Category Archives: Bike

Race Recap: Ironman Canada – The Bike & T2

THE BIKE – 6:02:39 // 18.53mph average speed

As I made my way down the first stretch of road I tried very hard to ride conservatively. Riders were gunning it out there! But having ridden the course before I held back, wanting to stay smart.

Ironman Canada Bike

Bike time!

The bike course is extremely challenging, with about 6600 feet of climb overall. There was much debate in the months leading up to the race as IMC had posted a number in the 4k’s, but as it turns out they used a method of measurement that didn’t account for the rollers which make up a significant portion of the course. However, even with the rolling hills the vast majority of the climbing took place mile 14-22 and mile 96-112.

The course can be broken down into segments pretty easily:

  • T1 to Callaghan Valley Rd.– Mostly rolling with a couple significant ups but more significant downs (approx 14 miles)
  • Callaghan Climb + Descent – Straight up with hardly a break for 8 miles, then straight back down (approx 16 miles)
  • Climb back to Whistler – Mostly rolling but more of a climb (approx 10 miles)
  • Descent to Pemberton – Screaming downhill with a handful of short climbs and rollers (approx 20 miles)
  • Pemberton Flats (out & back) – Pancake flat farm road with some sketchy pavement (approx 30 miles)
  • Climb back to Whistler/T2 – Up, up, up with hardly any flats or downhills to spin (approx 20 miles)

Ironman Canada Whistler Bike Course

So, I’ll do mini recaps to follow that format.

The luckiest part of the entire day was the weather for the bike. Not only was it sunny and mild, but the wind stayed at bay which isn’t usually the case through the mountain pass and farm valley.

The bike was fun, when I wasn't bleeding, flatting, or serving my penalty.

The bike was fun, when I wasn’t bleeding, flatting, or serving my penalty.

T1 to Callaghan Valley Rd. – The entire time I was worried that I was working too hard. My heart rate was on the high side but not insanely so, and by the time we’d gotten to Whistler Village I felt more steady so I kept with that level of effort. The road was extremely crowded and there was lots of passing and leapfrogging with riders around me. I saw quite a few people pass on the right or hanging out on the left for extended periods of time but rather than get irritated I rode on focused on how the hills ahead would spread the field out and did what I could to ride legal. I had my first family sighting and it was great to hear their yells as I whizzed by.

Callaghan Climb + Descent – The climb up was just as tough as I remembered. I had hoped that it would feel more like the second day of camp (a slower but steadier spin) but instead I felt like I was fighting the road the whole stretch. I was still within a comfortable zone, but I felt like I was working too hard to be getting passed left and right by EVERYONE, men and women alike. It was amazing and inspiring to see people powering up with seemingly no effort, but it made me feel weak to get completely crushed so early on. I (sort of but not really) wish there had been a timing mat at the bottom and top to see how many people passed me. When we hit the turnaround at the top I was relieved to be done and check the tough part of this portion off, but I was also somewhat worried about how I’d fare for the remainder of the day with my spirits already a little low.

Climb back to Whistler – The climb back to Whistler felt strong, and was probably my best portion of the bike. I rode strong but smart, got good nutrition in, and made up some ground that I felt had been lost. This section wasn’t easy, but I was pretty familiar with how to push it to make the best of both the ups and downs. And the second family sighting was great too! At this point I felt like I’d regained some momentum, though my heart rate was still high for my perceived effort.

Descent to Pemberton – This portion was fast fast fast, just like I knew it would be. I spun out my gearing quite a few times and simply had to coast until my momentum lessened. The view was beautiful, and it felt like a perfect day to be on the bike. Some of the stretches were congested but other times I truly couldn’t see another rider on the road. This race was the first time that British Columbia has closed a highway for an event, and it was amazing to ride this section without fear of traffic, or the noise.

Pemberton Flats – I hit up special needs, switched out my bottles with the quickness, and pushed hard to get away from aid station chaos. After a couple turns I hit the flat country road slog. I felt strong, but the road was packed full with bikes. For the first while there were only riders heading out, but after some time the pro’s and elite ag-ers started heading back to Whistler and passed the opposite way. And as more people passed by the more packs I saw on both sides of the road.

I caught up to a group riding tight, and as I got closer it was more and more evident that they were purposefully riding that way, and even taking turns pulling. I passed, but a few minutes later a rider passed back, then another, then another, then another, and before I knew it I was dropping back for, no joke, 20 riders. I re-passed when I could, but the same thing happened again. And then again, with a different leader. It may be hard to ride legal on packed flat roads, but it’s not hard to not cheat!

It was challenging to get away from the group and so when we hit the turnaround I put my head down and hammered. I felt like I had made some ground but quickly realized my nose was bleeding heavily. I wiped it onto my forearm and kept working. At this point a couple of men passed and warned that the pack had chosen my wheel to suck. Crap, I thought I’d lost them!

I couldn’t work any harder without feeling worried about the climb to come so I kept my head down and kept spinning and kept sniffling my bloody nose and spitting. As we neared the town of Pemberton again I glanced left and riders had started to pass en mass, it felt like I was getting swallowed by a swarm of bees. It happened so fast that my only option was to sit up and brake and as soon as I did I saw: an official. My stomach dropped – I’d just given these guys a free ride for the entire way back, but all the officials saw was me braking. The motorcycle pulled a u-turn, rode up alongside me, and shoved a red card in my face. I was beyond angry but I made eye contact to acknowledge my suggested infraction. I rode away, and fast, full of rage. A few of my friends who’d warned me about the pack were just up the road, and when I caught up I told them what had happened they were just as angry as I was.

Bike2

Pre-penalty tent, post flat, mid-bleeding.

Climb back to Whistler/T2 – All too soon we had started the climb back to Whistler, and as soon as I started climbing my bloody nose got worse. I stayed conservative up the first mile climb trying to think about what to do. I felt considerably more tired than I wanted too, but my heart rate finally seemed under control. Was I tired because I was upset? Or was I tired because I was worried? Or was I tired because I was tired? After the first climb there was a fast decent to a short flat…which is where I flatted.

Luckily it was my front wheel, and luckily I’d had plenty of practice changing flats this summer. However with a bleeding nose and a penalty I hadn’t served yet it was tough to keep a good attitude through yet another thing. I didn’t want to give up, but I also didn’t want this day!

I got the flat fixed quickly and hopped back on my bike and spun up the rest of the hills. I felt like I got passed 100x and probably did, but I didn’t feel able to fight back and I still don’t really know whether than was a physical fitness issue or my bad attitude.

With a mile or so to go I found the penalty tent, dismounted, and served my 4 minutes. I watched rider after rider fly by and felt like my day was slipping away but I tried to stay positive. Another athlete rode in at my 1 minute mark and asked the volunteer for a tissue or towel; he must not have known they aren’t supposed to give you anything. I guess the volunteer didn’t know either because she handed him a tissue, he took it and looked at me, and handed it over. He must have noticed the blood all over my face! Lovely.

Take my freakin' bike already!

Take my freakin’ bike already!

T2 – 2:38

T2 was quick and easy. Throw the bike at whoever looks most capable of catching it. Grab your run bag, run into the tent. My volunteer wanted very much to be helpful but I’m so minimalist there wasn’t much for her to do. She straightened my race belt so I’d get it right side up, handed me socks, and did a good job cleaning up after me because all of my items – even the ones I didn’t use – were properly packed up when I got my bag back later that day. The jog out of transition was long, but on to the run!

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It’s That Time Of Year

#trainertime

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Riding My Bike in Portland

Pre-Ironman I had some misconceptions about how I’d feel post-Ironman:

  1. That my bike and I would need a break. In fact, we might even need to see other people. I couldn’t fathom that I would want to be in the saddle anytime in the immediate future.
  2. I thought that I’d be dying to run fast, and run my heart out. With months and months of slower endurance training I felt eager to be done with the hours and up for focusing on intensity.

Thought #2 is topic for another day, for when I have the bandwidth to write a novel, but since IMC I’ve felt shockingly amazingly awesome about being on my bike. Despite the near 6 hour ride that day and many (many, many, many) hours on it through the summer it’s been so enjoyable and fun to ride without such an agenda. I’m enjoying pushing myself and my lungs to whatever extent my body feels like without worrying about impact and injury, and with the lingering tiredness just starting to lift I’ve needed that ounce of prevention.

This weekend we spent time in Portland, and outside of races I’ve never ridden my bike outside of Seattle. Thanks to the awesome folks at Athlete’s Lounge they hooked me up with a few route recommendations, I strung some together, and hit the road this morning.

Having grown up in Portland I can navigate myself in a car pretty well. I may not know street names, but I can get myself from point A to point B in a pretty direct manner without getting lost. However, I never rode a bike when I lived here. Seriously, not once! So I was a little nervous setting out on the road just after sunrise.

The air was a chilly 50 degrees, and in shorts, finger-less gloves and a sleeveless jersey with arm-warmers I started on the cold side. But riding the first 5 miles entirely up hill got me warmed up pretty quickly!

I rode past high school party stomping grounds along Cornell Rd. and then up to Skyline Blvd. From the moment I got my drivers license at 16 years old Skyline was my favorite place to go for a drive. Beautiful views, beautiful homes, forest, rolling pastures, and farmland all mixed in. Just minutes away from the city but so so peaceful and beautiful.

Skyline Blvd is known for it’s awesome cycling – and cars that don’t like cyclists – but I only passed a few other riders and the handful of cars that passed me did so respectfully.

Though I’m definitely a city girl, rides like these make me feel like I could do country. Maybe. Someday. Sort of. Or probably not. But they make me WANT to want to be country!

After about 8 miles rolling and winding, I was rewarded with a newly paved and not too technical downhill all the way to Sauvie Island.

Sauvie Island is so pretty in the fall. I haven’t been out there in years, but an early autumn-morning sunrise with chilly air left me feeling like I could have ridden the 11 mile loop at least 10x 5x without getting bored.

Being on the Island reminded me of childhood fall seasons, as THE place to get your pumpkin is the patch out there. It looked like the farm was just getting ready to set up. As soon as I saw the signs I wanted to kick myself for not having brought cash. Apple cider would have been absolutely amazing; much better than chews and deliciously warm to combat the cold morning.

After leaving the Island and crossing the bridge it was less than 10 miles back to where I had parked my car.

It was so fun to ride in my old stomping grounds and to see areas I haven’t taken the time to visit in so many years. It’s not even as though they hold an extreme amount of sentimental value, but it was such a breathtaking morning and such an engaging and freeing way to spend time seeing new(ish) sights. I think that I need to start bringing my bike with us on more road trips (and we need to start going on more road trips), and I need to seek out new routes in the Seattle-area. Today makes me look forward to fall very very much.

Do you have any bike route recommendations for me? Seattle? Eastern Washington? Anywhere that I can drive to from Seattle?

 

*None of these photos are my own. They came from rubbertotheroad.com and sauvieisland.org. But this is seriously how amazing it looked out there this morning!

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Seattle Century Ride

Last Saturday I embarked on my 3rd 100 mile ride.

The 1st was too soon after my crash to be awesome, and I played it quite safe by stopping every hour or so to refill bottles and get off the bike to make sure I felt well enough to continue. It was a good confidence booster to remind myself that no matter what happens I CAN get through this, but it took me so long, and I was so tired, that I can barely legitimately call it a century.

The 2nd one went surprisingly well. At mile 40 I couldn’t believe that’s ALL I had ridden – I should have been at mile 75 for how my legs felt – but I reigned it in and kept my energy and strength level and consistent by backing off a little, eating what felt like a lot, and drinking what felt like even more.

With my 3rd century being so soon after my first and second it was a little more challenging for me to get myself excited about spending another 6 hours with… MYSELF! Luckily the Seattle Century was happening and I figured at least I’d have a pre-mapped and marked supported course to follow, and maybe I’d meet some cyclists along the way.

Within the first 15 minutes I met a friend to ride with, within the first 2 hours I got fresh pie, and when 100 miles was said and done I had climbed over 5,100 feet. Success!

I highly recommend the 100 mile ride to anyone looking to get in that kind of distance. It was incredibly scenic, well-marked, safe, and the event allows riders to start early (a plus so you can choose to pace yourself however you please OR take off before you risk congestion). I hear the other rest stops had great food too but I only cared about pie and getting done. The ride was a tough hilly course, and I pushed myself in the second half of the ride to keep up through all of the climbs and descents (I’m silly a bit wimpy), but it was a beautiful route through Woodinville, Redmond, Duvall, Carnation, Fall City, Snoqualmie, Issaquah, over Lake Washington, and back to Magnuson Park.

The 100 mile distance is still hard for me to wrap my head around, and to combat that I find myself focusing more on time and landmarks than mileage. It’s similar to when I first started running in that a count of miles sounds impossible, but if you can break it down into 3 or 4 chunks pretty soon you’re halfway done, and in the blink of an eye there’s only have a tiny bit left. Though my “almost home” landmarks are still about 20 miles from my front door, once I get there I know I can make it. I’m definitely going to have to find a few of these on course in Canada to keep me motivated and happy.

If anyone is looking to ride the Seattle Century next year let me know! I’m definitely in for more pie. 🙂

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Always Wear Your Helmet

Written July 1, 2012.

Yesterday morning I set out on what should have been my first century ride; 100 miles in the overcast drizzle. I was not looking forward to the drizzle, but I was looking forward to getting this ride under my belt, exploring a new route, and most of all not being in a hurry to get it all done. 100 miles in the saddle – and my previous longest ride being 85ish – and I planned to pace myself to enjoy it. For once I didn’t have a slammed schedule in the afternoon so there was no rush to fit it all in.

I made it less than 1 mile before I found myself splattered on the pavement.

Leaving my neighborhood there’s a hill to descend about 1 mile long, and at the bottom the road curves right. You can’t see around it until you start turning, it’s pretty blind for cars and cyclists alike. I’m familiar with how scary it can be and have nearly gotten hit there by careless parkers before. Though I see people fly down the hill at times I don’t. EVER. I ride my brakes all the way down like a weenie.

Yesterday I hit that turn and had about 30 feet to stop on wet pavement. A truck was blocking the bike lane, plus the entire vehicle lane, while backed into a driveway unloading. I braked, fishtailed, released to straighten out, tried to brake again gently, and went down. Hard.

My right side was first, and went straight into the raised (sidewalk height strip) median, and I bounced. Everything seemed in slow motion and while still being catapulted with the crash’s momentum I actively thought about 2 things: 1. How close my face was to the edge of the sidewalk as my head bounced along it 3 or 4 times. My eyes were literally centimeters from the corner but my helmet kept hitting first and created a buffer. And 2. WHEN.WILL.THIS.END. I could feel myself rolling, flying, bouncing, and tumbling forward but knowing that I couldn’t stop the momentum I stayed loose and tried to keep my awareness of which way was up and where to land. Thank you very much 16 years of gymnastics.

When I finally stopped moving I checked my face (no blood), my extremities (nothing catastrophic), and my bike (TBD) and dragged myself to the side of the road. I’m certain, the witnesses were much more afraid for me than I was for myself in those moments. They approached – one man running – to see if I was okay. The looks on their faces while I stood there trying to assess the damage and figure out what to do next were more paralyzing than the moment I realized I’d either be flying straight into the truck or straight into the pavement.

I’m beat up, hurting, partially broken, frustrated, and tired. I’m damaged, my things are damaged, and I’m quite sure that Garth is damaged from receiving that phone call while half awake and half dozed off enjoying a Saturday morning. Hi, it’s me. I need you to come scrape me off the pavement and take me to the ER. I had a crash. 

But I’m also incredibly grateful and lucky. And LUCKY. It could have been so much worse. Garth could have been out for a long run. That truck could have been moving. My helmet, now misshapen and cracked, stayed on my head and did its job. It most certainly saved me.

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Things I’ll Never Do Again

Rewind to Sunday morning. I wake up at 6:00 (ON.A.SUNDAY). Make smoothie. Realize that even though I haven’t had one in a couple of months smoothies still are not a satisfying form of food. Feel hungry. Lift weights for 60 minutes. Stretch. Unlock my bike. Gather water/Nuun/Garmin/gels/helmet/shoes/etc. Load car. Stop for coffee. Drive to meeting spot.

The meeting spot is where my training group was planning to gather for a couple of loops of cycling fun. I had left my house early, in plenty of time to figure out where I was going. The park we were meeting at has a few lots and I wasn’t clear on which one to be at. I figured I’d park, wait for teammates, and if I didn’t see any after a while I’d search other lots or text to figure it out.

So waiting, waiting, waiting. Decide I’m in the right lot. Unload my stuff. Get bike ready. Put on cycling shoes. Adjust new sunglasses. Hide iPhone. Friends arrived. Friends, I’m ready! And so excited to get riding! And. Then. I. Locked. My. Car. Keys. In. My. Car.

I was totally prepared to get into my apartment that’s about 12 miles away though! Because I had separated my keys and stuffed the wrong half into my jersey.

Cycling Fail.

Fail. Fail. Fail.

I had a great ride though!

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Wrong Sport

I just found this lovely comment waiting for approval!

Dear AminymmPymn,

First off, I am not an avid motorsport fan, but good try you smart little bot. That’s not as unrelated as the “research articles” that many of your bot-y friends refer too. Secondly, I do not marshal or do race control for local motorsport hillclimb races. Third, what does the “index of metropolitan art new york” have anything to do with our (not) mutual love for motorsports?

However, totally agree with the whole cow/milk thing. Good thinking.

Love,

On The Way To Ironman

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Bike Wash

I finally toughened up and took My Pretty out for her first outside ride yesterday. It was about 43 degrees. With wet pavement, misty air, occasional sprinkles, official total rain. Temperature-wise I was fine. Dampness-wise I was soaked but not uncomfortable after 2 hours and 30 minutes on the road. Dirt-wise I had gravel and mud everywhere, including in the toes of my socks, under my sports bra, in my pockets, and between my phone and its cover which had been in the inner-most safe spot possible. Winter ride success.

My only complaint is in regards to cleaning my bike after the ride. I spent about 20 minutes trying to rinse away grime and dirt from all the nooks and crannies between the derailleur bits, brake pads, inside of the forks, rear hydration wing, etc. Any easy tips for doing this? Especially when you don’t have a garage or a hose? My current method includes a faucet on the public sidewalk, an old rag, flip flops, and a bottle or pitcher to target tough-to-scrub spots, as well as passing by REI shoppers who see me and simultaneously decide that they actually don’t want a bike because it looks like a lot of work.

Seriously. Let me know. Otherwise I might resort to dog park washing stations.

Also, don’t say fenders. I know I know I know.

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Hi, Pretty.

Why, hello there, Pretty! So glad to meet you. I’m happy you’ve finally arrived, and I can’t wait to get to know each other. It’s been a long time coming, but I think we’re going to do some pretty fantastic stuff together. I’m really looking forward to becoming long-lasting friends.

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Do you want to Share the Deal/Ride with Me & Cervelo?

If you don’t remember (I do!) I spent weeks on a bike search this fall, only to find that there were no P3’s in a 48cm in Washington. Or Oregon. Or the southern half of British Columbia. I was disappointed, and almost got a P2 as a consolation prize to myself, but I stayed strong and decided to hold out until winter. News came recently that the 2012’s actually wouldn’t be in until March as a best case scenario, so I had sort of closed this chapter in my mind until Spring when there was actually a chance at a bike.

Thanks to the Cervelo Share the Ride deal I started up on a bike search again, and the short story is that my bike will be here soon! Hopefully it will be under my butt by next weekend. You know, because you sit on a bike?

Hello my pretty! Can

You gotta love social media; I posted the deal as soon as I heard about it, and within hours received a message from a colleague who had a bike at his shop. After a few phone calls and emails and 24 hours, according to my Visa card, it was officially this girl’s pretty pretty bike.

The sad part of the story is that I didn’t find a partner to share the deal with, so if anyone is looking to purchase a Cervelo in Orange County by January 31 message me and we can each walk away $1k richer. I know you want $1,000, so do it!

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