Boulder Roubaix

What better way to spend a Saturday than at a bike race, right? In this case, Mother Nature decided to bless the day and the previous 36+ hours with a steady rain (and snow in the upper elevations of Colorado). The Boulder Roubaix course is 75% hard packed dirt so this made for some delightfully (I can say this because I wasn’t racing) muddy and slick conditions.

My friend Brian was racing in the men’s cat 4 race. Friend Tracy was a course marshal, while I manned the feed zone and served as one of an estimated 12 spectators. Rain poured steadily all morning. It was a true field test of my rain gear, which passed with flying colors by the way. Water was rolling off me, so you can imagine what this rain did for the roads.

Boulder Roubaix - Woman climbs up a hill on the course

Check out the dirt on this woman’s bike. She managed to keep her kit way cleaner than a lot of riders. I think this might be the women’s cat 4 winner, so perhaps it’s because she was always out in front. All the riders were ridiculously dirty.

Boulder Roubaix - Pro peloton

Luck was on the pros’ side as conditions vastly improved prior to their start. Look at all those clean kits.

Boulder Roubaix - Feed Zone

At one point, I was directed to establish a feed zone “somewhere near that white mailbox.” This is what I later figured out must have been “the feed zone.” Hmmm…

I had a lot of fun cheering for the riders, doing what I could to make them feel better about slogging through rain and mud. All the riders were amazingly polite — at least half said “thank you” while another quarter gave me a nod of appreciation every time.

All in all, a fun bike race.

Biking Olympics

Olympic men’s road race internal conflict

I’m just going to throw this out there: I’m fighting feelings of disappointment in the Olympic men’s road race. I’ve thought about this all day, had an email back and forth with a friend about it, ranted to a coworker, and continued to mull over it while I did some weights at the gym. What’s bothering me you may ask?

53 DNFs.

Contador, Freire, Hunter, O’Grady, Voigt, Zabriskie, Efimkin, Schumacher, Ciolek…what the hell?

Before you jump to the comments and tell me how stupid I am, here’s a few things I “get”:

  1. I get that this race was quite possibly the race from hell — long, hot, tough, smoggy, and lacking spectators.
  2. I get that some of the guys sacrificed themselves for other team members.
  3. I get that some guys are thinking about the ITT.
  4. I get that the race is only two weeks after the end of the Tour, which follows a long, hard season including Paris-Roubaix, the Giro, and spring classics.
  5. I get that most of these guys probably still have a couple major events left on their ’08 schedule.
  6. I get that the race is not the biggest world stage for cycling like it is for so many other sports. Most likely an elite cyclist grew up dreaming of winning the Tour de France while the elite swimmer grew up dreaming of gold at the Olympics.
  7. I get that it doesn’t pay the bills.

Here’s the thing: I don’t care. IT’S THE OLYMPICS. At least finish it, you know? That’s all I’m asking. And how many guys from domestic teams back home would have loved to be there?

And now for some positives:

  • Fabian Cancellara. Duh. This guy is bad@$$. He didn’t “save” himself, he frickin’ went for it. And I’ll have a hard time not cheering for him (at least a little) in the ITT.
  • I’m throwing out some props to Ryder Hesjedal. He did a lot of pace setting in a break group and still finished.
  • Props to Julian Dean. He’s a sprinter for Garmin-Chipotle, but he found his climbing legs and hung in there for 54th. Nice representation for New Zealand.
  • And, yes, I do appreciate Leipheimer’s and Vande Velde’s strong riding. Thanks Levi, Christian, and George.
  • The women’s race. Slogging through rain all day and only 4 DNFs. And it was fun to see the pure joy of Nicole Cooke when she won.

So am I irrationally annoyed with this race? Please do attempt to make feel better about it.

Update: Okay, I think I’ve officially worked through this internally. Official ruling?: Irrational annoyance. Carry on.

Biking Olympics Rant

I didn’t really want to watch the men’s road race anyway

My non-Intel iBook is apparently not cool enough to watch the streaming video coverage of the Olympic cycling events.

No Streaming Video for me

Now this just ticks me off. Chances are good it would still work on my system, but I’m being specifically screened. That’s annoying. And that’s bad form NBC.

Update: A little research tells me that they require Silverlight 2 for the streaming video.  Unfortunately Silverlight 2 doesn’t support PPC Macs, and, thus, no video for me.  Jerks.


Important Rules of Bike Commuting

  1. Always carry rain gear.
  2. If you forget rain gear, you will get rained on.

Or so I’ve heard.

Biking Sports

Aches and Photos

I think my body is taking a hard line “no volleyball” stance. Biking is friendly to my joints, whereas volleyball gives me the gait of a 70 year old knee replacement candidate (ah, hello future). I currently must play volleyball with two ankle braces and a knee brace — all braced injuries are volleyball injuries, the most recent of which was a partially torn MCL in summer league outdoor volleyball in June. I also managed to tweak my back playing last week. That tweak has gotten consistently worse over the last week and now I can make no sudden movements.

I should really quit playing volleyball.

But I won’t.

Anyone know a good massage therapist/chiropractor/PT?

Also, the Copper Triangle photoset is up on flickr. You can thank my useless back for the quick photo turnaround.


The Copper Triangle Recap

Short version: It was awesome!

The longer version: It was a consensus among our group that we all felt awesome yesterday. And it’s true, I had a great day on the bike.

The mountain air was quite cool when we rolled out, but I quickly warmed up as the climb up to Fremont Pass began. The grade starts out easy at 3 or 4 percent then kicks up to an average of 7% for about 4 miles. Maybe I was distracted by all the people watching, but I was having a great climb. I soon found myself passing those people who had maybe started out a little too fast. I caught myself tapping my handlebars to an unknown beat and whistling a little tune. But I quickly stopped figuring that might be annoying to some. Among the people highlights was a guy in a ruffled skirt and a biker on some sort of modified recumbent contraption.

Rachel found me at the top of the steep part of the climb and we rode together to the first aid station at Fremont Pass. The other girls rolled in soon afterward.

Copper Triangle - The Girls at Fremont Pass
Catherine, Hilary, Keelin, Me, Rachel, Tracy, and Ali at Fremont Pass

After filling up on our share of the fantastic food offerings (fig newtons rock!), we started the descent. With mostly downhill and some easy flat, including 5 miles of hard-packed dirt in a construction zone, we were soon starting the climb up to Tennessee Pass. I would go so far as to call this pass “easy.” This is horrible, but I took a certain satisfaction in sitting in my middle chain ring for the entire climb while I passed people I could tell were at their limit. The event organizers surprised us with a small uphill jaunt to the aid station. Happily, that hill kept the station from being overly crowded. Soon the whole crew filtered in.

Next we headed toward Minturn. I apparently hadn’t studied the ride profile closely enough, because I was caught a little off guard by the climb right before Minturn. But the climb was relatively short and at a mild 5 or 6 percent grade. We then cruised through Minturn (thanks cheering spectators!) and down into Vail. We fueled up and filled up, then headed to the hardest climb of the day, Vail Pass, which we hit as my odometer read about 64 miles. I was feeling the heat as the temperature had reached 90 degrees and the sun was full on. Three of us climbed together for a while chatting with people. I found a great groove, especially after a cloud hid the sun, and soon was at “the wall,” a super steep section (14% incline) after the road turns into a bike path. Here it was dodgy for a stretch as many people were walking their bikes. The last few miles passed quickly, and I found myself at the top of Vail Pass with only 6 miles of downhill into Copper Mountain left.

Copper Triange - Me at Vail Pass
Me at Vail Pass

The girls rolled in shortly, we ate more food (of course), and most of us gathered to cruise to the finish together.

Someone asked me if I thought maybe I had trained too much for the ride. I could have done the ride with less training, it’s true, but, as it was, I did the whole ride never even flirting with my limit. I was well within myself the entire time. In fact, at the top of Vail Pass, I felt like I could have gone another twenty miles. Sure, I was happy to roll into Copper and enjoy the finish, but I felt my legs had more in them.

So what now? The Rist Canyon Road Ride and Hill Climb? A destination ride?

And for the data-minded:

  • Avg. speed: 14.4 mph
  • Max speed: 44.9 mph
  • Total distance: 79.59 mi
  • Riding time: 5:31 (not including stops)
  • Elevation gain: 5912 ft
  • Max incline: 14%

Update: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how great the support for this ride was. The aid stations were packed with excellent food and drinks. The entire ride was well-staffed and organized. We even had our own mini-lane on roundabouts. Thanks to the ride organizers and the volunteers.

Also, lots of props to my crew (Team She-nanigans). I’m lucky to have so many fun, supportive, adventurous friends. You all are bad@$$es.


Final Preparations

As I write this, the Copper Triangle start line is just over 24 hours away. This past weekend I did my last “big” training ride to keep the climbing legs nimble. In this area, “long” plus “climbing” usually means a trip up Rist Canyon. My route (similar to this) took me over Rist Canyon, through Stove Prairie, Buckhorn Canyon, and Masonville, and ended with a little extracurricular climbing on the dams and some bike path meandering for a grand total of about 60 miles.

Me at the top of Rist Canyon

I must stop at the “summit” every time. This time I captured the moment.

I don’t think Rist ever gets easy only easier, but, there’s a definite satisfaction in the grind of many miles of constant climbing. And, even though I think I may be taller and weigh more than the average euro pro cyclist, I climb decently. I think that’s one of the best things I’ve gotten from all of the Copper Triangle training — discovering the lure of climbing and knowing that my body can do it for longer and longer distances.

And then I went barrelling down this.

Shot down the west side of Rist.

Where did the road go?

Notice the sign: 12% grade. With significant use of my brakes, I still hit 42mph. Yikes. As you can imagine, climbing what I call the “backside” of Rist isn’t any easier than the “frontside.” It’s only about 1 mile, but it is steep. I would like an inclinometer to take an official reading of some sections.

Oddly, though I was out on a Saturday morning on a very popular route, I saw very few other cyclists. Usually there’s at least a couple cyclists I can engage in a race they don’t know they’re having.

There’s really not much to note for the rest of the ride. I flew through Buckhorn to Masonville, and, without a headwind, the climb to Horsetooth Park and then up to the dams was fairly easy. That first south dam wall is always jarring, though, and especially after 40+ miles.

So, am I ready? I guess. After being worked up about the ride for the last couple weeks, this week I’ve found a sense of calm. I’m sure I’ll be nervous the morning of, but right now I’m excited to get out and tackle it.

My legs don’t like to stop once they’re climbing, but I’m going to try my best to capture some of what I see.