Monday, September 27, 2010

9.26.10 Col de la Columbiere

We launched a little late thanks to some late onset of jet lag my body decided to have. Went to bed at midnight last night and woke up at 4 and stared at the ceiling for an hour. I got out of bed and took a Melatonin trying to force feed my body to sleep. Evidently I need to drink more vino.

Ben had time to run to the bakery this morning and get a few tasty treats for the preride meal and we made ourselves a feast. Eggs, bacon, two pastries, some bread, fruit. I was thinking that’s plenty but I didn’t have near the foresight necessary for riding the Alps.

With our late start some guys were already head home; back to there lives, wives, and jobs. We got to the main intersection next to the lake near our apartment and we see this group of guys come flying in. Two of the guys had, I’m not shittin’ you, disc’s on they’re rear wheels. What in gods name were those dudes up too? They must have been up to a morning crush session with the boys around the lake. Music to my ears whoo whoo whoo whoo… Ben and I pealed out toward the Col of the day. But not before stopping and getting some air in our tires at the local bike rental shop.

I’m not lying. You leave our front door wander through town a little bit and it’s pretty much uphill from there. We must have climbed for the first two and half hours today to the top of the Col de la Columbiere. The country side is so beautiful here. So Majestic. They take such pride in their home and property. Everything is so well kept.

After climbing for about 45 min we road up on the sign that we have been planning to see. After days of travel and months of planning you see the sign that tells you that you are about to start one of climbs that the boys of the peleton don’t look fondly upon and it hits you. You’re in France. Riding through history. Men were made here, dreams came true on this very hill, men that I, you, look up to. It’s brilliant, gorgeous, tear jerking. It’s finally reality. What you’ve been watching on TV isn’t just on TV anymore. The suffering is reality, you finally understand why they wear the faces they do even when you aren’t conquering these climbs at break neck speeds.

There really isn’t anything like riding the Alps except riding the Alps. Don’t let anyone ever convince you otherwise. It’s like that saying that annoys me to no end “It’s like riding a bike” B.S. nothing is like riding a bike, nothing. Come ride them, climb with goats by your side, snow falling on the climbs, bone chilling descents. Mountains that have no slope just go straight up with these roads just tucked neatly into a very tight place. This place is like no other, make no mistake about it.

We dropped off the other side and even the descents are fabulous. It’s like they made the road for the cyclist. For the guy trying to reward himself for the millimeters of teeth he just ground off getting to the top of this monster. Fast and fluid, no need for breaks; just sit down and let ‘er fly.

After gaining nearing 4000’ feet in elevation you’d think the day was over but you’re in the Alps my friend. Come here expecting that you will end every ride with uphill and reward yourself with a downhill at some point. Our total ride today was just a hair under 140km with just about 2300 meters of climbing, with a running time of about 6.5 hours. A normal ride around here from what I can gather.

This was an epic second day on the bike for sure that I won’t soon forget, with pictures to prove it. Tomorrow is an easier day of meandering in the valley and climbing one or two smaller Col’s that still make any of the west hills look like cute little bumps in the road. Bike riders here are skinny and fast because there really isn’t any choice. You either know how to climb for 2 or 3 hours at a shot or you find something else to do with your time.

In the short time I’ve been here, the French haven’t been the nicest. I see what everyone, even Rick Steves, is talking about. But one thing that I must tip my hat to about the French, these people have figured out a way to coexist with cyclist on VERY narrow roads, on coming traffic, and dicey situations. I never once felt uncomfortable, never once got yelled at, never once got buzzed, and noone ever yelled “Go Lance“. How is it I ask you that a place much more densely populated then the U.S. has found a way for skinny little dudes on slow going bikes and cars going a touch under the speed of sound coexist. Bravo!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

9.25.10 Time Travel

The last couple of days of travel have set me up for success with regard to battling jet lag. I got 8 hours of sleep last night and I am good to go. I went out this morning and got some coffee, and breaky. I stopped at the market and got some fruit, bread, and eggs. I got my bike put together and it started to rain, surprise. I have full fenders and half inflated tires. Good enough, so I went for my first ride in France. It’s weird riding in another country. I don’t know what the rules are here. I rode on the road and no one said diddly to me. So I guess that’s ok. I found a trail out of town so I got on that and headed out. I had one guy say something to me but I had no idea what he was saying, he didn’t seem angry but all I could say was English, he shook his head and went on his way. I found a bike shop on my way back into town and got my tires filled properly. That was my first bit of Annecy. I suppose I will wait around for Ben and see what happens. Maybe go out and get into a bit of trouble tonight. We’ll see.

9.23.10 Fly to Amsterdam

Man what a cluster getting from Portland OR, to Annecy France. The Delta/KLM flight was a piece of cake, not stops or layovers to get extended . But I will never fly “EasyJet” they suck. My flight was delayed 3.5 hours which put me into Geneva 3.5 hours late. That meant the busses stopped running, that meant paying $250 more for a cab ride. That sucked! Not to mention having to lug this dam bike around everywhere. Mark my words. I did arrive in Annecy finally last night after midnight. When I got to the apartment Ben had left a key for me behind one of the downspouts on the building which has about 6 of them. I thought for sure at one point after looking behind 5 of them that I was going to be sleeping outside last night. But then of course there it was behind the 6th one. I stepped inside and it became clear to me that my adventure wasn’t over. This building was built in 1801 and had no elevator. What is ADA? There are some nice things about my country, not many but one of them is the requirement that buildings have a way to wheelchair foke up 3 flights, which can also be used as a way to get some skinny ass, lazy, american, and his 200 lbs of gear of 3 flights. Rather than using a narrow spiral staircase that I can barely fit up let alone a bike box. It was dark too so I could hardly see in front of my face. I set out to piece my way up to the apartment and made it up with all my gear, not before trying to, inadvertently, break into some unsuspecting old lady’s apartment. Really it’s a miracle that I am alive and here in Annecy with all my gear truly. But now that I am here it is awesome.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sad Day

The season is over. Well another season on the road is over. It’s time to get dizzy, dirty, and delinquent on the cross bike. But not before heading to France for some fridged beautiful climbs in the Alps and Pyrenees.
I finished the season in the middle of the pack at Eugene Celebration and found a new way to enjoy races. Instead of going off the front of the pack, going to the front of the pack and lifting the tempo to a punishing oxygen deficit pace. Create pain and discomfort for all to enjoy. I did that a little at Eugene at the Crit, and the road race. Note to self explore that more next season.
I have never felt like I did at the end of the season this year. During the road race we were clipping along on the first lap and people were getting organized during the first few laps as we do. Guys going off the front, guys chatting, guys moving to the front to avoid crashes. I tend to roll to the middle to find the guys I am going to talk with for most of day. Will and I found each other, and I suppose amoung 40 guys that isn’t tough. He and I have never had a cross word. Although we have annoyed each other at times for sure. We have come to some agreement and are descent friends with common goals now. We were chatting a bit and he mentioned that this was the last road race of the year. He actually said that "It almost brings a tear to my eye." I didn’t think about it, but ya, it does. It’s sad. The season is done and I’m disappointed. Usually by this time of year I am exhausted and done. But I kind of wish I had a few more road races left. I’m left instead looking back at the year and looking forward to the next.
I finished the year with 38 races between the track, mountain bike, road, and two stage races, with 3 DNF’s, and 8 top 5’s most of which came from the track. I finished the year pretty well on the track and revisited the short track on the MTB. Both of which I will mix in next year.
I’ve set goals for next year already. I’d like to log 800 hours between October’s and take cross to nationals in Bend. That will include the spring races, Cherry Blossom, and two other stage races. I still have my eyes on Elkhorn, then probably Cascade.
Not much more to say about my season. It was kind of blah because of illness, but a success in the end. I learned a great deal about what kind of rider I am. I defined my strengths and weakness with more clarity.
I hate to admit it but I am a sprinter, the results prove that. I am not a climber. So this winter will be spent leaning down and working on climbing faster. I will race to my strengths and train to my weaknesses. I also joined a new team this year. Team Oregon has picked me up and I am dawning there kit in 2011, I'll also be logging my midpack single speed finishes for Team O.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Eugene Celebration - Prologue

12:49, Slow and about middle 3rd of the bunch. It was an uphill prologue, fun and tough. I've never done a prologue before and it was not difficult to judge your effort. I just hovered this side of vomiting for as long as I could, which turned out to be 12' 49". I don't think a lot people understand though that for a 13' effort I put in a 2hr 30min ride. The warm up the cool down. It was a great day on the bike.

I absolutely love racing my bike and day after day of racing and relaxing. It's a tough life.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

OBRA State Road Championships 8.7.10

Well today wasn't much different than any other road race out there. There were hills, flats, wind, and a lot of pain! We started out with 36 riders. The weather was nice and at this point I have gotten used to riding/racing in the wind and it has become a nonissue. Climbing for some reason has become my foe for sure. I was in this race for all of about 5 miles. Just about then is when the road pitched up for about a mile and half and I went from pulling the field to watching those freaks in the front shatter the field. I dangled off the back for about half the climb and then saw them go over the crest and lost some motivation to try and bury myself with 65 miles to go. I figured the top was a bunch of rollers and wind so I could organize a group and start the chase. I am, at this point, so used to organizing chases that I am half decent at motivating people to work with me and stay the course when they have pulled the plug a dozen times in their head all ready. There is one thing that stands out about this race. I never quit or DNF'd in my head. I had no misconception about staying with them on that climb. I knew those skinny bastards would pin it on that climb, I just never figured they'd go so well on the flats and wind.

I could see groups in front of me organizing and new I had to catch them before it was one against many. I caught a Team O guy that was going well and we worked our selfs into a frenzy somewhere between ouch and passing out. We were closing in on a few of his guys and I thought we might have a chance to do better if some of his guys would join in. We picked up two of his guys and we worked our way through the shrapnel. as we moved through the distruction no one was willing to work. They had all given up and we(4) weren't even half way through the race. As we(4) closed in on a pretty big group I tried to motivate them into racing but the 6 or 8 of them had already pulled the cord and were just cruising back to the finish to dnf. Their negativity vortex sucked one our riders in. Then we were (3) again. When we approached the feed I knew I was in trouble we weren't half way through and I was half way through my liquids. I was trying to be good at staying up on my nutrition but I had only brought two bottles and I didn't have a neutral feed.

We dropped off the long descent, which was wide open, no breaks needed. We completed our first lap and we had picked up two more guys but they had decided drop out anyway and then we were 3. When we passed the finish line for the first time Candi said that were chasing 17 13min up the road. 13 min? F me! I am out of shape. I was guessing that was a lead group and chase 1 we were chase 2. Ouch. The guys I was with really wanted to push on and so did I. I came all this way to race and that's what I was going to do. I was seriously out of liquids by the time we road onto the first of two laps on the small circuit and cramping slightly. I was begging,and pleading for water from the Team O guys who had a feed. I was in a world of hurt by the second lap and started to cramp so bad that I had to get off my bike and stretch. I had never done that before. I'll be damned if I was going to push my bike. I caught up with the guys I was determined to finish with and we cruised across the finish line. I got 15th out of 36 starters and exactly half of our field DNF'd. It was a tough day on the bike for sure but isn't that bike racing?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Bird Phenomenon

Every spring something very weird happens to me. And if it's written here it has to have something to do with a bike, right?

Last Saturday while on my way home from my long ride I was passing by PIR. Wait I should back up a little bit. I was cruising down Marine Drive and listening to TAL. I had noticed that a bird was hovering above me and having difficulty maintaining its position in the wind. It's fluttering about is what I supposed attracted my eye to it. Now every spring for the past 5 years I've been the victim of a single solitary bird attack. Just one. This bird was making me nervous. I was keeping a very close eye on him. I remember thinking "oh shit here it comes," "this is it," "today is the day." I was hoping that it would be as benign as the rest had been. The bird to my surprise lost interest and flew off. Maybe that would be the attack, maybe I wouldn't have to worry about full contact wrestling with a bird this spring.

Back to PIR, cruising along, cooling down. I look to my right and see some black birds duking it out or playing or whatever they were doing but some impressive aerial maneuvers for sure. Deciding that I should pay attention where I was going, I focused my attention on the path in front of me. As soon as I took my eye off the birds I felt a breeze and heard a flapping and then my helmet got heavier and there was scratching and clawing and pecking. I turned real fast and swiped at whatever it was that was on me. When my eyes finally focused after whipping around it was a black bird bobbing and weaving, shucking and jiving, making quick work of me. Full contact bird wrestling, I couldn't escape it this year. I got away from where it didn't want me and it landed on a near by post to keep an eye on me. I was lucky I didn't wander out into traffic while defending myself from this unwarranted sneak attack.

Nature can be cruel sometimes.