Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bars Bumping

Yeah not so much on the clubbing front, but on the bike racing scene. The announcer at most of the So. Cal events is Ralph Elliot of MGE. On the final sprint for the finish as the peleton rounds the last corner and the racers are ramping up for the sprint he has this super silly quote and I can't use it as a direct quote as it's almost impossible to hear what he is saying:

"Elbows brushing, bars bumping, lycra stretching, knees bopping, and we got a sprint going on here folks!" in this accelerating voice. I know it's not an exact quote, but it's close. And it really describes what happens as the craziness of a sprint finish develops.

Three weeks ago I went up to LA with Lynne who hadn't raced in a while for the Ladera Ranch Grand Prix. It was an interesting course and a bit narrow. I've been used to the wide open spaces of Ontario and got lucky at Brentwood on a narrower technical course so I wasn't sure what to expect. A nice field of Cat 3/4 women but a whole lotta breaking going on through the cornering. The final turn goes into a rounding false flat "uphill [not really]" section to the finish line. There wasn't a really good opportunity to try for a break but I tried anyway to no avail. A couple of other failed brake attempts by other teams [and one attempt at blocking - which is totally legal and I even complimented the girl] but nothing stuck.

Great, it was going to come down to a sprint finish and no one wanted to pull the last lap. I was sitting like 10 wheels back going into the final corner and knew I'd have my work cut out for me. Should've started sooner but I mis-judged how long the final stretch was [thought it was longer] and stood too late. Had to sneak up on the inside, but then found myself in trouble.

Bars bumping. Serious elbow brushing. Unfortunately, one of the riders [well known for lack of handling skills] veered super duper to the right and cut off another rider [Patricia] and myself. Think Mark Renshaw head butting:

Okay, not that blatant, because she probably did it without knowing, but it wasn't nice. And she wasn't the lead out man. Meanwhile I'm trying desperately to come up the inside and Patricia is as well. A spectator had his legs sticking out into the road off the curb while I was literally riding up the curb gutter. Thank goodness he jumped out of the way. I cannot believe we didn't take each other out. I was hanging onto my bars for dear life [evidence from forearm bruises the next day from riding in the drops] and throw my bike across the line.

 Coming up the inside, just before the girl in the center veers towards Patricia and I.

With the throw, I managed to edge out the "swerver." 3rd place. I still cannot believe Patricia and I stayed up.

Best podium yet? Maybe. $50 cash and a straight from the cooler, ice cold, Pyramid Hef.

Two weekends ago I was off to Ontario for my last women's cat 4 race. I had enough points to upgrade after Brentwood, but I wanted to finish out the season up in Ontario. 3:45am wake up calls aren't so awesome, however. Drove up there [without sherpa who was out to sea] got in a decent warmup and headed out for my last 30 min crit. No more faking it when I start racing with the big girls.

This race was different that the other 4 times that I've been up there. Not in the sense of scenery or course [as I've done that course 2 other times] but in the way I felt going into the race. I had confidence. I felt like I was stepping onto the starting blocks of a high school dual swim meet. I guess that's what racing and doing well will do to someone.

The pace was faster than before at Ontario, which made me less nervous, and surprisingly less tired. [I guess I do gain some fitness with all this racing.] My HR was in check for most of the race. One of the primes was a points prime and I went for it way too late, putting in a lot of "almost effort", like not enough to blow up, but just enough to not win. Lost the prime by half a bike and urged the girl to come with me as we had a natural break from the field. Quarter of a lap later, I look back and she's gone and the field is approaching. So much for the break.

I hop back into the field and no one wants to pull. So after a break I'm now leading the pack. Not optimal as I'd rather be resting [drafting] but if no one wants to work, fine I'll sit in front and go the pace I want to go [slow.] Thoughts:

[I cannot wait to upgrade.]

That scenario [I assume] wont happen again. If you start to slow, you'll drop back and the riders to the outside will circle around and life is complete. Or rather the usual cycling of riders and the constant effort to stay near the front and work your way up the sides. All this trying for breaks, break caught, no passing scenario must have to stop at some point.

Anyway, 2 laps to go and I'm sitting 3rd wheel, which I manage to stay in until the final corner on the last lap. I made the mistake of going too late in the previous race, and wasn't going to do that again. So I punch it and I'm gone. I slightly let up as I cross the finish line and learned a lesson [not the hard way] as the junior girl went blowing past me, luckily just after the finish line. Lesson: Don't let up! Everyone knows this! You cannot cruise your way to the finish ever again. All out. Balls out. No letting up until past the finish line. Again, luckily it went my way and the lead was great enough, but seriously. that was really bad on me.
Me sitting up as the junior girl on the left charging. 

Won my last cat4 race, and ended up 2nd in the Ontario Points Series. [6 race series throughout the season]
So I put in my upgrade request, which I think included 29 points or something of the sort. It was accepted, so I decided to race last Sunday at San Clemente with the big girls. A women pro 1-3 race. Yikes. Serious goal? Hang on for 2 laps. Super secret goal? Finish.

Race report to follow.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Closet Criterium Racer

So I have this secret life. And I suppose it's not so secret anymore. So I may as well blog about it. It's been going on for a while, so this post is a wee bit long.

I'm a closet criterium racer. I have a road bike. And Mr. Cooke Monster [Parlee Z4] really likes to race. For cheap. And surprisingly more often than Mr. Kermit [Guru Crono], who usually gets all the glory.

Criterium: [from Wikipedia]  A criterium, or crit, is a bike race held on a short course (usually less than 5 km), often run on closed-off city center streets. Events often have prizes (called primes, pronounced "preems", and are usually cash) for winning specific intermediate laps (for instance, every 10th lap). A bell is usually rung to announce to the riders that whoever wins the next lap, wins the prime. Race length can be determined by a number of laps or total time, in which case the number of remaining laps is calculated as the race progresses. Generally the event's duration (commonly one hour) is shorter than that of a traditional road race and generally the average speed and intensity are appreciably higher. The winner is the first rider to cross the finish line without having been "lapped." Success in road criteriums requires a mix of good technical skills — in particular, the ability to corner smoothly while "holding your line" on the road, as well as rapidly and sharply — and riding safely with a large group on a short circuit and exceptional "sprint" ability to attack other riders and repeatedly accelerate hard from corners.

Got it? So I started racing last year, after Ironman. A week after Ironman I did my first crit...and it HURT!! After 6 months of only riding Cookie Monster to work and back and only having trained on Kermit, I was ill prepared. Not that the Ironman fatigue had anything to do with it.

Kyle and I raced a couple more last year but I wasn't really serious about it. I was burned out from IM and needed a break from cycling in general. If last year was about structure and training, this year has been about flexibility and fun. You can sign up for a crit an hour before the race begins! And generally they are between $25 to $35 to enter! And generally they are 30-40 minutes. Sounds like my kind of season.

In cycling there are Categories [Cat for short.] Not Age Groups like triathlon. And no, we aren't racing kittens. As a female, you start in Category 4. Some of the races I did were combined with 3, and in one instance it was a Cat 1-4 race. You can "upgrade" by placing in a race and earning points:

Number of Starters

My results this season:

Date  Race  Place  Starters  Points  Cash/Prizes won
8/7 Brentwood State Crit Championships 1st (45) +5, $80/$20 Prime
7/24 San Marcos Circuit 3rd (11)  +2  $15 (gave $5 to mechanic)
7/3 Ontario Grand Prix 14th (16)  0 Got stuck behind a crash
6/12 Dominguez Hills 2nd/5th (15) (Cat 1-4, non-USAC) N/A Wine
6/12 Ontario Airport Crit 3rd (17)  +2  Medal, saddle bag
5/15 Mid Season Crit (Ontario) 3rd (36)  +3  Medal, Dare Lion
5/7 Barrio Logan Grand Prix 1st (11)  +4 Trophy, Tortillas, $100 GC
4/24 Chuck Pontius 1st (16)  +4  $30?
2/27 Dare to Race GP 3rd (13)  +2  Medal
2/13 Roger Millikan 4th/14th (32)  0 (3/4 Race, scored together) 

So...that's a lot of racing. And a lot of crazy things can happen in a race. Here are some exerts.

Roger Millikan (aka Valentine's Day Massacre) 
I think there was a crash in every category that day. Seriously horrible beginning of the season racing. Tentative, crazy cornering, people not holding lines, crap racing. We had a bunch of Juniors in our race. Usually when the field laps someone, or before, the race official will pull the lapped racer and give them credit for the start. It's a safety thing, and should be done! Last lap, 2nd to last corner. 2 Juniors up ahead. Parents telling them to slow down and get with the pack to "experience a sprint finish" even though they were being lapped for the 2nd time. They take the inside corner rather than moving outside to be passed. Guess who took the inside line? Lynne and I. Slammed on my breaks to avoid taking them [and ourselves] out and then had zero speed out of the corner to attack the slight incline before the final corner. Had to battle. I had the perfect line and was f^*&@#. Crash in Kyle's race during the final sprint and he had to wobble across the line after narrowly avoiding the incident.

Dare to Race [Ontario #1]
A 2-girl break got away and we didn't catch them. I took the field sprint for 3rd. Starting temperature was 32 degrees.

Chuck Pontius
Kyle went up with Chris on Friday night for a road race on Saturday. I had to work and randomly decided to head up to LA after work and race on Sunday morning. Zero preparation and I was just hoping to hold on and finish with the pack. This was definitely a MAX heart rate race from start to finish. Luckily every time I felt I couldn't hold on and was going to explode, the pack would slow up just a bit. With a couple laps to go I was feeling ready. Had a perfect position heading into the final corner and went for it. Ended up 3rd in the 3/4 race and experienced my first Cat 4 win. Check out the video below. That's Kyle yelling dig, dig, dig! I'm on the left hand side in the blue helmet.

Barrio Logan
Awesome course [read: more than 4x90 degree corners] and I had some teammates. Lynne and I were working together the entire race. She'd go on a break, and I'd block, only to have the teammates of the others in the break work at bridging the gap [I'd consider that bad teamwork]. It was a field sprint, uphill [not my speciality] and hard work to win that race. Won a $100 gift card to Acqua Al 2 in a prime, a giant trophy [now prominently displayed at the shop] and some corn tortillas. Check out the MCS Race Report.

Mid Season Crit [Ontario #2]
Learned a thing or two about tire pressure at this race. Racing in the drizzle/rain is not a fun experience. My usual technique is to work the corners, as to not waste unnecessary energy coming out of the corner by breaking less before the corner and pedaling through. Well I pumped to the usual 112psi, and my rear wheel was skidding out of every turn. Had to back off and play it safe. In the largest field I've ever raced with. [approx. 50 ladies, half of which were doing their first race] Crash near the front on the 3rd to last corner [last lap] and it wasn't pretty. Had to slam on brakes and veer around. Got pulled back to the pack with a lot of hard efforts, thus having nothing left for the final sprint. Managed to get around a couple girls, ending up 3rd. And I won a D.A.R.E. Lion in a prime. I believe when I was in 5th grade it was the D.A.R.E. Bear. Not sure what happened to that guy.

Ontario #4
Number 3 for me, but 4 in the series. Getting a little sick of this course and the 7am start time. Went climbing at Malibu Creek on Saturday and headed over to Ontario for the race on Sunday. A slower race, this was mainly controlled by another team. After the primes, teams were slowing for those sprinters. I did a bunch of work trying to motivate the other riders to not let them rest. Was in position at the end, but didn't punch it early enough and the finish was very close to the final corner. Ended up 3rd. Seemingly a common placing at these Ontario races.

Dominguez Hills
Heard about this race at Ontario. Same day, and only 3 hours in between races. Drove over to the coast and had a quick breakfast and warmup before my 2nd race of the day. This is a non-USAC sanctioned race, so no points towards upgrade...just experience racing with the fast ladies as this was a Cat 1-4 race. The race was 15 min longer than Ontario, had actual "elevation" to the course, and still we ended up averaging 2mph faster than Ontario #4 in the morning. It took all I had to hang on to those ladies. Just when I thought I was about to pop off the back, it'd ease up. Then all engines go, again and again. Had absolutely nothing left for the sprint. Ended up 2nd in the Cat 4s which won me 2 bottles of wine! Holla!

Ontario GP #5
#4 for me in Ontario. Did this same course as Ontario #1. Although this time starting temp was 75 and rising. Had a team, Lynne + Amanda there so we were amped to race. None of the efforts really paid dividends and a break got away. I went for it on the last lap, gapping the field, only to get caught and catch on, and then only to slam on my breaks to avoid a horrible crash. On a straight section of the course. I endo'd [slam on breaks, rear wheel comes off of ground], both feet came out of the pedals, and somehow I managed to land back on both wheels, steer clear of the crash, clip in and then keep going. But of course by this time everyone is already gone. I couldn't believe what I saw and I coasted to the finish line. Ugh, almost felt like a wasted morning. Luckily we were on a climbing vacation and headed up to Holcomb Valley [Big Bear] after Kyle's race in 108 degree heat.

San Marcos
Circuit race [meaning the course is longer than 1 mile, coming in at 1.7 miles per lap]. Significant elevation change, advertised as a "big ring climb." Do we have to talk about Rachel's climbing skills? There was no big ring about it, I was shifting to small guy before the corner and spinning [and dying] up that hill. Pey-lih crashes like 2 laps in from someone cutting her off. Next thing I know I see her back in the race a lap later. Tough girl! Next lap after the downhill corner I hear a pop and my chain is hitting my front derailleur cage. Front derailleur doesn't budge. F@*&!!! I'm at the half way point on the lap and the neutral support is all the way over at the start. I limp my way back to the start, and climb the hill in the big ring. Stop for assistance on the hill and get back on after someone bends front derailleur. Was advised to head to neutral support to get my free lap [what?!] and rush there. Somehow in the time it took the pack to get back to the start line the mechanic had basically done a full tuneup on my bike. Apparently the front derailleur clamp broke and came lose. [It's a proprietary Parlee part and has been redesigned since my bike came out.  Awesome warranty department.] Anyway, he was able to patch it up enough to finish the race. There is a "free lap rule" for certain mechanicals that happen before the 3 lap to go mark. I hop back in, and now it's 3 laps to go. Wow, that rest really helped and now I'm feeling guilty. So I pull...for the remaining 3 laps because there is a girl on the break. Hit the last hill and punch it...a little too early. Blow up, but somehow get a second surge of energy to minimize my losses. 3rd in Cat 4, 6th overall, good enough for a $15 payday, and $5 of which I gave to the mechanic who got me back into the race. Oh yeah, I also rode to San Marcos from Solana Beach, where I was cheering for the SB Triathletes in the morning. Nothing like a 16 mile hilly ride to get you warm. What I didn't factor in was the hilly 16 mile ride after racing a hilly crit. The way back was not so enjoyable.

Brentwood State Criterium Championships
So I'm not quite sure how a race is given the State Champ distinction, but I'm not complaining, as it was located only 2 hours away...it could've been in San Fran or something.  So I'm sitting at 17 points, 3 points from upgrading to Category 3. Anyway...There is something to say about the power of positive thinking...and a little luck. Want to know the pre-race meal for a State Champion?

Corvette Diner. Fried chicken strips and a chocolate, fudge, peanut butter, marshmallow malt. Also a bottle of Raspberry Framboise with dinner. Delicious!  Woke up early on Sunday morning [4:30am] and had a green tea and yogurt/fruit parfait from Starbucks on the way. Had a good feeling in the car ride, although I'm sure Kyle didn't notice, as I was little miss super crabby pants. Did a short warmup and headed to the start line of the 1 mile course. 40 min race and the goal this time was to control the race and stay near the front. I had begun to feel some fitness gains from all the racing and triathlon racing I'd been doing, so I knew I could push a little and still be there in the end [hopefully].

The course was super technical with a 170 degree turn and 5 other turns in the lap. Was top 6 for most of the beginning of the race. A prime hit and a girl jumped after, raced ahead, only to take a huge fall charging through the big corner. We were far enough behind at this point to react and miss hitting her. Racing resumes and another break happens...this time I catch on. There are 4 of us on a mini breakaway and I get to the front and tell the girls I'm here to work. End up winning a prime in the mean time. I signal for the girl behind me to move ahead as to ride the paceline and as I move over, she follows. WTF, this is a paceline in a break, do a little work. We get caught and I'm seriously contemplating why I race. I am now trying to recover in the pack and am finding myself in places I do not want to be [in the middle and in the back] I'm working too hard in and out of corners. I hear the Brixton girls saying they need to get something done, so I go by them on the inside and urge them to come on, let's get to the front. I make a huge pull on the backside straight away to get to the front before the next corner and tuck in behind the leaders for a little break. 2 laps to go and there's a crash on the backside, on the straights. WTF! Apparently a girl tried to split 2 girls who were in the middle. Hello!? If you want to move up, do not plow your way through the middle; it doesn't work like that. Crash implodes all riders in the middle of the field. Luckily I have positioned myself on the inside, but I was behind the crash. Slam on breaks, and the girl in front of me unclips and is on the median to the right of me. Other girl in front of me is slowing and almost doing the same. Crash is to my left. I have no where to go, and I'm yelling at the girl in front of me to keep pedaling!! The front of the pack is long gone and I've almost lost hope. Until this junior girl [who had been racing to the front and dropping off the back all day, zoom/drop off] races past me. I hop on her wheel and enjoy the free ride back to the pack.

Reach the pack. sit in. 1 lap to go. Breathe. Easily move my way back up the back as I'm using the corners to my advantage. I think the pace was a bit slower than usual having just witnessed a crash. I notice that one girl is leading the entire last lap. I'm sitting 6 wheels back in a strung out pack. Head into the last corner expecting a sprint immediately. No one goes. I don't go because I don't want to get side swiped and rear end someone causing a crash. I usually would wait until the 2nd or 3rd girl attempts the pass around the 1st girl and then get on her wheel and hopefully pass her. Well no one went. I hear the Brixton coach yelling at his girl, whose wheel I'm on, to GO NOW! NOW! So, wtf, no one is going, I guess I'll go. I take the outside lane and punch it. And don't look back. And I hate to admit this, but I think it was my first time sprinting in the drops. And it felt easy. It was awesome to cross the finish line knowing I had won. It was a combined 3/4 race, but scored separately. I got my final points to upgrade to Cat 3 and became the CA State Crit Champ!

Ontario is a race series. They have a point system and overall winners at the end of the year following the final race on Aug 21st. You only get the points in the category earned and you have to show up for the final race. I am currently tied for 3rd in the series and I'm going to wait until after that race to upgrade and then try and race San Clemente as a Cat 1-3 the following weekend. [apparently the race has a hill...yikes!]  Not that I have a plan this season or anything.

Kyle has been a great sherpa and race partner throughout the season. I raced one Ontario and San Marcos without him, but other than that, he's been out racing himself. He won a race in Arizona at the beginning of the year which was awesome for him and has been experiencing success in crashing and avoiding crashes as of late. His current bill is 2 helmets, 1 fork, and some skin. And maybe some pride. (pedal strike?!)

Crashing happens. More often in the men's races with bigger fields. Yes, the faster the race the safer it is. I've been in way too many close calls to count. And I feel fortunate that I have yet to be taken out. Unfortunately, it's not if, but when and I can only hope this doesn't jinx me.

So that's it...a very long report on my closet crit racing season thus far.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Goleta Race Report

2 weeks prior I signed up for this race. Nothing like another last minute race to get into shape. Oh wait, not even that could give me motivation to run. I keep wondering why I sign up for events with no real training or preparation. And then I remember why - work. I cannot plan anything in advance, as I find out my work schedule for the upcoming week on Thursday. Sometimes Friday. Let's not get into it.

So the last time I ran 6.2 miles was SDIT. The last time I ran was Carlsbad. Do we see a trending pattern here? I'm really going to have to actually start training here soon if I want to remotely do well / finish Panama 70.3; Friday is the 6 month mark.

Okay, so. Vacation palooza - arrive in Goleta, check into the race and hotel and have dinner with the San Diego peeps. Not a good night sleep as the room above us must really like redecorating, as they were moving furniture all night. Kyle bolted early, as his start was an hour and a half earlier than mine, and he needed to find some valve extenders to get some air in his tires, as he left his in Oregon [along with the climbing rope.] Steve, Erin and I got out of bed, chocked down a part of a dry sourdough english muffin and got on our bikes for the 1.5 mile ride to the start line. Aerohelmets with long tails and backpacks on a tri bike don't mix.

Setup transition, found Kyle, and ran around the race area as he was in the first wave. Yelled [very loudly] for him as he exited the water walking. Not cool. Yelled [very loudly] as he sat down to take off his wetsuit. Yelled [very loudly] as he mounted his bike in the transition area [not legal] and somehow managed to miss taking a picture of that. Yelled again as he went out for the run and very quickly when he ran through the finish line.

He's done, and I haven't even put on my wetsuit yet. Proud of him for getting back into racing. Hoping his ankles/knees will hold up for more years of being able to race together.

My turn - Get a quick warmup in - water is cooler than San Diego. The sprint runners are now crossing in front of the beach start for the swim. It was like 3, 2, 1....[wait for it]...GO! So random. Jump on Erin's feet for the first two buoys and lose her for the long haul across to the far buoy. Turn on the far end and all I want is to be done with the swim. Still 2 more buoys to go and I'm wondering why I don't swim masters/long distance more often. 1500 is quite long. Out of the water 2nd in my wave and into transition. p.s. I didn't get new goggles for the race. Need to invest in a stockpile of sweedish goggles. They are more valuable than my retirement plan right now.

Opted to wear the road cycling shoes (Sidi's) because well, they are more comfortable. I have custom insoles in them and my toes aren't hitting the edge. Not sure what happened to the old Nike's, but I feel like my feet have swollen since my beginning triathlon days. No I'm not preggers. Hop on the bike and onto the bike path. Narrow and bumpy but not as bad as expected. Not really sure what to expect on the road. A pretty flat/fast course with a couple of false flats [especially going out to the strawberry farm, where all I wanted to do was stop and eat strawberries]. Was pretty alone for most of the bike. I had 1.75 bottles of water and .75 bottle of calories [blue gatorade]. I think I had a GU and some salt tabs and a puff of the good 'ole inhaler.

Into T2 and feeling surprisingly ready to run. Out on the course I'm feeling okay on the path section and then comes the sand and the okay feeling is gone. High tides made for a very interesting 2 lap run course where it felt like over 4 miles was on the soft sand. [LOOK AT COURSE PROFILES BEFORE REGISTERING FOR RACES...didn't I learn anything from that whole St. George experience?] Only had a couple of ladies pass me on the run who weren't in my age group and I was actually passing people!

Into the finish chute and heard the announcer say, "it looks like we have a race coming!" Great, someone is going to pass me...put on the after burners...or something like that. I make my best attempt to sprint as I hear the footsteps behind me. I manage to hold her off, only to find out it's a 50 year old lady. Awesome. Everyone from SD had finished by then, and said that was an awesome finish. And here's the photographic evidence. Nice face, Rachel. And how about those hands? Yeah, not sure where that came from.

2nd AG behind Erin, who won the women's overall. She's going to kill it at Vegas for the 70.3 World Championships. San Diego had a pretty decent day at the races as well. Here's the posting from Facebook: Moment DOMINATION @ Goleta Triathlon yesterday. Stephen Banister - 1st overall, giant trinity adv. Erin Hunter - 1st OA, Felt B2. Brannen Henn- 1st 35-39 2nd OA, Felt DA. Riikka Aramo - 1st 40-44 3rd OA, Parlee TT.Brian Wrona - 3rd in Steve's AG, Ridley Dean. Rachel Wills - 2nd in Erin's AG 5th OA, Guru Crono. Ian Storer - Sprint, Felt B14. All dynamically fit by Moment. Wanna get fast? Get Fit - 619-523-2453

After the race we hung out for awards and then packed up the car for Torrence in LA...for a bike race. 6 hours after finishing an Olympic distance race I thought it'd be a good idea to try and race a criterium. Report to follow.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cali-forn-I-A Vacation!

Kyle and I were in need of a vacation. After all the bad news with work conflicts and not being able to make it back to MN for our wedding reception/family reunion/lake time, I was pretty bummed. Bosses went to Europe during the Tour de France and toured around on their bikes. And working for a small business is just a part of my job. 5 employees and 2 are married. So they leave, and we can't. Kyle had already started his leave request and had to re-route it after switching his plans. The Navy is also not flexible, but in a completely opposite way.

Anyway, Kyle will report on his crazy first half of the vacation in another post. Here's a preview: 16 hr drive, 5 hr nap and then 71 mile road race as a kickoff to a 3 day stage race + climbing report (and many other crazy adventures).

Wednesday night I flew to San Fransisco after work. Plane delay due to a mechanical issue in Phoenix on the flight before. Awesome. Enjoyed a beer while sitting on the airport floor because the bar was packed. Made it, and we headed to Berkley to stay with old roommate, Bethany. A quick night's sleep and her and I were up for an early bike ride while Kyle enjoyed the extra zzz's. She managed to find a friend with an extra bike (Steel Lemond - actually liked it!) and we headed out for an hour ride on the hills around her house. Beautiful ride up through the fog. Didn't realize it actually got cold somewhere in CA in the summer - so of course I didn't bring enough clothes. Thankfully she borrowed me some knee warmers. Base layer, arm + knee warmers + gloves = not my idea of a summer ride.

Kyle and I were off to Yosemite for a quick camping/climbing trip. We managed to beg for a camp site close to Tuolumne Meadows from a young couple who looked fun and had some extra space. We headed out to Lake Tenaya for a picnic and nap. Drove around to get a lay of the land and found the route we were going to climb the next day.

Woke up to yummy instant Malt-O-Meal, which Kyle apparently has a distaste for. Headed out to a slabby 4 pitch 5.7 climb called West Country. We were the first ones on and headed up with ease. Got to the top for my least favorite part - the descent down a more slabby 4th class "walk off" which consisted of me scooting my booty in a crab like walk down the wall. Pants ruined. I later found out my quads were fried from clinching on so tightly to the rock. Smiling the entire way, because everyone knows when I get scared I smile/laugh. Kyle thought I had good spirits about the adventure.

pretty new rope - kyle left his at chris' in oregon. love rei's return policy.

summit finish above Lake Tenaya with self timer camera

west country. the 2 small people are on the top of the 2nd pitch.
Went to the meadows for another picnic and post climb beer. We were about to get on another climb and some thunder clouds started arriving with a few big rain drops. That's enough to get me outta there, as lightening + climbing do NOT mix. Went back to camp to put on the rain fly on the tent and take a nap. Woke up, and it hadn't rained a spec at the campsite, which was at a lower elevation and more west of the climbing area. Took a quick hike and decided to head to dinner at a quiet family style restaurant at White Wolf area. Delicious soup, salad and chicken fajitas.
setting up self timer for meadow lunch. camera started falling. failure, but a pretty funny pic

green moss. green bag

yes storms on the horizon. 

yummy quiet dinner.

tired, maybe? 
Saturday we woke early and headed south, out of the park (long, curvy, slow, up and down, back and fourth route) to make our 6 hour journey to Santa Barbara. Arrived and tried to stake out some camping at El Capitan State Beach, but got screwed. Checked into the Motel 6 for a much needed shower. Dinner at a local Italian place in Goleta and back to the hotel to prepare for the triathlon. Noko and Ian brought my TT bike, and Steve, Erin & Frank, and Brannen & Brian all came up too.

Sunday morning we rode to the race start. Raced. Drove to LA for a criterium in Torrance. Raced. Drove home to San Diego. Sleep.

Race reports to follow. Evidence of a fun FILLED vacation:
Items to tag: 3 bikes, tent, cooler, 2 sleeping bags, 3 sleeping pads, 2 pillows, 6 helmets (2 road, 2 aero, 2 climbing), blanket, 2 triathlon bags, 1 climbing rope, 1 entire climbing rack of gear, 2 harnesses, 2 camp chairs, stinky clothes, 2 tired people
Seriously, 6 helmets? Yes - safety first people.
love yosemite.

Carlsbad - a contuing attempt to race myself into shape

Who needs to train anyway? Isn't racing much more fun? I suppose racing while actually in shape is fun, but I don't know what that feels like anymore.

Not too much on the workout front during the 2 weeks in between SDIT and Carlsbad. On the work front however - The shop got busy [again, a reoccurring theme] due to moving [again, last time I swear] to the final NEW SPACE! It's awesome! Flooring, walls, new dedicated Fit Area, a BigAssFan, office, kitchen and an amazing white service area. Fixtures are on the way [and need assembly] as are a bunch of other final details. Anyway - we are moved in. Prep for Carlsbad [on the sponsorship front] was packed - designing goodie bag inserts, prepping and packing for the expo, finishing the move, and doing pre-registration/check-in on Thursday and Friday for all the athletes who live down here, made for a busy pre-race [read: exhausting] week. Doesn't Lynne look awesome? p.s. feel free to print the coupon and redeem by Sept 30th!

Alright, so after standing all day at the expo [+setup/takedown] I went home, packed, and fell into bed. Only to awake at 4am to arrive a the race day expo and setup again. Get my bike in the line for Transition and head down when it opens [got the coveted "hole shot" this time!]. Setup and helped a bunch of people in our mechanics tent. A lot of very unprepared people. Here are a couple of examples:

"How do I shift my bike?"
"I think my shifter is broken; it won't go into an easier gear." [she had the Tiagra shifters where you push the button to get harder and have to push the break lever to get easier in the rear; have you ridden the bike before?]
"Do you think I need air in my tires?" [I put the pump on; they were lower than 20psi each]
"I super glued on the front derailleur guide last night, can you put the cable back together? Think it's going to hold?"

After helping with others issues, it makes me feel prepared, even with the lack of training. Set up, get wetsuit and head down the beach to the start. Got in for a warmup, and some awesome sets came in. Got lined up, took a look at the competition (goggle search!) and found my rabbit - Lisa F. and a girl without a wetsuit in sweedish goggles.

Ran into the water, swam, swam, dove, swam some more, big waves, and no real issues. Looked over and saw Lisa waaaayyy off to the right. Crap, am I swimming crooked? I know she's going to swim faster than me, so I best go chase her. Waves were too big to sight for the first buoy, so I gave up on my instincts and followed her. Only to find out when I got to her, we were waaayy off course - to the right. Seriously?! Mad dash to the first buoy (left turn) and tried to hang on. Started mingling with the previous cap colors and lost her. Swam alone for a while and then the no-wetsuit girl approached. Grabbed her feet and we made the turn for home. Actually caught a big wave and body surfed in. No transition times, but I made it out of T1 in front of her, finding out she's like 17 yrs old. Awesome.

Onto the bike and with some consistent power sessions with Noko on Fiesta I felt more compelled to push the pace. Carlsbad does a great job running the race and actually shutting down both sides of the PCH!! Wide open 2 lanes + bike lane really helps when passing new riders. One girl was going back and fourth with me (I think she was on a yellow Felt B2 from a couple years back, and with a power meter - stay with her)  No real issues on the bike, and legs felt okay. Not awesome, but what was I to expect. Saw Kyle and Erin cheering on the sidelines.
Of course, the one time out of aero - mounting the bike and heading up the hill out of transition, looking serious.
Down to T2 and again it was a test of might. Headed out onto the run and legs said sorry, no turnover. My mind continued the battle until the legs finally started picking up the gears; until the uphill. Saw a shower just off the path and contemplated jumping in; hey it was turning out to be a hot morning! Was on the hunt for the yellow Felt girl as I knew she was just in front of me. Saw her ahead as I began the downhill stretch. Was pushing the pace and I'm sure I sounded like a wheezing freak, but I had to catch her. I knew I had to make the pass looking like a million bucks so I picked it up for 100 yards. Yikes, I can't believe I passed someone on the run! This is what it feels like to run someone down!? Much more rewarding than beating most your AG out of the water. Seriously, I have never run someone down. Heck, this was the first year that I started passing more people from previous waves than people who pass me during the run.

Started back the uphill to the finish. Only 6 more minutes of your life. It's always the countdown for me. Finished. Man, sprints are ridiculously hard. The long swim and long bike really helped me on this course. Finished 2nd AG, as Lisa won - and placed really well overall. And although I didn't win this year, I beat my time on this course by 2 minutes!

After the race, we had to take the stuff down at the expo and head back to the shop for the rest of the busy afternoon. I was exhausted and the last thing I wanted to do was stand all day and help customers. Bed. Nap. Must stay awake.

Much more to come. Raced Goleta triathlon this past weekend after a fun vacation. Yeah, a 4 day fun filled vacation! I owe myself a bike racing report as well, since I never really talk about that secret side of my racing.