Thursday, August 26, 2010

Enjoy the Ride

This past weekend Ali and I took a trip down south for the Crater Lake Century. We've been planning this ride ever since Ali completed her triathalon in June.

The ride was on Saturday, but we decided to leave PDX on Thursday so we'd have a full day to enjoy the scenery around the lake. We camped at the Mazama campground where we were lucky to find a somewhat private spot in the midst of 200 other sites. There isn't much campground selection around the National Park, so we had to go with the tourist site.

Friday morning we took our time around the campground. It was best to sleep in since it was absolutely freezing in the morning. It took a bit to warm up. Our plan was to take the boat tour on the lake. Unfortunately, getting to the ticket booth at 12pm wasn't the way to get a ticket - sold out. Well, we hiked down to the boat ramp which is the only location on the lake to access the water. We found a great rock to eat some lunch and watch others jump into the lake. Surprisingly, no one was shivering when they got out of the figid cold water, so we decided to take the plung. Here's Ali taking the leap of faith......

On Friday evening we decided to stay on Saturday night so we wouldn't have to pack up camp so early in the morning. We overheard some Pacific Crest Trail hikers getting the "we're full" speech from the corporate campsite management. We both thought that was a real bummer and invited The Fuzzy Monkey and Boots McFarland to stay at our site. It was great to hear about their great adventures on the trail and how they do it. FM was doing a straight through trip, so he started in April and should finish in September. BM is a sectional hiker, so she has done 1-2 weeks sections over the past 8 years. They called us Trail Angels for helping them out in a bind and were very appreciative. Wow, what a logistical thing to pull off and what a committment. Ali and I decided to stick with car camping and the comforts of home at camp.

The morning came quickly on Saturday since we had to leave camp at 7am. We drove down to Ft Klamath where the ride started. All the downhill driving on the way to the start was a sign of things to come.

We decided to do the metric century that only had 5000' of climbing. No big deal for me since I ride like 7-8 hours per week. However, that's alot of UP for a girl that hasn't been riding much this year (foot problems have been keeping Ali off the bike). So, I knew I had to be on my BEST behavior and sit back and ENJOY the ride.

Here's a photo of us entering the park and the open road before the major UP started......

We came from the south and passed the Mazama campground. It was a steady grind up the hill and the hill didn't let up. My bike was geared with a double chainring while Ali had the triple. This allowed her to keep a slow and steady pace. I had to slow my cadence way down since I was pushing a bigger gear. This made it a bit of a balancing act for me and since I don't have much balance it was alittle challenging at first. The roads were narrow so my front tire would start to wobble at the slow cadence. By the end I was much better at it.
The century riders headed to the west and circled the lake in a clockwise direction. We turned to the east and started the ride around the rim of the lake in a counter-clockwise direction. Our route took us over hills, past a couple of waterfalls, and through the trees a distance from the lake. I was kinda bummed that our route didn't provide the majestic views of the lake, but that was OK since we drove the entire rim the day before. Here's a photo from our turn around point at the Phantom Ship..............

We headed back the way we came to the turn-off. Unfortunately, there was still some UPhill before the turnoff. Ali was a trooper and finished off those last few hills with a vengence. The downhill to the finish was welcome sight! We caught up with a few riders on the downhill and Ali found her legs again. She was cranking up there to the front and showing the boys how to ride downhill fast.

We got down to more level ground and hit the pasture area we saw early in the morning. I jumped on the front and pulled us all through a few miles. It was a "no chain"** section of road for me. Big sky, green pastures, cute cows, and open road. It was a beautiful way to end the ride.
We enjoyed the barbacue back at the start and called the day a success. It was a good break from the fast pace of the PV race team and the "numbers" of the power meter on the trainer. All I did was "enjoy the ride".

**no chain day...... that's how Lance Armstrong refers to those extremely rare days on the bike when the pedaling just seems so effortless you swear there's no chain. They're a gift from the gods and there's no way to make them happen or even predict them.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

and so it begins......

Well, summer is finally starting in Oregon but I'm already thinking about fall and cyclocross. The official training for cross season officially started for me this week. So, you may ask and I do ask myself, "what have I been doing the last 6 months". Let's call it "base training". :-)

Last week of July, Ali and I went to Bend for me to "participate" in the Cascade Classic. I say participate since I really didn't feel very competitive this year, but that really wasn't my goal. The amount of time to train for a stage race is simply something I don't have. The good thing is that I realize that and I'm OK with it. A few highlights from the race....

First Stage

  • I loved my new Corsa Concepts wheels on the first stage. They felt light, cornered fantastic, and it was nice to race without a power-meter.

  • I avoided (my the skin of my teeth) a big crash. I was able to chase back to the group.

  • Felt great going into the last big climb up Bachelor. However, my legs exploded a few minutes after we started it. Talked to a few others after the race - sounds like it happens to everyone.

Second Stage - Time Trial

  • My primary goal was to do better than last year. I used my powermeter, so I could compare.

  • I definitely did much better than last year. It's uphill on the "out" and downhill on the "back". I focused on having good steady power on the downhill (key problem last year). Lesson I learned was that the "bang for the buck" on power vs speed isn't to great on a downhill - aerodyamics have a big affect. You definitely make better time if you go harder on the uphill.

Third Stage - Criterium

  • Yikes, skipped a pedal and rolled a tire on the first lap. Got a new wheel, but I was totally flustered and hanging off the back. I lasted only 5 laps. Good thing was that the wheel was fine. I'll just get my first chance to glue on a tublar soon.

Fourth Stage - Aubrey Butte Circuit

  • This is a very tough circuit. Lots of punchy climbs. There are 4 laps in the cat3s. Last year we did 3 laps in the cat4s.

  • A few of us lost contact with the group on the 1st steep KOM. We chased for 2 laps and got pulled on the 3rd lap. Oh well, I was glad it was over.

I took 2 weeks off the bike after the race. Spent a week in Orlando for a business trip and hit the treadmill a few times during the week. This week was my first week back on the bike. Typically after a rest period it's good to do some power tests to see where you stand. Well, I found that all that "base training" has paid off and I hit some major milestones.

My 20 minute test was 11% better than last season and I hit the 4.5 watts/kg milestone. That's a great sign for starting the cross season. The 20 minute test is an indicator of your threshold power and that's a major part of a cross race.

The 5 minute test is always been something I've struggled with. It's a measure of VO2 max. This is an effort than puts you in serious suffer mode. There's a major mental component of it since it's easy to just "give up". The coach I work with occasionally told me 400W would be a good target. It's taken me about 2 years to get there, and I finally achieved it - 406W (5.2 W/kg). This is another major component of a cross race - especially at the start.

Well, it looks like I'm stronger than last year, so I'm excited for my second year in the Master B category. I should be able to achieve some top 10 spots this year.

I'll be doing quite a bit of this for the next 6 weeks in preparation for the first Crusade race....