Monday, May 26, 2008

Ski to Sea 2008

The Ski to Sea race was yesterday, and my leg went off without any (major) hitches. This year we had two teams, number 260 and 295. I was the Road Biker for Team 260, and Michelle was going to be one of the Canoeists, but that leg was canceled. Read all about it here.

Tommy (Road Biker for Tea 295) and I arrived at the DOT Shed (runner - road bike exchange area) at around 8 in the morning to await the hand-off from our respective runners. It was sunny and hot all morning, and we took refuge in the shade. Tommy's team arrived first, and about 15 minutes later my number got called. I took my bike and my bag and made my way to the starting gate. That's when things got interesting.

Travis, my team's runner, passed the timing chip to me; so far no problem. What I should have done was taken 15 seconds and strapped it to my bike before I took off. Instead, I put my foot in the toe cage and pushed off. Then as I tried to sit back into the saddle, I misjudged it's height and the front of the seat grabbed my bike shorts and yarded them down. Yep, I mooned the entire road bike staging area. There was an audible "oooh..." as the crowd looked away in horror. I hastily pulled my pants up, and I was off. But I wasn't out of the woods yet.

I still had the dumb timing chip in my hand, and it was a real struggle trying to attach it to my wrist one-handed as I road down the mountain. It was velcro, so of course it got stuck to itself. When I shook it to get it unstuck, it flew out of my hands. I think I hollered an obscenity and I definitely slammed on the brakes, leaving some nice skid marks on the road. I laid down my bike, ran back up the hill, and luckily found the timing chip right away. When I laid down my bike I must have knocked the chain off, but again, luckily it only took me a few seconds to put it back on. Overall I think I only lost about 5 positions - finally I had everything organized, and I could focus on racing.

The rest of the trip was uneventful, except when I almost collided with a guy handing out water. Otherwise I passed more people than passed me, and I felt good going up the hills. My overall time was 1 hour 52 minutes, which was under my goal of 2 hours, so I was happy about that. I averaged about 20 mph, and my fastest speed was 41.8 mph. There was a section where I was cruising at around 40 mph for several minutes, and I was able to brake by sitting up out of my tuck position, which was nice. The overall race results aren't working quite yet, but you can see all the details here. If they're not working yet, check back soon.

I don't have any pictures to post at the moment, but suffice it to say that a spandex bike jersey makes for mean tan lines. Yowza.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ski to Sea Training Report #3

So I've been meaning to post a Ski to Sea Training Report after every training session, but as you can see I haven't gotten around to it. So we're starting with 3. I am doing the road bike this year - last year I did the canoe, and let's just say I wasn't the first to sign up for that leg this year. The road bike leg is the longest leg at 38.5 miles, and takes the race from deep in the mountains out to the Nooksack River, where the Canoe leg takes over.

Michelle and I started training just over a week ago (the race is two weeks away - May 29th). Our first outing I went 13 miles in about an hour and a half. Not bad, considering it was all flatland stuff, compared to the race which will trend more towards downhill. On Thursday we went out again, but only did 5 miles.

Today was the big cheese. The whole ball o' wax. I went up the mountain with our runner (leg before me), our cross country skier, and our downhill skier. They dropped me off at the exact spot where I'll take off from on race day, and I had 38.5 miles ahead of me. The first third of the race has the most downhill sections. My top speed was 34.3 mph, but there were some uphill sections, most notably just as I came into Maple Falls. It was tough enough that I needed a break, and I stopped for about 5 minutes. From there it was again mostly downhill, but less dramatic. At Kendall the race takes a sharp turn north on Kendall Road. This section was tough because it is essentially flat, and my legs were pretty weak by that point. My left calf actually started cramping mildly. The route turns west again at South Pass Road, and at this intersection I took another little snack/rest break. When I got going again I struggled up a steep but short little hill, and a few miles later came upon a more drawn out uphill climb. My legs gave out about half way up, and I paused again. I recovered enough to make my way up the hill, but it was getting tougher. I noticed on South Pass Road that the uphill climbs were more frequent and less likely to end with the relief of a downhill section and more likely to gradually give way to a flat section or slight downhill incline. No rest for weary legs. The final 3 miles into the towns of Everson and Nooksack was actually very pretty, and I got a nice rhythm going, averaging between 14 and 15 mph most of the way.

All in all I think it took me between 2 and 2 and a 1/2 hours. I finished at 1:35pm, and I think I left between 11:15 and 11:30am, but I didn't check before I took off (d'oh!). Not bad for my first outing. I think a really good time is 1.5 hours.

More later as the training rolls on!