more than just another bike blog

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

it's like riding a bike -- part 6

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Monday, February 26, 2007

it's like riding a bike -- part 5

Sunday, February 25, 2007

it's like riding a bike -- part 4

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

it's like riding a bike -- part 3

Friday, February 23, 2007

it's like riding a bike -- part 2

Thursday, February 22, 2007

it's like riding a bike

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

play along at home week #4

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Monday, February 19, 2007

always the bridesmaid, never the bride

Yesterday was the second race in the central coast mountain bike series at Ft. Ord in Monterey.

My legs were worked on Saturday at our Tri-Flow training, probably due to standing on my feet (in heels) for many hours on Friday night. I was a super-model (bah!) at the Tour of California gala in Sausalito, and combined with all the standing, we didn't eat until about 10:30 that night, so I was tired, cranky, and my legs were killing me. Saturday morning we worked on race drills, and anytime I hit my high-end my legs would flush and burn. I was a bit concerned they wouldn't be recovered for Sunday's race.

I arrived at Ft. Ord with enough time to do one pre-ride lap as a warm-up and roll to the line without a minute to spare. The timing was actually great -- no waiting around and cooling down, although in the last ten minutes I was a bit worried I wouldn't make it to the line by the whistle. Knowing I wouldn't have time to make it to the porta-potty, I used the green door on the side of the trail, waiting for Jill and Al Painter to ride by -- they didn't. whew!

I was more nervous for the race this weeek than I was last week. I think it was because I suddenly felt pressure to do well again. What if last week's 2nd place finish was a fluke? what if I really did suck again like last year. what if a certain ex-Velo Girl who was rumored to be racing this week showed up and kicked my butt? What if? I tried to channel my nervousness into positive energy.

I got my usual good start and rolled up the hill. I didn't push myself as much as I usually do -- not sure why. And for the first time since I've been racing mtn bikes at Ft. Ord, no one passed me on the starting stretch. You see, I usually get a good gap in the first 45-60 seconds and then blow pretty badly and get passed by at least a few racers (sometimes a lot of racers). But this time no one passed me and I was first onto the single-track. As we hit the first early climb (aka "the hill"), I kept expecting women to pass me. I tried to make myself as big as possible, but since this climb is on double-track, there are other lines to pass. Again, no one passed me and I was shocked. I rolled through the finish in 1st and Rod called out my name as the leader.

During the first lap, I kept waiting for someone to pass me on the climbs. Unfortunately, most of the climbs are on wider terrain, so it's easy to pass. And since climbing is my weakness, this is a big disadvantage for me. Again, shock as no one passed me.

Being in the leader's position is unfamiliar territory for me. I wasn't exactly sure what to do. I wanted to keep going hard but not too hard so I blew or got sloppy. At one point, I missed my line and ended up off the trail into a big pile of mud. It took some time to right myself and get back on the trail. I expected Jody (last week's yellow-jacket girl who was in 2nd this week) to pass me at that point but she didn't. I would occassionally glance back to see her about 30 seconds or so behind me. Not far enough for me to become comfortable with my gap, which kept me super-motivated to keep going.

Heading into the finish area, I see Jody's family and hear them cheer for her behind me. As we approach "the hill," I again expect her to pass me but she doesn't. A guy who I'd passed earlier in the lap passes me, but I pass him back at the top. That's one of the interesting elements of mtn bike racing that I've had to learn to deal with. Because there are multiple fields on the course at the same time, you can sometimes hear someone behind (breathing, shifting, braking) but not know if that person is in your field or not.

Heading into the finish chute going into lap two, I'm still in 1st place, but Jody is just behind me. Rod says something about "this is where the battle is being waged" so I know I don't have much of a gap. Back up the hill and I again expect Jody to pass me. I push as hard as I can and somehow make it to the top still in first position.

Lap two was pretty sloppy. I decided that I could increase my gap if I increase my risks, so I'm riding like a crazy-woman. At one point, I completely miss the trail as it turns to the left and stay on the trail to the right. Of course, I then notice the tape and realize I've ridden right off the course. The tape is low there so I turn around and ride over the tape and back onto the trail. Thank goodness the tape doesn't catch in my cranks or derailleur and I'm back on the trail (and Jody hasn't passed me). A quick glance back and I don't see her so I'm feeling a little more confident about my gap.

Then back to "the hill." I've always hated this hill. But today I'm able to ride it in bigger gears than in the past. On the second lap (my 4th time up the hill including my warm-up lap), I bottom out to my 34. Not a good sign. I hear Jody's family cheering for her, but she doesn't pass me on the hill.

Lap three is more of the same. At this point I feel I know the course well enough to really jam on the technical elements and fly through the single-track. I don't see Jody when I glance back except on the long stretch of uphill pavement (and she's way back there). But, she sees me which is probably enough to motivate her to pick it up a notch. Somehow, I stay on the trail the entire lap even though I'm pushing it. As I round the bend before "the hill" I suddenly realize I could win the race.

Alas, as I'm climbing "the hill" Jody passes me. I look down at my bike computer -- one hour and 20 minutes -- I've been leading the entire race for one hour and 20 minutes (in what was to be a one hour and 23 minute race). Unbelievable. As she passes, I try to respond, but my legs just cramp up and I barely make it to the top without stopping. But the race isn't over yet. I know that anything can happen (Jody could flat or crash or miss a turn) and I don't give up. So I try my hardest to catch her before the finish. But it just wasn't good enough today and she beat me by 37 seconds.

Although I'm a bit disappointed, I'm still pretty happy. My results are better than last year, I've learned a lot about mtn bike tactics in the past two races, and I think I still have the potential to win a race. I'm sitting in 2nd place in the series (down by only two points) and my fitness is far from peak so there's hope yet. I seem to have solved the nutrition issue for this race and my energy was constant throughout. Actually, our last lap was faster than the first two so that's positive, unlike my complete loss of energy in the week prior. The only things I would've done differently would be to stay on the trail (which I blew twice) and reconsider a couple of gearing choices. Regarding the latter, there were a couple of climbs on the trail where I got stuck in my middle chain-ring, not wanting to risk dropping my chain by shifting mid-climb, so I had to grunt it out. I'm sure this burned my legs a bit and didn't help my climbing the last time up "the hill."

So, another shiny 2nd place medal. So close, and yet so far from that elusive win.

Congratulations to my teammates also racing yesterday! Elizabeth did great, in just her third mountain bike race, finishing top-ten in the beginner women's category. Jeanine gutted it out with the sport women even though she was having a cleat malfunction. And Jenny, who missed the start of the beginner women due to some time spent with CHP in the morning, decided to race with the sport women, knowing she didn't have time to finish the race before having to take her son to his sporting event. After two laps she was sitting fifth or sixth and just jamming!

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

you are cordially invited.... race the Tri-Flow Menlo Park Grand Prix.

Hey everybody! Please come race our crit. I know, no races for the 1s and 2s. But we've got separate races for the women 3s and 4s (and a master's podium to boot). Lots of masters men's races -- 35+ 1/2/3, 35+ 3/4, 45+/55+. And some other categories, too! After two weekends in Merced, you'll be happy to hang on the peninsula with 100s of lovely Velo Girls.

Registration opened today so give it a clickity-click!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

if you have to lose to anyone, it had better be a teammate!

what a day! what a race!

today was the first central coast mountain bike race of the season. Velo Girls plan to have a big presence at this series this year, and there were four of us racing today.

my goal was to win. that's always my goal, until something in my experience tells me that's an unreasonable goal. and since it's a new season and I feel good, I decided I would win today.

but it's been a crazy week and I haven't been on the bike and I can't remember the last time I was on the mountain bike and somehow I totally screwed up the schedule this morning and I arrived at ft. ord way too late and I didn't get a warm-up or a pre-ride and I don't have a lot of oomph in my legs because of my weight-loss nutrition and I can think of a hundred other excuses for poor performance. but instead, I just decided I would win!

at the line there are eight women and as many junior girls. the only familiar face I see is Ayshe Tuncer, who beat me in the series last year. I felt a little better racing beginner knowing that she had finished 2nd in the series and was racing beginner again too. heck, I've only done eight mtn bike races since July 2005, so I'm still a beginner. and I wanted to have a good season. after racing up a cat in cyclocross, I wanted the fulfillment that comes with placing well.

I've perfected the race start and I was off at the gun, first up the hill until the very top where my teammate Lesley rode up next to me and said "is it okay to pass the coach?" "of course, silly!" so Lesley takes off and Erin (my other teammate) follows her onto the single track. I think I was third wheel at this point, not completely deflated but not too happy either. at some point about mid-way through the first lap, another girl in a yellow jacket passes me so I'm now 4th wheel, but gapped from the other three. I decided it was now or never, so I hammered and caught up with the three racers riding in a line. Lesley is sitting on the leader's wheel when the girl attacks and passes some men. Lesley doesn't respond, so I say something to her but the gap gets bigger and bigger and there are three middle-aged beginner men between us and yellow-jacket girl. I decide this won't do, so I decide to make a move and pass Erin, then Lesley, and then sit on yellow-jacket girl's wheel. unbeknownst to me, I had pulled Lesley up too, but that's cool.

I sit quietly behind yellow-jacket girl, waiting to make my move. when the moment is right, I jump hard to the left, and just before I'm in her sight I hear "go, Lorri, good move!" from behind me. WTF? what happened to "speed, surprise, and separation?" as Lesley pulls up beside me, I tell her why we don't cheer when someone is attacking (she's a triathlete; they cheer). telling her this would have a crucial implication later in the race (of course, I didn't know that at the time).

we enter the last miles of the first lap with me in the lead. it's the first time in a race I've been able to yell "leader" as I was passing people -- cool! I led coming into the finish area and it was cool to hear my name announced as leader of the women's race. I hear Lesley (who weighs all of 90 pounds) pass me on the right on the big climb out of the finish area. I work hard to stay on her wheel but she gaps me a bit by the top. I'm able to catch her again but then she passes a couple of junior boys and they just sit in the middle of the track as I watch Lesley open her gap bigger and bigger. she remains in sight for most of the second lap, motivating me to push harder and harder. I sneak glances behind me and yellow jacket-girl is nowhere to be found, nor is any other woman racer.

beginning lap three, I'm still in 2nd, but feeling the effects of my low-calorie diet lately. my legs are starting to feel empty even though I've had a few hits of GU and been drinking as much as the course would allow. I catch myself slowing down and pick up the pace, but the motivation of chasing Lesley is gone. I remind myself that the rest of the field is still behind me and push as much as possible. I also remind myself that anything could happen to Lesley -- she could flat, crash, go off course, pull over to smoke a cigarette -- the race wasn't won until she crossed the line.

a mile from the finish, I glance at my computer and think to myself "I'm going to get second." half a mile from the finish, yellow-jacket girl comes flying by me on the left. I say "oh shit" and feel dejected for just an instant and then I hammer to get back on her wheel. I know that the only way to beat her is to pass her before the hairpins that will slow us both down. digging into my bag of tricks, I see a tight left turn, dive into it, and it slows her down just enough that I'm able to blow by her. I put my head down and motored for the last 200 meters, half expecting her to blow by me again before the finish line. I hear her family cheering for her and know she's not far behind. but as I approach the line, I don't see her and I know the battle for 2nd place has been won!

I wait at the finish for yellow-jacket girl and congratulate her on her race and her sly move passing me at the end. she says "I didn't realize how important the element of surprise is until I heard you tell your teammate." that's not the first time in my racing career that advice given to a teammate (within earshot of competitors) has come back to haunt me! I guess lessons are better left to the post-race discussion.

I sit down at the finish waiting for my teammate Erin to finish. Lesley is nowhere to be found. Erin comes in just a few minutes later in a solid 4th place -- in her first mountain bike race ever. Lesley then rides up and I congratulate her -- she didn't know she'd won!

It was a great day and I'm very happy with my fitness (especially since I'm primarily running and lifting right now). my technical skills were solid and my climbing is amazing! I think this was the hilliest CCCX course I've done, but my average speed was as fast as most of my flatter races last season. yeah, I still want to win one of these races, but if I have to lose to anyone, I'd rather it be a teammate!

I wore my shiny 2nd place medal home because medals are cool! I got home just in time to do a bike fit I had scheduled at 2:00 (stupid me). I was tempted to keep it on during the fit but decided that was a bit over the edge.

I don't care about prizes. but medals will remind you forever that you had a special day on the bike!

You can see the other photos of the race here -- photo gallery

Saturday, February 10, 2007

olfactory surprise

I'm racing the CCCX mtn bike race tomorrow. I can't remember the last time I was on my mtn bike. November? Sheesh! My mtn bike shoes were still muddy from something or other, so I brought them into the house to clean them off. After a good spray & brush, I stuffed them with towels and laid them out on a towel next to my bedroom heater. Yeah, it'll probably be wet at the race tomorrow, but no need to start out with wet feet.

Of course, I could've cleaned my shoes any day in the last two months. But it adds to my pre-race excitement to wait until the last possible minute!

As I'm sitting here, answering email, I hear Julie growling at something in the bedroom. Julie has a funny habit of growling at inanimate objects. She gets back on her haunches and just growls and stares. Usually at something like a drain pipe, a garbage can, or a big fallen branch. But, I've never heard her do this to anything in the house.

So, I go to see what she's growling at. As I appraoch the bedroom, I can smell a strange odor. What is it? I approach Julie and see that she's growling at my mtn bike shoes. And the stench gets stronger.

Yuck! That's watsonville fairgrounds mud (code word for horse shit). Now there's a race I'd hoped to forget. And I think my shoes are destined to smell like that race forever!

Time for new shoes.

Friday, February 09, 2007


Monday, February 05, 2007

no fun to eat just one!

criminy! at least they don't have 10,000 calories. what was I thinking? the entire tin was only 270 calories (whew). and they were darm good!

Friday, February 02, 2007

fun with photo booth

I'm loving my new macbook. yeah, I dumped all my files once. and my outlook is still on my old pc. and I still can't run the computrainer. but my macbook has lots of cool applications.

take photo booth for instance. there's a little tiny camera on my macbook and when you open photo booth you can take photos. you need good light because there's no flash, but the photo quality is actually pretty good. I will admit that it weirds me out a little because there's a slight time delay between your movement and the movement on the computer. my friend says if I get Skype we can make video calls.....we'll see if that ever happens.

but, photo booth is very entertaining. there are 18 different "effects" that you can use when shooting your photos. half of them are colorizing effects (sepia, black & white, x-ray, etc). but the other half are fun-house mirror effects.

and since I have nothing better to do with my life, I had a little fun. of course, I haven't figured out where my photo editing software is yet, so I couldn't make a collage like I wanted to. oh well.