Monday, April 2, 2012

Mudslinger on the singlespeed - Angela's race report

The drive out was scenic and bothersome. The closer to the venue I got, the denser the clouds grew and the more abundant the rain. Oh well, I was glad I’d brought my rain slicker. It was a good thing Hugh encouraged me to bring my winter gloves too, because they were ideal. I got very muddy, wet and even hot while climbing, but never cold. Had I been out there another hour and a half that might have been different.

I took a wild guess at what gear to use for the event. Assuming the hills weren’t as steep down there as they are up by Browns Camp, I went with a 32/18. This might have been a good gear for John Lin, but not me. There was a lot of climbing. Doesn’t it always seem there is more up than down? Well most of this up was on logging roads, which are in good shape and appropriately rough without being treacherous. There was some single track and included more climbing, before descending on road and single track followed of course by more climbing. I don’t mind the climbing, but I found myself wanting two things, more single track and a different gear. I should have put a 20T on my bike, and if I am going to do all that climbing, I want to look forward to riding some flowing single track even if it is a true canal. The single track was pretty much what you would expect after of month of record rainfall, wet, slippery, and the mud expanding in width and depth with every tire penetration. Fortunately there were very few hazards that throw a rider off her bike or off course. At times it was hard to ride with speed either because of the mud, or because of the riders in front of me. I am sure this wasn’t the case for the pros and cat 1 racers. I got mixed up with some cat 3, which is fine while climbing, but not on the single track, so I busied myself passing and saying to those riding well in front of me, “Stay aggressive.” Sometimes it helps to keep the passing going. So I had planned to ride two laps with the cat 2 women, but when we started climbing the logging road for the 2nd lap, I decided there was not enough single track to make it worth it. If I put a bigger gear on my bike I certainly would have gone, but as it was I had an out, to finish with the women’s single speed category. In the end my time was 1:23, but they added a 4-minute penalty because I switched categories. Just the same I got 2nd place. Behind Lisa Belair. I would consider doing it again, but only if more of my team and friends joined in.

A few thoughts I had while racing the Mudslinger were that it would be a great race for those somewhat new to mountain biking. With much of the course on logging roads, the technical demands are nominal, apart from the mud, which is going to be a series factor for everyone when there is record rainfall. I thought of how excellent Echo to Red is and how lucky we are to be able to ride and race out there so early in the year. It is really such a great and beautiful event. Then there was what I consider the dream course of the Capital Forest 50/100, which I did last September. That course was 75% single track, at least that is how I remember it, and it’s all down hill. Okay not really but the last 6-8 miles are on single track that is sweet, sweeping and at times steep! It is a course that is totally thrilling and all the climbing is worth the amazing single track descents. As for the Mudslinger, I’ll have to give it another try under improved conditions

Monday, March 12, 2012

Angela's BB2 race report - HV first and second in Masters women

I arrived at 8:30 to find Daphne doing the right thing, warming up under the picnic area. At the last minute I decided to bag the trainer and planned to just ride around or not before the race. For certain there was going to be no complaining. I talked over my race strategy with Daphne. I was glad she showed up because my plan included her incredibly fine descending skills. However we couldn’t really find a reason to do anything strategic since the woman we’d be trying to get away from would most certainly jump with us. She didn’t even turn out to race with us. Just the same we were determined to race well and have a good ride.

Daphne and I set out on the front side by side for most of the first lap keeping a nice steady and moderately strong pace. The field was a little more coordinated this week than last, likely because it was so much smaller. About mid-way through lap two we found ourselves in a group of 9. ½ the ladies wanting and trying to work hard and keeping the pace up, the other ½ not wanting to or not knowing how to get out of the way. At least we were working and focused on moving along at a good clip rather than just riding. I was glad when we finally started our third and final lap.

At 3K someone took off. Those up front did not go right away, then one jumped and another, I was ready to go with the second gal, but they weren’t the ones I needed to beat. It’s kind of weird when your rival is your totally valued teammate.

There you have it.

I just didn’t want to blow up and have Daphne come flying by me as we sailed down our last descent. So, I hung back, and at 1K we started to pick it up again just to have the leaders of the Cat. 3 men come along side of us for their finish. It was a bit confusing, but they were as strung out as we were.

WE were coming up to our finish so I wasn’t going to neutralize. I simply tried to stay to the right, but then their stupid support cars filled up the lane creeping up behind them like snails. I was back to the shoulder with Daphne to the right of my back wheel. Knowing she was gonna come flying by me at any moment I kept it in the big chain ring and dug deep and tried to keep my cadence rolling hard. Looking at Rich’s video clip of the finish I am pleased to see I was the 4th woman across the line. Only now that I sit down to write this does it cross my mind that Daphne and I could have crossed the line together.

Indeed it was wet and it was kind of cold, but mostly it was wet. Racing with a rain jacket, known as a cape, was totally the ticket. Shifting was a bit of a bugger especially going back into the big chain ring at the top if the climb out of the damn. Fortunately found little to no reason to use my brakes, which is scarily difficult with frozen hands. The cold did in set once I got back to my car and got changed. For about 45 minutes the shivering was so bad I feared I was going to bite off my tongue.

Things really warmed up for John Lin and me as we led the Master 4/5 men around the course through dropping temperatures, falling winter mix and even beautiful snow. It was great to see the Hammer Velo fellas riding together and riding smart. Hugh came up with a 5th place finish with his teammates all around him. Getting to the podium next week! The sky really cleared up as we departed the venue.

Drew's BB2 race report - A reptilian-state war of attrition

Sun Breaks, Heavy Rain, strong wind gusts, hail, and snow . . . what do they have in common? What we all experienced today at BB2. A real test. I am still, after showering, cleaning out my ears. My bike is covered in road grime (those of you cleaning, be sure to use soap and water and a soft hand).

There was zero problem finding parking this week. Rolled in, parked and dressed. We saw John Lin in his car recovering from his race. He did not look good. Angela was shivering like mad. I took no notice. Breezy, light showers . . . no worries, I thought to myself. Little did I know what was in store. The 4/5 Masters group was the biggest of the day. We rolled up and out and we maintained the "neutral" vibe for quite a while. As we all got soaked - water in the face, water up the back and water from above - it became obvious that this was a war of attrition. My right index finger froze over by the time we got to the dam. I got this . . . if it stays like this. Cool. Alas, I was only fooling myself.

About 1K into the race Richard hit the first pothole dead square. I was just back and right of him and one of his bottles flew out and damn near ended my day right there. Rich shook his head and cursed for the next 10 minutes. Bad omen. I decided to track Chris. Another finger went numb.

It wasn't long before mother nature decided to throw everything she had at us. Test our resolve. Then came the hail and the winds. As we crossed the dam I was almost blown into the guardrail. I tucked in between some big guys and cruised along. Drinking was a mixture of Endurolyte Fizz and Road Grit. Nasty. Every time we passed over the dam we got a different type of weather. "Why the eff are we doing this?" some racer yelled at me when it was snowing on one pass. "So that we can say we did it." I replied. "That's right," he replied, "Good story on a warm day in July". EXACTLY.

Things progressed well. I settled into that sort of soaked, cold, reptillian state that comes under such conditions and ground out the miles. Kevin, Hugh and Chris were always right there and we always chased down what went out. HV kept the peloton in tact and we raced along.

Slowly I began to lose feeling in virtually all of my fingers. Chris, who was suffering from the same calamity, said it best at one point, "I CAN'T FREAKING SHIFT!!" For those of you who are into the whole Shimano/Campy/SRAM discussion, let me tell you, as a current rider of SRAM Red shifters that I was desperately wishing for my 7800 DA shifters. Red takes a certain feel and finesse which is beautiful when you can actually feel your fingers. I think my pinky was working and the rest of my numb sausages kept getting stuck in the paddle. When shifting the FD, I had to keep looking down to see if the shift had happened because I couldn't feel anything. Weird. I had to club the right shifter to sort of get what I wanted in the back. The full throw of the DA would've been really nice with frozen hands.

By the time we got to the final 200 m, we were all fubar (except the Bellovaci United guy who tore away with 6 miles to go, without any sort of leggings, shoe covers, etc. and crushed us - what's he on?). I had started to cramp early in lap 4 and was super tenative on every stroke. In the end I didn't listen to what Chris Smith had discovered last week, let them break early, let them crack and then go. I was one who went early, felt my legs fill with lead and had a furious saddled spin "sprint" finish with some guy. I got across the line to Angela's and John cheering me on.

All I could think about was, Get to my car . . . don't hurl . . . get to my car. I had to have someone help me get my key out of my pocket and I have never shivered that much in my life.

Finished. Goal met. My hands are still funky as I type this. Great ass-kicking HV. Can't wait for BB3.

Tedder's Adventure in Echo

Well Angela, Hugh, Jon and Bryan all met me at PACE at 6am and we loaded up and off we went. The trip over was good until we got popped for speeding around Biggs for going 82...oops....was not really trying to speed just got busy talking and once the big red machine gets rolling it's a nice smooth ride at 80 : )...oh well, my first ticket in atleast 15 years. So back on the road. We got to the race in plenty of time to get our packets and get dressed but I guess that I forgot or did not want to warm up, oops again.

We had a good group in the Cat 2 race at the head of the race, once they cut us loose on the gravel it was race on and my HR red lined almost immediately. I sat in and held on at the back of the lead bunch but was suffering horribly at this point. However, once we hit the trail I slowly started to recover and started passing a few people. About 10 or 15 minutes in I rolled up on the back of Ian and Jon that were leading a group of guys. This group ended up being second on the trail as a lead group had ridden off the front aways after we hit the single track. I sat in for a few minutes and really started feeling good. Then I made my move and went out around Jon and Ian and the group and attacked like hell. Maybe 5 minutes later I caught the front group and looked back, and Jon and Ian's group was nowhere in sight. It worked perfect for me because it was hard passing and I made the move at the right time.

I was feeling real good for about the next half of the race - legs and lungs were great and everyone was in close sight of me.

Time for some road kill : )

I passed about 5 or 6 guys and again attacked like hell to put a gap on them, then came to a part on the course that the trail was running along another trail up above us about 30 feel or so. I was alone at this point and I saw 2 guys on the upper trail. Then I started playing mind games - did I miss a turn??? WTF,...why are they up there, I turned around and did not see anyone on the lower trail where I was. A little uncertain, I started riding across through the bushes to the other trail, then stopped dead, thinking NO that can't be right and I stood there for maybe 15 seconds or so. THEN all the guys I just passed started coming on the lower trail where I was....oops.  I was on the right path after all - the upper path was the PRO/Cat 1 loop. So by the time I got back on the trail I was back behind all those guys again, CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So passed them all back again. But 10 minutes later, at the highest point on the course, I had a flat rear tire, I am sure from riding off trail to cross over to the other trail. So needless to say I was not happy and pulled over. The wind was blowing so hard trying to fit a tube into a tire was like stuffing a wet noodle up a rats ass. It was not working so well but finally, after screaming and cussing for 6 or 7 minutes, I got about 15 pounds of air into my tire and said good enough and off I went. By then I had been passed by god-knows how many people. Off I went on an adrenalinbe-fueled chase, mushy tire and all. I passed numerous people hoping to salvage a top 10 finish.

Most of the 2nd half of the race was spent out of the saddle fearing I was going to flat again in the rear with so little air. Once I hit the trail head and the gravel road the wind coming in our face going up the gravel climb was so fierce I was doing about 3 or 4 MPH I think. Even then I was passing a few people.

Once I hit the top of the climb one of the fast PRO guys rolled by me, I jumped on his wheel and off we went. It was maybe 4 or 5 hundred meters and then we turned kinda of away from the wind for the rest of the gravel section and we were flying. I was glued to him so tight there was no way I was getting dropped off his wheel. We were passing guys like there were going backwards it seemed, he pulled me all the way to the finish line and I said THANK YOU!!!!!!

I ended up 11th. Happy with the way I felt and my fitness for sure but was bummed with that after I was 3rd at this race last year and sitting in prime position this year. After seeing the results, I was about 6 minutes back from the winner and I stood on the side of the trail at least that long fiddling around with my tube and wheel in the 40 MPH winds.

Oh well, onward and upward. It was a fun day for sure. Great job to all that raced this weekend - it was a good weekend for Hammer Velo.

Monday, February 27, 2012

"I am a rational human being, after all, not a neanderthal" - Jon Lin reporting from Cherry Pie

2011 was quite a generous year for me in terms of bike racing. I was in good spirits going into Cherry Pie for sure, and I wanted to spread the joy; so, I picked up our team's favorite junior rider, Ian Mastenbrook, at his house so he could watch and take photos of my splendor!!!

The skies were semi-open and it wasn't unbearably cold. It was slightly windy, which gave me an excuse to rub some MAX WARMTH embrocation on my chest. Actually, do I need any excuse to rub embrocation on my body? Matt Smith and I seem to echo this pretty loudly and give each other the knowing head nod each time the distinct waft of embro is in the air. Maybe someday everyone will understand the pleasure that is embro.

Time to line up! I didn't get a chance to warm up, but I figured the neutral roll out would pretty much be my ghetto warm up.

After the neutral car pulled off, a rider in black ATTACKED immediately. What Would John Lin Do????? Flippin' go with him!!!! We got a pretty good gap on the field and were trading pulls. After about 1 mile, I thought to myself, "What the F' am I doing???" This attack is seriously not going to stick. Another 1/2 mile goes by, and our lead car, kinda pulls to the side and the driver points their arm out the window and motions to a side road (we thought...) My break-away mate takes a sudden left turn on to this side road, and nearly takes me out in the process. Some course volunteers ended up yelling that we were going the wrong way; so, we slowed down and continued on the main road.

Mr. break-away was not done pounding his chest, Neanderthal-like; so, he hammered it back to the fast pace that we set before our directional troubles. As you can guess, the peloton gained a bunch of the separation back. I was super pissed off at this point, and figured that it would be smarter to just wait until the pack ate me up. I am a rational human being, after all, not a neanderthal.

It was pretty smooth sailing once I got back in the pack. There were these two consecutive turns close to half way into the course that I had to sprint back up to speed to catch the pack after everyone slowed for the corners. Other than that, the first lap went okay. The pain experienced for the rest of the first lap was definitely bare-able after my failed breakaway attempt. Immediately after those two right turns on the ending uphill of the lap came a very welcomed downhill. I surveyed the road ahead, and I noticed a pack of 15 or so of riders with about a 1 minute gap. Not good. Not good at all.

Since this was a downhill, I knew I had to find the biggest, tallest, rider to draft down the hill (when is Bryan when you need him?) I found about 3 suitable specimens and sucked their wheels like a good 140 lb'er. They didn't do me too much good when the road got flat; so, I dropped them quick....kinda like how all those girls who I dated last year dropped my sorry ass. Oh....let's not go there.....haha......I traded pulls with some other guys who tagged on to the bigger riders, and we were reeling in the pack of 15 or so. Honestly, this part of the race HURT more than the breakaway. I didn't know whether the race was on the line at this point; so, I buried myself. Better safe than sorry.

I eventually caught back on, and I think that about 3/4th of the riders got back eventually also. There were a couple of breakaways on the second lap, but each one was successfully reeled in. Let's fast forward to the two-right-turn-finish.

I was around mid pack or so for the first right turn onto the hill finish. The pace was fast, but not too crazy. The road kind levels out and descends slightly after this first right turn after the hill; so, I found a bigger rider again to draft off of. The moment of truth came...the final right turn onto the hill finish!! My heart was already beating 1,000,000 beats per minute cause I was so damn nervous. Did my heart have anything left? I ended up passing a decent amount of riders up the hill, as they were dropping like flies. No rider ended up passing me up the hill, but I did feel like passing out after the finish.

I don't know how well I did. I'll let OBRA be the judge of that. I had a successful race, and I hope that everyone else who was out there today had at least some fun!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

John's take on the Silverton State Champs road race (and beautiful women)

There are two things that scare the hell outta me: beautiful women and road racing. One of them breaks your heart, while the other breaks you physically. Having either of those things happen to you is not fun, for sure. I'd probably rather have my heart broken then have road rash from a crash. Anyways, up until today, I've been a weenie and not given group road racing a shot. I wasn't too sure what compelled to me choose the Silverton Road Race, but I'm sure a lot of people could say the same thing about their boyfriends/girlfriends/wives/husbands.

Pre-race: I had to pee twice. I chalk that up to nerves. I was torn between just sitting in my car until race time or warming up by riding a few of the hills close to the start. I did a combo of the two, but totally regretted not warming up some more. I felt ever more nerves when I was lined up at the start and saw all the blingy $5,000 carbon bikes.

Race: The start was a downhill and then basically uphill for a handful of miles. I felt comfortable going down the first hill on the first lap and started to gain some confidence. I was in the front 1/3 of the pack and had a good feeling. Towards the end of the first downhill, a hear "Pssshhhh". Someone around me got a flat, but I had trouble gauging whether the culprit was behind or ahead of me. I got my answer in about 3 seconds, as the pack started to flow around a Team Oregon guy with a mushed-to-the-ground front tire. I braked and made the split second decision to weave to the right of the Team Oregon guy and the right edge of the road. The pack wasn't far ahead; so, I just sprinted to the last few guys in the pack.

This threw me off my game a little bit, but I tried to regain some composure. The uphill now began, and the pace was pretty friggin' fast. The pack seemed to slow then speed up on the uphills. This annoyed the heck outta me and eventually the gap between me and the guys in the front pack became too insurmountable. There were about 10 or 15 guys behind me; so, I figured I could join a handful of guys behind me and work to get back to the pack. Not a good fall back plan, as it turns about.

After about 1 mile of riding alone, a charming chap dressed in the green and white of Guinness comes up along side of me with a West End rider in-tow. Yippee! Here is our chance! Actually, not really cause the West End rider dropped off .5 miles later; so, it was just me and the Guinness guy, Brian.

The follow-car for our category got within eye-sight after about 6 miles of pacelining, but our chances were more realistic than having my brother-in-law set me up on a blind date.

On the second lap, we passed about 4 riders who were on those blingy $5,000 carbon bikes. Evidently, these guys were the leaders on lap 1, but took a wrong turn and couldn't get back on. I got the feeling that these guys and their $5,000 bikes were going to wimp-out and just going to roll back to their cars; so, it was just Brian and me again. I wanted to HTFU and finish the race; so off we went!! Brian and I ended up riding together to the end.

Post race: I ate a banana. I parked next to two cows and I was amazed at how loud and human-like they can moo. I saw Kevin and suggested at he warm up to avoid the early race disaster that I had. I didn't stick around for the end of Kevin's race, but I'm sure he did good!!!