Friday, December 5, 2008
I suppose it's time. I've had my Trek for 2 years now. It's not the perfect bike, but I really got tired of shopping around so I bought the only color they had, and it was all I could afford at the time. It's carried me over many miles and gotten me up some difficult climbs. It has now been fitted with fenders and flaps and is now the "rain bike". I think it's time for what KRhea calls the "uber-chick-rocket" lightweight climbing bike. It would be nice to have a bike that I love, one that looks good, and is fast, and one that I could ride as it's meant to be ridden. Yes, it's time. I just realized that I want to ride faster, be stronger. It's obviously the bike, right? It couldn't possibly be ME that's slow.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Numerous people offered advice and to loan me their jerseys. I'm overwhelmed. I was told my long-sleeved jersey would be way too hot. I stripped that off as well as the sugoi shirt underneath and Sal tossed me one of Heidi's short sleeved PV jerseys. Kender patiently pinned the number on for me, instructing me to "raise my hand as if I knew the answer in math class", which makes me laugh. Can't back out now - I'm wearing a number. Looking around to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything, I grabbed my gloves, helmet and bike, and rode over to the start. I saw some women riding around, and not knowing anything about the course, I started to follow, but Traci & Kristin yelled at me to hang out with them, so I complied. I'm amazed that I feel no urge to hurl, no nervous butterflies waiting for names to be called as all of the women's categories are lined up & then started. Cheered when they called Heidi's name and noted that her hair was already wet with sweat from warming up on the trainer. Warmup? I don't need to warm up, I thought. I'm only going to ride - maybe see if I can finish a lap. A whistle blows and I follow Traci - until she disappears into the throng of women. I hear someone yell my name. All I can do is focus on not falling as people pass me left and right. Great, I think. I'm so slow! I pedal through and wind around on a very bumpy section as everyone comments on how bumpy it is. I realize I am going to have to pass by the PV tent and am absolutely unprepared for the volume of noise as I do. Someone tells me "ride through the tent!" I have never heard so much simultaneous yelling of my name - it's deafening, but I like it and can't help smiling.
I decide not to dismount for the mushy barkdust speedbumps. I can handle that. Off to the bumpy section again and then around in circles until I realize I have completely forgotten everything I learned in the clinic I went to 2 months ago. I still manage to do a decent run through the 6-pack of barriers, or so I thought, at least the first time. Then after winding around a couple more circles, I see it. The ocean of mud in the famed "corral of crap". Ugh. I slog through as much as I can, managing to ride through most of it. I'm told the right side of the puddle is better. I trust no one and think that must be a lie. My shoes are soaked and my socks are caked with mud. People yelling at me the whole way to "ride it! ride it!" I try not to disappoint. My legs are already tired, and my breathing is much faster than I would like. Is my bike too small? Am I the only dork on a moutain bike? At some point I am riding with two other women who take turns passing me when I decide enough is enough and I must get around them. I don't see them again. On the second lap, I'm passed constantly - and I am grateful for all the words of encouragement "great job!" as well as the "on your left" as fast women on fancy 'cross bikes skillfully speed by me. I wonder if I am the last of the beginners. Better to be DFL than DNF, I think. Once again I make it past the PV tent and hear my name shouted by so many people I think I might burst into tears. It actually gives me a surge of energy and I try to go faster, attempting to catch some air on the bumps, but I don't. By the third lap, I no longer care about anything. The silence on the far part of the course is almost deafening and I wonder, is it over? If I quit now, would anyone know? I could just ride home on my muddy bike, or ride to the car. No one would know. They can't see me out here, how would they know where I am? Then I see J-Rod with his camera, Daryl shouts words of encouragement, even a girl leaning against the fence tells me "great job!" I smile and decide to finish, what have I got to lose? It becomes my only goal. So I head for my third trip into the dreaded mud pit of despair, hoping to emerge unscathed. The shouting is both helpful and distracting. Riding through the muck becomes completely impossible so I slog through, not possessing the energy to run. I accuse one guy of lying to me when he says I'm almost done. I can't make eye contact with anyone. The finish line is around the corner, I can hear it. I decide to remount for the occasion and at least not completely humiliate myself. I hear someone commenting on my Diamond Back and think better of asking him if he's making fun of my bike, because I don't care. I ride through the finish to cheers and then nonchalantly ride back to the tent and hang my bike on the rack. I'm greeted with high fives and hugs. I chug down the contents of my water bottle. Sierra takes pictures of me all muddy. I'm not as tired as I expected to be, but wonder how long everyone else has been done with their race, and then decide it doesn't matter. I finally collect myself enough to change back into my jeans and suddenly I'm ravenous. I drag Javad over with me to get some fries, which taste like the best food I have ever eaten. I stand around stuffing my face and decide this is the best team, the best day, ever. I can't wait to do it again - and maybe I'll actually try to race, not just finish, next time.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I'm already looking forward to next year's Tour. The route will be really interesting, starting in Monaco and going right into the Pyrenees.
Monday, September 22, 2008
After much trepidation, (and thanks to Matt for making my old mountain bike into a semi-decent 'cross machine), I showed up at the free 'cross clinic at the Hillsboro stadium on Thursday. After learning and practicing dismounts, remounts, etc. and riding around almost until it was too dark to see, I rode up next to Matt. "What did you think?" he asked. "Oh. My. God." I replied, "I've never had so much fun in my life!" Okay so it was a bit over-dramatic, but I felt like I was 12 years old on that bike. The only problem I have with dismounts is that when I unclip my left pedal, it usually clips back in, and then when I unclip the right and pull it through, I have to tweak my left foot to get the pedal out. So I'll have to try loosening the tension on the pedals a bit and maybe some WD-40. Anyway it was a blast!
I took my bike to Bend with me. Once I arrived at the Devil's Lake campground and set up my tent, I couldn't wait to get on my bike (especially after driving for 4 hours!) and ride around on the trails. I practiced dismounts, run-ups, remounts, etc. for about an hour while the people I was camping with watched me in disbelief. It was so much fun. I was pretty careful as we had a long difficult climb to do early the next morning so I didn't do anything crazy (not that I'm really confident enough to be capable of anything even remotely qualifying as craziness on my bike at this point).
Yesterday I went mountain biking on the river trail with Jennifer & Alyssa. I haven't done that in years, and honestly it was pretty cool to navigate my fat-tired bike (with no front shocks) around big rocks and over big tree roots and up hills on narrow trails. It's really beautiful along the Deschutes though, and I'm sure I've hiked there many times, but it looks really different when viewed from a bike! A few times when I didn't shift in time for an uphill or turn sharply enough, I had to unclip, but no biffs and I only had to lay the bike down once. On our way back, the dark clouds I had noticed halfway through the ride (thinking we had timed it just right and it would maybe just sprinkle on us a bit) just completely unleashed a torrential downpour on us. We cruised back to the car on trails that instantly turned into large mud puddles and poured ourselves into the car.
After that, a hot shower, dry warm clothes, soup & grilled cheese in front of the fireplace was in order. Then, it was time for a big cup of coffee - my first pumpkin spice latte' of the season to celebrate Fall - and a long drive home. Drove 190 miles in a little over 3 hours. Not bad!
I love mud.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Ah, the Tour. It's over until 2009. It always makes me feel so elated yet melancholy, like watching the Closing Ceremonies after the Olympic Games. But Beijing is only a few days away! That makes me realize that there is something to look forward to. It gives me hope.
Anyway, I was happy for Carlos Sastre, and I am proud of how the U.S. cyclists finished in the Tour this year - Christian Vande Velde in 5th (if only he hadn't crashed!), George Hincapie, Danny Pate, & Will Frischkorn. Next year will be even better when Astana is back, with Levii Leipheimer & Chris Horner (hopef.ully!) It was exciting to see the 4 stage wins by Mark Cavendish, though some of my favorite sprinters were missing (Paolo Bettini & Tom Boonen). This year the Tour was completely unpredictable from one stage to the next, but in the end, CSC-Saxo Bank epitomized how a team should ride in the Tour, and somewhat reminded me of the Discovery Channel years. They were unstoppable. Team Columbia and Team Garmin-Chipotle made very impressive debuts in their first appearance at the Tour as well.
As much as I would have liked to see Cadel Evans win after his close 2nd place finish last year, his legs just didn't seem to have the snap that they had early in the Tour this year. He wasn't quite the same after his crash, and his TT performance wasn't his best. I felt badly for him, especially since he was so emotional when he got to wear the yellow jersey. But it was still progress, and I don't think it's completely beyond the realm of possibility to see him on top of the podium. For now though, my favorites are headed to Beijing! Allez!~
Friday, July 25, 2008
Due to stoplights, etc. it took me almost an hour and a half, but I didn't officially get lost or have to backtrack this time (or cheat by taking Max from Goose Hollow to Washington Park). Actually riding up the hill is much more satisfying than taking the elevator!
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
What will I sell in order to save up for a new bike? (Do I really need furniture?)
In other news, I rode my bike again today. Well, okay, so I rode to the Max stop, but I'm riding the entire way home, hills and all, or at least that's the plan. It's hot outside.
I love both cycling AND the Olympics. What a great summer it will be watching the Tour and the 2008 Games! Plus the men's team includes favorites Levi Leipheimer, George Hincapie, Dave Zabriskie, Christian Vandevelde, and Jason McCartney. Only Chris Horner is missing...
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
So when I did, I thought of myself as a weekend, recreational cyclist. I remember telling a mechanic that someday I'd be a "real" cyclist, not really knowing what that meant. I suppose after two years of collecting various base layers, jerseys, shorts, tights, knickers, shoes, jackets, vests, arm warmers, leg warmers, hats, and gloves, I could potentially qualify. But what exactly is the criteria? Do I really ride often enough to be a real cyclist? Or is it more about quality than quantity? I'm not entirely sure. I know that there is definitely an intimidation factor for me any time I am around people who race, or commute by bike. Those are two classifications of cyclist that I most definitely am not. What's cool about the people I know who either race, commute by bike or both, is that they don't act as if they are in any way superior to anyone else. And I totally appreciate that, because I think they are awesome and wish I could be more like them!
So, is it the inventory of bikes one owns that qualifies a person as a real cyclist? If so, I officially have two, though I really only ride one. My poor old purple Black Diamond Ascent mountain bike, circa 1994, hangs lifelessly in my garage, knobby tires having been traded out for "road slicks" back in 2003 when I actually did ride my bike to work - a whole 2 miles. I know, impressive, huh? But sometimes after work I even took that heavy monster on some hills, and I did actually ride a 35-mile route of the Spring Century and a 55-mile route of the Pedal the Pinchot one year on that thing. I still can't believe I did that. I finally got so tired of that heavy bike that I just had to get a road bike. The difference is amazing - road bikes just fly.
One thing I have noticed is that since I've been riding, I pay so much more attention to roads when I'm driving. What I mean by that is when I'm driving on a winding, hilly road, I can't help but think "man, I'd love to ride my bike on this road!" I just love the rides out in the countryside with little or no car traffic and long climbs past farms with llamas, alpacas, cows, horses, chickens, and sheep.
I had a bike fitting today. I'm pleased to know that I have the correct size of frame (54cm) for my body geometry and a "nice cadence". I don't experience any major pain or discomfort (other than occasional foot cramping and shoulder tightness) on long rides. So all that was needed was to lower my stem by about 1 inch, as it was actually higher than my seat. Also new pedals will help. I'm excited to get some better cleats and hopefully some light shoes, but the Sidi Genius 5's are $239! I've never spent that much on a pair of shoes in my life. Ski boots, definitely, but not cycling shoes. I know it will be worth every penny, for the experiences I will have on the road. :-)
In other news: rumor has it that Levi Leipheimer will also be at the Cascade Classic along with Chris Horner, IF Astana doesn't get a last-minute invite to the Tour. Not likely, though I'd love to see Levi in the Tour again. But honestly, I hope to see them both in Bend!
How do I get over the intimidation factor of bike commuting? First of all I need a nice messenger bag, one that is comfortable to ride with, though I won't load it up with lots of heavy stuff. I'm not too excited about packing onto the Max with all the other unhappy commuting types. I don't really know my way around downtown by bike, but yeah I can drive through on my way home blindfolded. Downtown has stoplights, lots of car, bike & pedestrian traffic, streetcars, lightrail, and the dreaded TRAIN TRACKS. Oh, and bridges with narrow sidewalks. I just need to do it, because it kind of scares me. Soon. I promise.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
So - I started this to rant about whatever is going on in my brain regarding cycling, whether it is to rave about a great ride, contemplate what's going to happen in the Tour this year, or drool over hot guys with muscular, shaved legs and lycra skinsuits. ;-)
Anyway, I have to admit that I have watched both Specialized commericials (the ones featuring Tom Boonen or Paolo Bettini) several times. Even if I am watching something on Tivo, and I can fast forward through all the commercials, I always stop to watch those two. If only I could speak Italian...
I was SO elated for Levi Leipheimer to win the prologue of the Dauphine Libere! Don't even think about telling me who is winning each stage, I won't catch up until Sunday....