Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Joyful July

June Bloom is wrapping up, and the fruit & veggie servings has been adjusted back to last year's 150, so finish up tallying your progress in the spreadsheet.
July's Challenge is simple. Seek the Joy of Being Alive. Anything goes. Cooking, drinking, biking, walking, running, playing music, etc. Just share your fun experience in a post on the blog. No extra points this month.  

Sunday, June 28, 2009

D2D - Spiz Edition

Okay, so I got a little jealous looking at the blog entries and pix from the D2D and France entries. Factor in the beautiful weather and strong, cool breeze, I decided to go out and do my own solo ride.
I biked out to my parents' house, chatted there for an hour, then went down to tackle Andy. Not to be outdone, I checked out some of the scenery and house construction progress one block over on Harbour Heights. I was then compelled to check out some of the mansions one block over on Marine view drive. Yep. They're big and still there. Oh! But what about the new park near the ferry dock? I went up K2 and down Goat loop to check it out. Lots of people there. At that point, I was running out of water, so I went up goat loop, flying by two middle-schoolers struggling up the hill (they probably thought I had super-powers), and back home. Nice day for a ride!

Oh and the log is here.

Killer Bees on the Swarm

Well, Ronaldinho's not playing there go all my horse jokes. Follow along in the comments.

France Post-Ventoux

Thursday: no longer a Ventoux-virgin (are the flowers sweeter? Grass greener?) Plan is to rest the legs, or at least the undercarriages. We go on a 7 mile run/ hike to a neighboring town, Crestet.

Lush vineyards, huge fields of lavender and yellow flowers everywhere-a total Nike ad. Southern France is a series of charming small towns with ancient castles and spectacular views interconnected by winding hairpin mountain roads. Afterward, more fine white wine from Sancerre with a Provencale snack, followed by dip in pool, leisurely supper and more wine. It must be a sign of my psychopathology that it strikes me how little we are training this week, how do the Ironmen get/ stay so fit?

Friday: Swing by Sault in search of an XS Ventoux jersey for Robin, but no luck. Just another lovely breakfast, in another beautiful French town.

We cruise around scoping out mountains to climb. Stop and change in Big Ethel, pee in the woods. Still have PTSD about running out of water because it is HOT. We reach the next climb, the sign says 42km, that’s a marathon. Shortly after starting off into the forest at the base of the mountain, it starts to rain, briefly but fairly hard. It feels lovely and cool, and the slope so far only 5% grade, felt luxurious. Then the climb got worse, about 12-15% grade. After the rain, the bugs came out in force. They were mainly flies, landing on my face, my hands, buzzing infuriatingly in my ears. At one steep part (17%) where I nearly toppled off from crazed swatting, I got off the saddle and pitched the snickers bar from my back pocket down the road to see if the bugs would follow. They did not want the snickers, they wanted me. Robin stopped with me to see why I stopped, and I could see she was surrounded by bugs too, we were a couple of pigpens with a black cloud surrounding our heads, no other bugs in sight. I picked up my snickers bar and continued up the 3300 ft climb, which was actually only 11 miles. It flattened out at the top and there is wonderful coolness up there. The descent was actually harder than Ventoux, being more sharp hairpins and the Chipseal causing total body numbness.

Driving to the next town, we get caught on the course of a bike race. I guess they thought we were a support vehicle, with 3 bikes on top of Big Ethel, and the officials wave us on right behind the Peloton along with a Versus car. (Hopefully this video clip works)

Saturday: after a lovely evening in the Augerge du Teillon in Castellane, we head off to Vence. We park at the base of another mountain near Greolieres, do another climb (this time it was less than 2500 ft) and another amazing descent down Cliffside hairpins before riding to the next town, Coursegoules, for lunch. Afterward, Toby goes to get Big Ethel and does his own ride, while Robin and I do part of the Ironman route to Col de Vence. I can hardly wrap my head around the Ironman distances (after every marathon, I think, ok now swim 2.4 miles and bike 112), but 10 miles of continuous 5-6% grade climb in 95 degree heat as part of that course?

Finally arrive at their rental home, owned by Michel and Anna, our gracious hosts. More rose wine and packing up Davey before heading off to Nice. The Ironmen are kind enough to take the bike rack off Big Ethel so she can fit in a parking garage, and shlep me all the way to Nice, just so I can relive running on the Promenade des Anglais and swim in the Mediterranean before I leave. I have to change my clothes on the beach but no one cares, it’s a topless beach anyway. Then it’s dinner and a quest for lavender gelato.

Aiming to retire to southern France has been my raison d’etre the past 5 years, at least. I love France. A bientot.

Date with St. Andy

Have been itching to ride since leaving France and spending the week firmly back in the grind. After breakfast at the Speedway Café, coffee, eggs with tabasco, oatmeal with blueberries, and dry rye-oh my (note to self, do not skip the bacon before next long ride), Crash and I meet Guth for 70 miler in Mukilteo. He is on his commuter bike, after Chugg expired (sniff) at the Livestrong Challenge.

After much anticipation, the BRS jerseys are here! I remember pre-Gerald, watching pelotons of cyclists zooming by in their club jerseys while running up Sheridan road in Illinois, and thinking “I want to be them”. Now I belong to a TEAM, and the jerseys look good. We even convinced Crash, who would rather chafe to death and descend wearing a tent/ parachute-like jacket in 90 degree heat than wear brightly-colored and form-fitting technical clothing, to don the club jersey.

Today we started out with the D2D-long version, the route is detailed on the old blog “Steep ride to suffering”. I remember driving the course last year and getting vertigo. The Boys routinely do this ride over their lunch hour, but I still break into a cold sweat when considering St. Andrews. I noted the grade on the Garmin on the way down, knowing I’d be climbing too slowly to get an accurate reading. Not sure how long it is, but it seemed at least ½ mile of 15-18% grade. Crash’s reasoning, First Class was able to do it on a mountain bike last year after a pack of Camel lights, so no excuses.

I did pull over briefly on a side street but miraculously I made it up. May even complete the entire TdM this year. Best rest up/ ice- tomorrow we attempt K2.

Friday, June 26, 2009

What's more fun than running?

Watching someone else run while you drink beer and insult them in Spanish.
True Story: The slurring caused by beer intake allows one with a limited Spanish vocabulary to approximate Potuguese. So the Brazillians on the TV should be able to understand me. COMO ESHTASH HIJOSH DE LA GRAN PUTASHH. ARRHHHHHH.
Its happy hour so I'm just going to crib the rest from the email I sent out at work:

Without regular practice, a persons capacity for jingoistic revelry
and blatant homerism can atrophy. Just ask the Guardian Council about
how things started going downhill in Iran once they had to cut music
study classes** in their public schools due to budgetary concerns.
Anyway, Sunday at 11:00 am, team USA will be facing Brazil in the
finals of the Confederation Cup. Arguably one of the biggest matches
USA has ever played in. So if you want to start warming up for El Copa
Del Mundo next year and reacquaint yourself with terms like "pitch",
"nil", and "that foreigner is obviously faking an injury to get a foul
call" this is your chance. The game is on ESPN 2, or if you prefer an
announcer who can stretch the word "Gol" out for a good 30 seconds or
more I recommend watching on Univision.
If your in Corvallis, I'll probably be the guy at Block 15 Brewery
stretching my limited Portuguese vocabulary in order to insult some
very talented men in their native tongue. Shouldn't be too hard,
Brazil has the best midfielder in the world and he goes by one name:

**the most popular genre of elementary school music study in Persia?
Chanting "Death to the Great Satan".

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What are we talking about?

Talkin bout practice man!
This is for First Class!
There are those who would argue that Pascal's Wager is the most perfect crystallization of human logic yet conjured from the random collection of electrical impulses created by our grey matter. Those people have never heard of the greatest high school quarterback ever to step onto the gridiron in the great state of Virginia. (Though he definitely wasn't the greatest potential wife from there. I locked her up.)
I believe this is the raison de etre (What up Ventoux! Local boy made good! Rizz did you see my people there? They were at the bar.) for You Tube. In fact if I owned You Tube, I'd go ahead and shut it down now. Thank You. Good Night.
All that said, AI was my coach for STP. Yeah, I might have missed a ride or two, I know its important. I honestly do, but thats not a game!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Le Geant de Provence

Mont Ventoux, June 17, 2009

The day after the Caen Marathon de Liberte, set out for Provence.
Train to Paris, pouring rain, no elevators to get up and down platforms so 3 trips each, cursing my suitcase banging on my knee, wondering if lugging Davey around was worth the trouble, got off the TGV in Avignon to tropical heat, grateful to see the tanned and fit forms of my friends Robin and Toby (the Ironmen).

We drove in their van, Big Ethel, to Vaison-la-Romaine, a scenic vacation town with Roman ruins, chalets, and Provencale beauty. Ate at a restaurant called La Belle Etoile run by a guy who turns people away from a half-empty restaurant to give personalized service to each customer for the sake of his craft.

Tuesday, easy 5 mile run through rolling countryside at 6:30 AM. Toby finishes putting Davey together, then breakfast in town, followed by stroll through farmer's market. Then 30 mile ride, first to Malaucenes to the Ventoux bike shop where I purchased a mont ventoux jersey, bad luck perhaps prior to the climb.

Wide, luxurious bike lanes and views you cannot believe. Rode to a beautiful chalet, shared 2 bottles of wine, and took a dip in the private pool.

There are tons of cyclists, as Ventoux is a mecca for cyclists. We met a group of Belgian cyclists who rode from their homeland with the goal of summiting Ventoux as many times as possible in one day. The bike shop guy himself does it 2-3x/week, and heard of someone who climbed it 11 times in 24 hours.

Wednesday feeling nervous. This is it, the big time, Mont Ventoux, which you can see from just about any viewpoint in Provence.

We first ride to Bedoin and catch a 2nd breakfast with large coffee and fluffy croissants, this leg already 1000 ft of climbing. Bedoin is considered the most difficult of the 3 paths to the summit. It is a mere 3,9% grade over the first 5.8 km, but averaging 8.9% grade over the next 16 km. Only 6100 ft climbing over 22km, how bad can it be?

First, a quick pee in the vineyards. “la terre est votre toilette” (no photo).

I lost Robin early on- as soon as the grade went above 8% I could no longer keep up. She only stopped twice to make sure I didn't get lost, and to give me half her water. I didn't see Toby until the summit; later learned he did the entire climb in 2:04, using a double crank and not stopping once.

I had purchased a Garmin 705 2 days before I left for France, how did I ever manage before without it?
What the numbers do not convey is what a relentless climb it is. You cannot call it hairpins, as it never really flattens out, you never see the top of the hill, because the hill is 22 km long. The average over 14 miles was 9-10% grade, occasionally dipping up to 12%. On the rare occasions the grade went below 7% you felt as if you were on flat land. I realized early on I wasn't going to make it to the top without stopping, so kept my eyes open for the "flat" segments of 8% so that if I stopped I can get back on the saddle without falling off.

What they don't tell you? You're a bug magnet. It was like being surrounded by a cloud or paparazzi of flies and bees. That it does not feel shady despite going through woods. Luckily it was only 80 degrees and not 91 like today. Started fantasizing about water, which tourists in their cars would be most likely to give me water, marvelling in awe that some riders only carried 1 bottle (in fact, Robin and Toby only used 1 bottle each, I used 4). By 3880 ft, I got so overheated I was dizzy, could taste vomit and was over halfway through my water, chose to stop for what felt like 20 min to cool down rather than run out of water.

Also noted with amazement that the Garmin would shut off periodically when my speed dipped below 3 mph- is it possible to be still vertical at that speed? Previously if I went below 6 mph I was embarrassingly slow (picture heavyset old bearded guy on mountain bike with panniers zooming past me on Cougar Mountain), but now it’s a struggle to keep it above 4 mph. Was passed by scores of men, but only 3-4 women (there were virtually no women on this side of the mountain). I only passed 2 people the entire time to the chalet,

le chalet Reynard? an oasis 6 km from the top or a mirage? Robin had waited for me, probably over 30 min or long enough to wonder if I was going to make it, gave me 2 bottles of water. I swear once again to lose 15 lbs and live a better life, a promise that lasts usually about an hour or until the next beer.

Now I can see the top, it’s a teaser because there’s still 1400+ feet of climbing over 5 miles. They warn you about the wind, which is why I carried the vest and arm warmers, but it’s a welcome wind, cooler, and there are a couple spots of luxurious flattening for about 10 pedal strokes of 3-4% grade, one short killer 13% into headwind

Au sommet- saucissons and biscuits. Nothing you want more after a tough climb but sausages that have been sitting in the sun all day, except perhaps a big chunk of camembert.

Time? Who cares, but about 3:25. The record is 55:51, and most Tour riders go 1 hour- 1:15. Just about everyone I spoke with were very experienced cyclists who say this is the hardest climb they have ever done.
Descent? A descent to end all descents. Wouldn't you like to descend 14 miles straight? Even clamping the brakes continuously I hit 41 mph. It is hot down at the bottom. The biere was magnifique.

The jersey I bought was no poser jersey. I may have been the 2nd slowest person that day, but I got up. Later we visited Sault, and I was sure glad we took the hardest way up.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Cours Toujours

Halfway through my trip through France, miraculously survived the Marathon de Liberte in Caen despite no long runs since the Tacoma marathon 6 weeks ago.Thankfully it was fairly flat and cloudy, and not nearly as hot as it could have been.

Initially I was missing Paris. Running on the Seine - amazing. French food - amazing. Why? Butter, butter, butter. Note, add stinky cheese to list of non-recommended pre-marathon foods. Also, apparently rose is neither zinfandel nor a blend of red and white.

Got to Caen after difficult shlepping of luggage on train stations that do not believe in elevators/ escalators. Compared to Paris, crowded, noisy streets with lots of rust, no subway, average age of people ~18 (though they look 14), not as easy to sit alone in cafes without raising eyebrows. Tiny 60's decor hotel. What was I thinking?

Caen is full of 11th century churches and castles, and the marathon was great. You realize that D-day is a big deal to Normandie. Got bused north for this point-to-point, running along the coast and through small seaside towns, also a surprising number of spectators. The field was ~95% male, and there were no porta potties as men do not need them (they barely bother to go to the side of the road to pee). As much as I didn't want to eat another large hunk of brie after the race, I sure needed it for the 4 mile walk back to the hotel.

Tomorrow it's on to Provence and Cycling with the Ironmen. I know what damage they can do after the 7 Hills of Kirkland Century, and am feeling slightly like a drowning rat when I think about my impending encounter with Mont Ventoux.

Flying Wheels Century - 2009

A few members of BRS attended the Flying Wheels Century yesterday and I thought I would post my account of the great day. Excellent training for longer rides!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bellingham Training Camp

This last weekend was our (first?) Bellingham Training Camp. Mike, Susie, Mark and I drove up and rode two of the finest rides I've ever been a part of. Conspicuously absent were Crash and RAD, Ventoux couldn't show either, but his excuses are better (even justified).

I really hope we can ride here again this season. Also, um, the TdF drinking game was too much fun. I'll be doing that again soon too, whether anyone else is around or not.