Monday, July 30, 2007

Tour de Fat

It was another great afternoon at the Tour de Fat in Truckee. We missed the bike parade because of the triathlon but we did not miss the side shows and more importantly the beer. They had my new favorite Mothership Wit Organic Wheat Beer on tap. It is described on a coaster as follows: "It elevates the zesty Wit or White beers of Belgium with wheat malt, coriander and orange peel spicing - all of which are organically grown. The refreshing taste is the result of a gravitational balance of citrus and sour flavors held in suspension by a bright burst of carbonation." If you see it at your local store or on tap get some you won't be sorry.

It also happened to be Robin's birthday and first time at the tour. We treated her to many beers and some sushi for lunch. It was nice spending the day with her, a rare treat with our busy lives.

You can read more about the Tour de Fat at the Facility Bike Club blog there are links to all the pictures there too.

Madison's Triathlon Part II

This Saturday Madison did the "real" triathlon. In her age group (9/10) there were about 25 kids. She was nervous before the race saying that her stomach hurt. This picture is of her and the other kids getting instructions from Keith the swim center director. You can see her biting her lip...

During the training camp they did a transition practice race and Madison was first so she won this fabulous Tigersharks swim cap seen in this photo.

Here we are exiting the pool, about the mid to last half of the pack. All the swim team punks were the first ones out of course.

Here we are at the "transition area" where we put on shoes and take off on the bike.

The bike was where she caught up and smoked em! When she got off the bike she was the second place girl. You can see the difference in her entire demeanor on race day it is pretty amazing.

The run was where we had a break down. She got a cramp and had to stop running to recover. Brent ran out to her and told her what place she was in and kept her going. In the end, the cramp got the best of her but she still sprinted to the finish.

In the end, she was the 4th place girl she was just seconds away from a 3rd place medal. Every year she just gets better and better. The first year she did not finish, she swam 50 meters, exiting the pool and said I am done. The second year she finished and was not last. The third she finished in the upper mid of the pack. This year she did amazing I am so proud. One of the first things she said to me after she stopped crying and caught her breath was "I think I can win this next year mommie".

Not too bad for a soccer player!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Madison's Triathlon Part I

Madison has been attending triathlon training camp this week through our community center recreation program. This will be the second year they have had the camp to help prepare the kids for the race. This will be the 4Th year she has done the race. She has been having a blast all week practicing transitions, learning about nutrition, and doing craft projects. It is a nice change of pace from her regular summer camp program.

Since I work across the street from the community center, I had the opportunity to come and watch the practice race they did today.

The camp is run by a guy who used to run the entire recreation program but had the opportunity to buy a business so he has resigned. Three of his own kids are in the camp one of which is Madison's age. So when it came to the practice race, it was just she and him in their age bracket. Evidently his dad told the two of them to stick together and just do the race without stopping. At least that was Madison's understanding of the instructions so she thought she was not allowed to beat him.

Madison was the first out of the pool but the other boy caught her at the transition area but kindly waited for her before taking off on his bike. Then they proceeded to ride together until the run where again, if one of them got ahead the other waited for them to catch up. I found this quite amusing but the camp organizers were just shaking their heads. In the end, they tied just as planned but it was Madison who was waiting for him to get to the finish.

The real race is this Saturday and we are super excited!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Tour de Enzyte 2007

This is Smiling Bob, you may recognize him from every other commercial on Versus coverage of the Tour de France. Evidently the geniuses at Versus think that the target audience for the Tour are middle aged men who have trouble getting their man parts to work. I am typically not a prude...for the most part I really am not but when my 9 year old daughter (who we want to encourage to like cycling) is whistling the song to the Enzyte commercial I get a bit annoyed. Thank god she has not yet asked me what "natural male enhancement" is. We have actually started to time the occurrences of this commercial and it is about every 20 minutes. I guess I had a hard enough time getting excited about the tour this year and I am very dissapointed with the coverage that Versus is offering. I miss Lance and I miss OLN!

Now that I have that off my chest, here is a funny story from Madison. We were watching the tour the other night and she (age 9) says to me "Mommie, why aren't there any girls in this race?" So I turn to Brent (who know this subject is near and dear to my girls-can-do-anything-boys-can heart) and said "would you care to explain that to her". His response was basically that there are no women that can do this race but someday maybe there will be. Madison's response to this was "my mommie could do that race". It was so dang adorable! So of course I set her straight and explained that while mommie rides her bike these guys ride 4 times the amount of miles mommie does in a day and do it for 3 weeks straight.

I still think she thinks I could do it and that RULES!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Tour of the California Alps

Yeah...that's the "nice" name for what is more commonly (and accurately) known as The Death Ride.

A few months ago, Madison's soccer coach and I went for a little road ride on the Diamond Valley Loop. It was my first big ride on my new Masi Gran Criterium road bike. Along the way, he and his brother George talked me into buying my friend Kathy's Death Ride ticket. She had knee surgery and could not go.

I felt pretty confident about the ride for most of the past few months. It wasn't until we got home from Huntington Beach that I realized I had not trained enough and I was completely unprepared for what I had gotten myself into. So I didn't sleep well at all the entire week before the ride and both of my knees were sore, compounding my worries.

Friday night before the ride Sandie and I drove out to Turtle Rock Park near Markleeville to check out the expo and buy some merchandise. It didn't do much to calm my nerves - in fact I got even more nervous when I saw some of the riders on their bikes riding up and down the smaller hills surrounding the area.

We drove back to Carson and had dinner at Grand Central then went home and I packed up my gear, lubed my chain, and hit the sack at about 10:30. Two and a half hours later than I planned.

I woke up every hour all night. Finally at 4:00 AM I rolled out of bed. I was on the road by 5:00 with the windows down and the music loud.

6:03 AM - Threw my leg over the Masi and took off from Turtle Rock Park down the hill toward Markleeville. 6:04 AM - Heard a funny noise. Tic-Tic-Tic...I thought my speed sensor was hitting. I stopped and checked it out but it was fine. So I spun the wheel and there it was again. Tic-Tic-Tic - safety pin in the tire! One minute in and I have to patch my tube! Luckily it turned out to be the only mechanical problem for me all day.

6:24 AM - Patched up and heading down the road. I got in with a group of 5 or 6 riders - all first timers just like me. We rode together all the way to the fork in the road where Monitor pass goes up to the left and Ebbett's pass goes up to the right. I stopped to take off my wind vest and get rid of some morning coffee. Then I headed up the front side of Monitor. Along the way I hooked up with another first timer who told me the story of waiting for his buddy at the start for a half hour before starting down the road. He overheard some people talking about an overturned truck and it turned out to be his buddy. It seems he was pulling off the road to park when one of his wheels went into a hole and he ended up upside down. We split up at the rest stop on the top of Monitor. I refilled my water bottles, had a couple of bananas and headed down the other side toward Topaz Lake.

The decent was awesome. Fast, curvy, and long. At the bottom I had a couple of orange wedges and a handful of pretzels then headed back up to the summit. The sun was beating down in full force on the east side of the mountain by this time and there was only a slight breeze at my back so it was HOT! I rounded a switch back that put the breeze on my face so I unzipped my jersey more and let it blow in and cool me off. At the top I paused to take a picture with my phone of the elevation marker. I refilled my bottles (which were bone dry) and got a couple of Advil and gel packets. After a quick stretch and bathroom break I headed back down the west side to climb Ebbetts.

After another fun decent I turned left and headed up
Ebbetts. Shortly thereafter my Monitor climbing buddy caught up to me and told me the good news that his friend's bike survived the rollover and he was going to do his best to do the whole ride and worry about his truck later. After a few miles he left me behind. The nice part about doing this ride alone is meeting new people and being able to ride at your own pace.

About half way up Ebbetts I came across George (Madison's soccer coach's brother). He was taking a rest in the shade. I asked him where his brothers were. He told me that John (Madison's soccer coach) didn't make it because he got hurt in Friday's soccer game (which I skipped for that exact reason) and Ernesto took off ahead. I tried to ride with George but he was starting to cramp up and couldn't hold the pace.

All the way up there were notes in chalk on the road. When I saw one that said "you are looking at Ebbetts Peak" I stopped and snapped a pic with my phone.

At the top it was complete chaos! The road is only one lane wide and there were a load of riders coming up from the back side and a load coming up from the front side all at the same time. There was a cattle guard right at the rest stop and it all created a huge bicycle traffic jam! I finally got off the road and lay down in the pine needles and waited for things to calm a bit. I snapped a couple more pics and ventured across the road to refuel and get more water.

My left hand, wrist, forearm, and foot were really starting to bother me at this time. Amazingly enough - my knees felt great! And thanks to me wearing two pairs of cycling shorts and some Body Glide, my butt was still in good shape. I thought about just heading back at this point, but then talked myself into getting the 4th over with. It's the shortest climb at around 6 miles, so I hopped on my bike and headed down the back side. Fun decent but toward the bottom the road was buckled and I got airborne a few times and almost lost control of the bike before I could get my fingers on the brakes. The only really scary part of the whole ride.

At the bottom (Hermit Valley) they were out of stickers to prove you did the pass. I said "you have got to be kidding!" as the guy signed my number bib where the sticker would have gone. The guy behind me said "that's like McDonald's running out of hamburger!"

I hit the port-a-potty, ate a bagel with peanut butter, washed it down with a V-8, and headed back up to the top.

On the climb I knew it would be my last but there was still that stubborn part of me that wanted to do the 5th. I told myself and others that I would decide after climbing out of Markleeville to Turtle Rock Park. I climbed with a 5 time vet of the ride who was telling me I still looked strong and I was climbing well. Shortly after that I felt it going away - then I saw him going away up the hill.

At the top, I rested for 2 or 3 minutes then took off down the funnest of all the descents. Twisty, fast, and only a handful of riders still climbing. That meant I could use the whole road. I got passed by one guy in the twistiest section but then blew by him when the road opened up toward the bottom.

At the lunch stop, I saw George again - bike on his shoulder, bent seat post, and taco'd rear wheel. I left my lunch on the table and went to check on him. He was fine. A little road rash and a few bruises. He was doing 35 or 40, hit a rock that blew out his front tire, hit a huge dip, and lost control. He bumped a wall, went airborne, flipped, and landed on the opposite side of the road. He caught a ride on the back of a motorcycle and was waiting for a truck to take him to Turtle Rock Park.

After lunch, I refilled the bottles with hot water (they were out of ice at this point) and head down into Markleeville. I was greeted by temps in the triple digits and a head wind between 15 and 20 MPH. When I got to town there were a bunch of people cheering the riders on. That was nice and gave me a bit of a boost. They even said "drink some more water!". I realized I hadn't been drinking. Mmmm - hot water!

The climb out of Markleeville was not as bad as I thought it would be and I even passed a few people. My arms were getting sunburned because I forgot to take sunblock with me after putting it on in the morning so I stopped and put my arm warmers back on. It turned out to be a good idea because the wind blowing through the sweat soaked material cooled my arms more than the bare skin.

When I got to the car, I saw my lovely wife sitting there in the shade. She smiled and stood up to take my picture. That's when I said to myself "it's over". There were some ladies sitting on the side of the road cheering everyone on. They said "come on, you can do 5!" I shook my head no and crossed the road to Sandie. I stopped and said "I'm done" she said, "are you sure? It's just one can do it!" I said "there is nothing left, I am done". It was 3:56 PM.

I flopped into the chair and chugged the ice cold Propel that was in the cooler. Then the ice cold Hammer Recoverite. I got up and stretched a little, sat back down and George's ride pulled in and we snapped a photo of his bike.

Ice cold Fat Tire was the very next thing down the hatch - then another as we waited for Ernesto to finish the 5th.

Sandie and I went up to eat some BBQ and I had a couple more beers. Ernesto finally showed up to check in and we got a picture of him as he stood there half dead.

I have never suffered so much and had so much fun all at the same time. It breaks my heart to know I won't have the chance to do it again until 2009. I will do all 5 next time. I have no doubt.

1 Pink and Black fatcyclist jersey
2 Pairs of cycling shorts
4 Climbs
12 Hours
89 Miles
12,206 Feet of climbing

PS. I would like to thank Mike and Kathy for all the encouragement and tips. Also, thanks to Dan at Bicycle Authority for getting my bike ready in time for the ride and the stick of Body Glide that saved my butt (literally). Most of all thanks to Sandie for the love and support and being there at the end of a grueling day.

You can check out the professional photos at West World Images under rider #2443

The Lonley Road to the Death Ride

Since we try to be earth friendly and I knew Brent might be either A. too tired to drive himself home or 2. too drunk to drive himself home or a combination of both, I decided to ride my road bike to the start of the Death Ride so I could drive him home. This was initially my friend Kathy's idea and the two of us were going to both ride from Carson City to Markleeville together and stop for coffee along the way and just take our time getting there. Then she had something come up so I was on my own. Yes, I only have one friend so what!

I was pretty nervous (as you can see in this picture) because I have never changed a road tire (have changed a MTB). Also, my bike has a smaller front than rear wheel and I only have room for one tube so I carry the smaller one since the are not as easily found at bike shops. Basically if I got a flat on the rear, I was screwed. Bottom line, my husband is who I call when I need help and he was going to be "busy" doing some little Tour of the California Alps thing (stay tuned for his post).

After riding through town which was not nearly as nerve wracking as I expected, I crossed over 395 and rode to Jacks Valley Road. The night before we drove my route home from the Death Ride Expo so I could clock it and all that. I remember saying "it is all downhill, I will be fine". Then I turned the corner off 395 to JVR and looked ahead. There is this hill that looks really really steep and long but in actuality it was not bad but at the time I was saying to myself "self, this is gonna suck". The first picture of this entry is at the top of the hill looking down into Carson Valley.

Once you get through Jack's Valley you arrive in the most quaint of towns, actually Nevada's first settlement and where Brent and I got married, Genoa. This is also the location of one of the nicest public bathrooms I have ever seen. I made my first pit stop here and stopped to take a pic. I had planned to stop here for a coffee or something to waste time but I just kind of wanted to get to the Death Ride so I could relax.

After Genoa, it is a long ride on Foothill road with great views of the farms and mountains. Once you leave town the number of cars is considerably less as well so that is nice. It had been about 2 hours so I was starting to get hungry so I decided I was going to stop at the first shade I saw to enjoy my Hammer gel. The next shade was about 45 minutes away! This pic is of the view I had while enjoying my gel.

At the end of Foothill I was at HWY 88. I decided to take a side route on Carson River Road to avoid traffic and it is much more scenic. This is also the spot where you lose cell service. This is also the spot where I started to run out of water and seriously think that if the road did not end soon, I was in trouble. It was about 1:00 and getting hot.

At the end of Carson River Road is the Woodfords General Store and the gateway to my final climb to the park where the Death Ride starts. As you can see I am pretty happy now knowing that I only have about 2 miles to go even though they are all uphill miles. I had also just finished an ice cold vitamin water and had a pit stop. I sat on the bench here for about 10 minutes and then was just too excited to get to the park and had to leave.

Here is the first place I saw actual riders at a pit stop. This pit stop is on the way to the last climb or the 5th pass. So as I started my accent to the park people started cheering for me because they thought I had just finished the last pass and was on my way in to the finish. I kept saying "no, I did not do the ride - just here to meet my husband" but then decided if they want to cheer for me so be it. I did not have a number on my back or my bike so it was not like I was pretending right?

I finally arrived at my car and noticed that Brent had not been back there yet. The way they mess with your mind on this ride is you have to pass your car after the 4th pass on the way to the 5th pass. It takes a lot to not just give up here I would imagine. I won't spoil the outcome because I want Brent to write about it but what I will say is that I am very proud of him for what he endured yesterday, absolutely amazing.

PS. Notice the jersey? It is the "Team Susan" jersey from the fatcyclist. We ordered ours when they were first available and I contacted Fatty last week explaining that we really wanted to wear ours at the Death Ride....they magically appeared on Friday just in time. You can get yours here from Twin Six great cause and great jersey everyone wins.

Here are my stats for the ride:

Miles traveled: 38.96
Total Accent: 2457 feet
Calories burned: 1615
Pace: 6:01/mi (I was taking my time)
Avg Cadence: 65 RPM (see above)
Total Time: 3:54:44
Rednecks that tried to run me down: 1
Beers consumed post ride: 2 Fat Tires, 1/2 Sierra Nevada (Over several hours - I was driving remember)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Road Trip!

The family packed up the beach cruisers and hit the road this past week for our now annual trip to Huntington Beach, California for the 4th of July.

Our Aunt Sharon and Uncle Vic live there and always welcome us with open arms.

The kids have a DVD player in the back so they stay entertained with movies on the way down. Here is Madison watching a movie and snacking on organic Valencia oranges from Trader Joe's.

This year Shayna has her permit so she was able to drive us for some of the trip. She drove for about 3 hours so that was good practice for her. She only almost killed us once when she veered off the road because she was reading a beef jerky sign that I pointed out because it said "fresh beef jerky" which to me is an oxymoron.

Since Shayna could drive Brent sat in back with Madison and watched a movie while I co-piloted.

As much as we love to visit Orange County, one thing we do not like is the traffic. For about an hour it is all stop and go and super stressful. I suppose you would grow accustomed to it eventually but I don't necessarily want to find out.

Since we all have beach cruisers we take them with us on vacation to use them for what they were intended for. It is about 3 miles to the beach from Aunt Sharon and Uncle Vics place and super convenient since there is no shortage of bike parking and it is free. Madison did pretty well but actually only rode to the beach one of the 2 days we went. The first part of the ride is uphill and pretty hard for her so that starts her off in a bad mood. We opted to let her catch a ride in the car the remainder of the days.

Another of our favorite places in Huntington Beach is the Huntington Beach Beer Co. so we went to lunch there before going to the beach our first day. Brent had the HB15 commemorating the 15th anniversary of the brewery while I had the blond.

Madison (as usual) was not hungry so she had a half order of salad and Shayna had a tuna pita. Brent and I split a buffalo chicken sandwich before heading to the beach for the day.

Once we hit the beach Madison spent 100% of the time in the water. It was kind of scary because the waves were really powerful while we were there. The lifeguards kept warning swimmers about the riptide and making them stay at waist level. Madison would get pummeled and we would think she was going to get up crying but she would be smiling every time.

Aunt Sharon and Uncle Vic have a ping pong table in their garage so we had lots of action on that all week. Madison even took Aunt Sharon's paddle and wrote her name on it!

Uncle Vic was pretty happy to have a partner to play with they had a great time.

We spent quite a bit of time between activities doing a puzzle that Aunt Sharon and Uncle Vic saved for us to finish from last year. Brent swore up and down that we did not have all the pieces the entire time but we did eventually finish it and they were all there. We also had a puzzle of Niagara Falls to work on but it was just too stinking hard so we gave up.

On the 4th Brent and I rode the cruisers down to the beach while the neighbor offered to give our kids a ride in the car with her kids and get us a spot. It is nice to take the bikes because they close a section of PCH to cars so it is just overtaken by bikes. This year there were some jerks out there but when you get that many people in one place that is bound to happen.

Down at the beach they have all sorts of food booths set up and I had promised Madison a funnel cake since she had never had one. Here is her and her friend Ivy sharing it on the beach. She was in heaven, it is her new favorite thing.

Here are the bikes on the beach just before the fireworks started. It is so moist down there that when you go to sit on your seat, it is all wet. Once the show is over it is pretty tough to work through the crowd to get back to the street but once you do it is nice to know you don't have to fight traffic in the car. We beat the neighbor home by 20 minutes because she was in a car and we were on the bikes.

Here are the kids watching the fireworks. Ivy is 12 and her brother Chris is 15, they live one house down from Uncle Vic and Aunt Sharon so the kids always get together to play when we are down there.

The back patio made for great bike storage while we were there. The gate was padlocked so we did not have to worry about anyone messing with them - other than the raccoons. Brent installed new lights on Uncle Vic and Aunt Sharon's bikes while he was there too.

Our trip home was pretty rough. Normally the drive takes 8 hours but we got to the intersection of 14 and 395 and literally before our eyes they shut down 395 due to a fire burning in Lone Pine, Big Pine, and Independence. We had to back track an hour and then take the 58 to Bakersfield over to Sacramento then 50 to Tahoe and home. This little detour added 4 hours to the drive! The kids were troopers and Brent and I just put some Dwight Yokum on the iPod in honor of our detour through his home town.

The week was filled with fun, great food, and family. Uncle Vic took care of us at the market and got us tons of vegetables and he, Madison, and I even had kimchi hour every night. We went to some great restaurants too. It was a wonderfully relaxing week and we can't wait to do it again next year.