more than just another bike blog

Thursday, May 31, 2007

a weekend in the country

what does a bike coach do for vacation? I'm not one for sitting on the beach with an umbrella drink, so usually I go somewhere and get a big block of miles under the belt. this weekend was no exception. I joined a local triathlon coach's training camp in sonoma wine country, with the goal of riding 300 miles in 3 days.

one of my tri-flow racers had planned to join me, but at the last minute she cancelled, so with two days to spare I invited my friend Hans. although he's primarily a mtn biker, he's super-fit and does a fair amount of road riding, too, so I knew he'd do fine. and at 6'3" he's a hella-draft, which I would undoubtedly need if I planned to keep up with the boys.

the weekend was simply fabulous! the weather was perfect -- not too hot, foggy only in the early morning hours, and windy only on the last day. the training group was small and we ended up only riding with them (for one silly reason or another) for part of the first day.

we were based out of the Sebastopol Inn (in Sebastopol). Friday evening after the long, slow drive from San Mateo, we checked in and then headed over to Bodgea Bay for a sunset dinner at The Tides. it was one of the oddest sunsets I'd ever experienced. although the evening was clear, the sunset was almost devoid of color -- literally a black and white sunset.

day one took us into wine country. the entire group stayed together at a reasonable pace for the first hour or so. I rode up front with the coach, not wanting to sit on the wheel of some random triathlete on a TT bike (they don't shift very often and get way too surgey for my taste). the pace picked up after the first hour and I was happy to hang with the guys until the last climb when someone attacked and about half the group followed. unfortunately, I had to work to stay with the group and didn't get enough calories in (which would come back to haunt me later in the day). we had an organized rest stop @ 40 miles. most of the group planned to do the hilly 100+ mile route, but Hans and I opted to do the 70ish mile route through wine country. by mile 50, my lack of calories hit hard and by mile 60 I was bonked in a way I hadn't done in many, many years. Hans pulled my ass to Sebastopol but it sure wasn't pretty. we rolled around trying to find somewhere to eat an early dinner and finally found a thai restaurant with outdoor seating -- just what the doctor ordered. after an early dinner (or would that be a late lunch) a soak in the hot tub and a sit by the pool, we cleaned up all pretty to join the group for our second dinner at a local cafe.

day two we opted to ride to Occidental and then out to Cazadero. we got a late start so we didn't ride with the group at all on day two. rather than ride an out & back (which was the planned route), we put together a great loop based on the maps provided by the coach. we lingered for a bit in Occidental, drinking iced chai tea (yeah, it's vacation) and doing a bit of window shopping. then on to Cazadero for a quick stop at the bakery.

we had planned to take Old Cazadero Highway, but when we found it there was a sign saying the road was closed. but we decided to cross the bridge and make the climb anyways -- worst case scenario we would have to turn back, right? we climbed the first mile or so and it was a bear -- 15-25% grades the entire way. with my gearing, that meant standing, grunting, and trying not to cry (or swear at Hans). after the first mile, the road turned to dirt and appeared to be a bit less steep. I was game to try to ride it but Hans decided it would be best to turn around -- wimp! dinner was at the same restaurant as the night before, and we weren't excited about that so we opted out of the group dinner and headed out for a fabulous dinner at the local brewpub. besides, we kept smelling burgers grilling during our ride and where better to get a burger (and a spinach salad) than the local brewpub, right?

day three was a loop to Pt. Reyes Station with various options for shorter loops. at dinner the night before (which we missed), the group decided to depart an hour earlier in the morning. of course, we didn't know this, so as we're packing up and loading the car, we see the group rolling out -- WTF? the coach remained back to wait for one other rider (who never showed), so the three of us rolled together. we took Bohemian Highway to Occidental (a beautiful route) and then turned onto Coleman Valley Road. at this point the coach rode on ahead to try to catch the group and Hans and I enjoyed the verdent valleys, the cows, llamas, turkey vultures, goats, sheep, and wildflowers. I'd ridden this road a dozen or so times in the past and know how hilly it is (with many 15% and higher grades). however, in all these rides, I'd never done it on a clear, fogless day. wow! stunning views greeted us as we descended into Bodgea Bay.

we inadvertantly detoured (yes, we missed a turn) and took an alternate route into Tomales with killer climbs (25% on several occassions). the Tomales Bakery was closed but we were able to get sweets and ice cream and Gatorade at the deli. we sat in the sun enjoying the day, chatting with other cyclists, and discussing our route options. Hans even struck up a conversation with a dutch couple touring CA in their caravan (aka RV). Hans is from Holland and speaks fluent dutch so it was fun to listen in and guess what they were talking about. after enjoying our break, we decided to opt for the 70 mile route rather than the 110 mile route. given the wind and the fact that we would rather get back to Sebastopol feeling good (not dead), it was the right choice. we ended the ride with a stop at a fabulous mexican restaurant, another dip in the hot tub, and some time at the pool before driving back to San Mateo.

all in all a great weekend! we logged 193 miles in 3 days -- 13 hours on the bike, 12,000' of climbing, and about 6,000 calories burned!

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

happy birthday, mrs. fletcher!


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

love is in the air

every spring, a little finchy-bird and her boy-toy nest in the candle lanterns on my patio. this year was no exception. about a month ago momma and pops began gathering "stuff" to fill the glass lantern and make a comfy nest. given the height of the lantern, I couldn't really see what was happening in the nest, but the activity level of both momma and pops had increased last week so I knew the time was near.

I was away for the long weekend and this morning I noticed momma was "feeding" the nest. so I stood up on the patio chair and sneaked a peek -- four little fuzzy-headed baby finches were getting a feed from momma. and on the patio up a story (and next door), I keep hearing what seems to be some hungry birdies. thank goodness my little nest are sleepy and quiet!


Sunday, May 20, 2007

another sprint finish

this has been the season of sprint finishes for me at CCCX. I won the sprint in my last two races by only a bike length. unfortunately, neither of these sprints have been for the win. but yesterday's race provided the most exciting, tactical game of cat & mouse I've ever played. let's just say I'm quite the assertive cat.

and yes, that's snool covered in sandy dust on my face. H-O-T!!!

congratulations, as always, to all my fabulous teammates who represented at the race -- Erin (1st), Janet (7th), and Lauren (12th). and big congrats to my client, Stacy, for her first win this season -- she was a woman on fire!

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

spam? phishing? fan mail?

Date: Thu, 17 May 2007 07:06:57 +0200
Subject: Please


My name is Piotr Haase. I am 31 years old. I live in a little village in Poland, together with my wife Kate and two sons Albert and Adrian. We are happy and we lead quiet live. I have been Team Velo Girls fan .

I really admire you and I think you are very good in that what you do.

I was wandering if you could. Send me Velo Teams autograph.

I would be grateful.

Thank you in advance.

Your sincelery

Piotr Haase



Sunday, May 13, 2007

like a virgin

how often to you get to do something you've never done before?

I've been riding a bike a long time. there aren't a lot of things I haven't tried at least once. but yesterday during the race, I did something I'd never done.

I like to descend, especially on long, steep, straight descents where I can get a lot of speed. but because of my gearing (compact cranks with a 13-29 cassette), I spin out at a relatively low speed. so, I've become pretty good at a severe tuck and am able to descend a lot faster than other riders who are in a more upright position. I guess having a fast bike and a higher body weight than other riders helps, too. I'm not crazy enough to put my hands on the tops like a true hot-dog, but I'll dip into the drops, sit on the nose of my saddle, and really get as low as my big body allows.

yesterday's race was completely miserable for me, from the moment I got out of bed until the minute I finally got off the bike. so I wanted to make the misery as short as possible. my climbing sucked so I had to make up some time on my descents. in the midst of a tuck, I suddenly found my chin on the bar. yup! I've never done that before, and I realized that I didn't really like it. on the bumpy road, I just kept envisioning that I would hit a bump and bite my tongue off. silly me, but that's what was going through my head.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

a little whine with dinner

berkeley hills road race -- that just sucked. not much more to say except my legs hurt from the moment I got on the bike. am I not recovered? maybe not. after a demanding race last sunday I had a hard training week along with little sleep, poor nutrition, and too many hours on my feet because I scheduled 14 bike fits this week. was it the crash? I think I might've torn something in my left leg. it doesn't feel good. my hamstrings aren't engaging at all -- phooey -- and my quads just plain hurt! or was it just a bad day? or the curse of the three evil bears?

all I have to say is thank goodness there aren't very many days that my legs feel that bad. tired legs I understand. empty legs, no problem. but painful legs just plain suck.

the only redeeming aspect of the day was that even with crap legs I raced faster than the last time I did berkeley hills in 2004.

on another positive note, my girls did great!

and, I got to ride with Teddy for a bit and he gave me a packet of the new top-secret GU.

I'll post some photos soon.


Friday, May 11, 2007

when good legs go bad (and other friday afternoon ramblings)

it's been a long, busy week. between clients, training, and life, I haven't had much time to breathe. yesterday I rode Skegg's Point with Sam and it was a beautiful, perfect day filled with sunshine and wildflowers. I'm still not recovered from Wildflower and I got almost no sleep the night before, so my focus was off. combine that with the fact that I'm not a very skilled mtn biker, and it's no surprise I had a pretty fantabulous crash. it was one of those low-speed affairs where you struggle to keep your balance. gravity won and I nailed myself bigtime with both legs on the top tube. in addition to some beautiful bruising I think I might've torn something. I'm bummed because I've got great legs right now but the pain on my ride this morning was pretty severe and my power is way down. Berkeley Hills should be a treat tomorrow! arnica, arnica, arnica. the bruises are lovely and should do wonders for my dating life!

I've been drinking too much coffee and also suffering insomnia. it's a viscious cycle -- I can't sleep so I'm tired and because I'm tired I drink coffee. you would think I could get a lot of work done being awake until 3:00am but my mind is foggy so I just read blogs and shop (trips, races, music, etc). last night I downloaded 200 songs from iTunes and I named the playlist the insomnia mix. good stuff: arctic monkeys, the bird and the bee, fallout boy, incubus, joseph arthur and the lonely astronauts, kaiser chiefs, muse, my chemical romance, peter bjorn & john, plain white t's, the raconteurs, system of a down, travis, and a pretty awesome album of goth remixes of depeche mode.

I need an IT person. my wireless internet was toast this week and I spent way too many hours trying to fix it myself. I was finally successful, but it would be great if I had someone I could call who knows mac and cycling software and parallels and wireless and whatever.

Julie needed dental work. not really dental work like braces or crowns or fillings, but just a good old fashioned cleaning. I used to try brushing her teeth with one of those little finger toothbrushes and toothpaste that tastes like chicken or peanut butter but she just licked it off. and I haven't been giving her chewy snacks (just carrots which are good for her eyes but do nothing for her teeth) because I don't want her to get fat. so yesterday she went for her cleaning and the doc extracted one of her baby teeth that never fell out. hundreds of dollars!!! yeah, they use anesthesia and everything. I told her last night that we'd be brushing her teeth every night from now on.

I lost my favorite barrette at Wildflower. I've looked at a bunch of shops and can't find one like it anywhere. I went to Peninsula Beauty Supply yesterday and picked up a couple of substandard replacements and some Dirty Girl Roll-on Body Glitter. they have a full selection of Kama Sutra products, too! good to know.

we each got a big-ass plaque for winning wildflower. and a yellow tech-t (like the malloit jeune). and a medal. I like the medal. I gave the t to my dog sitter. and I have no idea what to do with the plaque. it's butt-ugly. it's just a copy of the ad for the event with a litle brass plate on it that says we won. it won't work with all the other plaques on my wall. maybe I'll give it to our bike shop sponsor. is it wrong to give it away just because it's ugly? and how do you spell plaque?

it's difficult to type your blog while eating corn on the cob.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

race report on the way (I promise)

I started my race report on Monday but I'm T-I-R-E-D and sooooo busy this week. Hopefully I can finish it tonight.

Here's a little something to tide you over until then. Apparently there used to be a naked water stop on the long course (staffed by Cal Poly students). After that was eliminated, the students began a tradition of taking a Saturday evening "streak" through all the campsites. Like a moth to a flame, I tried not to look but couldn't help myself. There were boys and girls and things jiggling that shouldn't jiggle. The oddest was a young asian boy who was completely hairless, except a tropical pubic forest. Ewwww!

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

pretty in pink

Speedgoat Bicycles in holding their annual pink bike raffle to benefit The Breast Cancer Fund. Cool bike.

Clickity-click for tix -- and help a great organization (located in the bay area).

I found out earlier this spring that my older sister, Susan, has breast cancer. I've added her to a growing list of women who have or are currently battling this disease.

I've decided that each of us will either have breast cancer or know someone close to us who does, so please do what you can to help. Schweet bike, great cause!

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

we won!

that's cool. more tomorrow. I'm really tired now.

oh, I cut over 10 minutes from my bike split from Wednesday -- yay me. I rode hard and had just about a perfect race.

another oh, apparently we not only won the masters women relay, we also beat all the non-masters women by over 10 minutes!

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Friday, May 04, 2007

more wildflower prep

pick up clean bike from bike shop -- check!

sleeping bag -- check!

trainer -- check!

pinata -- check!

tortillas -- check!

salsa -- check!

since Kim and I are driving down tomorrow (and we both were pretty free today), Janet tasked us with bringing Saturday's dinner. we originally decided on a traditional pasta-kinda meal, but then creativity struck and I persuaded Kim that we should celebrate Cinco de Mayo, complete with pinata and mexican music on the ipod. so, tonight I'm chopping tomatos and cooking chicken and beef. maybe I'll pack later.


Thursday, May 03, 2007

free speed (or how to make your bike light and aero)

step #1 -- clean it. okay, I keep my bikes pretty clean, but digging a pound of gunk out of the pulley wheels will definitely make you go faster.

step #2 -- change from heavy powertap training wheels to carbon tubulars. while I'd love to pace with power on Sunday, I'd rather use my super-slick race wheels.

step #3 -- remove the saddle bag (small but heavy with one tube, 2 CO2 cartridges, 1 CO2 adaptor, 2 tire levers, a patch kit and a pair of tweezers).

step #4 -- remove two of three computers. yeah, I don't need a bike computer with cadence, a powertap, and the garmin. not only do they add weight, but the cables make the bike less aero (even though I've got them taped to the down tube). don't forget to remove spoke and crank magnets, too!

step #5 -- remove one bottle cage. yeah, I'd like to do this race on Sunday without a bottle, but the reality is that I don't deal with heat well and having a little caloric boost will just make me faster. and, there is evidence that having one bottle is more aero than having no bottles.

step #6 -- add wings!!!

so, my 18.5 pound bike (with all the excess crap) weighed in at just under 16 pounds -- not bad for a tall girl.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

it sounded like such a great idea in january

one of my teammates wanted to put together a relay team for the Wildflower Triathlon. I jumped at the chance! afterall, it would break up the monotony of mtn bike and road racing, and there are really hot guys who do tri and you get to see them half naked. and Wildflower is a big party -- a weekend of camping and racing and debauchery, right?

yeah, right! Wildflower is a big hoo-haw (no, not that hoo-haw, VB). it's expensive (all tri's are), it's a logistical challenge, it's a hard course. yeah, that's right! the course is friggin' hard! it's hilly and windy and bumpy.

so, today I decided to head down to lovely Lake San Antonio and pre-ride the course. I wanted to decide which bike to race (tt or road), gearing, pacing, etc. and it was going to rain in the bay area and be sunny there, so why not?

the course is definitely challenging. you begin with a one-mile 9% climb out of the transistion area and then lots of "rollers." the rollers aren't really rolling, but who's complaining. there are definitely some challenging grades but also some nice descents where you can easily hit 40+ mph. and the pavemnt's not that bad. and I saw 1,000s of turkey vultures and 100s of deer (most laying down -- I think they get fed well at good old Lake San Antonio). of course, there will be 1,000s of moving obstacles (ie other riders) on race day.

long story short, not recovered from last night's intervals, with no warm-up, with nothing aero or lightweight on my bike, in a big-ass swirly cross-wind, wearing a shimmel and my bibs blowing in the wind (oops), I beat last year's winning masters women's relay bike split by almost a minute and I was 4 minutes off the pace for the 2005 winner (in a year when there was no wind). can't wait to see what I can do with the carbon tubulars, skinsuit, booties, spaceballs helmet and fresh legs!

amazingly enough, this isn't my kind of course -- I logged almost 1,900' of climbing with many of the climbs settling in at 9-10%. or maybe it is my kind of course now.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

when the esthetician said it wouldn't hurt.....

......she was lying!!!


And how was your Tuesday?