Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Training Camp {or} the most difficult day on my bike

The Moment Bicycles crew headed out to Fallbrook this year for our annual training camp. Three days of sufferfesting, team bonding and well, riding bikes! Vince and I drove out on Friday after work for the fun filled weekend.

This year our coach came out for morning #1 for a baseline threshold testing session on the trainers. We had two groups sweat out and suffer through a 20 min all out effort. I had done this test on Fiesta Island last summer right after I got my power meter while training for Tahoe. And unfortunately {yet not surprisingly} I haven't gotten any faster or fitter. My HR was higher and the power was lower. Weight has maintained relatively similar, so watts/kg have sadly decreased. Time to go back to work. {and yes, I realize the trainer vs road test isn't scientific and the heat of a stationary trainer vs 20mph breeze in your face may play a small factor. still:}

July 6, 2013: 20min power average: 203; heart rate: 186
Jan 18, 2014: 20 min power average: 193; heart rate: 194

Pat Jak with the first crew.
Back at camp we had a quick lunch and headed out for our afternoon ride. And with it being the first road ride of the camp, the boys decided to turn the recovery ride into manhood measuring contest. And that quick lunch? Let's just say it wasn't sitting quite right. I was almost doubling over in stomach cramps. I struggled for 35 miles until we stopped at a fruit stand and Judd made me untangle myself from the fetal position I was assuming and stretch my stomach. After some much needed cold water I was feeling better. The rest of the ride was significantly more pleasant, being careful to not make any huge efforts in case my stomach decided to turn on me again. And btw - even with the threshold testing and the second ride stomach cramps, this wasn't nearly the hardest day on my bike.

JT, CK and Kyle
Props to Gabe for grilling the meat both evenings and to the ladies for the prep work on everything else! We had a skills lecture by JT and Dean and headed to bed with the Sunday ride looming.

On paper, the Sunday ride looked manageable. On Strava, it wasn't that impressive. Uh, what we experienced for me was the hardest {yet still manageable} day I've had on my bike. Yes, harder than my suffering at St. George IM. Harder than the hamstring issues and cold weather of Lake Tahoe IM. Harder than my first century {102 miles, 10k climbing}. And this ride was only 90 miles and only 9k of climbing. If you ride with power and understand TSS, what's the highest "score" you've seen? Try 398.

The starting crew!
I really love {hate} when a ride starts with descending. I'm just dreading climbing out of this pit of despair later on. The first 20 miles was pretty moderate, rollers and some sustained climbs. Every time a somewhat steep roller came, we'd all wonder if "it" was here yet. As we turned onto Los Gatos at mile 23 our answer finally came.

Holy up. I don't think I've ever been so shocked by the upcoming terrain. Even Via Capri at mile 100 looked easier than this road ahead. We all rolled out sporadically and I was mid-pack. Just a reminder, I ride with a compact crank and an 11-28 cassette. About halfway up the first pitch I see walkers already. I keep telling myself I will not walk. I start to try "paperboy'ing" but don't see the benefit. It gets steeper. I am fully out of the saddle, leaning as far forward over my bars, right at a 20-30 cadence. I'm barely moving and my HR is off the charts. Paperboy left, right, left and I nearly fall off my bike down the hill. I freak out, take two pedal strokes and jump off my bike faster than ever. I've succumb to walking. Which wasn't any easier! Holy calf workout! There was a "break" in the climb; a maybe 20ft section that seemed flat, but was probably still 10%. Perspectives change after riding {and walking} up a 20%+ road. There were 2 guys heading down, taking a break to cool their brakes and other Moment riders "death marching" up behind me. After gathering myself and lowering my HR I decided I would try and hop back on. It only took 4 tries and a near fall to get clipped in. This time there was a fire in my eyes. I will not let this section beat me. My hands were sweating, my heart racing, and those cranks were turning at the lowest cadence I've ever experienced. I saw the top, and a light at the end of this ridiculous cliff that I can't believe a civil engineer decided to create and then pave. Jeremy captured this great shot {maybe with a bit of a camera tilt} as I was cresting the hill. WOW.

Terry took his shoes off to walk the hill.
What are you, a drunk girl dancing
at the club? Nice "heels!"
After everyone swapped stores of their epic tales up this climb we all realized we were only 24 miles into a 90 mile ride. WOW. And then, the Moment van crested the hill and we were all saved by the awesome SAG support of teammate Kim and Terry's wife, Paula. {Can't say enough awesome stuff about these two ladies who were the queen's of the day. Wow}

The amazing Paula and Kim
Onward. I think I was still in shock for the next section, as I don't remember much besides these signs:

Not recommended for cyclists
No outlet
18% Grade  {wtf? I thought we were done with that crap!}

We turned onto the Cleveland National Forest "truck trail" and descended for a while, but it wasn't the nice sweeping fast descents of East County that I've come to love. It was basically the most off-roading, cyclocross style, pothole avoidance, technical, finger cramping, sandy shit paved road I've ever been on. {now those signs make sense.} After again descending into the pit of despair, it was apparently time to climb again. And this eventually became one of those never ending consistent pitch climbs. You turn the corner to think you are about to crest, and look up to see exactly the same thing. Again and again. Check it out on Strava. A 10 mile, 3600 ft, 1 hour long climb. On that same shit paved road. I was mostly alone, although I started with Terry, then hung onto Greg's wheel for a while then we caught Jimmy only to have those two gap me a bit. About halfway through I was on my own. And you know what, I was actually smiling. It was a gorgeous day, on my bike, in a beautiful place I'd never been. I finally made it to the top and gave an audible "woot!" and headed forward to find the others.

Oh and we are only half way done. SAG van found us again and after a quick water refill and sunscreen application we were back on the road, descending, finally. After reaching Riverside we had a long, flat section interrupted by only the 3rd flat of the day {and that's saying a lot for this crew and these roads.} We made a right turn and the grade started to increase. I think this was one of my lowest moments, but one of those where I dug DEEP and told myself to just hang onto the wheel in front of me. I was fading fast and the sun was falling fast. We had a huge headwind and whoever was driving the pace up front was working MUCH harder than me. It was only a 1.5 mile climb at 5% but that may have been the breakthrough of the camp for me, that or the Coke at the top. Much needed fuel {caffeine!} for the next 25 miles. I will make this. I will not accept a ride in the van.

The rest of the ride was pretty rad. Most of us were getting a bit slap happy by this point, so why not hurl ourselves back down that 20% Los Gatos hill? It is amazing how strong gravity is. A slight let up on the brakes and you feel a sudden rush in acceleration. The hill definitely toys with your mind - when can I just let go and ride free to the bottom? Weeeeeeeeeeee!

Kristian "Sex Panther" and Gabe
We regrouped and the rest of the ride was a slugfest of rollers, even one where I felt a slight G! The diminished group I was with was working hard and having fun. Attacks, pushes, and fun winding roads led us back to the house, hungry and satisfied.

Food. Chatter. Sleep.

We cleaned and packed up in the morning and headed out to the San Luis Rey road race practice. I've never done this race and not sure I have any business slugging my butt up that climb. It was a fast day with some new blood that hadn't been destroyed by the days prior. We did 3 laps and rode much faster than I thought my body was capable of that day. And that's what camp is about. Finding new limits.

Finding shade after SLR practice
Last week was kind of a blur. Lot of work and not a lot of working out. Thursday morning I attempted to head to the velodrome, but the track was wet and the fog was insane {with no chance of the sun burning it off soon} so I headed to work early to catch up. I rode Sunday with the shop and yesterday out at GWL + Descanso with Julie and Nikki. This weekend is my first race of the year, the Red Trolly Criterium and I'm looking forward to getting Super Grover out for his first test of the season. Ready or not, it's here.

foggy and slippery at the track

Thursday, January 16, 2014


2014 // A new year // A new decade // The same {old} me.

I spent most of my 20s in search of the next adventure. I became a college graduate and a conference champion, a corporate employee freed by a local bike shop. My competitive drive died a little through the zen of rock climbing. I moved across country with no real plan and have somehow stayed for over half the decade. A summer camp in Maine brought me to the love of my life only to be reunited {and married!} in my favorite city. Swimming eventually led to triathlon which introduced me to Felty {'07-'09}, Kermit, Cookie Monster {'09-'12}, Super Grover and Animal. The competitive drive was reignited and I became an Ironman and a state champion. There it is, my 20s, in a cute little paragraph.

I was too busy having fun to fear turning 30. That is until I turned 29. I'm not sure what happened in 2013 but I started dreading my birthday. Maybe it was USAT telling me I was already 30 and rubbing it in my face by writing it on my leg. Maybe it was kicking off the new year with the sprained ankle on Jan 1. Or the issues that arose in that dang left foot thereafter. Maybe it was the bought of Crohns before Oceanside, or the tonsillectomy following. Or even Kermit's return to Canada for repairs. Motivation lacked, self doubt arose and I barely crossed the finish line at IM Lake Tahoe with a bum hamstring as a fake 30 year old. How can I survive as a real one?

The off season came and the birthday drew closer. I knew I needed something big to kick off this decade. Inspiration arose after a healthy beating on the tidepool hill by a couple of teammates. Why not do 30?

Thus the #Dirty30 ride was born. 30 tidepool repeats at the Cabrillo National Monument, my favorite place in San Diego. It was on this hill that I met my future boss and it was at that lighthouse that my future husband proposed. And a surprising amount of {slightly crazy} friends signed up for some aging celebration. Kyle brought the sag wagon and we took a couple Coke and pb&j breaks but pretty much got it done. Manny surprised me and showed up with his camera and amazing skills and got some great shots of the day.

early morning crew!
still smiling {a push from Gabe will do that}
The real QOM - Sonja pushing the pace all day

the LAST one!
pretty awesome elevation profile. 
And in under 5 hours, 6 of us completed the {60 mile \ 9,000ft+} challenge. It was more than awesome to have so many great friends and riding partners join in for 1 or all. I managed to keep a smile on for most of the day, enjoying the sunshine and the ocean views, realizing that turning 30 isn't so bad after all. Kyle summed it up with a video of the day.

And a surprise present! A '69 Vespa! It's a little red Italian 49cc scooter and I cannot wait to drive it! {needs CA plates/registration and I need to pass the motorcycle permit/license test} Apparently I was a good girl in the last of my 20s, and have an even brighter future in my 30s.

Here's to another amazing decade of adventure searching with my friends, my family, and most of all, my man.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

winter wonderland

While it seems like the entire country was fully frozen in the Polar Vortex {via FB newsfeed reporting} it's been a pretty great last two months here in sunny San Diego. We've had our driest winter since I've been here with almost NO rain and mild temperatures. Which makes it pretty hard to have excuses for not getting out of bed in the morning.

Kyle returned from his trip to Germany and I had the entire Thanksgiving weekend off...only to acquire the horrible cold/cough/sinus crap that was going around. 14 days of misery. I had planned for an epic weekend of riding. I had a delusional "I'm not sick!" moment, and got up Palomar on Thursday before dinner and that was about it. I may have managed the Sunday team ride but it wasn't pretty.

tademania in OB at the {kinda shabby} Christmas Tree!

Kyle's work holiday party. A non-spandex affair. 
Christmas was just the two of us. Kyle surprised me with a new track bike!! A Felt TK2; and in sticking with the muppets theme, I've named him Animal. If you search #newbike on Christmas morning via social media, it's pretty awesome. Just a bunch of kids stoked at what lies "under" the tree. Freedom. Speed. Fresh air. Endorphins. Bling. In my 30 years, I've been a nice enough girl to wake up to a new bike 3 times. And it's just as great as the first, except I don't have to wear a jacket or wait till the snow melts to ride. 

Frank Oz has stated that Animal's character can be summed up in five words: sex, sleep, food, drums, and pain. Animal's vocabulary is generally limited to guttural shouts and monosyllabic grunts, often repeating a few simple phrases. During performances, Animal is usually chained to the drum set, as his musical outbursts are extremely violent.
Yeah, that pretty much sums up track racing. Pain, grunts and simple phrases.

Super Grover has been out riding 2-3x a week and that's pretty much the extent of the exercise besides the random tandem dinner adventures. I was busy with Christmas mailings and sewing up a storm {our living room was a crafting disaster zone} prepping gifts and baby stuff for my sister's shower.

bibs. burp cloths. diaper clutch. crafting fun!
We headed to the frozen tundra and narrowly missed the Polar Vortex although I'm still wondering what the difference is... We were in MN for 6 days and it was below zero the entire time while in Grand Rapids. Not exaggerating. Frozen nostrils. Okay, so I grew up with this weather and to me, it's not news worthy. You put on a jacket. After living in CA for almost 6 years, to say I've acclimated is an understatement. Yes the roots of my upbringing have long since forgotten the winter freeze. "Cute" down jackets {worn in 60 degrees} and Uggs have taken over for the Columbia jackets and Sorel boots. To prepare, I used the next best method, the layering technique. Not the cami under a thin long sleeve layering. But the base layer, Patagonia capilene, fleece pullover, fleece jacket, down jacket, Gortex wind layer method. 

Viv = he's not known for his speed, but his skill {and non-Gordon luck} prevailed. 
Although the trip was cold, and traveling blows {I do NOT recommend Dollar Rent-a-Car service} we had a great time {indoors} with my family. My sister is 8 months pregnant with my first nephew and we had a shower with my extended family. It was so great to visit with all of them! She is a very cute pregnant lady and I can't wait to meet Baby G and become an aunt again! We celebrated my 30th birthday followed by our Christmas gift exchange {a first with the b-day before xmas for me!} and my mom spoiled us! She even rented a hot tub and we braved the few cold steps on the deck to enjoy the crisp air in a tub of {quickly cooling} hot water! 

hot tub fun with kyle and brother robbers
Kyle was the family tournament champion winning the holiday cribbage classic, outright winner at bowling, and the tick card game champion, wining by one lousy point {over me}. New Years Eve was spent fondu'ing {so yummy} and playing cards. I even got to go ice skating, however I opted for the nice indoor rink. We took in a GR high school hockey game {we won!} and ate at my favorite local pizza joint, Sammy's. We didn't freeze or slide off the icy roads. We didn't just survive our trip up north, and for once, we feel we had the perfect amount of time spent on vacation.

Breakfast w/Grandpa G before we left. He's pretty rad.

kiddos! kyle, meg, rob, me, and rob's gf {also Meg} before tundra departure.
So we are back to reality. 70 degrees and sunny so we can't really complain. Work has been great, and it's still ridiculously busy for "winter" - but again, the nice weather tends to help business at a local bike shop. Since it deserves it's own post, next up is my #Dirty30 adventure nd what riding into this fabulous decade really means to me.