Monday, December 22, 2008

You can't put a price on joy.

After a hectic couple of weeks running around Christmas shopping, I was starting to feel worn down by the holiday more than anything else. Saturday seemed far removed from that, however. On that day, a special group of people gathered at Steve Rex Cycles to have a raffle for not just one but two of Steve's custom hand-made bikes.

Steve was badly injured last month on the River Ride, suffering a horribly fractured hip and elbow, an especially terrible thing for someone who makes a living on his feet. To make maters worse, his teenage daughter tripped into a campfire, getting 2nd degree burns on her arms. Dave Burke of Rio Strada Racing got a great idea a few weeks ago to have a raffle for one of Steve's bikes. The idea was to sell tickets for $10 a pop. Anything in excess of the $2500 grand prize would go to the family. He had no idea how big it would get! The raffle raised almost $30,000!

Before we drew the names at the raffle, Steve and his wife, Peggy, said a few words. He talked about how he was overwhelmed by the response from people. Peggy talked about how it made the last 20 years of his work seemed validated. To me it seemed really simple. You can't put a price on joy. A beautiful custom built bike makes joy in a person's life. Think of all of the happiness he has created for people, not just by making nice bikes, but by being a good person--someone down-to-earth who listens and creates. It's only karma paying him back. Now if that isn't a Merry Christmas, I don't know what one is.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

These are the Days of the Peloton

yet another episode...

Yesterday I piled on the usual winter layers for the 45 minute ride to Midtown Sac for the River Ride. I felt pretty good after a good night's rest and being loaded up on way too much junk food on the last day of school before winter break. I felt that little squeeze of anxiety when a lot of the big guns showed up -- Jesse Moore, Mike Sayers, Chad Gerlach, etc. and I realized a little north wind was blowing. "This could hurt", I thought. My buddy McCaw asked, smiling, on the roll out "Are you going to hang on?" I pantomimed holding onto my handlebars as hard as I could. I used all of my wheel-sucking powers and remembered what Sarah Bamberger said about suffering "is all in your head"

I made it through the first sprint. I saw someone make a U-turn without looking, putting a Team City guy into the farm ditch. I stayed with the group for the inner loop until the last left turn on the levee. Damn, that thing always gets me when my legs are hurting at the end of the ride. I came off the levee and dangled precariously off the back, letting a gap build. I spun, remembering not to jam it into a harder gear. I felt a hand on my back pushing me, then pulling my wind vest, and the voice of Dino saying "Dig Deeper". I shouted a few choice words including "help!" I was mad at all the yayhoos behind me not helping fill the gap. It never occurred to me that I could be their only hope. Luckily, the group slowed before the final sprint and Dino came around at the last minute to pull us back into the fold. Victory!! Dino was cheering while I tried to uncross my eyes.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Sacramento's 21st Annual Thanksgiving Ride

Vince rallies the troop and declares "No Racing"!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ride the World Cups #3

Last Saturday, Dino and I made the trip to Hellyer Velodrome in San Jose for Ride the World Cups #3, a benefit for Shelley Olds. People always look at us incredulously when we say we came from Sacramento. Our standard response is that it's a lot more fun than waking up at 5:00 in the morning to race in a corporate business park crit for 45 minutes! We travel 2-4 hours all the time to get to road events.

I had the time of my life! It has to be one of my favorite times at the track. I saw old friends, made some new ones and raced well. Frankie Andreau was a commentator and there were lots of pros in the A's races to watch including Daniel Holloway (Garmin-Chipotle). There were lots of Bellas out to cheer, eat and hang out. We had barbequed eats, the keg of beer and a scrumptous bake sale, with Beth's infamous "Kentucky Derby Pie".

It was impressive to see Hellyer's champs gather in one picture.

The C's had two races, points and scratch. Both times, I tried to get to the front of the line when we went to the rail. That was going to be my strategy for the day-- give everything I had! For the last two years, I've treated track racing as a novelty. I didn't give it the importance of my other races, mostly because I was new to it. This year, I am going to see it differently.

I took fourth in my scratch race-- Larry Nolan said "Good Job, Katie" at the end and I told him "Thanks to you", since he really helped my over the summer. Under Dino's tutelage, I felt totally different sprinting after doing short intervals, speed work and fast pedals. Something has clicked and all my hard work and discipline is paying off.

The scratch race was a kick in the pants! It was my first time behind the moto and honestly, I always wondered "what was the point?" Now, I understand! It adds a whole different element to racing. Who's going to be behind the moto next or attack around it? The answer Saturday was me! I was really aggressive the whole race up front. My major move was attacking when the moto came off with two to go. I held a good gap almost all the way and got passed by two others on the line to end up third place. Later, after Dino analyzed my power meter file, I found out that my cadence was 107. That is pretty good for me! I know that I can do even better than that next time.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Veteran's Day

It took the Wheelmen 6 hours to get in 3 hours of riding on Veteran's Day. Not because we were going slow mind you, but because we took an hour and a half for breakfast and stopped at Coffee Republic for a long conversation about important things like the sounds Big Foot makes and the possibility of life outside our universe.

It's been on my mind to pay tribute to my riding buddy Tom Goodwin. The guy is about 50 years older than me and he still hammers with the best of them. He always puts me in a good mood with his wisecracks and infectious optimism. He has traveled all over the world riding and even conquered Alpe d'Huez last summer. I want to ride like him in my 80's.

"Laugh in the morning and ride around the block."

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cross Virgin

Bellas looking fly

So, before this weekend I had never been to a cyclocross race before, despite my bike buddies' admonitions and predictions about my ability and passion for cross racin'. The good excuse to go to one was my teammate and track friend Beth Wellie needed a place to crash the night before the race and I thought it'd be fun to cheer for Bella Marian and her. We had fun hanging out and my cat Chinook fell for her. Plus I really wanted to see my friend Sarah Maile in her full glory. The host club Rio Strada was all abuzz on a smokin' River Ride about the race the next day and I wanted to see Rich, Sarah's husband in action organizing the event in Discovery Park.

Rich giving instructions

It was a triple crown event for me!

Beth led the B's in the NCNCA cup up to that point and brought home another win for Velo Bella. Awesome!!!!

Wellie Poodeeum

My friend Linda Elgart won the master's women's race.
Linda Poodeeumm

I was so nervous when Sarah didn't show up for roll call in the A's race. Her hubby was yelling for her. She was waiting for the loudspeaker! Luckily she made it in time and had a little trouble getting in her pedals (as she told me later). She made it around the pack to make it first to the corner. After that it was all style. She looks so graceful and beautiful on her bike. It made the course look easy, although she never let up and her relentless pace that kept over minute gap in the field at times.
Sarah Poodeeum!!! A's race

I don't know why they put the podium under this big tree. It really made it hard to get good shots.

Other highlights included getting to see Ned Overend race and borrowing Miss Mary's Kona cross bike (thank you Miss Mary!!!) to take a lap for fun! I can say that Cross racing is really fun. I can't see myself getting into it right now, with my extra time and energy going into Track Racing! But who knows in the future?

Thursday, November 6, 2008


The Old Me (1999?)

After (2001-2008)

You gotta love bike riding. Sometimes I forget how heavy I was. (Yeah, Weight Watchers is pretty awesome too).

8 more lbs until I'm at race weight! I've lost 6 so far (holding steady, but I'm sure there's some muscle there).

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I stood at the backdoor this afternoon fully geared up with my cheap plastic rain jacket from Performance contemplating if I should ride or not in the now steady rain. I didn't feel a compulsive neurotic desire to train. I needed to ride:
  • These are the last few precious days before daylight saving time ends during the work week where I can enjoy a ride in the evening.
  • My ex is harassing me over some financial loose ends in the divorce. It's brought up some emotions. Riding my bike always helps me clear my head.
  • My inspirational boyfriend commutes to work rain or shine all year long at night. He likes riding in the the rain. I've raced in the rain. Why do I skip training in it? It's not like I'll melt like the wicked witch.
  • I ate a big lunch and I'm in weight loss mode again. When I'm on the lose weight bandwagon I have to seize the day. It takes work.
  • Because I can. Fat Cyclist's wife Susan is losing her battle with cancer. His blog has been a part of my cycling life for a while now. His latest was about appreciating the small moments in our lives-- how did I want to spend my time? On my bike.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Larry Nolan, World Champion

I've seen Larry beat up on guys half his age repeatedly on the road, characteristically getting to the front and drilling it with a grimace on his face. I feel so lucky to have raced on Tuesdays with Larry in charge. He freely offers advice and support and he is a good person to boot. I am very proud and awe inspired. We have such talent in Norcal.

2008 UCI Masters Track Worlds, Australia

Lawrence "The Nolanator" Nolan

6th 500 Meter Time Trial
1st 2000 Meter Pursuit
1st 7500 Meter Scratch Race
1st Match Sprints
1st Points Race

More info?
Larry's Blog
Results and Video

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mystery Rider

It's been a lovely week off for me. I've gotten in lots on riding in the beautiful fall weather. On Thursday, I joined the Wheelmen on their weekly breakfast ride. We started up the bike trail heading out for breakfast in Rocklin.

A rider I didn't recognize joined us, with a retro euro-fabulous white kit and sleek light blue carbon machine to match. Looking at the legs I would guess him to be about 30, looking at the face about 85 years old.

The advanced age wasn't what caught my attention, it was the way he rode.
He held himself with control and finesse-- suplesse that takes decades in the saddle to hone. He seemed weightless on his bike and moved around the group effortlessly. The upper body was completely relaxed, shoulders down and arms bent. He balanced his weight on that sweet spot when out of the saddle. His bike wasn't weighed down with do-dads and gizmos. A very elegant rider. This was form that couldn't be bread out of someone. It made the rest of us look like bumbling oafs.

When I got a chance I said to him, "You are a very nice rider. How long have you raced?"

He grinned and replied "You speak French?" Sadly, I told him no and we continued talking in a limited way. It turns out that he had raced professionally in France since the age of 14.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mt. Diablo

Geesh, last weekend after the River Ride I got a sore throat and missed three days of riding. It was some kind of little virus that made me really tired and sore. Luckily it went away and I had a fun ride on Wednesday on the bike trail.

This Saturday, I got two rear flats. I hit a little staple at the chatty beginning of the ride. I fixed it solo and got back in with the pack on their way back after the first sprint. Last week I broke my old record of 37.2 mph-- it was in a crazy serpentine sprint down the levee spinning like mad on my compact crank-- 37.8 mph!! Awesome. I got another flat on the inner loop and called it good. Dino and I rode back home on the bike trail.

Sunday was a reunion with an old friend, Mt. Diablo. It has to be one of my favorite places to ride my bike. I've never had a bad day there. I love the views, lack of cars and other cyclists. We started in Walnut Creek, went to the top, then back down to the south gate (with brand new pavement) and back up to descend to the car. The weather was perfect. Kevin Metcalf rolled all stylish and nonchalant by me on the way up the south side. A great day.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


So when I was deciding what field to sign up for for the Giro de S.F., Dino mentioned that racing with the pros might be more "festive". It was, but that might not be the word that I would use.

The Giro is one of my favorites! Great atmosphere. A bumpy, but fun course. I saw the April Bella got 3rd in the 4's! Yay! I saw Andrea Bella and gave her a quick hug-- she got 7th in the 3s field. I saw old pal Flavia O.-- she had already won the Cal Cup points. She works really hard all year long. She always makes me feel welcome and justs expects me to race with her field. I hung out with Dave in the Vanderkitten tent and got cute socks, tattoos and stickers. Another old pal Mary M. offered to share her energy drink and watch my bike. I love that girl-- she always smiles her crooked grin when she's off the front (or sticking her tounge out). So freakin' strong.

I lasted about ten laps with them but kept going. When they came back around I jumped back in for a while. I put aside my fears of looking like a bloomin idiot and started looking at the number sequences. There were only about 6 of us 3s left. If I finished I could place well (and I needed the workout). One of my early role models for sticking it out is Ellis. It's always better to finish. I started to have fun when the crowd started yelling for me. Michael, who was MC, made some nice and funny comments every time I went by. A huge group of guys at the top of the hill made me smile every time- screaming all sorts of stuff including "Look at the booty!" I ended up 4th for the 3s. The race had some awesome solo breakaways and chases. Unfortunately, I could only see some of it from my perspective. Sarah Bella finished 22nd in our field (training for cyclocross). I was sorry to see Shelley Olds crash on the last lap.

I am proud of myself for even trying to race with people of that caliber. LOOK AT THE NAMES! I wanted some autographs at the starting line. Christine Thorburn!!! Now I can say that I raced with National and World Champions. Geesh.

This year I learned how smooth and safe the pros can be. I also learned how tactically smart they are (it was mean how they drove up the hill every lap). I realized that I was mentally handicapping myself by relegating myself to the back. "Just try to hang on." Anyone worth their bike-racing salt knows that that spells doom and it takes a lot more energy to hang out in the back. You are always in danger of being popped off. Thing is with them though, it's not like Women's 4 races where I could boss people around, pushing people off wheels and taking the front whenever I wanted, the crit boss. If I did that they would hang me out to dry so fast. It's hard to move up. You have to be really good at cornering and keeping wheels to stay in the game.

I had fun!

Giro Results

Women 1/2/3
1 826 Martina PATELLA Unattached
2 831 Brooke MILLER Team TIBCO
3 828 Karen Brems Webcor Builders
4 829 Christine THORBURN Webcor Builders Cycling Team
5 815 Flavia OLIVEIRA Unattached
6 824 Karla KINGSLEY Easton/SugarCRM/Specialized
7 809 Starla Teddergreen Dolce Vita
8 834 Virginia PERKINS Unattached
9 802 Kristin DRUMM PROMAN Cycling Team
10 836 Vanessa Drigo Village Peddler
11 822 Olivia DILLON Unattached
12 816 Jane ROBERTSON Unattached
13 808 Liza Rachetto TEAM TIBCO
14 837 Stacy MARPLE Unattached
15 812 Mary Elizabeth MAROON Vanderkitten
16 807 Jane DESPAS Unattached
17 830 Victoria BASTIDE Team TIBCO
18 800 Sarah Bamberger Cheerwine Cycling
19 803 Amanda Eaken Metromint Cycling on Marin Bik
20 817 Katharine CARROLL Unattached
21 813 Laurel GREEN Dolce Vita Cycling
22 835 Sarah KERLIN Velo Bella
23 832 Alison STARNES Dolce Vita Cycling
24 819 Laurie FURMAN Code 3 Racing
25 827 Jennifer VAN MUCKEY Easton/SugarCRM/Specialized
26 810 Anna Woldring Code 3 Racing
27 811 Lauren HECHT Webcor/Alto Velo
DNP 801 Patricia Black Morgan Stanley/Specialized/24H
DNP 804 Sarah Kayfetz Dolce Vita
DNP 805 Melodie Metzger Cal Giant Cycling Team
DNP 806 Yukie NAKAMURA Team Kenda Tire
DNP 814 Shelley OLDS PROMAN Racing Team
DNP 818 Anny HENRY Unattached
DNP 820 Brianna HAND Metromint Cycling on Marin Bik
DNP 821 Katie Kelly Mako/Mellow Motors
DNP 825 Elizabeth HATCH Unattached
DNP 833 Hanan Alves-Hyde Proman
Cat 3(B)  Women
1 198 Carol Irving Touchstone Climbing
2 188 Rita SZETO NorCal Velo Women's Cycling Te
3 193 Lesley JENSEN Mako
4 197 Katie Norton Velo Bella
DNS Karena Shannon Code 3 Racing
DNP 187 Jessica CONNER Dolce Vita Cycling
DNP 189 Lucia MOKRES Easton/SugarCRM/Specialized
DNP 190 Kimberley PAYNE Webcor/Alto Velo
DNP 191 Marissa Axell Roaring Mouse
DNP 196 Kate Riedell Roaring Mouse Cycles

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Calling it a season...

Three tough downtown crits with super fast smooth women:

Carerra de San Rafael
Susuin Harbor Criterium
Giro de San Francisco (big scary pros-- more later on this)

Mostly I was dangling at or off the back (not a good place to be). I got better at cornering, keeping a wheel and keeping my composure.I finished even though I got dropped by the pros. I had a lot of fun.

I just need a little bit more "umph" for next year. Dino helped me get some of it back. Next year I'll make it.

The face says it all (yesterday's 1/2/3 Giro):

The new skin-suit is the bomb!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Tour of the Unknown Coast

I spent a little time last week on the Northwest Coast. A little camping, a big bike ride, smore eating, and berry picking. It was a great time. I needed a vacation!

The Tour of the Unknown Coast Route is one of the most spectacular routes I've ever ridden. I would recommend that any serious road cyclist travel Mattole Road. You get it all giant redwoods, coastal mountains, surreal coastline views, no cars and some neat places to stop. It's definitely a billy goat ride-- 97 miles with 9700+ feet of climbing.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Carson Valley Classic: District Criterium Championship

The bellas-- Andrea, April, Soni and I came out to play in the smoke in Minden, Nevada. My new 35+ is a fast masters category. There weren't even any 30+ that showed up. We attacked, sprinted for primes. I tried to position my teammates and keep them out of the wind. April won a prime-- she has really raced her way into superb shape this year. She did a lot of work. It was hard to breathe. Taitt beat up on us a little. I narrowly avoided a solo crash in turn one. It was a good race. I love working for my team and hoped I could help them a little more than I did. I ended up 10th place. Andrea rode really well and ended up 6th! :)

The highlight-- seeing Soni get 1st! in the 40+ and seeing Jeff win after that bad crash last year.

I like my horoscope today:
July 27, 2008
TaurusTaurus (4/20-5/20)

Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want. So if you are upset that you recently failed to attain a goal, don't dwell on it as a failure. Try to see it as a lesson, not as a waste of time. You are taking away something very valuable from this endeavor. Use it to carry your forward. You've got other goals to pursue, so switch your focus to those and choose to believe that you will attain them. Just because you missed last time does not mean you will fail again.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Eppie's Great Race 2008

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

Eppie's isn't your average triathlon, but it's a heck of a lot of fun. It includes a 5.82 miles run, 12.5 mile bike ride on the American River Bike Trail, and 6.5 mile paddle down the American River benefiting Sacramento County Therapeutic Recreation Services. Everyone from the most hardcore athlete down to your neighbor next door who has a bike or kayak competes. This year there were over a thousand teams, with over 2000 people competing in team, iron-person, corporate, fire/police, kids and adaptive divisions. It's a big deal here in Sac Town.

This was my second year sponsored by California Canoe and Kayak. Last year we won the open women's division and wanted to defend our title. This year we added a new fast runner, Karen Jeffers, to our already strong team. I had great faith in our paddler Elaine Baden, who is one of the best female open water paddlers in the Bay Area.

2007 Podium

I touched bases with Karen in the morning about 7:00 and warmed up on the way down to Sac State were the bikes were staged. I know the bike trail like the back of my hand, so I knew exactly what was coming. I chatted with Linda Elgart and some other River Ride peeps, until we heard the news helicopter coming. My heart rate jumped up to 100 bpm and palms started to sweat, even though I knew it would take a while for Karen to get to me. The fastest runners started coming down for hand-offs and Karen was one of the first women in. They told her to go down the wrong chute, but she lept like a gazelle over the barrier and pushed me off in my ungraceful not-a-triathlete-or-cross-racer mount.

Karen of the River City Rebels

Thank God I started doing intervals over the Winter, so I knew a little better how to pace my self. I did some 2x20's, so I figured this would only be about 10 more minutes of pain. Unlike most time trials, you are allowed to draft and I quickly hooked up with some serious triathletes in full aero gear (unlike myself). They were flying along between 24-27 mph. I could only hang with that for so long, and popped off near a footbridge over the river. I blew a kiss to the parents when I passed and settled into my pace. My fast friend Suz caught me and we traded drafts for a bit. She flatted and I was solo again in the pain cave. I averaged 236 watts/174 bpm heart rate, which I was really happy about, knowing that I that's about where my threshold is. I averaged about 22mph-- about the same as last year.

I reached the Kayak point and handed my bike off to a volunteer, running down towards the river in my look cleats, ack! I was hoping not to fall flat on my face in front of the hundreds of spectators. Elaine was easy to spot in her Dalmatian Ear helmet. I breathed a sigh of relief and ride back with a group of cycling buddies to the finish.

I got back to the finish just in time to see Elaine come in. Our team was interviewed by the local news and we dedicated our finish to my Dad, who went through heart bypass surgery in March and is turning 65 on the 24th. I made it in a little sound byte that made it sound like I trained 20 hours a week just for Eppie's (not). Oh my... let's just hope they don't repeat that one over and over.

The Results?:

1st Overall Open Women's
Karen Jeffers, Katie Norton (Velo Bella) and Elaine Baden
Time- 1:52 (very few teams made it under 2:00)
26th overall out of over a 1000 teams

The second team of much younger women (we are all 35+) came in 23 minutes behind us! We smoked' em! Tee hee! My boyfriend Dino also hit the podium again with a 3rd place on the Co-ed team division. I'm hooked and if the sponsorship holds I'll be there again next year.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

August Races?

Now What?
When I look at the race calendar, I think about the following things: How far away is it? How much energy do I have? Will I have any teammates there? Will I get my butt kicked? I'm trying to figure out where I want to go from here this season.

At this point, I feel like I have learned a lot this year. I don't feel to hung up on doing any one race. I don't feel too disheartened after my DNF on the Terrible Two (I found out that only 140/250 people finished), but it made me want to focus on a new direction of sprinting instead of hill climbing. I have lots of base miles to keep going strong. Points racing on Tuesdays at the track has kept things fresh and fun.

Possible Races:

Carrera de San Rafael 8/9-- It's the Saturday after we get back from camping, if we haven't ridden our legs off! 1:35 min drive in the evening. W 3/4 race at 2:45 and W 1/2/3 race at 6:50. Lots of cash and prizes. Not in the Cal Cup It's the same day as Patterson Pass. I've never done it before.

The Esparto TT (W 1/2/3) is the next day. Esparto was a fun experience last year and I'd like to get more chances to TT in the future. I don't think I'll do that well. I could pick either the Carrera or Esparto. Right now I feel like the Carrera is more where I'm at since I've done the points races. Cal Cup Race.

Dunnigan Hills Road Race 8/16. I'd like to keep the energy level up for the next day, but this course isn't too too demanding. Long flat rollers. I'm not sure what categories they are offering right now. Last year I think they had seperate women's categories. I got 3rd place in the W4's last year. Nice and close to home. Cal Cup Race.

Suisuin Crit 8/17 (W 1/2/3)-- Back in the saddle for this baby! Last time I got dropped on the first lap as an unattatched 4 who was having trouble getting in her cleats. It was an open women's field in the Cal Cup. Doh! It will be nice to hang with that one. Cal Cup Race.

Winters Road Race 8/31 -- A fun course close to home on familiar roads. It was my first road race back in 2005 and I had a great time. Rollers and one short power climb/ technical descent. I would get to say hello to Kyle's Camel. Cal Cup Race.

Help Me Decide? What races do you consider fun? What do you think of the Carerra? To TT or not to TT?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tour De France Commercials
For those of us without a DVR, we get the pleasure of watching the same commercials over and over again. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad the tour has sponsorship. What I've determined:

1. My beer and my life should have more than one dimension.
2. It's never too late to set yourself straight.
3. You can take energy from exhaust and recycle it.
4. Repetition does not equal joy.

Tuesday Points Racing
Every week has been more fun! Great camaraderie and learning from the pros. Larry Nolan does a great job running things, teaching and keeping it fun. I feel like I've turned a corner and have figured out how to get up on top of the gear and sprint. We did three 30 lap races, sprinting every six laps with a few brownie primes thrown in. I attacked a few times and got some points, which is better than my past performance. At the end of the last race, I knew I was cooked and outgunned by the juniors and Kelly of Proman, so I attacked with three to go. Beth, my bella teammate, used this to her advantage and attacked after me and won 1st (I think she won two of the Cs points races for the night). Go team! Go Beth.

Monday, July 7, 2008


This cute little email popped into my in-box earlier today... when it's purple, meaning VERY UNHEALTHY, and 111 degrees in my back yard I have to listen to reason (especially with asthma). Sigh... it feels like rain days in the winter. I'll have to vent my frustrations on the track tomorrow.

The high particulate matter 2.5 forecast for today and tomorrow is due to smoke from wildfires and is focused primarily on high readings in Placer County .

Sacramento Regional PM2.5 Forecast

Monday, Jul 7: 205 AQI - Very Unhealthy (PM2.5)

One happy cyclist again...

What have I been doing since the Terrible Two?

1. The Monday Night River Ride--
Pain, suffering, wind and camaraderie. Who will be the next king or queen of the freeway overpass?

2. Tuesday Points Racing at Hellyer Velodrome-
"As long as I breath, I attack." Bernard Hinault

Four bellas + cookie primes + repeated attacks = the team wins (Erika)! It's really hard to have more fun on the bike. Friday night racing is sponsored by the team. The Beergarten Beladrome! Dino smashed the B's race by lapping the field and earning 46 points.

3. Davis 4th of July Criterium--
"If you brake, you don't win." Mario Cipollini

I decided to race with the 3/4s considering the pro field signed up. It was fast, competitive and surprisingly safe. No crashes in our field. Last time there were four (with myself involved). I was nervous and let gaps build in the corners, but once I started spinning and relaxed, it was more fun. April and I finished mid-pack. I met my goal of just doing it again and keeping the rubber to the road.

4. The Saturday River Ride--
The boys were tired after racing on Friday, so there were some unusual breaks in the speed. No one was too froggy. I kept up just fine.

Racey! Racey! Yeah baby (ala Austin Powers).

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Terrible Two Double Century 2008

Or the heading could read:

"Hill Slug Attempts defy Gravity (Trying to do everything in one season)."

Yes, folks, after 14 of these suckers, she finally DNFs. I missed the cutoff at lunch by two minutes. But I don't feel ashamed. It was bloody hot and I haven't been targeting the Terrible Two as THE RIDE (which you pretty much have to do, unless you are one of those hill mutants). The TT has taken out many experienced, fit, and resourceful riders. There is a reason for the name.

The Report:
Ride Start
The roll out from the ride start was fun! We were paced by a mini. Lots of friends and fast women there. It was going well until a dog ran out into the peloton and caused a crash right in front of me. It's always good to focus on your line around and try not to look at the people tumbling on the pavement. Our friend Tim helped me make sure that Dino was okay. He must have seen the look on my face. We had a Shlug running in motorcycle helmet and underwear and someone kept singing Boy George's "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" Good times.

Trinity Grade
I forgot how steep that sucker is. I tried not to think about it when lots of people passed me. "No, you're not the very last one on the course." The chalk from the tour of California was still there. My favorite chalk sign was "I want my mommy." It was cool to imagine the pros racing up it including the 40-something Cippo in the lead group. On the twisty technical descent I sped ahead of Dino who got his first front flat of the day. I kept riding, not knowing what had happened and knowing that he would catch me soon. I was in and out of Rest Stop 1 in 9 minutes.

The Geysers
When I did this ride back in 2005, the Geysers was completely engulfed in fog which was probably good because I didn't see how steep, long and exposed it was. I was feeling really sick to my stomach which I was concerned about (if you don't replenish the calories it's game over). I kept drinking and crawling up the hill. The Santa Rosa Bike Club had three sag vehicles up the climb, filling our water bottles and pouring water over our backs. They give incredible support. Dino was waiting at the top and found out that there were 50 riders behind us.

To Lunch
You can't go too fast through the up and down section from the top of the Geysers to Lake Sonoma. There are gravel sections worthy of Cyclocross, cattle grates, and blind corners. It's one of the maddening aspects of the ride. You can't make much time on the sections between the climbs. That's were Dino got front flat #2. We weren't feeling too confident in his front wheel, especially since he had a front flat at the Nevada City Bike Classic the week before. I knew we were cutting it close to the time cut off at lunch. They rang the bell right before we got there. Drat!!!

Cut off Ride
I still felt fine, and my pride kept me from getting into a sag vehicle. We opted to ride back to Sebastopol after having sandwiches and letting Dino take care of his flat issues. The ride back was incredibly gorgeous, going through the rolling hills and vineyards of the Alexander Valley. It made me feel better. I was having a nice reflective ride until we stopped understanding the map, ran out of water in the heat and Dino got front flat #3. I felt like we were lucky that it didn't happen at high speed coming down one of those technical descents later in the ride.

We eventually made it back with a three mile detour and a pit stop at a gas station for water and Gatorade. We ended up with 147 miles and lots of climbing. At the finish line we saw some of the first people come in at around 12 hours and 20 minutes. Absolutely incredible to finish 200 miles, 16,000 feet of climbing in 100 degree heat in that time. We had a little food then high-tailed it back home.

Time to Re-evaluate
Okay, so maybe you can't do it all and expect results. I'm still figuring out what I can be successful at and what are my limits. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained," right? Dino had a challenge fitting everything in when my training goals were to race on the road, track and ultra-distance. Cycling is always an experiment of one and I'm happy I gave it a shot. I still think I need variety to avoid burn-out, but realize I need to make more specific targets.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Are you ready?

It's the question everyone asks when I mention the Terrible Two this Saturday. What always fires off in my head immediately is "Of course not!" I don't think I'll ever feel truly ready for it. I could always grind up more steep pitches and eat less donuts. I think the feeling comes from the respect for the magnitude of the ride, the length, the climbs, the descents... Respect that keeps me humble, but ready to go.

Ft. Ross at Sunset

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hopelessly Addicted...

I've had this up all day, obsessively checking on the latest deal. They only show one item at a time until they sell out:

Be sure to read "The Mission".

Sigh... I love new bike things.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Golden State Criterium

It's been a long week. I jumped right back into my normal bike/teach/drive cycle without pause after the Davis Double. I did suprisingly well recovering considering everything I do. About Tuesday I decided to sign up for today's local crit.

Rolling out of bed this morning, I got a shocker looking out the window. RAIN!!! You've got to be kidding after last week's scorcher. I thought about riding over but felt like the trainer might be a warmer and more consistent warm-up.

I was happy to see my teammate April looking fly in her Bella kit. I missed having Dino with me. We were both a little more nervous with the rain and the 180 put into the course. We had a nice field of mostly experienced 3s in our 3/4 field of about 25 so it turned out to be pretty safe in the rain. We had a couple of crashes, but no one was taken out too badly.

The four Metromint girls were active as usual and there were some good attacks that made it more interesting. They are fun to watch. I spent most of the time up front guarding and chasing attacks. I focused on staying up front, especially through the 180.

There were three girls who attacked through the final corner and I couldn't quite get on a wheel. I ended up getting 4th place. April was behind me at 8th place. One of the Metromints who won the blueberry prime generously shared them while we waited for the results. After a mediocre start to the season, it was nice to have my form back. I think the rest of the season is going to be great.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Davis Double Century 2008

Double Century #14 (Davis Double #6)

Spiritual Observance
After doing these many, I had to think to myself, "Why?" I don't exactly have to prove that I can finish. I guess they are kind of the equivalent of religious holidays (church of the rotating mass). Not doing them is like not celebrating Christmas. Sure, it would be a lot less hassle, but something would be missing. I both look forward to and dread them. I get to see people I only spend time with once or twice a year. They are markers in my life. They make me take stock of myself and come face to face with my limitations. They make me grateful for my ability to finish. Each one has its own character and story.

This Year's Highlights:

  • Tandem train freebie averaging 22 for the first 45 miles
  • Seeing 1000s of butterflies swirl around the riders up Cardiac Hill
  • Dino singing Oscar the Grouch's "I Love Trash"
  • Tube Socks filled with ice around my neck
  • Seeing the same tube socks littering the back roads from Clear Lake to Davis (someone probably wonders about their origin)
  • Knowing the route by heart
  • Being mistaken for Sabine at one of the last rest stops
  • A bike that ran as smooth as butter
  • A beautiful TAILwind for the last flat miles (riding 20-25mph)
  • Having Logan finish his first double incident free
  • Watching Dino's calves
  • Awesome support of the Davis Bike club. The best ever.
  • Having two strong, devoted ride mates (D-train and the newly dubbed L-train) looking out for me (keeping me cool and pulling me along) SPOILED!
  • 109 degrees on the climb after lunch (up Resurrection). I have never gotten along with that hill!
  • 3 hours lost to getting cooled and hydrated at rest stops
  • blisters from the heat
  • seeing people abandoning the ride, looking dejected in the shade
Scroll through the pictures to see me impersonating a T-Rex.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Whut's Crackin'?

Buy now... Pay Later!
Wednesday brought me some great sprint #s (in the 800s). Then on the Thursday south river ride I died a slow painful death, sucking wheel as if it were my last breath.

Coolest 24 hour/Lake Loop Virgin
Friday I stocked up on Groceries to feed the cycling calorie consuming machines. Saturday I rode up to Cool via Salmon Falls Climb to witness my first ultra mountain bike race-- The Coolest 24 hours! It was a party! I heard soo many people say "Hey Bella!" and "Go Velo Bella!". I saw Yvette C. who I haven't seen forever in a team relay for 24 hours. I saw Marion J. line up with the 8 hour group. We saw each other grinned and I said "I didn't know you were going to be here!". She said "I didn't either!" I was happy to cheer my lungs out at her start. There were lots more friends to see including the awesome Brad C. and Dezi! It was a great way to get 101 miles in. It was my first time doing the Folsom Lake Loop (hard to believe considering all the times I have ridden the different parts).

Back to Back Benjamins
Today was another 101 miles off to Davis and then up to the lake. I felt okayish. We saw some people riding up to Folsom on Penny Farthings and one unicycle. There are some interesting people on the parkway. I was toast by the end but had Bandera Cluck and Moo for dinner which made it all worth it.

Why all the miles? It's May!

Dino is going to take it all!! Yeah baby!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

No rest for the wicked...

The numbers from last week:

  • Approximately 270 miles
  • 16 hours of riding
  • 37.2 mph on the River Ride on Saturday (somehow I always get a little push that helps me hang on). A new land speed record for me in a pack in the flats.
  • Hitting in the mid 700s for my sprints (getting higher).

I'm right on track for the Doubles coming up!

On the Personal Front:
Dad is doing well (although he's a little stir crazy). He got a new bike for my birthday (yes, my birthday). It's what I wanted!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Breathing Room

Today was the first time in the last few weeks when I feel like I have really been able to catch my breath. Thank Dino for talking some sense into me about taking a day off riding if needed. Quality training is more important than grinding yourself into the ground.

Where do I even start?

My healthy exercising dad had a quintuple bypass surgery the Monday after my Spring Break of fantastic riding. I am so bloody lucky to have pops around. Life is precious (underscore, bold, exclamation point to infinity). It was a good wake-up call and brought the family closer (and Dino and me). I am heading up this weekend to check in on him and get in some good climbing in Grass Valley.

I went down to the Madera Stage race last weekend to support Dino. I still got in over two hours of quality riding. I had soo much fun!! I love seeing the fancy TT bikes (and fantasize about putting Dino on one). I could hardly stand watching the crit I was so anxious (spectators counted 17 flats during the race). Dino had great position until he got a flat and other people in some breaks wouldn't commit. I watched Kyle, my student and friend, pull off a great sprint to win it in the end.

That night I hung out with the Bellas at the Vineyard. I am so happy to be a part of the team. They are tough, beautiful, funny and have the right attitude. We crowded the 35+ podium when the weekend was done and made a good showing with the 4s. After that it was an Italian dinner with Team City-- more neat people even though the food stank (and I'm not that picky).

The road race was hot! The women's 3's got grouped with the 1/2s. As you can imagine they weren't thrilled but did pretty well. Ali from Metromint stayed with them (gosh she's strong this year). I worked the feed zone and road the rollers in the start finish. What a beautiful, fun course! The view of the Sierras was spectacular. It was a really fun weekend.

Now it's time to get some serious miles in before ultra season starts!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Land Park Criterium Pics

I need to work on my game face... savage!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Copperopolis Road Race: Category- Women's Solo Training Ride

I won my category and learned a lot in the process.

So I raced with the women's 4 field in 2006. It was my first real year racing and I was unattached. At the start, I chatted with others to calm myself down. The woman I talked to (who will remain team-less and nameless) gave me a "great pep talk" about how big girls do better at crits because they can throw their weight around. There was some truth to that, but I didn't need to hear it at that point. ("There is a special place in Hell for women who don't help other women " Madeline Albright, Secretary of State). I then proceeded to redline on the first lap and get dropped on the smooth section after the feed zone and rode solo the rest to the way to finish next to last. Not a confidence builder.

At that time, I had more of a complex about my size and shape, and felt like it was a major inhibitor to being good at bike racing. When I watched the pro women at the San Francisco Gran Prix it was a major eye opener. I thought "Man! These girls aren't all pip-squeaks!" There was hope after all. After that I tried to sign up for races where I didn't set myself up for "failure"--things that were more suited to my strengths. I met my goal last year of moving up a category and had more fun than ever being a part of Velo Bella.

I cheered on my friends and teammates for the first wave of racers, then took a lovely training ride once around the course. I rode up to the feedzone with a backpack full of bottles and gu's to feed people that might need it. I hung out with some really cool people, gave Dino food and a bottle of Heed and then spun over to the start/finish to laze about in the sun with Linda E., Team Cities and Laura. My friend Sarah (Mtn. Bike Pro) won the Women's 3 race. Awesome.

Observations & Conversation:

  • The largest pack I saw maybe had a dozen riders finishing together.
  • There were a lot of solo finishers-- including people I knew to be very strong (hill-climbers even).
  • A lot of people seriously asked me why I wasn't racing (in that past I would have thought "Are you serious? Can't you see I'm not built for this course?")
  • Most people don't think they are built for this course.
  • I overheard a very strong pro (Tait) saying "This was a wakeup call today." (Everyone has thoughts like this?)
  • I don't care about smack talk anymore (bring it on).
  • It's more honorable to race and finish then to not try (duh).
  • More women need to sign up for races. Period.
  • There is no failure if I have fun, learn something or can help out a teammate.
  • I take things too seriously sometimes.

I looked up my results from last time and found out that Virginia P. won that time (now an NRC contender and Cat 1). I finished 12th place. Good for me! Maybe next year I'll sign up.