Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Heat wave

It's hot out. the kind of heat that radiates up from the tarmac, baking you, no matter how fast you ride. So until this heat wave dissipates, I'll be staying indoors and as cool as possible.

ciao

Saturday, July 18, 2009

July Heat

Something funny happens on rides during TDF season. Phil Ligget gets in your head.

I decided to roll out with the race team, as this is probably the only weekend before the OBRA masters track championship that I'll get to put in a hard Saturday effort. Yep, that means this race is high on my list.

Back to today's ride. Phil's voice was commenting from the start. "She's rolling out with the big boys today, going to see if she can hang on." We push down Evergreen, Matt reminds me not to do any work, and I take the left turn stop to shuffle my position in the pack. Once we're thru town and on the quiet country roads, the speed takes off. I find myself in a 28mph paceline, and when BRat pulls off (and doesn't slow up) I give him an earful. I have to push to pass him, and we glide back for our rotation. I try to jump back in, but it's getting faster and I have no more gears and at 189 no more room for my heart rate to accelerate. "Well she's done it folks. She held on for as long as she could, but those legs appear to be cooked." Greg sees me suffering off the back, and gives me a wheel. I see my heart rate. Good, only 184 now, it's dropping. (ha!) We become a groupetto of two, as I suffer on every incline. I'm calling out one word status updates. I'm either ON his wheel, or OFF - and he graciously adjusts to pull me thru. My personal domestique. Phil had something quirky to say, but I was too tired to listen.

Just as Greg decides to jump forward and chat with the other two that have also fallen off the back, we find the pack resting in some shade for a regroup. Phil-in-my-head is making some comments about being able to rejoin the group, tho how much suffering is still to come. I join up with Kristin (the only other female in the bunch) and we roll out at our own pace. The breif rest in the shade has refreshed me slightly, so we continue on at 22. The boys are nowhere in sight, and I hear later that the pace Really picked up.

Eventually we see them returning, we turn to rejoin them, and face the headwind. I'm fading fast now, going backwards quickly with every uptick in gradient. I'm so tired, my climbing speed has dropped to 7mph, with very slow recovery. Fortunately, I see the rest of the club is coming around as our paths have crossed, so I tell Matt (who was kindly trying to haul me back up) to go ahead. Shortly after, I was absorbed by a 17 group and we make our way back. The lower speed and larger group give me the rest I need, and I get water from another rider. 48 miles already, it is Hot, my bottles are empty, and I so want to be done.

It isn't over until I clock in 58.5 miles, nearly 19mph average. 3 hours in the heat, and you can differentiate the race team from the club by the salt crusting our faces. I'm congratulated for how well I hung in - and happy that I managed to do that given the way I've felt all week. I love that I've grown so much this year, and have a great team to challenge myself with. I thank Phil for coming along for the ride.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hardware

OBRA Track Championships. A weekend of racing - and I was sorely unprepared.

Friday night Women Cat 4 500 m TT. My first time doing this event. I got in a decent warm up, tho the rain hit hard and I didn't get in any accelerations. We huddled under the meager shelter while waiting for the rain to halt. Then we huddled some more, waiting and hoping for the track to dry. Somehow it managed to dry out, and racing started a little later than expected. I rode my 81" gear (I think) and put up a decent time. I finished 4th of 7, 0.25 seconds behind 3rd. When I reviewed the race with my friends & track coaches, we made a list of the things to work on. Unfortunately enough time has passed that I can't recall exactly how it went, or what that list consists of. I felt pretty good, and was looking forward to Saturday.

Saturday ~ a 200m TT followed by Sprints. When I arrived to do my warm up, I realized that I forgot to have my yogurt that morning; I forgot half of my breakfast. So I ate half of the sandwich I was intending to have for lunch, hoping there would be enough protein in it to get me thru.

There were 4 in my category, and with a round-robin match sprint, that meant 3 races each. The 200 went - well, not as well as it could have. My mind kinda shut down just before the timed portion of the event took place, so my lines were off. And, I forgot to stand up, to get that extra power. That said, I took about 2 seconds off my prior time, and knew that I would have been even faster if I'd done those extra two things.

I have Bob and Lynn giving me advice, and Jen always nearby offering encouragement. I'm ready for my sprint, and pull the 1 position. That means I'm being chased, and have to watch over my shoulder for an attack. She jumps way early, and I don't realize it until I hear the crowd noise change. She's way out ahead, I don't use the track well, but manage to crawl back on her wheel (well up track) and then power past her. Again, I do almost the entire race seated. I can't control the bike. I think I'm looking where I want it to go, but it refuses to follow her line. Instead, I'm up track one or two widths, sloppy thru the corners, barely hanging on. I eek out that win, and finish shaking. My fuel is tapped out. I'm jittery, my mind is mush, I'm nervous, and my legs hurt. I start asking around for food, and eventually Lynn saves me by running out for my annoying request for nonfat plain greek yogurt. She returns and hands me a cup - I eat it with 1 minute before my next sprint. I feel mildly better.

I'm up against the fastest of the 4 of us - she's tiny & strong. Again, I'm in the 1 position. She gets a jump on me, I don't respond quick enough. I know my lines were ugly, and the yogurt wants to leave the way it came. She beats me. I review the race with Lynn, but I'm a wreck. I'm overwhelmed with nervous, I remember having a mental block that told me I couldn't go any faster in that race, and have forgotten Bob's name. The bonk is not subsiding. The thought of eating anything else makes me nauseous.

Final race. I haven't had any bike time between races to speak of. Again, the 1 position... and the official shakes his head at me, as if to say some days you just draw the short straw. Half way thru, the announcer states that we're racing to break our tie. I know I need this - I am more aware when she jumps; and I get on her wheel. I stand, and two pedal strokes later I'm on the seat, every instinct telling me to stop and puke right there. I shake it off, and force myself to stay on her wheel. That's all I can do. I make another half-ass attempt to stand, and the body rejects the idea. I watch her approach the finish line. I know I could beat her, but not today.

I'm broken. My head is a mess, I'm extraordinarily frustrated that I've just watched myself give away 2nd place. I know I'm faster than I've behaved, and yet I bonked, had a massive case of race nerves, and put in three sloppy races. I'm circling the small warm-up track. I have to talk to myself to stay on it until my heart stops beating in my ears, tho I nearly crash a handful of times. I'm zoning out. I'm angry, tired, gasping, and am torn between wanting to punch something and break down in tears. It takes everything I have left to hold it in, until I get to the car. The tears stop about a mile from home, tho that is temporary. The aftermath was a crazy mess - and even for all that I brought home the Bronze for Cat4 Sprints. I get home, and spend a good half hour on the trainer to cool down. My mind finally settles. I'm proud of my races, despite all the setbacks.

Sunday starts out better. It's raining at home, but I pack up the car anyway. The track is dry. I haul my two bikes, trainer, food, water, and gym bag down to the infield. I'm alone today - it's eerie. By the time I get to warm up, I have about 30 mins until race time. I jump on my trainer to get the legs warmed up; the track bike is still in the 86" gear from yesterday, and the wheels need air. I try to warm up, but get overheated. Everyone else is dressed like it's cold out, and I'm looking to shed layers but don't have any. I grab the track bike, find an air pump, and put in a few laps. My legs hurt. The gear feels huge. I review the race & get advice from Lisa, and I find out I'm in the first race - a 3k pursuit, racing against a cat3. I know she'll pass me. I have 11 and a quarter laps. We line up, and go. I push hard, trying to get the speed up so I can settle in. By the end of lap 1, my legs are like lead. By lap 4, my scalp and brain are icy mush, and my focus is 100% talking myself out of quitting. She passes me, and I feel SLOW. Lisa yells at me to go faster, but the legs are cold. I'm starting to question if I'm keeping traction speed, and try to go a little faster at least thru the corners. 3 laps to go. I can finish this. 2 laps, I try to find something more. 1 lap, and I get out of the saddle, push 10 pedal strokes, and finish quickly.

Frustrating, but done. I place 4th of 4, and am not surprised. No way did I get enough of a warm up. The afternoon holds a points race - and I've already decided that I need to opt out.

Bob arrives as I'm packing up the car, and we have a good chat. I think he's relieved that I'm not the emotional wreck I was the day before. There is a lot on my plate to work on, but all things that I can improve. Overall, not a bad weekend (4th, 3rd, 4th) for events I've never done before. I have my first medal - and a lot more knowledge about myself & the track.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mozza-Bella

My husband loves Italian cheeses. His particular favorite is an Insalata Caprese, so when I saw this DIY kit being sold on ETSY (urban cheesecraft), and Particularly when I found out ordering the kit would support a local Portlander's business, I had to buy. The only question is - who was this gift really for?? Hmmm....

Tonight, I made cheese. Not a ton of photos... tho it turned out to be an easier than anticipated process. Kit ingredients plus 1 gallon Trader Joe's organic whole milk, and I cooked up some curds and whey.


A little longer on the stove, a little draining, a few zaps in the microwave, and I was ready to pull some beautiful mozzarella!


The result? A very mild and delicately flavored mozzarella. The two buns (I tried to make balls, but they flattened out) are chillin' in the fridge, soon to join some fresh tomato, basil, and olive oil.

Yum!

I have about 9 more batches I can make from this kit. I will probably try ricotta, and dabble with lactose free and goat milk varieties. Thank you, Urban Cheesecraft!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Quick Updates

Tour - seriously exciting this year. I'm hooked & refreshed & cheering for sprinters like I never have before.

Food - this lasagna tart looks Seriously good. Will have to chat w/ my GF expert about changing up the crust, and incorporate the mozzarella that I Will Make this week.

Last night I raced my first 500TT at Alpenrose. I felt fast, as tho I couldn't spin that gear any quicker without losing control. I'm told I looked fast & aggressive. The resulting time didn't quite match up, and put me in at 5th. I need to figure out what I can do with gears and leg speed by this weekend's racing.

This has been a bizarrely emotional week. I'm thinking there is some hormonal funkiness going on. Moving on.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Holiday Weekend Ride

Friday morning, we ride to the coffee shop to join up with the team for our morning ride. (Hooray 3 day weekends!) The vast majority of riders are on the race team, and they're talking about having a bit of a spirited ride. A quick conference w/ the hubby, and my game plan is to just tuck in, and hang on.

Turns out this is my hardest ride year to date. At the beginning of the ride I'm being congratulated for my win at PIR. By mid ride, those sentiments change to complimenting me for hanging with the group, and riding strong. Of course I'm blown off the back of each hill, but I hang on longer and jump right back in the pack at every regroup. After the climbs, most of us are out of water. It is a warm day already, and I'm covered in gnat shrapnel and pollen warpaint for all the bugs I've encountered.

A quick refuel at a convenience store, and it's hard to get started. Matt sees me struggling, and helps pull me up to the pack. I'm yo-yoing off the back, fortunately a stop sign & highway crossing give me a chance to catch up. It's the final stretch home, and there are a couple of hot spots to contend. Matt tells me he's going to give me a lead out, so I work my way up to his wheel & hang on. I have no idea what our speed is, but we're flying and all I can see is his bike in front of me. Things start to get tingly, the stomach gives early warnings that it wants to empty, so I flick an elbow and move off. The paceline rolls past me, and I hear Ty shout "last one" - I give two kicks to jump on, and hang for less than 5 pedal strokes. My legs are cooked. I won't be contending that sprint.

Closer to the end, we're flying down Evergreen. My legs complain, I start to fall off and Bob (who I've already tried to run off the road twice, and I'll blame being tired) tells me to grab his wheel. I do. I hang on. The difficult 22mph climbs to 25, and 26. Over his shoulder he tells me he'll give me a lead out to a sprint, and I shout back a very un-ladylike response. I think he told me to suck it up - maybe not those exact words, but the message was clear. He powers forward, and I hear 'Go!' I jump out of the saddle, and my legs flop like jell-o - no power, no control, I plop back in my seat "no good, nothing!" There is no sprint. My reserves are gone. One last red light, and our ride is over.

Will I have anything left for tomorrow? Not much ~ tho I'm more worried about Sunday's training at Alpenrose. I know every corner, effort, and sprint is going to hurt.

Friday - 54 miles, with climbing, avg. 18.0mph