enjoyed the rest of the traffic free first pass and was on my way to Beaumont.


The second pass on the route is Oak Glen. I think I had found my rhythm by this point and it didn't hurt as much as I had anticipated. I was finally warmed up and feeling good and even managed to grab the camera out of my jersey pocket to snap a few pictures of this gorgeous area. Every so often, I would look back, expecting the fast group to catch me. Finally, there was one. I couldn't tell for sure, but it didn't look like Phil or George, so I assumed that it was Pat closing in on me. When he reached me, we were almost to the top of the Oak Glen climb, where we rode together for a few minutes before he took off and said "see you at the bottom!"



The descent from the top of Oak Glen was a blast. As I was riding, I was looking at our route sheet, which was the original one from the Breathless Agony organized century. Calculating the cut-off times that they had listed, I felt like I was doing pretty well at this point coming into the second rest stop at Mill Creek Ranger Station. As I arrived all of the guys cheered for me which on one hand was's nice to feel supported. On the other hand it's slightly embarrassing and you wonder if they would do that for the guys, or if you're getting special treatment for being a girl out there. Perhaps I should just stop analyzing it, shut up and be happy that I had a bunch of smiling men there to greet me. There could be worse scenarios. I ate some Fig Newtons here, used the restroom and accepted the Dayquil that Pat offered to me. George pulled in shortly after I did and asked me if I had found my special bottles in the SAG vehicle, which I hadn't. He had bought me my favorite Gatorade that morning and stashed them in Mandy's car with my name on them. :)I filled my bottles and George said he was rolling, so I took off with him. I was only able to hang on until the next group that left the rest stop caught and passed us. Once again, I knew that I couldn't hang and realized that I would be climbing alone.

Ahead of us was climbing, climbing and oh...get this...some more climbing! The section after Mill Creek Ranger Station was really hard on me. It appears to go on forever and ever and having driven it in the car before, I kept thinking to myself that I didn't remember this portion of the drive before the hairpin turn being this long! Later I found out that this is referred to as "damnation alley" and rightfully so! As you are riding, it doesn't look like you're doing much climbing and I actually had to turn my head around several times in an effort to assure myself that there was a reason for my snail's pace. I actually contemplated turning back at this point, thinking that I couldn't ride this slowly and still make it to Onyx Summit. Of course, my pride and the thought that George would kick my ass if I bailed just 45 miles into a ride snapped me out of it. Once past the hairpin turn, I felt like I was actually climbing the mountain, actually getting somewhere, and mentally I was in a much better place and on my way to completing the third pass of the route. I enjoyed the views along the way, including a waterfall on the side of the road that I had noticed the last time that I drove up to Angelus Oaks. A few miles from Angelus Oaks I started cramping in my left leg. I've never experienced this before, but knew that I needed salt...just then Mandy pulls up in the SAG vehicle. Perfect timing! I asked if she had anything salty in the car and she pulled off to the side to check. The only thing we saw was trail mix and that didn't sound good, so I settled for a banana, hoping that the potassium would do me good. I was still cramping, though not as badly as I pulled into Angelus Oaks and the third rest stop. I arrived once again to cheers from the group and promptly started searching for salt! There were potato chips in the car but they didn't sound good and licking the salt off of them was taking too long so I went off in search of some V8 after Ian loaned me some cash. I chugged two cans right away and talked to Jason and Phil for a few minutes before heading out alone for the final pass.

Leaving the store at Angelus Oaks I was trying to calculate how long this last section to Onyx Summit would take me at various speeds. It was something to do to pass the time and though I knew that there was some descending and rollers to come in this section, I wasn't counting on them when I was doing my doomsday *I'm never going to get there* calculations in my head. Before I knew it I was descending and it lifted my spirits...just what I needed. Of course, with the descending came the thought of "CRAP! I'm going to have to climb this shit again on the way back!" I quieted those thoughts and told myself that the only thing that counts is my time to Onyx Summit. The clock stops there and I'll worry about those climbs later.

I'm not sure where I was when people started passing me on their way down. Some had turned around early, though seeing them descending while I still had so far to go was mentally crushing for me. They had left the store not long before me and I just kept could they have made it to the top that quickly?!?!?!?!?! It wasn't until later that I found out that they had turned back early and I was fretting for nothing. Mandy drove by to check on me and I asked her to tell George to come back for me after he reached the summit. He had promised that he would and at that point I was lonely and craving some company. The next time I saw her she said that George was at the top, so I expected to see him coming down around a curve at any time. Time kept passing and no sight of George so I figured that one of two things had happened. He was suffering and needed to rest (the best assumption since he had done a Palomar Century the day before) or that he had decided I needed to do this climb alone because it would be more rewarding. I didn't really think that he'd go back on a promise, but I would have been okay with either scenario. Finally...there he was, slowly descending in his search for me. From across the road I see the smile of someone who has conquered the climb and had a chance to recover, which was a stark contrast from me on the other side of the road. I was happy to see him, but barely able to smile in return. I've ridden with George enough to know that he can sense my mood and react accordingly, first with the encouragement and praise, telling me that I'm kicking ass and that he's proud of me. Next comes the nurturing aspect where he tells me to hand him my bottle of water, which he exchanges for one of his that was full of Gatorade, or something...I never asked, just knew that it was more than water! He told me that we were 1.8 miles from the top and then came more praise, this time when he noticed that I was climbing with my heels down. It's one of the things that I get sloppy about at times, but was able to stay on top of throughout this ride. Riding beside me he asked me if I wanted him to pace me up and I said yes, so he got in front of me and and rode nice and easy. He counted down for me...0.7 miles, 0.3 miles, you're almost there. Look! There's the Onyx Summit sign!


Finally off of the bike at mile 74.3, I was so thrilled to have done it! 7 hours and 33 minutes to the top and I was happy with my time. I found a place to rest my bike, was ordered to start eating and immediately downed two Gu packets. After resting for a few minutes Mandy arrived, George gave the remaining riders a quick lesson on changing tubulars and then we were off for our obligatory Onyx Summit elevation sign picture. We bundled up for the descent we were off. The rollers that I had worried about weren't bad at all, and I felt fine climbing, knowing that I was getting ready for a long downhill once we hit Angelus Oaks. We stopped once to strip our jackets off and then at the store for a quick restroom break and were off again, enjoying the warm temperatures that rose as we descended. We rolled into Sylvan Park, I changed clothes and split quickly in an effort to find food.

This route was amazing, I can't wait to do it again. In five weeks. Say what? Yes...I'll do it again in five weeks with the other Breathless Agony workers and then I'll be up there the day of the official ride, cheering all of the riders on. Of course, that won't be enough, this unofficial version gets planned again as a Bike Forums ride for the fall, after temps cool off. I'm hooked on the agony.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Butterfield Double

Well, it's been nearly ten days since I completed my first double century ride and high time that I finally sit down and write my ride report. I don't know what has been keeping me from doing it, not in the writing mood I suppose, but I know that if I don't get all of this down, I'll start forgetting details and since it is my first 200 mile ride, I guess I should have some sort of record of it. <~~~enthusiasm about writing this is just oozing...can you tell? ;)

The morning started at 4:00 a.m. with me trying to figure out what to do first. Get dressed? Eat? What am I going to wear? Eeeeeeeeeeek! I settled on eating so I would have time to digest before the ride started. Two packets of instant (yuck) oatmeal would have to do at that time of morning, plus a fresh mango that hit the spot. On to clothing. Short sleeve? Long sleeve? Arm warmers and leg warmers? I decided to go with my Velo Sport kit, which is long sleeve, and some leg warmers. A quick weather check outside and I realized that it was already warm enough to make the decision to leave the leg warmers behind. Some last minute prep and I was out the door and at the 5:30 a.m. early start in front of the hotel. There was a large group gathered and after some pictures with M.E. and saying goodbye to George who was there to see us off, and was starting at 6:15 a.m., we were on our way.

I enjoyed a nice warm up pace riding along with M.E. and another rider, Doug. It was nice to chat with them and pace myself through the first twenty miles, knowing that I had a long day ahead of me. Once we hit Santiago Canyon I got a burst of energy and took off, feeling comfortable and at ease being in a familiar area. The wind had been with us from the start of the ride, but really picked up through the canyon. I remember hitting a spot where the air was finally calm and still and immediately, I heard the sighs of relief from the four other riders I had been following. We turned onto Live Oak Canyon Road and began our journey toward the first aid station, located at Trabuco Oaks General Store, 37.4 miles into the ride.

I had to wait a few minutes to use the restroom and then moved on to pondering the food offerings...plentiful, but nothing sounded appetizing at that point, so I took one of everything and stuffed my jersey pockets, figuring that I would need to eat at some point. I also took a risk here by filling my bottles with Hammer Nutrition's Sustained Energy, something that I have never tried before. Thankfully, I was able to use this fuel all day with no issues, though in retrospect and after tales from a friend, it definitely wasn't smart to use a new and unknown product on a long ride. As I was getting ready to leave, M.E. pulled into the aid station and I asked her if she was going to be in and out quickly, and if so, I'd wait for her and we could leave together. After her very quick stop, we made our way to our bikes and in pulls George. How the man caught us when he had left 45 minutes later, and on a fixed gear, no less...I don't know. When we left that morning he said that he was hoping to pass me by the second aid station, so I was very surprised to see him this early in the ride. He handed off a route sheet since I had forgotten mine, and I took off just after M.E. left.

Leaving the first aid station, there was an immediate steep climb out of the canyon and then we were on Plano Trabuco. I had told M.E. that I needed to stop and turn off my tail light and I noticed at that point that there were some encouraging messages written on my route sheet, that brought a smile to my face. :) One turn later George catches us again, not a huge surprise this time, since he is in and out of rest stops before I can get off of my bike. ;) He rode with us for a block or so and started speeding up, so I made the split second decision to take off with him. I figured that I'd hang on for as long as I could and that he would drop me when he needed to. The next section was "generally downhill" and took us toward the coast and the next aid station, located at San Onofre State Beach. We stopped about a mile ahead to use the restroom, hoping that we could avoid the lines at the rest stop. We made this a very quick stop, in and out after refilling our bottles with Sustained Energy and water.

Just after leaving the aid station, George noticed that I was very flushed and looking overheated. He mentioned that we should find a place to splash my face with some water when we could. The next section took us onto the 5 freeway, and this was my first time riding it. When going from Orange County to San Diego, I normally go through Camp Pendelton, as I've always been slightly intimidated by the idea of riding on the freeway. I have to say that it wasn't nearly as bad as I had anticipated, but I was definitely glad that I wasn't alone! After exiting the freeway in Oceanside, we were on the bike path and I was hitting what would be the first of several lulls that I would experience through the day. Thankfully I had the reassurance from George that I would snap out of it and feel better soon and that I just had to ride it out. I managed to eat half of a peanut butter sandwich that I had picked up at the first aid station and stuffed in my pocket, but I was still feeling pretty bad. The heat was getting to me and 85+ miles into the ride, I was just hoping and hoping that it wouldn't heat up anymore than it already had. The bike path ended and we were able to make our way to Popeye's where I drenched my head under the faucet in an attempt to cool down. Ten minutes later with ice on my cheeks and in my helmet, we were on our way again. We rode alone for a long stretch until about three miles out from the lunch stop, when some riders caught up to us. Two passed us and the rest formed a paceline until the right turn and the climb to the lunch stop, where George and I took off. I think that the thought of sitting down, eating and shade got me up that hill with a little more speed than normal!

Pulling in to the third aid station I was happy to see a familiar friend Lee from Bike Forums, who was volunteering for the ride! Again, I wasn't particularly hungry...but knew that I should have something to eat. I enjoyed the sandwich and a couple of V8's before heading to the bathroom to once again drench myself in an attempt to cool down. I sat in the shade for a few minutes and we were off again, where we immediately turned onto Circle R and started climbing. With full bellies. Hmmmmmmm...I thought to is this going to play out????? George advised me to just take it easy and ride at a digestive (SLOW) pace because really...we had no other choice! After a nice downhill we turned onto Reche where we were greeted by Bobbi and Kermit, two of the volunteers. Kermit noticed my empty bottle and offered to fill it with some water and I was THRILLED when he came back and it was full of ice water. What a guy, he certainly made me happy! After making our way through Live Oak Park we took on the very steep Gum Tree Lane, to which I am attributing all of the soreness in my glutes! I was starting to fall into another lull at this point and we decided to stop at Rainbow Valley Market for more fluids and more head drenching to cool me down. Back on the bike we made our way to the fourth aid station at mile 139.6 where we picked up our lights. I unzipped the light bag and there was another encouraging note for me. Obviously I wasn't planning on riding with George at all, let alone this far...still...the note was a huge pick me up!

We left the aid station and didn't make it far before I hit yet another lull. Now it's one thing when someone gives you a little push on a hill to help you, but at this point George was physically pushing me...on a flat road! Pride gone, I accepted the help and had a chance to recover and find my way out again. I rode the whole day expecting (and telling) George to leave me at some point, but I realized somewhere around this time that he wasn't going anywhere and I can't express how thankful I was. Part of my nervousness about doing this double century was knowing that I was going to have to do this alone and here I was, lucky enough to have an experienced ultra rider at my front of me ;) for the better part of the day. We made our way onto Temescal Canyon and I recall saying that it felt just like a summer night. The weather was unseasonably warm and it was just gorgeous out as the sun set and darkness fell.

The last aid station at mile 172.3 was at Tom's Farm. I grabbed another V8 at this point and then decided that I should hit the restroom before we headed out. Unfortunately it was in a crowded restaurant and the women's line just wasn't moving. I finally opted for the men's room, but still wasted a good ten minutes here. Next time I shall be one with nature. ;) Leaving this aid station, it was so nice to know that we were getting close to being done. George was pushing me and asking me to pick up the pace, but I was so exhausted. I remember him telling me about falling asleep on the bike during one of his brevets and thinking to does someone fall asleep on the bike?!?!?! I know! I was very close to doing just that. I was entering a stage of serious grumpiness and had nothing nice to say to poor George anymore, so I put my headphones on and turned my iPod up all the way, which also served as a nice wake-up. We made our way through Corona and finally a turn onto Green River Road...ahhhhhhhhhhh...familiar territory again! I regained my energy, knowing that we were very close, particularly when we hit the bike path and then La Palma. Before I knew it, we were there...I was done!

My official time for the ride was 14 hours and 25 minutes. Honestly, in the months leading up to this double century, I was worried about actually finishing under the time limit, so I was very happy with this time. A big thanks to George, who didn't have to stick with me all day. I definitely slowed him down, but I was so glad to have him there coaching me through my first double!

Monday, January 01, 2007

2007 Cycling Goals

~Butterfield Double Century
~Solvang Double Century
~TBD Double Century to complete Ca. Triple Crown
~One of the Planet Ultra King of the Mountain rides
~Century a Month Challenge
~6000 miles
~be able to call myself a "climber" by the end of the year, and mean it
~eat an entire Mr. Serious burrito in one sitting, post ride

Happy New Year!

Could it be 2007 already? I ended the year with a killer group ride on Saturday with the so Cal Bike Forums group. We had an amazing turnout given all of the climbing that this ride offered and it was a challenging day for me. My goal for the day was to make it to Baldy Village and enjoy some lunch at the lodge. This was only my second shot at sustained climbing, so I figured that if I did that much, I was good.

Once I reached the village, I had the chance to take off to do a bonus climb from the village up to the ski lifts, a 4.63 mile, 2110' ascent at an average grade of 8.6%. To say that this was out of my league was an understatement, but after some encouragement I took off...fully expecting to have to turn around within a few minutes and head back to the lodge. In fact...I told one of the other riders that I would see her in five minutes...that's how sure I was that I could not tackle this climb.

I honestly don't remember most of the details of the climb up to the lifts. All that I can say is that there was the awful smell of brakes from all of the cars, lots of stopping, lots of "I'M FUCKING DONE's!!!!", lots of me hanging my head down and wanting to turn around, lots of pouting, a moment when I was on the verge of tears and an occasional verbally abusive comment for anyone unlucky enough to be anywhere near me at the time.
There was a point when I was absolutely sure that I was done...I was ready to wait right there...telling myself I was happy that I had come that far and that I should be satisfied with that. Then something happened. I looked down and saw a Bike Forums was another rider who had taken off behind us, and up he rode. In that instant my ego jumped into high gear and I turned from "I can't do this", to "bring it on!" I wasn't going to let him make it up there while I sat and waited! Later I found out that he was ready to thrown in the towel too, but decided to push on because his male ego didn't want a girl to make it if he didn't! Dueling egos, another friend later called it...whatever it takes to make it to the top!

I quickly realized that the area that I was ready to call it quits for good at, was a mere 500 feet from the top. I must have stopped at least three times in that 500 feet...never ready to give in, just utterly spent and unable to move forward. After catching my breath, I made a final push and was there...I had done it...on my first attempt no less! I won't lie and try to make the whole experience sound pretty, it wasn' fucking sucked, but the sense of accomplishment that I felt could not be matched! Next time I'm aiming for less stopping, less almost crying and less pouting. I can't wait to give this climb another shot!


I'm looking forward to a cycling filled 2007...full of climbing mountains, riding double centuries, and challenging myself to do things that I never thought possible.