fat lady singin'

Race Report: Opus #7, May 30, 2006

Yeah, look, I'm still alive. I tried to post on Friday but it wouldn't let me (update: when I posted this post the one from Friday magically appeared. Stupid Blogger. You can't fool me), and then I went camping and there is no internet in the woods, and even so I got shit from Andy last night because apparently I had eight whole hours at work in which the most important thing on my calendar should have been blogging, despite little speedbumps like not having anything to say. I mean, I guess I could have posted this: "Went camping. Drank a lot of beer. Went another whole week without touching my bike." Yeah, you read that last part right. Didn't ride 5/18-5/22, went running and made my legs hurt, did Opus, did the hill ride, didn't ride 5/25-5/29, did Opus. That is a good way to get legs o' wood, and that's exactly what I had last night.

Which brings me to my race report. Paula P had twisted some arms and gotten all the 1/2/3 ladies to stay home for this one, so this was a special cat 4 only Opus. Still there were 18 of us at the line, seven of which were Birchwood. Karla pretended to be scared when she saw us but I think she was just trying to psych us out, and it didn't work. You go ahead with those mind games if it makes you feel better, Karla. All of us who saw you wearing blue and silver shoes know the truth.

(No, I don't know what that means either.)

Anyway, off we went, and the Blue Train went to the front immediately. Gilby had been making some noise about wanting the first sprint, so we let her sit in while the rest of us pulled for the first two laps, only to have her take off at the beginning of the third lap. I guess she changed her mind. That confused me enough that I momentarily forgot what I was supposed to be doing, and by the time I remembered that the first sprint was not our only goal for the race, I was two thirds of the way back in the pack. Whoops. Then there was some sketchy stuff where Maria stuck her handlebar in my left butt cheek and gave me enough of a shove that I also bounced off of Karla, who was on my right, but if you have to go bouncing off of people those two are a good choice because they both kept riding steady and nothing came of it. Thanks, guys! Then there was some more jockeying for position. I suck at that. It is apparently really easy to push me out of line because it happens ALL THE TIME. I was in a shitty position going into the sprint, and what with the aforementioned legs o' wood I found myself on the wrong side of the gap when all was said and done. Up ahead a group of four had formed -- three of 'em ours, and one of 'em Karla. It wouldn't have been too hard to catch them, but I figured three out of four was too good of a situation to waste by accidentally towing the whole field up, so I sat up and moved to the front to block. Gilby joined me there and together we controlled the pack for a few laps and kept the pace low to allow our girls to get further up the road. It was going great until out of nowhere Penelope went rocketing past us on the outside to bridge to the break. Three out of five still seemed like decent odds, so we let her go (but not without swearing).

Gilby and I took care of the pack for about half of the remaining race, covering the few small attacks that happened, but really it was quite uneventful because the Bellas had their two strongest riders in the break and weren't any more motivated to chase than we were, and none of the other teams had enough riders to mount any sort of chase. With five laps left in the race it was getting boring. Apparently Gilby was thinking the same thing because suddenly she attacked and instantly opened a huge gap. I looked around and nobody seemed that interested in chasing her, so I figured what the hell and jumped after her. It took me about half a lap to catch her, and then we started working together to try and bridge to the break.

Long story short, it didn't happen. But the field behind us never got organized enough to catch us, and there was a prime (not to be confused with the points sprints) for a 30-minute massage gift certificate that only the two of us were in contention for--while we appreciated it, what exactly were they trying to do by pitting two teammates against each other? How vicious a fight did they think they were going to get? I said to Gilby, "You want it?" and she said "Sure!" so I faked a sprint and let her have it, cuz we're a shiny happy communist team and share our prizes anyway! And a couple laps after that we were done. I actually did try to outsprint her at the finish, but you wouldn't have known by watching. Again, those legs o' wood. I gotta start riding again.

Up ahead, I guess the sprint points were getting divided pretty evenly. My teammates later came to the forehead-smacking realization that sharing points is not the way to get the win for the team, and indeed they wound up with third through fifth. Oh well, live and learn. Gilby and I at least had lots of fun playing the tactical game, and you know what I found out? Blocking is awesome, because you don't have to go as hard! Which makes it a great job to have when you haven't been on your bike in two weeks.

Afterward we had a pizza party, courtesy of MWCMR, and watched the men's 1/2/3 race. As the pack passed about halfway through, Hollywood yelled "Do the wave!" at us. This seemed like a good idea, so we all lined up and the next time the pack passed we did the wave. Hollywood loved it, since it was his idea, but everybody else was like "what the fuck, freaks," which nearly made me pee my pants laughing. (I said nearly, you ass, yes you, I did not have to ride home in wet chamois.)

And thus concludes Opus for 2006. I got exactly no points despite Gilby constantly threatening me ("If you don't get at least one point this week, I will start a rumor that you were seen doing a brick workout!" -- IT'S NOT TRUE, PEOPLE), but I did get the First Cat 4 title for four of the six weeks that I was there, and now I can return triumphantly to the Tuesday Night Betty Slugfest, the real world championships.

Thanks again, Loon State. You guys rock.


OK, folks, here's the deal. It is Memorial Day weekend, and I am going camping. There is no internet in the woods. Therefore, there will be no blogging until at least Tuesday. That is the "damn holdup" and there is nothing you can do about it. Don't even check. It ain't happening.



Race Report: Opus #6, May 23, 2006

Well, I didn't race for a week and a half after that time trial, and on top of that I didn't even ride my bike for five days, and on top of THAT I went running for the first time since the stress fracture incident in January and it made my legs sore, so I was not exactly in tip-top racing shape for Opus last night. Plus it was HOT. My Texan teammates thought it was funny that I thought it was hot, but we're not in Texas and it was 40 degrees last week, so 83 is hot.

Yes, those are "excuses" you see.

And then most of the Fast People&trade showed up too. (Someday I will be a Fast Person&trade too, dammit!) I think the total number of women was 16, although I also heard 18 from somebody. The whole thing busted up on the first sprint, and I found myself off the back with a lot of slower people in between me and the rapidly disappearing lead group. I got around most of them, but then I was tired, and then I found a couple of my teammates so I thought "Oh, here are some teammates, I'll just ride with them." So I did. We also picked up a girl from Idaho and the four of us worked together to try and catch the lead pack. Every time we went past the start/finish, somebody yelled "Way to work together, ladies!" I think it was one of the officials, actually. And every time, Maria and Alix and I cracked up, much to the bewilderment of the Idaho girl.

About five(?) laps from the end we caught Penelope, who had stuck with the lead group longer than we had but who had been floating in no-man's-land for a while. Right as we got to her I picked up the pace a bit to see what would happen, but she wasn't tired enough for that to work so I slowed back down. The five of us kept rotating together until the end of the second-to-last lap, when lo and behold, there were riders ahead of us! They were pretty scattered, so I thought the pack must have blown completely apart (there were only ~seven of them to begin with), but I figured at the very least I could move up a couple slots if we caught them. But the other four weren't going. Fine then, I thought, I'll do it myself. So I attacked from the back of our group to try and bridge to these others. It went great. I got to look all fast and stuff in front of the finish-line crowd just as the bell rang, and I quickly caught my targets......

........only to discover that they were lapped riders. D'oh! But I figured what the hell, less than a lap left, so I put my head down and kept going. A minute later Alix pulled up next to me and said something that I couldn't quite hear, which I interpreted as "Get on my wheel, I'll lead you out!" Alix, if that is not actually what you were saying, I apologize. But I decided to roll with it, so I got on her wheel, and she pulled for the last half lap. I was the first one to jump when we approached the line, considerably later than the sprint usually starts when the whole pack is there. It's nice being in charge! Going later meant that I didn't have time to fade, not that it mattered since I had at least two bike lengths on the rest when I crossed the line. For what, I'm not sure. Seventh or eighth, I think -- I think there were six or seven in the front group.

The best part was the Lance-like crust I had all over my mouth and chin by the end. I told you it was hot. And yes, I do realize that crusty mucus is probably the only way in which I will ever be Lance-like.


"what's the damn holdup" indeed


yeah, still got nothin'

Well, you were supposed to get a race report this morning, but tough tortillas, suckers, it rained. I skipped Opus this week with the intention of racing at the velodrome on opening night. That was last night, and I did indeed go.

But first I went to Culver's, because I really wanted a frozen lemonade, and once I got back into my car with lemonade in hand, the first thing I did was back straight into a parked car. Damn, I'm good. My defense is that the rainstorm was moving in so the sky was dark gray, and the Suburban I backed into was also dark gray. The good news is that I picked a giant fucking tank to hit, so nothing happened to it; the bad news is that my car is not a tank and now my taillight is all bashed in. The other bad news is that apparently I was a better driver when I was 16 than I am now.

Then I went to the track, got dressed, got registered, got my bike, and got rained on. After standing around for fifteen minutes or so it was officially called off, because unlike road racing, you really can't race on the track when it's raining. The wood gets too slippery to be safe. So I took off my helmet and wandered over to where Gilby and Andy and Smithers were standing around talking. It all looked very innocent, but too late I realized that Smithers was not as innocent as he seemed -- he was mid-audioblog, and it was too late to escape. So my ten seconds of fame can be heard here.

And then I went home. What an exciting day.


OK, guys, I got nothin'. If you need something to tide you over until I come up with something to write about, go here. Helpful hint: if he gets stuck, you can drag him out with your mouse.


i love the smell of lactic in the morning

"Race" Report: Withrow Time Trial (Bike Club TT Challenge), May 13, 2006

Well, after all my whining about it the day of the time trial finally came. Sascha picked me up at 6:45 and we went to pick Gilby up, then headed in the general direction of the race. Sascha was going by memory rather than having the directions written down, though, so we ended up going out there on 94 rather than 36 and of course we got lost, and by the time we arrived all our planned warm-up time was gone.

Starting a time trial without warming up is not a good idea, in case anyone was unclear on that point. Warming up is good. I started without any warmup at all besides the quarter-mile between the parking lot and the start line, and within two minutes of starting, I had a side stitch, a shoulder cramp, and cramps in both quads. I slowed down for several minutes to try and uncramp. By the time I was feeling better I don't know how much time I had lost. Ugh.

It turns out that time trials suck exactly as much as I thought they would. The only motivation I had was to chase my thirty-second person, which was my teammate Gilby, but her body apparently handled the lack of warmup a lot better than mine did because she disappeared up the road and I never saw her again. I caught and passed two other riders though. And no one caught me, and I was feeling pretty pleased with myself until I thought about it and remembered that nobody had been in line behind me at the start.

When everyone was done we waited around for the results. Gilby won! When Paula showed up with the results, Gilby was in the middle of telling us how she had gotten confused about the finish line and thought she was done before she actually was, but despite not even pedaling for the last few hundred yards she squeezed out the win by three seconds. Karla came in second with her own tale of woe -- she had flatted halfway through, but after standing around for a bit her very own Super Domestique rode up behind her and said "Here! Take my bike!" Karla rode the rest of the TT on a bike that didn't fit with pedals she couldn't clip into and still finished second, and I guess if you can pull that off you deserve to keep the yellow MWCMR jersey. I hate to apply the word "rockstar" to anyone other than my own teammates, but....

I was fourth, and the prizes went 5 deep, so that was pretty cool. Whoopee, another water bottle, right? Not quite. I don't know how the race promoters weaseled their way into this deal, but NOW Sports donated the prizes, and for my lousy fourth place I got a spanky new pair of Shimano 151 shoes! Gilby made out even better with a pair of Dura-Ace wheels. Talk about your schweet schwag! I'm going to try and get over to NOW to pick them up this afternoon, so I hope they fit. But new shoes are probably worth dragging my sorry ass out of bed for. Even if I have to do a time trial.

Then I went home and rode for another three hours with Nate and one of his cat 4 teammates (in the rain), and I was very sleepy that evening when we met up at a bar with a bunch of folks from Velo Bella as well as our own teammates, and a one lonely representative of Peace Coffee and one from Flanders (and Andy, who made a fine showing on behalf of Nature Valley by appearing to be asleep the entire time).

Here is a picture of Gilby on her way to the win. Check out how fast she looks! Now, scroll back up and look at the picture of me, in which I do not look very fast at all. I gotta get me some of them there aero bars.


holy bloggin' bellas, batman

Well, folks, BlogWar 2006 is on. The Bettys' big bad archnemesis, Karla Kingsley, formerly known as Bella K, now known as Special K, has started a blog. And I suspect that she has done so exclusively for the purpose of laying verbal waste to her racin' opponents. Guys, I'm gonna have to get a whole lot wittier here. Anybody have rap battle experience?

All right, all right, I'm kidding. Welcome to the blogosphere, Karla. But you watch out tomorrow. It's gonna be cold, it's gonna be rainy, and there's gonna be free beer afterward. If that isn't an incentive to go fast, I don't know what is.



Race Report: Opus #4, May 9, 2006

Well, you all saw my last post. Some days you just don't feel like racing, especially right after work, but once you've made enough plans you can't really back out. My teammate Maria met me at my house at 4:45, and as soon as I saw her I said "Man, Maria, I do not feel like racing tonight." She laughed and said "I was just thinking the same thing." But there we were, so we headed out.

Then we rode over to the parking lot of Punch Pizza to meet the other girls. We were the first two there. Each time another person arrived, she said "Man, you guys, I do not feel like racing tonight." Every single one of them.

Then it started raining. We all ducked into a loading dock to stay dry while waiting to see if anyone else would show, and while we were standing there we seriously discussed skipping the race entirely. Ultimately, though, we ended up going. Hence this race report.

17 women showed up for the women's open race, six of which were in blue. We actually had seven there but Catie is a stud and raced with the men instead. It had stopped raining by the time we arrived, and the sun had come out, and it was actually a pretty nice evening for a race. And no geese. Whew.

Overall the race was pretty uneventful. The same people got all the points that always get all the points, but no breaks escaped and except for the usual assortment of riders getting shelled off the back, the pack stayed together. I continued to be unenthused about it for pretty much the whole race and even considered quitting after only a few laps, because even though I was in the MIDDLE OF A RACE, I still felt like taking a nap. But the whole thing is only twelve laps, so I sucked it up and stuck it out and even managed to get fifth in the final sprint. Now if only the points went five deep... but at least I got my "first cat 4 across the line" title back. Whatever that's worth.

(This BLUE TRAIN picture would be a lot cooler if my tongue was in my mouth.)

(There are many more excellent pictures, some more flattering than others, at SkinnySki. Check 'em out.)


pep talk please

Dang, you guys, I'm starting to get tired of bike racing. This twice a week thing is wearing on me. Fear not, I will still go to Opus tonight and you'll still have a shiny new race report to read tomorrow, but I did catch myself looking at the weather radar and thinking "only blue? Crap, that's not a good enough excuse, why isn't it orange!"



colonel mustard, in the ballroom, with the lead pipe

Race Report: Avon Road Race, May 6, 2006

Last year I hated this race. It was windy, horribly windy, so windy I could barely control my bike, and on top of that I got dropped very early on and rode the whole thing by myself. The good news is, I wasn't last. I was second to last. But needless to say, I ended up feeling rather bitter toward the whole idea of racing my bike in Avon, Minnesota, so I hadn't been looking forward to this year's edition of the race.

This year it wasn't looking much better. The wind was only 20 mph instead of 30, but it was still chilly and overcast. I pulled on my hat and my long sleeve jersey, went to the bathroom about eight times, and lined up to wait and wait and wait. While we were waiting at the start, all the clouds burned off and suddenly it was warm and sunny, but too late, my number was pinned to the long sleeve jersey.

Finally we started, about half an hour late. The course starts with a 4+ mile neutral rollout, which was good since any warming up we had done had worn off while we were sitting around at the start. The Blue Train hung out at the front and chatted until the pace car pulled off and the race started. We picked up the pace somewhat but kept it pretty easy for the first few minutes, until one of my teammates got frisky and attacked on a flat. It was a short attack though, and I don't think it shelled too many people. There were several more short attacks like that, all from Birchwood or Velo Bella girls, but for the most part the pack stayed together until the one significant hill on the course, about ten miles in.

During this time we were also leapfrogging with the juniors pack a bit, as they had started right behind us. We would slip by them on the right, but then our pace would ease up and somebody in their pack would take off and they would go zooming by on our left again. As we approached the hill, though, they passed us for good.

When we hit the hill, the whole thing blew up. Fortunately the Blue Train was still at the front of the pack, so we didn't get caught behind too many of the slower riders. My rockstar teammate Cam rode away from the rest of us like we were standing still, then realized at the top of the hill that she had a huge gap and took off. Shortly after that, I reached the top with my teammates Maria and Gilby and my archnemesis Penelope, formerly known as Bella P. We looked back and saw that we had an enormous gap as well, so off we went.

Meanwhile, a girl who had been riding with the junior pack had been dropped from their pack, and she grabbed Cam's wheel as Cam went by. The four of us could see this happening, and we got worried. "I hope Cam knows she can't work with that girl," we said to each other, "because if the officials see that she might get DQ'ed." It later turned out that Cam knew this, and was trying to shoo the other girl away, but the girl was now claiming to be a cat 4 even though she had started in the junior pack and had been working with them all along. Eventually Cam dropped her, but the four of us still thought she was a junior, so even though we could have easily caught her we didn't bother. Instead we worked on trying to get rid of Penelope. Unfortunately, while we had the basic concept of tag-teaming down, we came up a little short on the actual mechanics of it, and Penelope played it smart, so when we rounded the last corner onto the finishing straight she was still with us. Gilby did all the work into the headwind, hoping to get me and Maria across first and thus sweep the podium, and as we started to sprint she pulled off and let us go. Maria took the sprint easily, and Penelope and I came across together--I thought I edged her out at the end, but the officials are the ones with the cameras and they thought differently. Gilby came across right behind us.

At this point we thought we had swept the podium (we didn't find out until late last night that Penelope had actually beaten me). Our joy was pretty short-lived, though, as it turned out that second place had gone to "now I'm a junior, oh wait, now I'm a cat 4" girl. Ordinarily when you work with a field other than the one you're in, like say you're a cat 4 and you work with the juniors (ahem) they call that CHEATING, but when we went to raise hell with the officials the guy took the position that it was one field scored separately and that it was okay to work together. Which is all well and good, but if they wanted the women and juniors to work together they could have told us that at the beginning. Except for the one girl, everyone in both fields was under the impression that working together was illegal, and except for the one girl, the two fields operated completely separately. Certainly nobody else piggybacked on the other field to their advantage, cause, y'know, it's CHEATING. And if it wasn't cheating, it would have helped all of us to know that. It certainly would have helped the four of us to know that just because she started in the middle of the junior pack and then rode in the junior pack for half the race, didn't actually mean she was a junior. Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, gets a cat 4 result. Grrrr.

Deep breaths. Okay, I'm over it.

Despite all the intrigue and skulduggery, it was an awesome race for the Blue Train, given that we had four of the top six. Cam, of course, stayed away the whole time and soloed in for the win. Fake Junior got second, Maria got third, Penelope got fourth (but her race number was 666, and when she does not have the Powers of Darkness on her side it will be a different story!), I got fifth, and Gilby was sixth. Plus we had three others further down in the results, and since the whole field was 18 riders, that means over a third of the field was blue. Choo choooooo!!!

Oh, and I am no longer harboring any ill will toward the town of Avon or its race. This was some of the most fun I've ever had in a bike race, and it turns out that when you take away the hurricane-force winds it's actually a pretty cool course. So my grudge has been cured. Or at least shifted back to Ken Woods.


with friends like these...

So there I was, waiting peacefully at a stop sign while out riding by myself last night, and some asshat in a car behind me starts honking at me. I'm thinking "What the hell is your problem, asshole, I'm at a stop sign," but he keeps honking, and then when the traffic clears and I go on through the stop sign the car pulls up beside me and I hear "So what, you think you're Lance Armstrong or something?" I shoot an evil glare through the window of said car, and who do I see but.... Andy Kruse. "Aw, jeez, Andy, I thought you were some random asshole," I yell back at him, and he drives off, cackling.

This, of course, is less than 24 hours after him hollering "Work together!" at me during a race, then nearly falling over laughing when he sees me shaking my head in disgust. And here I thought non-cyclists were the problem.


i thought getting "goosed" was something else

Race Report: Opus #3, May 2, 2006

It did not rain last night, for the first time in ages. I had just been suggesting to Gilby that since you can't ride the velodrome in the rain anyway, perhaps afzalia wood might be good ark-building material. However, we seem to have been granted a reprieve. Hallelujah!

The Birchwood girls all rode over together and arrived during the Cat 5 race, looking quite fearsome now that we all have the new kit. Not that we weren't fearsome before, but we looked a little ragtag. We registered, warmed up, and then I watched the last half of the Cat 4 race. There were two geese also watching the race from the other side of the road, sitting on a patch of grass between the road and a building. Dangerously close to the road, I thought, but I didn't see any viable place to chase them off to, and didn't want to accidentally chase them into the road. I didn't like it though.

The men's Cat 4 race finished without incident, and 16 women lined up for our open race. We got off to a good start, but on the third lap the goddamn geese were suddenly in the road. People started hollering "GOOSE!" and somebody panicked and braked and swerved and my two teammates Maria and Alix both went skidding across the pavement. They are okay but both need new helmets, and Alix could use a new jersey. (And nobody from other teams crashed, what's that about? Unfair. We had the only crash on Saturday too!)

That split up the field pretty good, with a lead group of 6 followed by me and Teammate Allison chasing, and everybody else strung out behind. Nate says the people behind us formed another pack eventually. At some point Bella K got dropped from the front group and Allison and I caught her on the last lap. Bella K latched onto Allison's wheel, and Allison, having been warned that Bella K was a prodigious wheelsucker, tried all sorts of evasive maneuvers but K stuck to her like glue. I didn't know what to do so I decided I would just stick on K's wheel and let Allison take one for the team, and at the end Bella K and I sprinted it out for 6th. She and I were no more than a tire-width apart at the line, a photo finish with no photo, and I don't know who got it. I thought she got it, a couple bystanders thought I got it, and nobody asked the officials (who probably weren't watching anyway since no points were at stake).

And that was it. My "streak" (if 2 is a streak) of being the first cat 4 has ended, but my teammate Cam was in the lead group so she got that honor for the week, and I was either second or third. We regrouped to rehash the race and inspect our fallen comrades' wounds (Maria bounced over the curb and onto the grass, but Alix wound up with huge bloody holes in her shorts and jersey), picked Nate up from Caribou, and then we rode home with lightning flashing all around us. But it only rained for the last five blocks, so the track can keep its boards for now.