STP 2011 – One day redux

3:15 in the morning is still dark. It’s before the alarm, and I’ve only had about 3.5 hours of real sleep, interrupted once by people outside on the street.

Getting dressed, including the ritual of the “butt wax” (chamois butter), migrating laundry, eating, emptying the dishwasher, loading the dishwasher, feeding the cats, letting the cat out, trying to get the cat back in, packing the last minute things into my bag and doing the last minute check of the bike… somehow it all gets done by 4:20 and we’re in the garage putting gear on our bikes. Rob cycles up to my house, having stayed at friend’s house just a few blocks away. We leave our bags in the garage for Sharlyn to pick up (Thanks Sharlyn!), I run into the house for that inevitable “one last thing I forgot”, I lock the garage and we’re on our way.

The birds are chirping. The sky is lightening. Still the streets are dark and quiet.

We meet up with Bill at 25th and the Burke Gillman, he had gotten there just seconds before. We ride to the start – Stephen’s new front and rear lights fall off as we go over some bumps as we enter Montlake and a car runs over his tail light.

Anthony and Steve, coldWe connected up with Anthony and Steve G “where the espresso stand used to be” – as Rob goes off to drop his bag on the truck. Anthony and his crew are in front of us, we figure out how to connect.

“Are you excited” says the guy over the loudspeaker? Yes, really, but mostly kind of chilly and nervous about my recently sprained ankle and just wanting to go. At least this is better than 2 years ago, I’m better trained and not riding on a bruise the size of a cell phone.

The start is slow, as usual. Someone bumps into the curb as we leave the Montlake parking lot. First bike down… not an auspicious start to the ride.

I get a phone call, there was an issue with some of the Portland crew Anthony knows, and they are behind us. We figure they’re faster than us and will catch up at REI. I can’t find Mitchel or Brad – I figure they’re going to start later and will just zoom passed at some point (it turns out they were in front of us and we had NO chance of ever seeing them. Brad finished in just over 12 hours. Mitchel had a great ride speed wise, but also was a ride ref and had to stay with the 8 accidents he saw. He finished at around 6:45pm).

But even as we climb the tiny little hill on Brooklyn from Pacific to Campus Parkway, I’m noticing something. The hill doesn’t bug me, I’m not winded and I don’t have to downshift.

SunriseOur one siting of Michael LIt gets bright over the Cascades as we are making our way along Lake Washington Blvd, but we don’t see the full sunrise this time until we hit Rainier Blvd. Michael in his flannel shirt, cotton socks and gardening gloves catches up briefly to us as we are climbing up from Lake WA to Rainier, he hangs with Stephen and then we never see him again. Apparently he finished his first STP, in one day, in about 12 hours. Amazing.

I know we’re about 1/2 way to REI… I eat half a bag of sharkies and hand the other half to Stephen.

Skateboarders In the Kent Valley we see two things: the skateboarders who started at 3:30 am and another accident – an unhappy guy who obviously had a broken shoulder/collar bone/something being tended to by medics.

At REI One day riding is great for a few reasons but one of them is getting to the REI food stop early and getting your pick of the Odwalla and the semi fresh sanicans. Can’t emphasize the importance of the latter. I eat a 1/2 banana, a whole odwalla chocolate protein, grab a bagel and throw it into my bento box. We hooked back up with Anthony (who had shed his coat and was now flying the PPTM jersey), Steve G & the Portland crew. Average speed to REI was 16.6mph, and we were at the rest stop about 10 minutes total.

We had a really nice pace/paceline going through the valley, through Puyallup. Steve’s rear water bottle carrier shattered in front of me after hitting a bump and he lost a water bottle and half of the carrier, but no one got hit by the debris. We didn’t go back for the bottle either. It was one of many things we saw on the road – bike lights, bottles, sunglasses… you could collect a bounty if you took the time.

I ate half a NuGo bar as we turn into Puyallup, and the other half as we pass the mini stop. I knew the hill was coming and I wanted to have something in the tank for that, plus we were about 1/2 the way from Kent to Spanaway. I feel like I did reasonably well on The Hill because I didn’t make everyone wait as long as I thought they’d have to! It only took me a song and a half on my speakers to get up it… Not many people passed me either. So I was pretty happy about that. I ate the mini bagel at the top. (Average speed to Spanaway was 16.8mph).

In the line at Spanaway. Grabbing food as we canAt Spanaway we stacked our bikes against the fence with Stephen’s remark “bike stacking is the corollary to bin packing.” I grabbed some cookies and rice crispy treat packets and stuffed them into my jersey, ate an oreo, a few oranges, pretzels, and a yummy Jamba juice. The bathroom line was long but the sanicans – really, for sanicans I can’t complain (and I hate sanicans). Unfortunately the lines were longer and we were here about 20 minutes though. I still think the better thing to do is to skip Spanaway and go 2 blocks to the Safeway around the corner to the bathrooms but I’ve never done it. Then again, had I done that I’d miss the Jamba juice…

The next section is back behind Ft Lewis and we didn’t really have much trouble with it – just fast and flat, taking turns pulling. Anthony, Steve and crew pulled ahead, but we figured we’d catch up eventually. Average speed to McKenna was 18.1mph, where we stopped for just a few minutes to pick up some Vitamin I and hit the bathrooms (no lines!). We hooked back up with “Legs” Lamarca and crew again. I ate something here, one of the rice crispy treats I think, I’m not sure. I also remembered to start putting sunscreen on my lips…

The next section of the ride is that Yelm Tenino trail – people have really mixed feelings on this. On one hand, it’s SO much nicer than years ago having to ride on the road next to it and dealing with the cars. On the other hand – 10,000 people on bikes going between 15-25mph on a skinny trail with “posts” in the middle (the posts were removed and this year they at least had some yellow cardboard or something covering the post holes – in past years it was either the post or the holes)…. it’s kind of crazy. In past years I’ve seen at least one or two accidents along this spot. This year we saw a bad one – a guy lying perpendicular to the trail with a group of people around him. We had to really slow down and put our feet down to get by. I heard someone asking “do you know where you are” and someone else calling 911, so I felt like it was ok to keep going. Still it gets you shaken a little bit.

Average speed for the 17 miles from McKenna to Tenino (including the trail): 18.1mph.

PPTM in TeninoAt Tenino I pulled into our “usual” spot under the trees and yup, there was Anthony again. I love that we’re creatures of habit. At least this time he wasn’t asleep like a few years ago. I got three cookies from the bake sale folks (the cookies there are GREAT), I ate one, gave one away, and saved one for later. We filled up water bottles. Some used the rest rooms but the lines were long so I wanted to wait until Centralia. We stayed about 15 minutes. Longer than I wanted, but we were still making good time.

The next section was 13 miles, mostly down hill to Centralia and we averaged 17.5 mph – although our speed before hitting the stop lights in Centralia was 18.5. The photographers were in a slightly different place this year – not taking photos with the red barn behind us – I’m wondering what they’ll turn out like. But we were in a nice paceline as they were firing away. I bet they got some good shots.

Creamsicles!We arrived at the college around 11:30 with about 5:45 ride time under our belts. We at our creamsicles (YUM!), drank our chocolate milk, got our free one day food, got in the line for the one day sani-cans. In line for the bathrooms, someone says to Stephen “That’s the nerdiest jersey I’ve ever seen!” I talked with Linda at this point who told me she had just supported Mitchel who had just left Centralia about 10 minutes ago, was in Chahalis, and she was still over by the highway. I told her we probably didn’t need support until Oregon, but we would check in between now and then. Anthony, Steve G, Boyd and the Portland crew left and we said we’d catch up with them at least by St Helens. Rob left to use the bathrooms at the shorter lines in Chehalis and we’d catch up. We only stayed in Centralia 25 minutes total – down from the almost hour I stayed last time. If you’re really trying to save time you don’t get your support here – you grab the creamsicles and go find support other places. It just takes too long.

The tenor of the ride changes once you’re passed Centralia or Chahalis on the one day ride. First off it’s a LOT less crowded. Also it’s getting hot. The winds get “squirrelly” even if you had a tail wind for most of the ride to this point because your cutting back and forth across the valley. Also on a two day ride it’s about the social aspect, like the riders of the fat tire bikes we saw early on, stopping for longer at each stop, chatting more on the pacelines. If you’re on a one day ride it’s about making sure you’re gear is good, eating at the right times, spinning your legs, metering your heart rate or watts, watching the pedals in front of you and keeping the sticky side down.

We caught up with Rob somewhere in the valley but before the Napavine hill. Actually of all the hills on STP, Napavine is my least favorite, particularly on one day. It’s hot. It’s exposed. It’s just a long drag. One two days there’s fresh baked bread for sale at the top. One day I guess there is but I missed it. We stopped so Stephen and Bill could get more water. I overheard some other guys talking about gu packets, and thought about eating something but I didn’t because I was full from lunch and that was my mistake. Instead I drank some accelerade and stretched my leg to try to relieve the pinch point/numbness in my left ring toe which was already starting. Our average speed from Centralia to Napavine was 15.6mph and we were literally only there for 5 minutes.

The EggNapavine to Winlock was pretty easy and I insisted that we needed a picture of Bill with the Egg (no STP is complete without your picture with the Egg!). It turns out a) we just missed the Winlock Egg Days and b) speedy Brad has gone through there countless times and had no clue there was a giant egg there. We stopped for coffee at the espresso stand. I was hungry (I needed the protein in the iced soy latte) and more than that I needed a caffeine boost. I was so desperate I even got a double. The extra ice went into my accelerade bottle – the heat from the road was starting to make that taste nasty. I also ate my other Tenino cookie. Bill didn’t partake of the coffee but was apparently tempted by the smells of the BBQ. Average speed to Winlock was 18.2mph and we were there about 10 minutes, with the coffee stop. I also checked in with Linda at some point in here – she told me when she was going to be in Vader, I told her I’d look for her but not to wait if she didn’t see us.

Winlock to Vader was surprisingly quick (it is only about 7 miles and it took us only 23 minutes (18.4mph average). I wanted to stop to stretch my foot out again, someone needed the bathroom, we put on sunscreen. We were here 10 minutes but it seemed much longer. Particularly when you immediately have to start up the “hill that no one tells you about” right away.

Up and over. Then up and over more rollers. Then into Castle Rock another 10 miles away. I did a quick scan to see if I saw Anthony & crew, or even Linda, or Joan and Paul (who were driving my van down and had texted they were just passing the Vader stop a bit before this). It took us 36 minutes to get there, averaging 16.6 miles an hour on the rollers and hills. We stayed at least 15 minutes here – eating (as an after thought I ate the rice crispy treat), refilling water bottles, using the REAL bathrooms, I reapplied chamois butter, stretching out to un-numb my toes, and then wet my buff down and put it back under my helmet. I checked in with Linda, who just decided she’d meet us at Goble – I was thankful for that.

St. Helens to Lexington was another 1/2 hour at an average of 16.2mph (I blame the rollers and the heat). Just before the turn into Lexington we were stopped by an ambulance pulling away and a bicycle on the side of the road. Only later did we find out that someone had a heart attack and they were taking him, eventually, to Harborview. Sad and scary to see a fellow cyclist taken off like that. It just gives me pause and I hope he is ok.

And then there were 4... at LexingtonWe turned into the park and there we see Sharlyn and Helen! Helen was even brave enough to hug her sweaty dad. Usually there’s pretty good food at Lexington – it was a little light this time and there were no turkey wraps by the time we got there. I was bummed and had a PB&J but they still had roast beef. The trick, I told Stephen, is to take off your helmet and use it to carry all the food. He had a serious case of hat head under there… We stayed 20 minutes to eat (sandwich, fruit, and I saved the pretzels), relax, stretched the toes again (which were numb again), recharge my garmin… I kept dropping things on the ground at this point. I get so clutzy when I’m tired. I called and left a message for Anthony – just to let him know where we were. I figured we wouldn’t see him again at this point. I called to let Linda know we were leaving Lexington.

Stephen and Bill on approachOregonI knew that last time I got into Oregon at 4:45 pm. I was on track to do better this time, but I had hoped to do even better than we were. Particularly with the tail wind I thought we could get across by 4pm. We hit a huge headwind going towards the bridge – which is a good sign, meaning we’d have a great tail wind once we got across into Oregon. But still Bill and Stephen were tired, and I had aerobars and they did not. I jumped out ahead before I knew it and waited for them at the light before the approach. The bridge was just a slow slog up and over because your single file (as opposed to two day riders who go up in waves). You’re as fast as the person in front of you, for better or for worse. Spin and just get there. Our average speed from Lexington into Oregon was 14.3, to Goble was 15.9 mph. The 17 miles took us just over an hour… and somewhere in here we lost Rob…

Linda and CokeLinda, true to her word, met us in Goble with oreos, potato chips and thankfully coke. Now I don’t drink coke but I was totally craving it the last time I rode and it was no where to be found passed the gas station as you get off the bridge. But here I was, drinking, no chugging, this cold, black, sweet, salty liquid and loving it. We did stay here about 20 minutes, I used the bathroom (with no line!), stretched to reset the toes again, I ate 2 oreos and some chips. We refilled our water bottles. I charged my garmin again (every little bit helped). Even Stephen had a coke, and he doesn’t drink coke. We thanked Linda and were back on our way.

Bill and a mountainRoute 30 in Oregon is usually pretty nasty. Late in the day there is a lot of traffic, but at least it’s cooler because the sun is behind most of the hills and trees. It makes it almost bearable – particularly when you’re going down into some of the valleys near some water. It’s cool, the air feels crisp, particularly on your skin that’s been baking in the sun all day. I was fired up on caffeine and sugar. It took us 45 minutes to do the next 13 miles at 18.1 mph. We stopped at St. Helens, just briefly (10 minutes), I ate my pretzels (from Lexington), and someone used the bathroom. Bill went under the sprinklers and said it felt really nice. We couldn’t figure out where Rob was. (Rob withdrew at St. Helens with stomach issues. He’s fine; we saw him Sunday morning at breakfast and gave him a ride back to Seattle.)

We saw Mt. St. Helens, Mt Adams, Mt Hood, all covered in snow and looking gorgeous. Not a cloud in the sky. We did see many of the same riders over and over – for instance we kept leapfrogging a tandem team (and their support vehicle) with “Jolly Roger” pirate jerseys on them. Their support team kept passing us by and shaking their cowbells. Kind of the equivalent of your support team riding by and screaming “Nice butt” on Ragnar, it did feel good.

Shuffling off (13 miles) to Scapoose took us another 40 minutes at 18.7 mph. I was a little sad to think I wasn’t going to be meeting up with Erik, Joanna, Rich and my usual PPTM gang to ride into Portland together. I was surprised to see there was a bit of support there – but very few people. Linda pulled in to a driveway a few blocks down and we got more support (a little more food and more water). We only stayed about 10 minutes and a few of those were just helping poor Pucker (Linda and Mitchel’s dog) back in the truck after getting to stretch his legs. At this point we just wanted to be done. It was 18 more miles according to the cue book, including a new route over the St. Johns bridge. The end was in sight, so to speak.

St. John's bridgeThis was the only time getting back on the bike and spinning took a little more effort. Once on and going, I was fine… not sore (except for the stupid numb toes), but the legs were just a little…reluctant. I was a little worried about the climb onto the St. John’s bridge and how it would compare to what I affectionately call the F.U. Hill (by Montgomery park on the old route), particularly after *seeing* it as we approached. The climb was slow, but steady and not too steep, but really my legs were pretty tapped out.

The route on the other side of the river in NW Portland is MUCH nicer – the view is pretty, it’s shaded.

NW PortlandNW PortlandNW Portland

There’s a stretch with a 15mph sign that I got to blink at me for doing 18 (I found it in me to sprint, but couldn’t catch the picture in time… next time I will). Then we hit all the untimed stop lights. That was annoying. I think the route may be 2 miles longer than last year too. But the finish is mostly downhill, which is nice. We averaged 15.1mph but the last 18 miles took us almost an 1:15. We arrived at the finish line to get our 1 day tags just before 8:20 to see Paul, Joan, Steve G, Helen and Sharlyn on the right side of the finish shoot.

Finish

After getting our bags from Sharlyn and checking in and that WONDERFUL shower, we had a great meal (and I had 2 drinks!) at Andina. MMMM. Thanks to Brad, who had been in since 4pm, for organizing that. Breakfast was at the J&M Cafe the next morning.

Finished

Many many thanks to Paul and Joan for driving my van down and being my Oreo Fairies, Sharlyn and Helen for bag transport (and smiling faces in Lexington), and Linda for the support in Oregon. Big thanks to Silvia, Mitchel, Anthony, Steve, Stephen, Bill, Rob (and the Portland Crew) for their many hours of ride support (aka, allowing me to suck their wheels). Thanks to Elias and Matthew for putting up with my crazy training schedule. Big thanks to Stacia for her fantastic coaching and Neal Goldberg (Footworks PT) for putting my sprained ankle back together enough so I could do this.

And thank you to everyone for all your words of encouragement and support. Riding STP in one day is not a solo experience by any stretch of the imagination… I could not have done this (yes that’s the data) without you all. All the pictures are in my gallery.

First Track Race

I did my first track race with 12 of my closest friends. Wasn’t sure how my fitness and sprints would be, but no time like the present to find out.
We did three races: 10 lap point-per-lap, 8 lap scratch, and 5×4 points (20 laps where each 4th lap is worth a point).
First race, two guys went off early. I chased, and went off after a lap to let the guys behind continue. Unfortunately, the three JL Velo guys behind me were content to sit there – ugh! Well, turns out they were sitting for Koji, who would take the day’s omnium. I was gassed, so I just mailed it in.
Second race, I went from the get-go. I was a quarter-lap in front all by my lonesome for 4 laps of the 8. Turns out the JL Velo crew was content to see me suffer. They then reeled me in, and Koji again took the win.
Third race, I and Don (another random rider) had a plan to go on Lap 2 to see if we could do something. We did, but just towed the pack around. I sat in for most of the laps, then went at lap 6 to see if I could get some points. Nothing happening. I ended up leading for the last 3 laps until the end, with a pack finish.
Fun night. Didn’t win, but that’s OK – wanted to just figure out where I was compared to the field. Good news, I was in the mix. Bad news, just didn’t do much of anything.
Next up, tomorrow for PR hill climbing…

PR: Flats

2011 Pacific Raceways started with threatening skies… so what else is new? Flats, with a decent number of Bikesale guys riding Masters (David, Alan, Gordy, Barry, Laura, and I). However, we were completely unorganized. We rode around, and I got myself in position for a go at the first preme. However, as I swooped around the corner, I saw 2 KR guys with a nice lead-out going for it. I sat up and hopped in the chase, but they had the preme.

A few laps later, second preme… 3 guys were off the front, and I and a KR guy moved to chase. We drug the pack to them, and swallowed them up. The pack slowed up at the end of the drag strip, so I made a half-hearted attempt to go for the second preme. However, didn’t have that much gas, and a bunch of others did. I ducked in the back for the rest of the laps until the 2nd to last. At this point, moved up a bit, but saw the train for KR again, and nothing really for us. Half-sprinted to the end, but was tired and just rolled it in.

Good workout, but no teamwork… just lots of individual efforts. In 2 weeks, we’ll have to try and be a bit more organized; for example, putting together a lead-out train or two on the premes / final.

2011 Sequim #2

A forecast of partly sunny skies, no Mason #3 on Sunday… and it’s time for Sequim #2! This time, we had 11 Bikesale.com folks in the field of 89. Plenty of fresh legs, plenty of water (some with electolytes), and we’re good to go! For whatever reason though, this race was sketchier than last week. Lots of “slowing!” and the occasional bumping, although no crashes the four laps (although a decent number in the day, esp on the womens fields; more on that later). The first lap, Andrew (on Bikesale.com) and an Apex guy took off to the end, but couldn’t hold things. We caught them at the beginning of the first lap. Second lap wasn’t too exciting, although we saw an ambulance at the bottom of the second hill. I heard that 4 women were sent to the hospital in the AM – not good. Third lap, a bunch of us realized we best get to the front, and I managed to get myself in prime position among the top 6 or so people to start the fourth lap. Then, up the hill, I let people on the left and right swallow me, and before I know it, I’m back in the middle, fighting to get ahead. By this time, we were on the straightaway on Woodcock, with a light headwind. The pack was cruising about 20, as Eric Spring (another Bikesale.com) guy was being blocked on the front. He was keeping a slow pace, but nobody was getting impatient. Eventually an IJM guy did and stretched things out so some of us could move ahead, but too little too late. We rounded the final corner, most of us had crap position, and we semi-sprinted in among the traffic.

Top 20? 30? Well, once we got the results, I found out top 52! Ugh. Ah well, another pack finish.

My neighbor Brian was racing in the Masters AB, so while he did that, his wife Re, daughter, and Laura came up. We watched the first couple of laps, then we went to the Olympic Game Farm that’s in the center of the course. Wow – totally cool. A driving tour gets llamas, yaks, and elk coming up to the car for some bread. But even cooler are the animals behind the fences. There’s a lion, bengal tiger, siberian tiger, some timber wolves, a coyote, and about 20 bears – kodiak and black! Pretty impressive.

We came back to see the end of the Masters AB, but just saw the aftermath of the Women’s 1-2. Three women went down about the 200m mark, and there were 2 ambulances and 2 paramedics. Report was some road rash on one, but someone else was pretty beat up on her face, unfortunately. Oof…. the rough nature of bike racing.

Next week, blowing off IVRR and getting a rest week in time for OVRR the week after – another flat race for people like me!

2011 Sequim #1

MB Tour de DungMy 2011 season started with Sequim #1. In Seattle, it was raining… a lot. Forecast called for 80% chance of rain. Driving up at 6:30 (yay day before daylight savings time), drove through… rain. then, we get within 15 miles of Sequim… and the rain stops, the roads are dry, the grass on the side of the roads is brown… we’re in the rain shadow. I arrive at the start line, and it’s cold, overcast, and dry. Awesome. I love Sequim.

The line for the 4s and 5s race (separate races) was huge, so I got to work on the bike. Still racing this year on my Trek Madone. New this year is a Quarq CinQo Saturn power meter on VCRC Ceramic Bearings. I’m running some Zipp 303 tubies I picked up at the end of last year, with a new 11-23 SRAM RED cassette. I also picked up a Ritchey Carbon Streem bars for fun. Got it all set up, got checked in, and started warming up. The wheels felt heavy… for some reason they do – perhaps it’s the chip-seal. But otherwise, we’re good to go. I saw the 3s lining up, so hopped in right behind them so I and the rest of Bikesale.com could start in the front. It’s not the most important thing in Sequim, as there’s plenty of room to move, but it’s better to be in front than behind.

The race began, and after a short neutral, the lead car honked the horn. I was in 4th position, and Kirby, another Bikesale.com guy, was with me. As soon as we were no longer neutral, this big guy – 348 (which puts him as a cat 3… weird) goes. Um, ok… so we all chase him up the hill. Punchy, but not clear what he’s doing. He and a few others launch off a few attacks on the first two laps, and nothing’s going. People are content to let one person go… two or more, the pack chases.

I rest up on the 3rd lap in the first third / middle. On the fourth, I move up to the front. I’m cornering well (Zipps are doing great for that), doing well up the rollers (lifting during the off-season seems to have worked), so good to go. We get past the rumble strip and into the final 2km. I move to the front and try to duck in, but there are 3 JL Velo guys in front with 348 in 4th. After fighting a bit with 348 for 4th wheel, I let him take it and move into 4th, then we’re swallowed by the pack. I keep up, and as we corner, I’ve got good position. We’re riding 3 abreast, I’m 3rd row back – basically #7 if the first 9 are arranged like a phone keypad. Some bumping up the straightaway, but people were cool. We hit 200m… go time! Full on sprint. However, I’m cramping at the legs – both legs at the calves. I’m spinning as much as I can, but I can’t get the gear up and hold a top 10. I end up with 14th – not bad, but not what I wanted. But that’s OK – there’s always Sequim #2!

Seward Park, Cat 4/5, Clockwise

A day after racing a wet Carnation, I awoke at 6:30 AM to clear skies and dry pavement. Dragged myself out of bed, put on the knee warmers, base layer, kit, arm warmers, and vest, and hopped on the bike at 8:00 AM to head to Seward Park for the 9:00 AM 4/5 start time.

We had about 50 people in the race, so not too big. I was a bit surprised, given Carnation’s 76 person field and the proximity to Seattle. But hey, I’ll take it. Rather than start at the hairpin, the start / finish was down about 150 feet, so the finish was a long, downhill sprint after the corner. Still, first five through the corner really decide the placings.

I had a GREAT start to the crit. Lined up in the 3rd row, inched forward to the 2nd, on the far left side. We went off, and the left side was the one that went forward. Took a bit to clip in, but was able to maintain position with teammates and start taking the sweeper relatively fast. My momentum carried me through, and on 3-4 of the first bunch of laps I was moving towards the front on pure momentum – no work! We settled, and I ended up getting more winded on the hill than I’d like, which meant I found myself in the rear. I recovered, and would take the sweeper fast and just slot into a gap when the pack when up the hill. On the 3rd to last lap, for some reason the left side of the pack stopped up the hill. Not a crash, just a few people blowing up or something. I was on the right, so gained some good position. Still didn’t have enough energy to burst out of the corner with speed – lots of people would pass me there.

Anyway, second to last lap, in the middle, last lap, I have no energy, so finish towards the end. I let the main pack go, so they had a few seconds on me for the sprint. Here, no sense sprinting for 40th – plus I was tired!

All in all, a good race… need to do more Sewards next year if I can though!

Seward Park, Counter-Clockwise, 6:00

After a tough finish to Pacific Raceways, and with both Carnation and the actual Seward Crit coming up on the weekend, I decided to test my legs at Seward for a 45 minute race (as the 4/5 Seward race Saturday was 40 minutes). I was just aiming for pack finish. Due to 3 cars being parked along the road, we ended up doing the course counter-clockwise… not good for me. There were a few other Wines, Greg in particular. We started well and led for the first few laps. I even pulled up the hill on the 2nd or 3rd lap. However, I felt I was eating too much wind, so on a hill I drifted right and let about 8-9 people pass. Fatal mistake… I didn’t have the legs to climb, so I slowly drifted further back for the next 3 laps, until 15 minutes into it I found myself off the back. Did a few more laps until I got lapped and tried to hop back in – nope. Couldn’t catch up at all. Stopped off at the top for a rest, talked with Heather Lang (who also got dropped). She then tried to hop back, so I followed… neither of us had legs. So, we stopped near the finish to see how our teammates would do. Greg did well – kept towards the front, finished 6th in the sprint.

Didn’t feel too bad about bailing early – two races on the weekend, legs feeling tired… no sense killing myself for a pack finish now.

RSVP 2009

First, of course, the data from Day 1 and Day 2. Photos are here.

Ruben and set out at 6:25 and climbed up and over 65th just like last year. Friday morning was threatening rain, so we were dressed in pretty wet weather gear for a summer ride. We opted not to use the same Sherpa Service as last year as we figured out the Best Western is just 2 blocks from the Rodeway Inn in Bellingham. We got on the road around 6:50 in the morning.

We rode without stopping the full 28 miles until we hit Snohomish and had coffee, biscotti and a bran muffin. The only thing of note here was my realizing it was a Friday not Saturday as the construction work on Lake City way was going on and I saw a few commuters. The trail north of Snohomish was pretty much empty except for us riders. We had a quick stop in Lake Stevens to get some more road food, and use the sanicans, which because we were early in the ride were still clean. Gotta love that.

We opted not to stop in Arlington as we did last year, and continued on to Mt. Vernon. We hit some rain just to the east of Mt. Vernon for about 15 minutes – it was hard enough that I had to stop and put my electronics into baggies which we had remembered to bring.

The Mt. Vernon stop was practically empty and I was just starving at this point. Fortunately it was only sprinkling. I ate a half a bagel with PB&J, and tons of fruit and grabbed some crackers. I could have even eaten more, but we decided to move on and to find a coffee shop (out of the potential rain) or eat lunch in Bow. The route, however, doesn’t really go past any shops at this point. I did see an espresso place in Avon (small town to the West of Mt. Vernon), but we didn’t stop…

We were really lucky this year – the rainy weather brought us a tail wind through the Skagit Flats. There was a small stop at Bow, but it was 1:15, we had 20 miles left, we were hungry and I had heard good things about the Rhododendron Cafe. So we stopped and actually had a lunch. Two other cyclists were there with us, but they had cycled down from Bellingham just for lunch. The quote from them was “those guys have numbers, like they’re in jail”… Still they sat and watched riders go by for a while after they were done eating.

Service was a little slow, but the food was tasty… and the berry cobbler was quite good. We got back on the road around 2:30 and started the climb up Chuckanut drive. This year I could totally climb the hills and appreciate it – not feeling the constant pain of the hamstring tear. Our next stop was at Rocket Donuts in Bellingham about an hour later, and then onto the Best Western to pick up our bags and our hotel for some much needed clean up. Total for day 1: 112 miles riding, 7:25 ride time, 10 hours total time, 15.1 mph and 2 REALLY nice pit stops.

  

We had dinner in a pretty good Thai restaurant where we saw some other riders. During our conversation we mentioned we had stopped for lunch in Bow, took our time, etc. One guy said “oh that’s the way to do it, (pointing at his friend) – he wanted to be the first to Bellingham” (apparently they were actually second into Bellingham). So I said “well we did our intense riding earlier in the year when we did STP in one day, so this time we wanted to relax and enjoy the ride”… Hehe. Not many years I’ll be able to use THAT as a trump card :)

Day 2: we woke up again at 5:45, and got ready. We crammed a bad bowl of cereal courtesy of the hotel, checked out and rode to the bag drop off at the Best Western. Our plan was instead of heading back to McLeod and the route that way, we headed north on Meridian and west across Bakerview back to our route. We left at 6:35, and then stopped a few blocks down the road at a Walgreen’s and then at Woods Coffee – for coffee and a scone. Much better than the breakfast at the hotel. We were ostensible on the road by 7:15 – about 45 minutes after we had originally wanted to be, but happy we had found a good coffee shop.

The valley north of Bellingham is also beautiful and we had no wind… great for a morning riding. A detour had us go up and over a hill back to Hanegan road sooner than the cue sheet had listed. We passed our share of folks and were passed by a fair share, but the road was mostly empty. Having had breakfast already, we skipped the Dutch Mother in Lynden (although Ruben used the public restrooms) and kept going to the border.

I still get a chuckle about the ditch into Canada. Don’t cross it! (And yes, there was border patrol watching…)

This year the “Wall” (the big hill) was MUCH easier than last year, although this was the only time I even remotely felt my hamstring. It is better but not 100% (and I have to accept it may never be again).

It was sad that the ferry in Fort Langley wasn’t part of our ride this year… Ruben was especially sad since he did this just this spring. Instead we rode this very beautiful NEWLY paved road near the water for quite some time (and managed some great averages) and then went over the Golden Ears bridge – which was just gorgeous. The descent on the other side was a little odd (the sidewalk felt funny under the tires). The rest of the ride from this point feels “functional” – loads of city riding and traffic, but I still like the excellent park in Port Moody and want to take Elias there. We stopped there, had another little snack (I should have eaten more), then headed UP the hill on route 7A. Again, SO much easier than last year.

I was passed by a bunch of people, but eventually we caught up with them during all the stop and go of the bike way in Vancouver. Eventually we caught up to riders 1, 2 and 3 and rode in right behind them. Even though I registered on January 5 we were rider 1280 and 1281 respectively, I guess because RSVP sold out on Jan 6!

Ruben and I finished just around 1pm. Stats for day 2: 5:06 ride time, 6:30 hours total time (if you include breakfast at the coffee shop), 15.5 av speed. We got into the garage and found there were probably 50-75 MAYBE bikes down there. In fact we had made such good time and were so early that our bags weren’t ready. We did a lot of stretching and ate the burgers at the “party” while we waited. Eventually we got our bags and were among the first to shower. It felt awesome.

While waiting for my sister and hubby to come into town, we walked down Robson and caught the Zombie meet-up, walked with the zombies for a bit, then sat and had more snacks at a coffee shop around the corner from the finish line. Jacki and Ron showed up, we had dinner at a Malaysian place called the Banana Leaf restaurant (quite good), then headed home. There was 0 wait at the border, and we were home by 9:45pm.

I saw this quote on one of the message boards “Not only are there fewer cyclists on RSVP, since there is less support, there are fewer inexperienced cyclists. The slower riders may be slower, but they are more likely to know what they are doing and are more predictable. You’ll be able to more comfortably pass them.” (by Claire Petersky). It’s really true.

Seward Park, Counter-Clockwise, 5:30

On a rainy Thursday night, I decided to bike over to Seward for the twilight crit. How bad can it be?

Bad.

Not Pacific Raceways Crash-a-palooza bad, but still pretty rough.

We went counter-clockwise, which meant a fast downhill then a slow uphill. Because it was raining, they spiced up the race with a Win-and-Out format. After 9 laps, the sprint would decide who got first place. First place got to stop. Second and the rest… go on another lap. Six places deep, so 16 laps instead of the normal 15 for those of us not sprinting for the win.

Oof.

After about 8 laps? Perhaps 9? I found myself off the back with a group of 4 others. We generally stuck together and worked together, and didn’t get lapped by the other ~10 or so. But of course we didn’t see them slowly peel off. Ugh.

Lap 16, I took off after the downhill on a prideful breakaway. Not racing for anything but to be faster than those 4 I was with. Got away, stayed away… my own moral victory for zero points. But, felt good in the rain.

Then I rode home.

6:30 AM, I head out to Silvana for the Lake Washington Velo Circuit Race #1 – Skagit Flats.

7:20 AM, Everett. Something strikes me, and I reach into my bad and feel the shoes… SPDs! Aw crap, wrong shoes…

7:45 AM, Seattle. I arrive back at home, run in, get my shoes, and run out again.

8:35 AM, Silvana. Made it, good time, and didn’t hit any of the speeding traps in Lynnwood and Everett. Woof!

I’m #75 in a field of #75 (well, #76, as the unattached guy next to me also got in). We have 8 or so other Wines. Anyway, from the Boston Harbor experience, we were in the front, and I made a point of staying in the front to make sure I didn’t get bottled up again. Patrolled in the front covering breaks. We had one, and I let the recycled guys chase down Rich and another unattached. I tried one on lap 3, but it didn’t last long at all — too many people sprinting after turn #2. Lap #3 was a sprint lap, and while I wasn’t interested in the sprint points, I let too many people get ahead, and then I botched turn #2 again… ugh. Was in the middle / back. Turns out it was nice, as the pack was s…l…o…w… like 20 MPH slow, vs the ~24 – ~27 we were first few laps.

However, try as I might, I couldn’t worm my way forward. Argh…. for two and a half laps, I recovered nicely. Last lap, things sped up, but it didn’t really stretch out all that much past the corners, where everyone was already sprinting. Gah.

Pack finish. Fun race, had a good time. Think I’ll need to pay more attention in Carnation.