Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ride-Strong's Colnago Giveaway!

COWABUNGA! Win a brand new Colnago Carbon Bike!
The chance to win a brand new
Colnago Carbon CLX bike which
retails for $5,500 for FREE!

Visit the Ride-Strong site for entry details!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Lukas from Switzerland visits...

and I have to say, if you ever get a chance to host someone from Switzerland, do it. They bring chocolate. Lots of chocolate. Not your run of the mill chocolate...good chocolate. In fact, I think that the quality of chocolate that Lukas brought as a gift to me will help me lose weight. How so? For once, I'm not scouring the office for dark chocolate Hershey's because frankly...I'm too good for that now. I'm hooked on the good stuff and I'm going to hoard it and make it last.


Enough about the chocolate...Lukas is in California visiting from Switzerland and stayed with us for just one night before leaving this morning to see the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley. I wish that he could have stayed longer, I really enjoyed his company. Lukas races mountain bikes back home and uses the road bike for training. While in Northern California, he raced in his first two criteriums and placed well. Maybe he'll come over to the dark (lycra) side. ;)



Lukas told us that we could come visit him...and bring the kids along too. Ha. Poor thing wouldn't know what hit him if we made our way over there with all of the wee ones. Who knows...maybe someday.

In the meantime...if anyone needs a place to stay, hit me up. I rent rooms for the price of good chocolate. ;)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Getting anxious...

so I'm getting anxious and really want to get out there and race. I know that there are things that I need to work on before I have any business getting started, but I have to say that being at crits watching George race the last two weekends has me itching to throw myself into it like he has.

Sunday morning we were up early for the Anger Management Crit in Long Beach. George had just raced the Butterfield Double the day before, as I did...but he's crazy enough to get out there and race a crit as a recovery ride. I love watching these races and this course was great because you could see the entire course from the start/finish line. I was honestly shocked every lap as George stayed in the front of the pack. I had told him not be disappointed if he didn't do as well this week because hey...he had 460 miles on his legs this week between commuting and the double century! There he was though...up front the whole time! He managed a 12th place finish, which is awesome! I only hope I can do half as well as he's started out with his racing. :)

Check out his blog for his race reports...

Anger Management

Butterfield Double

Tour of California

Thanks to Amgen for the Live Coverage! If I can't see it live and in person, this is definitely the next best thing.

I have just one comment...the field slowed for a "natural break" 55 minutes into the stage. I no longer feel bad about my tiny bladder and having to stop for my own "natural breaks"...I usually last longer than 55 minutes though. ;)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Butterfield Double 2008


As I mentioned in my last blog post, I finally felt some excitement about Butterfield Double less than 24 hours before I was set to start. Friday night after work, we grabbed some dinner at Knolwood while we waited for the check in to open at 7:30. After saying hello to some friends while we waited in line, we signed our waivers, picked up our route sheets and numbers and headed home. It's nice to be 15 miles from the start of a double century and be able to sleep in your own bed the night before! We had to do some last minute bike prep and then we were off to bed, but not before George hands me some Nathan Reflex wrist/ankle bands and tells me he wants to be visible when I'm signaling. :)

4:00 a.m. and the alarm is going off. I think I stretched it to 4:30, but then it was out of bed and a quick shower to wake up, and on with the Sho-Air kit that I had laid out the night before. In the truck on the way to the start, I drank a bottle of Sportquest Carbo Pro mixed with Interphase since I didn't feel like eating anything solid at that time. We arrived at the start and I didn't want to get out of the truck. I was being a wimp about the cold. Funny since I spent most of January training in the dark and cold, but at those times I was wearing wool. No luxury of that today. On a double I try to minimize my clothing since I'll be out on the road for so long and the temps will change so much throughout the day. I'd rather suffer a little bit with cold in the beginning and end in exchange for not being overheated during the majority of the day. I wore a sleeveless wool base layer, my Sho-Air jersey, Assos shorts (though I love and typically train in bibs, I won't wear them on long distance events because the time wasted fully undressing to pee is ridiculous) wool arm and knee warmers and my Velom jacket.

We didn't have much time at the start to get situated, but made our way over to the front of the hotel to hear the safety speech before we were launched out. I stuck with George who was feeding me tips about riding in a pack and we had set off at a pretty good clip, staying near the front of the pack. I thought that the pace would break the group up rather quickly, but it seemed that the abundance of stoplights would keep most of the group together for the time being. Knowing what was coming up, I was sure that the rollers on Jamboree and the climb up San Joaquin Hills would start some separation...including me! I said goodbye to George at this time, knowing that I wouldn't see him until I finished. We dropped down Newport Coast Drive and turned south on Pacific Coast Highway before turning inland, then climbing and dropping down to PCH once again. Headed south toward Dana Point I enjoyed talking to several people, including a tandem that had done Furnace Creek 508. The descent into the mini-stop was steep, and I was happy to be greeted by Jon, a friend from Bike Forums. :) I topped off my bottle, which I'm not proud to say, was only 1/3 gone. Very poor hydrating and fueling on my part and definitely not enough for 39 miles into the ride. I find that when it's not warm I don't pay attention to my hydration.

I left the mini-stop quickly and rode behind a man in a Surf City Cyclery kit. He was pulling at a great pace until we hit the bike lane inside the concrete barrier on PCH in Dana Point and a group in front of us slowed us down significantly. After exiting that area we were in a pretty tight pack and I hit a large rock that wasn't called out, luckily with no consequences. I was glad when we reached Avenida Pico and the group continued on the coast through San Clemente instead of turning (as the route slip indicated) and following the bike route signs through the residential area. Deb had announced that was fine to do and since the route sheet didn't have any street names and simply "Follow Bike Route Signs" I didn't want to chance a wrong turn. While on this section I recognized the rider next to me, it was one of George's friends Chris. We talked for awhile and as we turned from Cristianitos onto the bike trail, the group thinned out to make the turn safely onto the path, I found myself in the back. I arrived at the San Onofre checkpoint (mile 54.7) alone, said hello to Rick from Bike Forums, loaded up with some Sustained Energy provided by Planet Ultra and hit the bathroom before it was back on the bike.

I rode alone for the next section, though I could at times, see riders ahead of me. As I turned onto the I-5 freeway I could see another woman, who I eventually passed and then she ended up passing me. I caught up to her as we exited the freeway and made our way toward the bike path in Oceanside. After riding on the bike path with another man for a little bit, the woman (who I later learned was named Joni) came around and took the lead. She led our train, which picked up a couple of riders along the way, all the way to the lunch stop. I heard her say at one point that she didn't...or couldn't ride behind people, and I didn't feel like I had the energy at that point to go around her and take off, so I was content to sit back and get some recovery. Thank you Joni!

At the lunch stop (mile 87.7) I said hello to Phil and Jon, posed for a photo, grabbed a Subway sandwich and stuffed it under my jersey, topped off with some more Sustained Energy and was gone in probably five minutes. I had a strategy for this section since I knew that there was an immediate climb after lunch. It's no fun to climb on a full stomach, so I planned to grab the sandwich and roll, eating it later if I felt hungry for solid food. I was in fact hungry when I got to the lunch stop...thanks I'm sure, in part to my poor fueling and hydration, but I knew that I would benefit from sticking to the plan of climbing on an empty stomach. The Circle R climb was much less painful this year and after climbing that and Reche, I took the opportunity to eat on the Green Canyon Road descent. George's early words of advice rang in my head. "Take the food and go. Eating on the bike at 13 mph is better than stopping for 30 minutes and then hammering on a full stomach trying to make up for lost time." Even better...I found myself eating my Subway sandwich while coasting at 21 mph down Green Canyon Road!

I hadn't seen anyone else since Green Canyon when Ron on his recumbent made the left turn before me. As I was approaching the turn onto North River Road, a guy in a Sho-Air kit blew past me. At that point I had been alone for so long that I was actually wishing that someone...or better yet, a pack, would catch me. I knew that I was approaching the bike path and the winds can be strong, a hard haul if you're alone and I wasn't looking forward to the next section. My wish would be granted at the next turn. When I looked back to make sure it was clear for me to get over into the left turn lane, up comes a pack. With a tandem! Wooo! It was the tandem from earlier in the day, along with Isabelle Drake, Chris and another guy. I told them I was just wishing for this situation and thank goodness they arrived. :) The tandem pulled us on the bike path until I heard a sound you never want to hear...Chris, who had been at the end of the line, had gone down. I stopped, turned around and went back to make sure that he was okay. He told me that I didn't need to stop, but I would hope that someone would stop for me in a similar situation, so I just did what felt right. Despite being bloodied, he was back on his bike and riding in no time. Actually, they temporarily dropped me and then slowed so I could reattach. There was another mini-stop (mile 121.1) up ahead, and I was happy to see Jon yet again! I topped off my bottle and added some Sportquest CarboPro 1200 that I had in a flask. I prefer this over the Sustained Energy that Planet Ultra provides, but I supplemented with the SE because it was free (or rather, part of my registration fee) and I only had enough room to carry two flasks of CarboPro. A group took off out of the stop and while I waited until it was clear to cross the road, I realized that once again, I'd be alone. I figured the tandem, who were sticking around to eat a sandwich, would catch me quickly, but alas...I was destined to ride the section through Oceanside, the I-5 and San Onofre until the checkpoint (mile 135.8), alone.

The tandem pulled into the San O checkpoint shortly after I did, so I stuck around the stop until they left. We had a small group as we went through San Clemente and turned inland from the coast. We stayed together until the Antonio parkway climb and I had great legs, so I went ahead of the group a bit, but wasn't putting a ton of effort into the climb because I didn't want to lose the tandem. At some point we got separated and I ended up riding with Ken, who was out there on a fixed gear. We chatted about some of George's fixed gear rides and we came upon Ron on his recumbent again. The three of us came into the last checkpoint (mile 167.5) in Trabuco Canyon together, followed shortly by the tandem and a few others. At this stop I saw one of my favorite people...Lee from Bike Forums, who was volunteering. I stayed at this stop for a few minutes, long enough to fill my bottle (which I then left behind...ugh), eat two mini Butterfingers and 1/4 of a poppyseed muffin and throw on my Velom jacket.

Chris, Ron and I left the last checkpoint together, but we spread out on the rolling terrain through Trabuco Canyon. My goal was to get through this area in the daylight. I don't like this narrow, twisty road with no shoulder and blind corners. It's known for people speeding and numerous accidents. Needless to say, I didn't want to get caught in the dark. Thankfully, I was able to accomplish my goal and turned onto Santiago Canyon Road while it was still light. On one of the descents Chris blew past me as I was soft pedaling and I could only see his tail light up ahead for the rest of the Santiago Canyon section. I reached Dump Hill and knew I was so close the the finish. I felt amazing! As I approached the turn onto Jamboree, I noticed another rider in the left turn lane. It was Isabelle Drake, who by the way...beat my time by 11 minutes on Butterfield last year! She told me that I would be faster to the end than she would, but I said that we should go in together. It was nice chatting with her and we stuck together. Like another rider said in his report...seeing the Sand Canyon street sign was so sweet and beautiful. Just 2.5 miles to the finish...I could taste it!

Isabelle and I reached the hotel, parked our bikes outside and ran in to find out that we had a time of 12:18! Deb told us that only one woman came in ahead of us, a Cat 2 racer for Webcor. I felt so great about my finish! I felt very strong most of the day and really felt like I rode smart. When the results were posted, I realized that Isabelle and I can claim an 8th place finish overall. Can't complain about that!!! :)

I have to say thanks to George for believing in me, even when I have doubts. Following his advice and coaching really helped me ride hard and ride smart. He also took great care of me post-ride, handing me a bottle of Endurox and my Recovery pills, then finding solid food for me to scarf down. He did a great job out there at Butterfield...10:46 for a third place finish!

Thanks to the tandem, Roger and Deanna for pulling and for good conversation. I really enjoyed riding with the two of you. :)

Thanks to the volunteers...without you, this wouldn't have been possible. :)

Next up: ???? Oh, who knows. I'm giving this racing thing a shot, so stay tuned!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Butterfield Double Eve

I'm happy to announce that at 11:15 a.m. on Butterfield Double Eve, I finally got excited about this event. I don't know why, but I've been lacking motivation to get this ultra-distance season started. Maybe it's because there is a big gap between my events and the next one isn't until April 5th. Maybe it's because it's 200 miles and it's a long day in the saddle. Who knows exactly why, but the excitement has arrived and I'm eager to test out my fitness, since my last double was back in June.

In other news, I've spent the last day arguing...okay, vs. cyclists here in Orange County. Yesterday's article What Word in 'Bike Lane' Don't Drivers Understand by David Whiting, prompted many comments from those who think we shouldn't be out there on the road. From saying that we should be mowed down, to poking fun at our silly spandex, to calling us Lance Wanna-be's, the attitude of the commenters was mostly disheartening. I admit that there are road cyclists who do not obey traffic laws, ride dangerously and probably even encourage some of the hostility from motorists. Unfortunately, those who don't act responsibly and courteously are painting a picture that leaves many motorists angry and impatient with all of us...even those who acknowledge patient drivers and ride safely and responsibly. We have a long way to go in getting the "Share the Road" message to sink in here in Orange County.

On the racing front, I'm now officially holding a USCF license and I've registered for my first race! I thought I'd jump right in and go for the sampler platter. San Dimas Stage Race offers a time trial, road race and a criterium. Three days of racing fun. In an effort to prepare, I am going to start riding the El Dorado Twilight Series in March.

That's all for now. After work we're headed to the check-in for Butterfield, then it's home to prep bikes and gear for an early morning tomorrow. We roll at 6:15 a.m. and I'll post an update sometime this weekend!

Ride safely and do me a favor this weekend. Please take the time to acknowledge those motorists that are making an effort to keep you safe while you're riding. The one that slows down and waits instead of turning in front of you, the one that slows down until they can pass you safely, etc. We all encounter the ones that keep us safe, but often tend to remember only the ones that don't. Yes, they are doing exactly what they are supposed to do, but so many motorists do not make that effort and your acknowledgement may be exactly what they need to reinforce that they're doing the right thing.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I suck...

How did I let two weeks go by without blogging? Oh wait, I'm boring and have no life. Or I've been riding my bike a lot. Maybe that's it. :)

I ended January with 680 miles for the month. Not bad for early in the season, especially with how freaking cold it has been and the fact that we had rain, rain, rain in January.

I've felt very consistent and dedicated in my training so far this year. I did miss my ride on Saturday. I wanted to get one final century in before Butterfield this weekend, but I came home from a co-worker's going away happy hour puking, so that ride was bagged. Unfortunately it wasn't even the fun alcohol induced kind of puking. I was being good and not drinking since I was riding in the morning, but I must have eaten something funky. Oh well.

As I mentioned, Butterfield Double is this weekend. I'm keeping my rides this week on the easy side to save my legs for Saturday. Right now I'm enjoying my training more than the thought of the actual events. Hopefully that will change as the season progresses. I've also been exploring the possibility of racing this season. Yes. Racing. We'll see how it goes. I'm committed to the ultra events on my schedule, but fortunately there are plenty of mid-late season crits, time trials and road races that I can get my feet wet with. It will be a big change with my training, I need to add intensity/speed/sprinting work and more importantly, I need to start riding with a group. I watched the women's 3/4 race at Roger Millikan Crit on Saturday (George was there racing in Cat 5...I know...what the heck, we're changing things up this year) and really felt a strong desire to be out there. Right now I just need to sign up for a race and make the commitment. Yikes.

Speaking of the crit in Brea on Sunday, this was George's first crit this year. He had done one a couple of years ago and wanted to see how he could do out there. 11th place in the Cat 5 race out of a field of 50. Very cool considering like me, his training is geared toward long distance and climbing events. :) You can check out his race report on his blog. Here's a post race pic with Jesse from Team Bearclaw who took 2nd in the Cat 5 race.