Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Alpine Loop Revisited

Did the full Alpine Loop this morning. It was the first time I had ridden this route since last year. I was surprised how much easier it seemed this time. I'm getting better at this biking thing!

The first time I climbed the Alpine Loop, I remember suffering the whole way up and down. My heart rate was maxed out and my legs were burning the entire time. I remember my perception of the ride was that it was steep all the way to the top.

The next time I did it, I remember realizing that the climb is really only steep until you get to Sundance Ski Resort. From there to the summit, it's less painful. But I still remember suffering to the top this second time.

Then I raced it. It sucked. I remember being totally blown up before reaching the summit. I also remember telling people on the side of the road watching the race that I'd gladly trade places with them. I finished, but lost.

The Alpine Loop today was glorious in comparison to any of the previous tries. About a mile into it, I commented to Coach Girl that I couldn't believe I hated it so much last year. I was actually having a good time. So good, I ended up easily passing Coach Girl! She looked like she was struggling, and she was slowing down. I still felt really good, and even though I consider it bad manners to pass Coach Girl, I did it. Then my Garmin started acting up. Apparently it couldn't pick up a good satellite signal, so it kept quitting on me. I got so concerned about it that I started dropping back. Pretty soon I was the one being passed. Then the back pain kicked in, and I realized we were on the steepest part of the climb, just before Sundance. Pretty soon I decided that since Coach Girl was riding ahead of me and wouldn't see, I would get off my bike. So I did. The shame! But it did help my back feel better to rest and stretch for a while. I ended up walking my bike about a quarter of a mile, looking for a less steep place to get back on.

Once we got past Sundance, and the endorphins kicked in, my back started feeling better. The rest of the ride to the top was quite pleasant. I don't remember thinking that so much of the Loop was flat up there. But that was the perception today. And the last bit to the top was nothing like I remembered it. Nothing to it, really.

Then came the descent. The road is very narrow..really only about one car width. I knew there was a sharp hairpin turn right away, so I was extra cautious. There seemed to be more traffic on the American Fork side, making things a bit tricky. Most of the cars were riding on my side of the road because there's just not enough room. The scariest parts were when there was a car coming at me and I could hear a car behind me, too. I bet they were just as happy to have me on the road as I was to have them there.

Last year, I could barely make it home after doing the full loop. This year, I felt so good I suggested to Coach Girl that we keep going and do Traverse Ridge while we were at it. We didn't.

Next time I'll bring my camera. The scenery can't be beat!

38.6 miles
14 mph average

Chalk Creek Road Race -- Saturday, July 28

I made the mistake of racing Chalk Creek as a Master. I am seriously kicking myself in the rear end for not racing as a Cat 4. Looking at the results numbers, I would have been 5th as a Cat 4, and therefore would have earned 17 points. Instead I raced against three insanely fast Masters women. Their times beat any of the Cat 4s times by at least 3 minutes! I had no chance. But I did ride with them for a ways into the race, so I managed to pull off 4th place. I raced most of the race by myself...I was off the back of the leading ladies, and a way in front of the rest of the group.

BTW, I raced as a Master because it was the Master's Championship race and I wanted to see if I could get a medal. So, I ended up being only one place away from medaling. I missed out on a medal and I missed out on my Cat 4 points. Grrr!

31 ish miles (as always, I forgot to start my computer at the start)
18 mph average

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Death by Chocolate

Training hard for this weekend's race. Carbo-loading on lots of chocolate. I know...it's bad for me. But I tend to eat garbage when I'm nervous. I've really eaten nothing but crap lately. Ok, not really crap. That would be gross. But, I'm not eating good, healthy food at all. I don't think that a bag of chocolate candy, some cake mix, and ice cream count as a complete meal. That's really what I ate for lunch the other day. I am ashamed!

And I wonder why my body fat percentage has gone up recently...hmmmm...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Wolf Creek

Saturday's ride was really disappointing for me. I rode to the top of Wolf Creek Pass, a mountain road east of Park City. I had met up with a group of friends in Kamas for the ride.

The company was great. We all had a great time making up silly songs about the chip and seal road (to the tune of I Love Rock & Roll: "I love chip and seal! Bump-de-de-bump on my saddle, baby!") and one that went along with the song Home on the Range (I can't remember the words other than something about if we weren't riding, we'd be home on the couch eating something from a pouch.)

The scenery was gorgeous! Lots of big pine trees and wildflowers. Beautiful views really do help keep me motivated when I'm suffering.

Now for the disappointing parts. The first one that comes to mind are the bugs. It comes to mind first because I have a huge, itchy bug bite on my inner elbow that is driving me CrAzY! I knew something was biting me, but didn't think it was a big deal because it looked like a fly. Apparently, big, black flies that live in the mountains are horse flies, and they do leave nasty bites. Another time, we stopped for a photo shoot and I got a big, flying bug of some sort in my jersey. I was hopping around screaming because I didn't want to get stung or bitten. Luckily the girl taking the photo waited for me to stop dancing around waving my arms in the air before taking the picture (although, looking back, it would have made a funny photo).

The most disappointing part is my performance. My lower back decided it didn't like the climbing I was forcing it to do, and it cramped up on me in a major way. The first time I got off my bike to stretch was by accident. One of my friends had a mechanical problem with her bike and had stopped to fix it. I kept going, looking for a flatter place to stop. When I finally came to a stop, I was all alone. I waited and waited. None of my friends appeared. The next riders up the mountain were a couple of men training for LOTOJA. They informed me that my friend had told them to tell me that she was turning around. Well, that mentally ruined the rest of the ride for me. I thought I was done for the day. The girl with the mechanical problem had ridden to Kamas in my car, so if she was done, I was done, too. I figured I was all done suffering for the day. I turned around and went back down the mountain, probably about 2 miles, to find my group fixing the bike. They told me that they wish I had kept going because we were going to keep climbing. Back up the mountain I went. Hill repeats.

A few miles later, my back was cramping again. I remembered how much better I felt after I had stopped, stretched, and rested last time. So I stopped and stretched and waited for the others to catch up. But only one came up behind me. She told me that one of the other girls had turned around. And another girl was still up ahead of us. I got back on my bike and rode for the next couple of miles before my friend wanted to stop again. We ended up walking up the hill for a while because she didn't want to go any higher on the mountain. She's the same friend who wrecked recently, and it seems to have given her a bit of descending-fear. I kept telling her that we had to go find the girl who was ahead of us so she wouldn't wait for us at the top. We either had to get to the top, or find her coming down, but since we were too high on the mountain for cell phone coverage, those were our only options. I was finally able to convince her that we needed to get back on our bikes and ride to the top. Just after we started pedaling again, our faster friend came flying down the mountain. She informed us that we were only about a mile to the top and that we'd already passed the hardest part. So we kept going.

Here we are at the top. Notice the elevation sign: over 9400 feet!

Then came the descent. I don't know if it was because my friend had kept taking about how scary it was going to be, or the fact that my brakes weren't feeling normal, but I rode down that mountain in major chicken-mode! I was extremely disappointed by this! I just couldn't relax.

As the road started to level out again, a headwind whipped up. Just in time for Team Barbacoa to come pull in front of me. I was able to hide in their draft for a little while before they decided they were done playing with me, and they took off. They did they same thing to my friend a little way down the road. We figured it must be a game they like to play with the ladies: blow past you, slow way down to see what you'll do, then speed things up again. I wasn't sure I wanted to play with them, so I let them go. My friend decided she'd had enough of them when they slowed down in front of her, so she passed them. A couple of them came back around her and pulled, but the rest of them hung behind her. I think she had fun with them, too.

A mistake I made on this ride was pre-freezing my water bottles. I figured that they would slowly thaw out as I rode. Nope. Stayed frozen. And I got a good taste of riding myself into dehydration. On the way back to Kamas we stopped at a cute little old-fashioned soda shop where I was finally able to get myself a drink.

I cannot race this race the way I rode it this weekend! I'm not even sure I want to do this race anymore. I'll keep working on fixing the cramping back issue, and see how I feel about it in a couple of weeks.

46 miles in just under 3 1/2 hours.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Adventures with Coach Girl

Rode with Coach Girl today for another exciting adventure in threshold pain. She's really getting into this coaching thing lately. I got a lot of "Don't let me drop you!" and "I want you hammer right now!" and "Get your butt back on your saddle." and "You need to learn how to descend faster, GO!"

For some reason I was riding in chicken mode today. Especially on the descent. We were riding the same coarse as I rode when my friend wrecked a couple of weeks ago. That could be the reason I was a bit leery. Once I realized I was being a wuss, I relaxed a bit, and kicked my speed up a notch. And just in time for me to hit a huge rock in the road. Luckily, it only wobbled me around a bit, and scared me back into my previous cautionary state. But Coach Girl wouldn't let me slow down again. That's when she started riding right behind me yelling something I couldn't understand. But it sounded like I was going to be in trouble, so I kept pushing hard. Coach Girl doesn't let me goof off when I ride; everything is very serious when you're on your bike. I like that about her. Sometimes though, I wish she'd let me recover more. I never seem to get a good recovery in when she comes along.

At any rate, I did this route in record time today. 25 miles of mostly climbing in less than an hour and a half.

I'm beginning to notice that it only seems to rain around here when I'm riding my bike. I really need to do my part to end the drought by riding more.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Club Ride

Went on my first actual club ride this morning. Holy mother of pearls! Those guys can hammer! From what I've been told, a girl has to really work hard to earn respect from this group of men.

From the get-go we took off cruising at a cool 29 to 31 mph. I hung with them until most of them decided to run a red light. Too risky for me! The few of us who stopped waited together for the green light. As soon as the light turned, I took off. I wanted to catch back on to the main group. So I was pulling my little chase group at 28.5 mph. Apparently not good enough for a couple of hotheads who shot around me. At first I thought they were coming around to take a pull. Nope. I guess they just didn't like drafting behind a girl. They ended up leaving me, and several others, in the dust.

Finally, a nice guy asked if I wanted him to pull. "Yes, thank you." We worked together to catch back on to the main group. I hung with them until we all re-grouped and waited for stragglers.

More than five minutes went by. Where was Sling? Finally someone told me that there were two guys back there somewhere with flats. One of them was Sling. The group decided not to wait. They left, and I waited, all alone, for Sling.

Another five minutes went by before he finally appeared. We hung around for a few more minutes because we both felt bad about leaving the other guy out there alone. Finally the other dude showed up. We let him rest for a bit before we decided to head out again.

SNAP! The other guy's chain broke as he was pushing off. He assured us he'd be okay and waved us on. We continued our ride up Hobble Creek as far as we could, then just rode nice and easy all the way back home.

When I was flying along with the lead group, I had been excited to see how high my average speed would be. But alas, I had forgotten to start my computer until after I'd lost the group.

I guess I'll have to ride with them again to find out.

On another note, I totally ripped out my brand new pair of Pearl Izumi Gel Vent gloves on this ride. Nothing left of them between my index finger and thumb....nothing. And they only had like 200 miles on them. I wish I would have gotten a photo of the damage before I raced back to the PI factory store to return them. We'll see how these new Pittard's Leather gloves work out for me.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

No pain, no gain, right?

I have a terrible feeling that I'm pushing it too hard on the bike lately. I hurt. My legs cry every time I have to go up or down the stairs.

I took Coach Girl with me this morning for a threshold training ride. She was nice today. Just rode next to me and reminded me why I was doing this to myself. I was surprised when she told me to back off on the gears, and that it was okay if backing off slowed me down. She knows my legs hurt. We rode out near the lake, and just about the time we were turning back, it started raining. Not a really hard rain, more of a sprinkle, but just enough to get wet. Good thing we turned back when we did, too. It really started downpouring once I got home. I don't care much for being pelted with cold drops of water while I'm riding. At least the rain might wash some of this gunk out of the air. That'll be good.

I was happy today because my descents are getting faster! On one steep descent, I actually passed Coach Girl! Neither of us were pedaling, both of us were tucked into an aero position. I've never passed her on a descent before. I'm usually pedaling like a fool just to keep up with her while she coasts. I wonder if the four pounds I gained overnight has anything to do with it?

And just where did that weight come from anyway? Your guess is as good as mine. It could be:
A) Water weight. I've been working hard to stay hydrated.
B) Fat. I've felt free to eat anything lately since I'm so hungry and since I had been losing weight.
C) Muscle. Could I really have gained that much muscle from the three strength rides I did on Monday & Tuesday? And is this why my legs hurt so much? I like this theory.
D) All of the above.

I've been staying up too late the last few days watching video tapes of the Tour de France. It's a great way to end the day. I like the anticipation of waiting the whole day to watch the Tour, and then snuggling up in bed and watching until I fall asleep (or at least until the tape runs out). I really wish Dave Z would stop burning himself out pulling the whole race. I hope he starts moving up soon. Go Dave!!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Rest Day

Today is a rest day for me. Resting from what? I've done three hard strength rides in the last two days. My legs are pooped!

Yesterday, I rode with Coach Girl. She's mean. We were working on holding a certain cadence as we were climbing. After so many sets, we were supposed to recover for ten minutes. About that time, we came to a parking lot. My idea was to ride nice around the lot for ten minutes before heading up into some steeper climbs. She would have none of it!
"We can recover on the hill."
Up we went. I couldn't recover. As steep as those climbs were, who could recover? So, I didn't get my recovery in before we had to hit it hard again. It seemed like every time we turned on the high cadence, we would be at a really tough climb. It's so hard to hold a 90 RPM on a 13 percent grade!

I've invited Coach Girl to ride with me again tomorrow for some threshold training. I'm a glutton for punishment.

Looking at the view outside, I'm glad I'm not riding today. I can hardly see the mountains for all the smoke. Everything I look at has a mysterious-looking red hue. Practically the whole state is on fire. I know of at least four fires that are contributing to the haze: the Milford Fire to the south (a big one at 300,000+ acres), the Mesquite fires to the west, the Promontory fire to the northwest, and the Uinta fire to the east. Not too great on the lungs.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

07-07-07: Lucky Day for Me

The day started out early. I was on my bike before the sun rose. I rode down to the mouth of the canyon to meet a group of riders. This was my group today. I had planned this ride, and I was the leader. I couldn't be late.

The group gathered. Hmmm...not as many as I was expecting. Oh, well. We headed up the canyon. Everybody stayed together as a group until the road got steep. Then we all spread out. Up at the top, where the road is gated and you can go no further, we all gathered together again. We rested and chatted for just a minute before heading back down. The descent was fast. Some of those grades were around 11 percent. Hard going up, and a lot of fun coming back down.

But the fun was short lived. One of the girls who was riding in front of me took a corner too fast. She hit the embankment and went rolling. Dust was flying, she was sliding. This wasn't the first time I've had front row seat to watching this girl wreck. It's always spectacular! I seriously thought she was going to come out of this one with some broken bones. I skidded my brakes, threw my bike against the embankment, and ran over to see if she was okay. She was totally fine! A few tiny scrapes on her calf, and a spot on her ankle where her spinning wheel burned her. I am still surprised she wasn't more seriously hurt.

We did have to do some repairs to the bike, though. The wreck had completely ripped the front tire. Luckily, this girl happens to carry a tire patch. She's the only person I know who carries a tire patch. And I guess it's because she's also the most likely person to need one. We patched the tire, installed a new tube, and we were off again. She's also going to need to have her rear wheel trued. It was looking pretty wobbly the rest of the ride.

Thinking back on it, I'm kind of glad she wrecked in front of me. Well, I'm not glad she wrecked. But the wreck did slow me down around that corner. I think we were all going way too fast for that corner. It really could have been me.

That's why today is my lucky day.

By the time we got back to my place, her front tire was flat again. She was starting to hurt a bit, so Sling loaded her bike into his truck and took her home. I came in the house and got a second helping of breakfast. I was only halfway done with my ride.

Sling got home, and we jumped on the bikes again. It was starting to get hot. The wreck had set us back in our ride about 45 minutes.

We rode down by the lake, and came up some big climbs on the way home. My monitor said that one of the climbs was 17 percent! Luckily that climb is short and is preceded by a fast descent so it doesn't seem so bad.

I kicked Sling's trash on the last hill climb. So much so that when I turned to come home, I couldn't see him anywhere behind me. I thought he must have taken another route. (He hadn't.)

I didn't see Sling again. (Well, not until I got home.)

About two blocks to home, I decide that I've got to make a goal time. I had only ten minutes to make my goal. I wasn't going home. I headed south for my must-add-some-time-to-this ride loop. As I'm standing at a stop light waiting to turn left and head back home, a vehicle pulls up next to me. The guy driving it starts talking to me. At first I wonder if I know the guy, but soon realize it's a stranger, and he's trying to pick up on me. Someone thought they'd get lucky today, too.
"Hey, we should go riding sometime." He says.
"Oh, you think so, huh?" At this point I was still trying to decide if I know the guy.
"Yeah, it'd be fun."
"Uh." I've given up trying to talk to him, and have gone into leave-me-alone mode.
"So, where do you ride, and how far do you go?"
"48 miles so far." Like I'm going to give this creep my routes.
That must have scared him off because that's when he finally noticed the light was green and he could go.

The rest of my ride home was spent looking for the green Isuzu the guy was driving, hoping I didn't see him again. I didn't. Lucky day strikes again.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Drag Racing Dreams

My brother-in-law stopped by today on his way to race his dragster at Rocky Mountain Raceway. As he's leaving, he has the nerve to ask me if I'm ready to go, too. Well, I may not have been ready to go right at that very moment, but I am ready to go. I want to race a dragster!

At the beginning of the drag racing season, dear brother-in-law (we'll call him Bil) had me all stoked up to race. He even had me working on a training device teaching me how to get the best reaction time. This mean that you want to be off the starting line exactly when the light turns green, but not before. I was getting better at it, too.

Then, for some reason, Bil decided to offer my race car, the car he had promised I could race, to Sling. Then the car had Bil's wife's name painted on the side of it, and now she races it. I lost my enthusiasm to race it.

Well, now it's halfway through race season, and I still haven't raced that car. Everybody keeps telling me how powerful it is, and how scary it would be.

Good! Just what I need. Scary fast. For some reason, I have this burning desire to do things that would scare the crap out of me. I hate myself for making me do them at the time I'm doing them, but I keep going back for more.

Getting my bike in the first place was scary. I hadn't ridden since I was twelve. And that was pretty casual and very occasional. Now I'm obsessed with cycling. Descending on my bike faster than 18 mph used to scare me to death, but now I try to go as fast as I can possibly go. Road bike racing scared me. I tried it and loved it. Crits scared me. I've done one now, and I can't wait until next time.

So naturally I want to push the limits of speed in a dragster.

Maybe next I'll decide to bungee jump! Who knows? Just don't dare me to do it. I'm likely to want to do anything scary enough someone has to dare me to do.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Bummer Day

Today is such a boring day. I was up before the sun this morning, taught an interval Spinning class, rode a short recovery ride, then I came back home and crashed for two hours. You know you're tired when you can have a two hour nap at 8:30 in the morning.

Well, I haven't been able to get myself to do one single thing the rest of the day.

I've just sat around and thought about things: Why am I so tired? Why am I so hungry? Am I over trained? Should I be training more? Why would anyone create such a cruel race as Wolf Creek looks like it's going to be? Why do I want to do Wolf Creek? Am I going to be ready for LOTOJA? Why do I enjoy torturing myself with these rides? Why can my sister-in-law get on a bike and kick my butt from day one? How can I get rid of some of this body fat so I can see the muscles that I know are under there? Shouldn't I be doing something else today?

Maybe I'll go see if I can go back to sleep again.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Independence Day Ride

Woke up early this morning looking forward to a punishing ride with my club. We were going to be going around the Alpine Loop, a mountain climb with about 3200 feet elevation gain. But, I spent too much time getting ready to go I guess. I showed up at the bike shop (the meeting place for the ride) 4 min late, and either I was the only one to show, or they left early. So instead of the Alpine Loop, I decided to ride by myself out around the lake.

I rode about a mile away from the bike shop before I realized I had forgotten my water bottles.

So I went back.

Then off again.

I started feeling like I shouldn't be out riding at all this morning. But I continued on.

As I reached my usual turn-around spot, I glaced down at my monitor. Wow! I've made it out here in record time! Wait...I drove my car halfway there before starting out on my bike. So not such a great time after all. I keep riding. I've still got two and a half hours to ride. I pass a town--the last town for miles. I manage to get myself onto the main road around the lake. It's a two-lane road with fast traffic. The white line on this road is pretty much painted on the gravel off to the side of the road.

So now I'm out in the middle of nowhere, on a scary road. I'd gotten myself somewhere I really had no business being all alone, and spent too much time fretting about it. So what do I do to pass the time? I think of all the horrible things that could happen to me. By this time, I'm quite convinced that every truck that passes me is either going to hit me and leave me there to die (since no one would be around to have seen it happen), or some man is going to seize the opportunity to grab me.

I keep riding, further and further away from where I want to be. I don't even know where this road is going to take me. All I know is that if I turn around now, my goal time will be cut short. I can see across the lake that something is on fire. Another fire. That makes, what, about 4 or 5 fires in the area in the last week or so. I can also see across the lake to a familiar route I've taken before. I'm so close to that route, and yet it's across the lake, and I still don't know where this road goes. Finally, I see a good place to pull my bike off the road. I call home and let Sling know where I am -- just in case he needs to come look for me. I really should keep riding South if I want to make my goal time.

I turn around. It is Independence Day, after all. I'm free to choose, even if it's a bad choice.

I'm heading back to my car and back home. Yeah!

Why am I cheering? I love riding my bike. But now everything hurts!

I make it back to the road where I should turn to go to my car.

I still have an hour to kill.

I don't turn. I decide to ride home instead. I can go pick my car up later, I guess. It is so hard not to go to my car! I continue on.

Things are starting to feel better. Endorphins must have kicked in.

Riding through the farm fields now, I can hear a train in the distance. The railroad crossing is about a half a mile ahead. I sprint. Now I'm racing a train! I don't make it. About 50 feet before the tracks the guard rails come down. Awww! Now I have to wait. But, it's not long. Just a four-car commuter train. I'm off again.

Looking over the field and the lake to the west, I can see where I had been riding on the scary road. Was I really that far away? It continues to amaze me how far one can go on a bike. I like the feeling of "Wow! I accomplished THAT?!"

I get to within two blocks of home. Do I go home? I want to so badly! But I've still got 20 minutes to kill. I head south again. Down into town, away from home, then round and back.

I'm home! I've made it. I eat and eat -- I'm starving! Stretching and a shower feels so good.

Looking at my stats for the day, I'm surprised. While I was out riding, I kept thinking about how I couldn't motivate myself much today. But, looking at my numbers, I did better than I expected. Nothing record breaking, but good.

I guess, mostly I feel impressed that I continued on with my ride, and made my goal time after I tried so hard to talk myself out of it so many times. I've gotta find someone else to ride with next time. I'm not sure I could motivate myself like that again.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Recovery Ride

I wish I had taken my camera on today's ride. It was beautiful today. I did a quick out and back recovery ride. It was a recovery ride because this morning I taught a tough strength Spinning class. Anyway, heading out on my ride I could see about a dozen hot-air ballons floating around in the crisp blue morning sky. There was a balloon that looked like a strawberry, and another that was shaped like a pink pig. All the others were a variety of colors. As I continued on, they got bigger and bigger as I got closer to them. I pulled my bike over to watch as one of the balloons went right overhead. I don't normally stop when I'm out for a ride, but this was a recovery ride and I was in no hurry. As I was standing there, one of the balloons landed in a field next to me. A lady walking by was having a hard time controlling her dog. I think the dog wanted to play with the big "ball" that had just landed. Little kids were running over to see the big balloon. Not something you get to experience everyday. And I wish I had a picture of it all.

I'm really tired today. I had to teach class this morning at 5:30, which means getting out of bed around 4:45. If that's not bad enough, my aunt kept calling me late last night until I finally took the phone off the hook. And then, I guess I was worried that I wouldn't get up in time because I kept waking up all night long to look at the clock: 4 more hours...zzzzz...2 and a half more hours...zzzzz......another hour...zzzzzz...awww, I guess I should just get up. I promised myself I would sleep in tomorrow before I remembered the group ride I'm going on. Groan...another early morning tomorrow, too. I'm not much of a morning person.