Monday, April 20, 2009

4/19/09-End of the Old Columbia Gorge Highway

Sometimes I forget why it is that I ride. I often ride alone, listening to music, I prefer it that way, peaceful, and time to organize my thoughts. Sometimes I get back from a ride and I have a big smile on my face… like a crazy person. I sometimes tell people that it is the human experiment, training to race, fine tuning the body, the weight loss, the fuel in, the power out. Then I go on rides like today. A route I haven’t done since the pain in my neck set in over a year ago. Add in light winds, good music, sunny and warm. Then I realize why I smile when I ride, the views, the quiet, the euphoria of descending (however bad I am at it), the rythm of climbing, and the Zen of pain management. Then there is the sexy tan lines, the chiseled legs (I think Ty called them women’s legs, but the view he got was from behind me riding away from him on several climbs yesterday), and of course there is the obvious that I would have no excuse for shaving my legs if I didn’t ride.


A scheduled hard day. Our team is sponsored and in part an extension of a club Portland Velo. So the team rides out of Longbottoms coffee on the Westside every Saturday morning. But there are a bunch of groups that leave about the same time. Sometimes the same route as the team but all different paces, 15 mph to Hammer and Nails, and then us. As if Hammer and Nails wasn’t rough enough. Today was the Timber route an out and back that is one of a few rides we do that isn't 1000’ of climbing for every 10 miles, but close enough. 68 miles and fast. I wanted to test my legs to see how they would hold up against some of the toughest riders we have. I felt pretty good all 3.5 hours I was climbing with the lead group on the first climb and stayed with them through the descent I was happy with the pace and how I felt today. I remember looking back at Steve Brown at one point thinking “You know I have some legs left and I'm pulling these guys, I wonder how everyone else is feeling.” Let me tell you that sometimes you shouldn’t look back at riders sometimes their faces will tell you info that you didn’t want to know. These guys were just pacing the hill, me, and waiting for someone else to tow them up the hill. ALL of them had plenty of gas to go harder, but we played half wheel hell all the way to the turn around. The return trip was worse. I made the first group again on the climb and got dropped on the descent. I am a horrible descender. I am better than I used to be but still not as good as I need to be. The first switchback I was in the bunch and a touch of my breaks and was spit out the back. I spent the rest of the rollers trying to catch back on. I hooked up with Jason Flemming after he caught me at the bottom of the descent and we worked our asses off trying to catch back on but just as we got with in about 2 or 3 hundred yards someone went to the front of that 8 man group and started ripping everyone’s legs off shelled one rider and pull that group away from us. He put 1 min on us by the time we were back at the store. We regrouped at the store… and something fascinating happens at the interludes and at the end of our rides. We all stop and talk about how we put the hurt on one another, laugh about, and start it all over again, sometimes you’re the hammer sometimes you’re the nail. Good times. But we rolled out back to Longbottoms about an hour away. I knew that there were a few ex 1’s and a few 2’s in this group but not by name or recognition really. I now know that one of the guys I swear looks like Palo Bettini, Brian maybe. But I worked my way to the front for this last real bump in the road on the way home and it ended up working out perfect the guy right in front of me pealed off at the bottom of the climb and I hammered it with about everything I had. Ha, this Cat 1 guy was on my wheel at the bottom of the climb. I didn’t even look back, I didn’t hear any wheels, any heavy breathing, then just as I was about ¾ of the way up, I hear “I think we dropped some people”, I look back and that Cat 1 guy is just sittin’ on with a smile. Dam I can’t imagine what it must be like for pro's.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Stage 4 4/5/09

Woke up this morning around 6 am again actually that was when the alarm went off but I was up to take a leak at 5 (peeing like every hour during this race) two feet on the floor and stand up… Ouch, yep they hurt my legs were crying, and I couldn’t go back to sleep. I was anxious. Just laid there with my feet up trying to recover in the next two hours. I don’t have a negative thing to say about dopers in the Tour anymore. I get it. I have only had to race for three days and dope on my brother. If someone said hey if you take this one pill you won’t feel the pain anymore and no one will know, I'd say give me two. Wow. So the alarm goes off it’s Kanye bumpin’ “Good Mornin” nice. More coffee (if it’s good enough for Jens it’s good enough for me) cereal and some fig Newton’s (big fan of the fig Newton). Off to the race. I met up with Matt (aka Cousins) at the parking lot, I tell Matt you and me today 747 off the front baby.. Yeah right. I did my 40' warm up and the legs are feeling better now and I am sucking down water like it were go fast juice. We get to the line and we are getting our instructions, “...You’ll be doing two laps” and I am like, “Can we vote on that?” I got a chuckle for the bunch but I know everyone was secretly hoping he'd say yes, man this is going to hurt. But the boys were pretty good for the first 3 miles then they started to turn the screws when the pitch went up and boy does it go up. The freak show continues. What a climb. This would have been a beautiful ride if it weren’t a race. Man we were like 20 min into the race and just carnage. People getting shelled everywhere stong guys. I was staying in the cars. I just told myself stay in cars don’t let them get away. The front group just walked away tapping out a terrifying pace. But my goal was to hold my own today maybe move up a little and keep that sag car behind me. You truly find out about yourself in these races. I have no idea how I was staying on but off we went. That lead group was gone, out of sight, and I could hear that sag car nippin’ at my heels. I could see Mt View's, Wes, who I respect after the show he put on the first day, nice he can tow me to the top. He wanted no part of a reel in, I go by him. I could see Couzens up ahead fading to the back, my boy, my Tensing Norgay (sorry for the spelling) but he wasn’t feelin’ it just then so I went past him and just kept pickin’ my way through the shattered field trying to keep that sag in the rear. I looked back and saw Couzens just behind the sag car “Let’s go” and up he came but just as we crested the climb The sag went by. Dam. Down the descent and let me tell you that was sick. Touchin’ 50 mph at times 6” from some stranger, what a weird phenomenon. And just when I thought I had lost Wes, he comes up behind me towing a frickin caravan and went by me like I was going up hill. “Jump on” I couldn’t refuse. That SOB my not be able to climb a hill so fast but he can fall off one like you wouldn’t believe. I jumped on that train and let them pull me to the bottom. Back to the cars. Nice. Oh wait back up hill, there go the cars. Dam this race is hard. The group was trying to get organized some dead weight some guys with legs left people yelling “F@*# pull through” “Work!” “Get up there” I left that mess behind and started my own line up to the cars. We shelled the dead weight and were picking up more victims from the pace being set in front of us. We still had hope of catching back on.

The Rowena curves were unreal people were taking all kinds of risks on that descent. One guy took a corner too wide right in front of me and almost ended up over the guard rail. Risks for 20th place wow. Our group was growing all the way back to the finish and we stopped pushing hard once we found out we were the chase of the chase of the chase. We got civilized and tapped out a more reasonable pace all the way back to 7 mile hill all the while my legs just turning over like a program that didn’t know how to stop, but my brain saying shouldn’t we stop? That first pitch up ached a bunch and we our civilized pace went out the door. More carnage more pain. We were passing cat 3 guys now. There was just wreckage everywhere. I picked a tempo and sat there the whole way up sometime the puller sometimes the pullee. We picked up a good group of threes with us and made those bastards do all the work after we left Mosier a second time. Hey that’s what they get for having lower numbers than us. But as we went through Rowena the Cat 3's decided to race for 50th, good luck guys. And we just ran out a pace to the finish. It was good group to finish with Paul was in there and Matt and sorry if I am missing anyone else. But we just cruised in, happy to be alive and done.

I am pretty happy with where I finished given the company I was in. What a great race and a fun bunch of guys. I would do that race again anytime. Well give me a few days, my legs hurt.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Stage 3 Crit 4/4/09

Man that was fun… I guess only because I didn’t flat, or end up upside down. The first few laps were hard I could feel my legs begging for mercy but I got warmed up and started to feel pretty good. These guys showed up to race, I don't if anyone told these idiots that we have race tomorrow. Owee! I started in the back of the field and had to spend the entire race working my way up to the front, so really I was going faster than the leaders for most of the race. We were shelling people left and right I just had to keep working my way through the carnage. With five laps to go I took a couple breather laps and stayed up with the leaders. With three laps to go I found my self fading up to the front, now past the front wow I am taking a little flier off the front. Then thought wait I have to race tomorrow and back to the pack I went. As I came back I was minding my own business and some body tried to jump on my bike or something I don’t know what he was doing but we were helmet to helmet, elbow to elbow, shoulder to shoulder and too much of him was touching me I know that. I was just trying to stay up right. We were pushing on one another back and forth working our way back over to our respective bikes. WOW! Did that just happen. I some how didn't even lose position. I don’t even know how we just did that. I let my nerves calm I rested for a lap (well as much rest as you can get at 30mph with a head wind) tried to position myself for the sprint. We went around turn two and a guy clipped his pedal or something and swerved and then another guy swerved and then I swerved then the guy behind me had nowhere else to go but into the curb, curclunk, ouch! Everyone behaved themselves for the sprint and I ended up in the front somewhere not sure where. What a race.

But yeah today was a very fun day. I kind of like this part of stage racing. So first time trial today and first crit and both went well I think considering it all. Tomorrow is a new day and a whole new world of pain awaits.

Stage 2 TT 4/4/09

6 am alarm. Coffee fig newtons and a banana, is that even a breakfast? Look up my time, 8:40, oh shit. I gotta go. I headed out to The Dalles in such a hurry that I am lucky that I didn’t forget my bike. I ended up with everything I needed. Man it was cold this morning, 36, what the hell are we doin? But once the sun was up over the hills it was perfect mid fiddy’s and sunny. I got a good 50 min. of warm up and headed to the line. Wow cool some guy is standing there ready to hold up my bike for me. Nice! Oh before hand though I was asking people is there a wheel car for these races? What if we get a flat? Everyone was like, “That’s stupid, just don’t get a flat.” So now back to the line. It was pretty cool the guy was giving me a count down like at the Tours, you know the funny hand counting thing, all five digits, then no pinky, then no thumb, then no ring finger, then no middle finger, then point to go all while flip flopping his hand. I would be the assh0le lowering the index finger at 1. But I guess that's why I am on the bike. I was hammering pretty good feeling good for some reason and passed my 30” guy, make the turn, look at the time, nice 12:30, all down hill from here, coming up on my 1 min guy and what’s that? I feel squishy… wait is that my wheel I hear? SHIT! I have a flat on the descent. I was pissed. The corners were sketch riding on a wheel but what are you going to do. I hammered the straights and puckered on the corners. All I could hear was clunk clink clack. I think someone yelled hey you got a flat… thanks. I made it back safe and up right. I felt pretty good about it. Can’t wait to see the time. Off to the Crit.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Cherry Blossom Stage 1- 4/3/09

Man it is frickin’ cold out. Went for a spin this morning to make sure the bike was rolling right and check out the new chain, works ok except for the 11 is rough getting into, like I’ll need that today. Forecasts show 56 maybe some rain and oh yeah 20mph head wind, I hate wind. The people who say the wind is the same as hills are crazy, What about head wind and climbing, yeah… ‘cause that’s what we have today. We will be working on the descents today, hell there will be no descent today… god someone remind why this is fun. I better stop typing before I convince myself not to race. The legs feel good for now but we will see on that first bump if they will pull me over the hill. If not I can grab the saddle of one the 80 other cat 4’s, That’s right 80, holly shit that is a lot of riders, the crit is going to be mayhem. I didn’t think there would be that many people out there begging for pain this early in the year.

Ok some assholes showed up and decided to turn a perfectly good ride into a pain fest. The role out was nice but we were doing 40 on the flats, some of the guys were saying they had 450 watts in pack, I don’t know what that means but it sounds like a lot. I know whoever was pulling that hard wasn’t doing it easily or at least I hope not. What a leg burner with 161 bpm avg. I touched 183 bpm twice. Did I mention that was a painful race? For some reason we were all using the climbs for recovery, I have to say that is first for me in a race. In fact we were going faster on the flats than on the descents. Partly because all of that 20 mph wind showed up and more. If this is any indication of what is to come for Sunday or Saturday night than there is only more pain to come and I am not sure I am ok with that. I don't blame those Tour guys for doping let 'em dope this hurts. I am actually looking forward to the TT ‘cause no one is going to make me go 40mph. There were some real freaks that showed up for this race.

I got shelled right near the last climb. It is embarrassing to say that I consider this race a success because I made the first break on the last lap going into that climb. But couldn't hold the 800 watt tempo into the gale force winds. I got picked up by a group of riders that had organized themselves. I got second wheel and my heart rate dropped 20 beats and I could breathe again and go faster. That wind was horrible. Then we got close to the finish line and some people wanted to race for 40th place. I don’t usually yell at riders but I lost my temper and told ‘em that “lets just get back we all get the same time. and to F'n pull!” We finished somewhere around 1:45:00 probably 2 min back. I don’t feel so bad though there were guys rolling in what seamed like 20 min. afterward. Someone said I have to race tomorrow too? That is BS. This has the honor of being the single hardest race I have ever done! I need to get to recovering.