Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The last stage of the 'stage race': Mt. Tabor, Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

I love summer in Portland. It's light so late and there is always so much to do. Of course, we stick to what we know and love: bike racing, but it is a lot of fun. Especially since dinner with friends afterwards is practically mandatory. Tonight it was pizza @ Amercian Dream with Wendy.
Tonight was the last 'stage' of the Butler 'stage race'. Tim raced 5 days in a row, if you count shuttling the super D on Saturday, and this was my 4th day. It definitely had taken its toll, b/c after racing our first race up at Tabor, Tim the masters and me the womens, we didn't feel inclined or excited to do another with the cat 3. I probably could have, but I am over inflicting that much pain. It was a lot more fun to just chill and hang out and start to give my body a rest.
The race was pretty much like the rest of them, except that Melissa and I did not get out front until the last sprint. There was a group of 5 of us that hung together (out of 7 at the start). It was Me, Melissa, Wendy, Laurel and Colleen. Because Wendy rolled up about a second before the start of the race, we were unable to conspire against Melissa, but we did our best. It was not a tactics race, just a bit of a suffer fest. Somehow I found myself out front for a lot of the race, but I made sure I wasn't working too hard so I would have something left at the end. I won a $20 gift certificate prime to our bike shop early in the race, but at the end, I finished second. On the last lap, I dropped back to 5th in the line on the straight away, planning to zip by them from the bottom of the hill. I put the hammer down on the climb, hoping to have enough to lose the group, but especially Melissa. But she stuck on my wheel like glue and came around later than usual and hammered to the finish a wheel length in front of me. Oh well. It's great training, I will continue to think of a way to out sprint her. Not sure it is possible, but I have one more race up there to try. Wish me luck...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ouch! That hurt! PIR: Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I don't really look at PIR as a competitive race. It is bascially good training and a way to get some 'motor pacing' in by hanging behind the boys. Tonight it was rough out there. The wind was killer. In fact, not too many people finished the race, so I am glad I hung on for the 20 laps. Tim was out front on a break, so I didn't even get to ride with him. In fact, I didn't even know there was a break. All I know is that this didn't really qualify as 'fun'. It was training. I got popped on the second to last lap and chased back on to finish the last lap, but at the last corner, I just let the peloton ride away. I had nothing. I rode it in to a last place finish of the finishers. It's crazy that you can get in over 50 miles of riding on a Tuesday night. Too bad you are going around in circles for most of it. Secretly I hope Kendra doesn't make me do it again.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Portland Short Track Series: Race #1: Monday, June 25th, 2007

You know summer is here in Portland when you can race every day of the week! And Portland Short Track begins. Since Cass and Nick were still here, we had to introduce them to the Portland bike racing scene. Tim came home from work and we all geared up and headed to PIR for some good fun in the dirt. Nick had a bit of a low tire, so Cass and Tim went ahead and we arrived just in time to see the start of Tim's first race, the singlespeed category. We got registered and our race began at 7:30. I had decided (or actually, Wendy had decided for me) that I should race with the expert men. I had won the series last year pretty much uncontended, so I decided to challenge myself. It definitely wasn't as much fun as winning the women's race, but I fought through the expert men field and was nowhere near the front. I didn't get lapped by the pro men, however. That was a good sign. I finished 11th, had fun, got a great workout and we had burritos afterwards with a bunch of friends. It was a lot of fun. Even Nick and Cass (who won the pro/expert womens race) thought it was fun. It's like being a kid again on your bike. You really can't go wrong. Looking forward to next week.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Oakridge Fat Tire Festival: Sunday, June 24, 2007

It's hard to believe Deer Valley was just a week ago, but off we went to Oakridge for the weekend. Tim was planning on doing the super D on Saturday, so it was going to be a weekend of fun. My teammate, Cass Perkins, and her boyfriend, Nick, called us from Eugene and were on their way to PDX, but we convinced them to meet us in Oakridge to do some riding. I opted out of the super D and decided to ride some of the local goods with our guests from South Carolina. After the boys got all settled into their practice shuttles for the super D, Cass and Nick showed up and we headed out for our adventure. I knew the alpine trail was awesome, b/c it was the only trail in Oakridge I had ridden before, with Tim about three years ago. The thing I didn't remember is how long it took. Our anticipated 3.5 hour ride ended up an epic 5 hours, 5700 feet of climbing. The gravel road alone is about 15 miles and we initially couldn't find the trailhead. We finally found our way and it wasn't long before we all bonked, but we enjoyed the singletrack and kept smiling! It is truly an epic ride.
Sunday was race day. Aside from the difficulties of getting Tim moving, we arrived at the park, registered and were ready for another great day of riding. The pro women were given the option of the 'shorter course' or the 'longer course'. Originally the 4 of us decided on the shorter of the options, but then were convinced that the start loop was too good to miss. So, we were in for the duration. I am glad we did it, b/c the singletrack was awesome and it was just good fun. I began to understand the concept of 'the wall' in the course description as we climbed a steep forest road for about 3 miles. I was happy to find out the second time through we only had to go as far as the feed station. Whew! That also meant new singletrack for the descent. I had a lot of fun and actually won my first XC race of the year.
The highlight of the day, however, was not winning the race, but meeting this 11 year old rock star that did the race. After the race was over, there was a gentleman waiting for someone so I asked if it was his daughter I saw out on the course. It wasn't , but he directed me to her parents and I told them how amazed I was that she was doing this race. It wasn't an easy one and she apparently loves riding her mountain bike. She definitely has a future in the sport. I rode back to find her and found her pedaling away, smiling and chatted with her to the finish line. I was so impressed. She was definitely my hero for the day!

Alice, me & Patty

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Browns Camp to Mt. Tabor: What a day! Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The most important thing about this bike racing thing is that you have to have fun. I figure when I stop having fun, I stop racing. Wednesday was pretty much a perfect day. Wendy and I ran out to Browns Camp in the a.m. to do a few laps on the mountain bikes, honing our skills on the roots now that they are dry. A great 2.5 hour ride at a good pace, trying to re-ride sections we couldn't make. I forget how fun the trails out there are. It was well worth the drive to get on dirt. Then we had some lunch and got ready for the next adventure, another Mt. Tabor. I even convinced Wendy to race that evening. Tim came home from work and we got dressed and rode up there. Ran into Wendy on the way up there and all pedaled up there together. The women go off at 6:20 and we were there in plenty of time to register, go to the bathroom and line up. The race for me was pretty much like the others. Melissa and I went for a prime (which I won, by the way) and then we were off the front for the rest of the race. I kept trying to drop her, b/c I knew that if I didn't, I would finish second. I dragged her around for 3 laps and then tried to power the last climb and lose her, but she was fighting hard and around me she went on the final sprint. Another second place at Tabor. Oh well. It was fun.

You would think that one race of 8 laps was enough, but somehow I thought I had more in me. Tim had just gotten 6th in the masters men, so I decided we all should race again in the cat 3 men. Melissa was in, Tim was in and I was in. I couldn't quite convince Wendy, but next time. So, my goal in the 10 lap cat 3 race was not to get dropped. It was a lot harder the second time and I think the pace was a bit faster. And with 40+ guys, it is a much different race than our 8-9 women one. I hung on, felt pretty good, didn't have much left for the sprint, but ended up 25th and Tim got another top 10, finishing in 8th. A fun night of racing at one of our favorite places. For those that don't know, Tim and I actually had one of our first make out sessions at Mt. Tabor on one of the benches near the top, the same bench we were engaged at. And then we proceeded to get married there as well, so a very special place indeed! A park with many functions. After racing, we headed down Hawthorne and had some pizza with friends at Ascholls. Another fairly long wait, but much needed nourishment. That is a night out for the Butlers. It's funny how biking and racing has become one of our main social functions. A great healthy way to have fun.

Wendy on bridge at Browns Camp!

I should have taken more pics, but we were too busy riding.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

NMBS# 4: Deer Valley National, Deer Valley, UT: June 16-17th, 2007

Deer Valley was my first Norba last year, 4 1/2 months after knee surgery, so I knew this year would be a totally different race. Brett and I arrived on Thursday about 2:00 and checked in to our plush accommodations. It was really right near the start/finish. Basically closer than we could park. I was psyched, b/c last year we drove up and back from SLC, and with Tim racing at 8 a.m. on Sunday, no thank you! Deer Valley/Park City is a great place to ride, so it was great to be back, despite the forecasted heat and the 7000+ feet altitude. Brett and I had a chance to ride on Thursday p.m. I got 2 laps in and then another lap Friday a.m. before Brett raced. I picked Tim up from the airport on Thursday p.m. and we grabbed a quick bite in SLC. Friday during Brett's race, Tim and I were ready in the feed zone, but unfortunately, he had the worse race of his life and cramped for the first time ever. So, Tim and I were off duty. Tim had Super D that evening at 7 p.m. He did great and got 7th out of 20 guys in his age category. And I had to get ready for the XC the next day. Wash my bike, put my number on, eat, etc.

Race Day 1: Cross Country
We had an 11 a.m. start, so although I was having a really hard time eating in the morning, I forced myself to down 2 pieces of french toast and a banana. I think the altitude was starting to affect me a bit, but oh well. We were all in the same boat. I put the trainer on our deck and had a good warm up and then headed out to get 'er done. I had a great call up, 12th! I got myself in the second row on the right hand side and was somewhat dreading that first hill. My start was great. I found myself pacing myself up the first doubletrack climb with a rather low heart rate, and all of a sudden I realized I was sitting about 6th. I reached the singletrack in sixth and held my position until the next set of singletrack, where a few gals were starting to catch me. I pulled into the pits after the first lap in 9th, but I couldn't get enough liquid or calories and it was hot. I kept pushing and stayed there for a while. I had a nice encounter with a ditch on one of the switch backs as my front wheel washed out and I found myself 5 feet down the bank with my bike a bit further. At least I was hauling ass. The second half of that lap, I started to suffer a bit. Altitude and heat, my two favorites, but I was determined to forge on. I went through the feed zone the second time in 14th, but I kept pushing, b/c although I had lost a little ground, I still could finish in the top 15. That was my goal going into this. I concentrated on drinking and wanted to go faster, but my legs didn't seem to want to cooperate. Tim was stationed at the feed 2 and was cheering like crazy, but I proceeded to let another group of girls pass me. I couldn't go. Tim was yelling at me to go faster, push harder and all I could think is how I wanted to flip him off and tell him that I felt like puking, but I just rode and tried to catch back up to the group that motored by me. After all was said and done, I ended up 17th. There is more suffering to come with short track tomorrow.

Race Day 2: Short Track
Unmotivated, apathetic, not excited. Each would have been an accurate description of how I was feeling prior to our 3:15 p.m. short track race. I woke up super early, albeit later than I was supposed to, to help Tim and crew get ready for their expert XC race at 8 a.m. I cooked up some pancakes for the 3 folks at our condo that were racing and Brett and I headed out to the feed zone to feed 4 people. That was more stressful than racing, but fun. Tim's bottles kept coming back to me way too full, but he finished strong and got 8th in his age category, which is the fastest expert category overall. I know he wasn't happy with that, but we do live at sea level. After his race, I had hours to hang out, chill, prep, etc. Our friend Scott came up with his daughter Maya, and Jessica was in Deer Valley, so she also came over and those that were done racing had a little BBQ on our deck. Somewhat unfair smelling all that food and really not able to partake!
The day quickly went by and it was time to get the game face on. I reluctantly put my bike on the trainer on the deck and began to warm up. It didn't feel good, but it could have been worse. And I knew that once I was on the line, that race adrenaline would kick in and I would do the best I could. Well, things went better than expected. I had a second row line up and off the gun I was in the top 15. The short track was exceptionally short and the first bottle neck came at the little rock ditch. I took an aggressive line off to the right and avoided the small pile up on the 'good line'. I had actually seen Decker do it during warm up and figured that would be the call and rode it prior. It worked. I was able to pass a few and soon I found myself in 10th, which at the time I thought was ninth. At about 18 minutes, I got passed by a Velo Bella gal and thought I would 'draft off of her' on the pavement and then get her back on the next lap, but there wasn't a next lap. We got pulled. She thought she was in 9th, so I assumed that made me 10th and I was psyched. Come to find out, my final placing was 11th, and although it was not a top 10, it was my best short track result this year. I'll have to aim for top 10 next time!

Race Afterthoughts:
Deer Valley is never going to be easy. For the cross country I was fighting heat and altitude, the two things I seem to suffer from most, but I had a great start. I learned another important lesson about fueling and how it can make or break a race. I have never really bonked like that in a race, but at least it was mild compared to what it could be It was a hard course to drink and eat on, but I guess slowing down and making sure you do eat and drink is key, because if you don't, you will lose more time than it takes to eat and drink. I am excited about my new bike fit and feel that it is training me to use my whole engine. I feel I am still getting stronger and faster and am excited for what is to come. I can hardly believe it is over half over...

Timmy lined up for his XC race. He is in orange & black!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Can time spent off the bike make you faster???

On my way to Deer Valley, I had a little 'layover' in Boise. I stayed with Brett and Laura and had scheduled an appointment with Tom Coleman for a wobblenaught fit on Wednesday. I figured I would start my day with my fit and then get a ride in and test it out. Well, the fit took longer than I thought, but it was definitely time well spent. We had a mid-day delay with stems not arriving, so Brett and I were treated to lunch by Tom. I have never learned so much about the body mechanisms and muscle function. Tom is definitely extremely knowlegable and passionate about what he does. I am excited to use this new blueprint and see where it takes me.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

TEST OF ENDURANCE: Blodgett, OR, Sunday, June 10, 2007

I really had no intentions of doing this race, but Tim had already signed up and there was only a road race this weekend, so of course I would prefer to ride on dirt. I knew I could ride 50 miles no problem, it was just a question of whether I could do it at race pace or not.
We had a full car full heading down to Blodgett. Patrick, Weaver, Tim and I. With a 5 a.m. departure, morning came far too early, but this group was on task and on the road, arriving with more than plenty of time to register, drop of stuff for the feeds, etc. Heck, I probably could have slept another hour. It's not like you have to warm up for a 50 mile race.
It was sprinkling lightly when we arrived and that cleared off and it looked like it was going to be a nice day. In fact, I was questioning my layering strategy and wearing my wool knickers and wool base layer, thinking I would be way too warm. But it is Oregon, so I erred on the safe side and I am so glad I did. Sure, the race started with sunshine and blue skies, but it wasn't more than a half hour into the race when the skies opened up and decided to bring some liquid sunshine. It rained and rained and rained. It was fairly light, but during a 5-hour race, long periods of rain only mean one thing: cold, wet and muddy! I actually had to stop and put on my jacket that I put in my hydrapak "just in case" during the first lap. I am so darn smart. And felt a lot better, even though wet to the core.
The race was somehow fun, despite the conditions. There were sections of singletrack that the rain made unrideable. On a dry day, no problem, but when you start slipping backwards while pedaling forward, you know there is a problem. Yes, indeed, that mud is slippery! It just added to the excitement of course. On the second lap, I found myself riding with some guys and we got to this steep descent, and I asked, "are you riding it?" Since they said no, I didn't feel like a sissy getting off my bike, however, the minute I did, my sidi's became skis and my feet went out from under me. I found myself sliding down on my butt with my bike dragging behind, my right hand still attached. It was pretty crazy. The other factor was visibility. Glasses on, you couldn't see, glasses off, you couldn't see. So basically, it was hard to see. I finally had to stop at one of the aid stations and ask for something to wipe them off before the next descent. It's hard to go fast when you can't see. That helped, but it wasn't long before I again, couldn't see.
The race for me was basically a race against the clock. I rode most of it myself, catching the occasional singlespeeder and male, but my goal became the course record. Of course, the course was dry when the record was set, but I needed a challenge and something to focus on. This kept me motivated and on task. I didn't settle in to an easy pace or just an endurance ride. I kept a brisk pace when walking up the unrideable singletrack. I kept racing. It was kind of like ghost racing. No one around, but me. When I reached the finish line, I looked at my watch and thought, depending on when the 'actual start time' was, I may have done it. But come to find out, I missed it by less than 2 minutes. Oh well, there is always next year. I won the women's race by over an hour and Tim and I won the couples race with a new course record for a couple! Tim got 2nd in the masters 40-49. What else would we have done this weekend

My first top of the podium this year.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

From long to short: Mt. Tabor Circuit Race #2: June 6, 2007

One of the greatest things about Portland is that you literally can race your bike any day of the week. Since I missed the first Tabor race last week, I had no choice but to go check it out this week. I actually tried to get out of it, but Coach K said rain or shine, I go. I really didn't mind, although Tim was out of town and I was going to have to go solo. Mt. Tabor is a pretty special place for Tim and I. For those that don't know, we had one of our first dates there, got engaged up there and then proceeded to get married there, almost exactly where the race is staged. We really like that park.
I had taken a nice easy ride in the a.m., starting with the River City group at 10, but bailing out early. More because I was still feeling the fatigue from Mt. Hood and I knew Kendra was going to make me race. Plus a 2.5 hour ride was just about plenty. On my way up to Tabor, I picked up Melissa, got registered and then off we went. It was only 8 laps, so in my mind, that was going to be short. I knew it would still hurt on the climb, but I was not too worried about it. There were 9 senior women at the line and a lot of 4's and masters! Good to see so many women out there, although there were some people missing up there, but I won't mention any names (Wendy, Dani, Brigette, Amy.. all RCB teammates). We were off at approximately 6:20 and up the hill we went. Melissa charged up the hill, w/ my legs begging to warm up. I knew they would after a few laps. Well, after a few laps, I realized there were only 4 of us left. Then another lap or so, there were 3. One of the laps had a $20 gift certificate to RCB as a prime, so I decided to go for it without contention. Melissa had gotten the tires earlier. I felt pretty good, but didn't know how much I had left for that last climb, so I relaxed and tried to not start my sprint too early. I pretty much pulled Melissa and Laurel on that last lap, but I really didn't care. I sat in on the other laps when I could, but I knew no one was going to offer to take the head wind on the last lap. So, up we went and rounding the last corner, Melissa sped by me. I had no more gears, but crossed second and got my entry fee back in prize money. A net gain for the night! After it was over, Melissa told me I should have left it in my big chain ring. Yep, I am still learning all of this road stuff. But it is fun and I enjoy supporting our local race promoters. It's a great work out, great people and a lot of fun! And sometimes you even run into the darnedest people. My encounter for this evening was with "bike boy". To make a long story short, when I moved here and worked at AFS Intercultural Programs, there was this guy that biked to work in plastic blue pants and somehow we dubbed him "bike boy." His actual name is Chris Thoman and in a weird sort of way, my first exposure to mountain biking was through him. He had invited me to come watch one of his races at ski bowl years back and I did. I think he even won! I didn't even ride a mountain bike then. Funny where life takes us.
Well, I won't be able to make Tabor next week, because I will be off to Deer Valley. Time to get back on the dirt...

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Mt. Hood Cycling Classic: May 29 - June 3, 2007

At registration, a t-shirt for the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic said it all, "It's not about strategy, it's about survival." That is pretty much what this race was for me, riding solo, sans teammates, in my first NRC (National Racing Calendar) road race ever. My first road stage race ever. Being a cat 3, this was one race I could race with the Pro/1/2's and because it is practically in the back yard of our cabin, I couldn't resist. "Great training", my coach said. But with the forecast having soaring temperatures, I was definitely getting nervous. I kept reminding myself, "great training" and it will be fun. It was both. The weekend prior I got my last 'fun rides' in before the suffering began. Emily, my Bearnaked/Cannondale teammate and her road teammate arrived and the suffer fest was about to begin.

Stage 1: Tuesday - Panorama Point Prologue
A 3 mile race couldn't be that bad, could it? at 7 p.m. it should at least be cooler, right? Well, at least Tim let me wear his cool TT helmet, bars and booties. I would at least look kind of cool. I thought I warmed up adequately, but for some reason there was no push in my legs when my starting time came. We were started in 30 second intervals and at least I did not get passed. It took me 8 minutes and I would be starting the race in 27th place, 44 seconds down. Now really, did it matter in the grand scheme of things. Not really...

Me in my borrowed TT accessories trying to be fast.

Stage 2: Wednesday - Columbia Hills Road Race
84 miles and 4500 feet of climbing is what we had in store for today. Add temperatures in the 90's and you have a delightful 4 hour suffer fest. Actually, this race was not that bad. It was actually quite slow at times and I found myself just mentally exhausted from riding in the pack and having people move in and out and around all the time. "Relax Butler", said Emily when she saw every muscle in my arms tensed up. That helped. I had to remind myself to just relax. I found myself getting pushed off my wheel all of the time, b/c I was too timid. I just gave it away to avoid getting too close to anyone. I will learn. The KOM's (King of the Mountain) were the only time the pace would amp up to lactate threshold and each time it hurt, but I stayed with them and during the last 10K, which was the actual race, I lined myself up on the right hand side toward the front, sprinted, but chickened out when I got boxed out. I was not aggressive enough, but still ended up 16th with the pack time. I was happy with that and just happy I was far enough up to attempt to sprint. I was learning.

Stage 3: Thursday - Cooper Spur Circuit Race
This is the day the real racing would begin. Tim, Josh and Jason had joined the fun up at Mountain Shadows, but did not have to race until 2:00 p.m. We had to race at 9 a.m. and with the forecasted heat and 66 miles and 7150 feet of climbing, I was fine with getting it over sooner. We rode down from the cabin to 'warm up' and the race was on. The first few miles were pretty mellow, but once we hit Cooper Spur Road, it was game on. The KOM was up at Cooper Spur, so each time the 10 minutes of pain we would endure to get there would increase. I hung on for the first climb and had an awesome fun descent. At one point I decided to get out in front and put a smile on my face and flew around the corners that I had ridden so many times getting ready for this race. Emily had given me some great advice on the way down to the campground about getting myself lower on my bike and it really helped me, although I still don't like going fast downhill with people all around me. At the campground with our first lap done, we had an unexpected pee break. This always cracks me up. 65 girls laying there bikes down and squatting in the ditches with no care about who was around. I was always grateful to empty my bladder.
The race continued, the pace continued to amp and on the third climb, I got dropped. It was towards the top, but I could not, or maybe would not, hang on. It hurt, it was hot and I just watched them pull away, but I thought I would be able to close the gap on the descent. As it turns out, that headwind was a bit too strong and I watched the cars and the peloton just beyond my reach and ended up time trialing the last lap alone. It was brutal, but a good lesson to not get dropped again. It sucks! But I don't think it is something you set out to do. It just happens. You just can't dig that little bit extra to stay on, even knowing what the consequences will be. A lesson learned and time lost. I finished 24th and lost over 7 minutes. 7:14 to be exact.

Stage 4: Friday - Scenic Gorge Time Trial
Time trials are just you against the clock. And in this case, against the wind as well. Emily, Amy and I headed over to the Discovery Center early enough to get warmed up. As I sat on the trainer, I thought, 'this is going to be hell.' It was hot, my legs were tired, I had none of Tim's fancy gear to at least make me feel fast, but heck, I can pedal my bike and I'll just do as good as I could do. I started behind Emily 30 seconds, so at least I had a carrot. As I exited the gate, the wind felt as though it was blowing me backwards, but I got in my groove and decided to do the best I could. I remembered what Kendra had told me, "it if doesn't hurt, pedal harder and get in a bigger gear." I tried to remember that, but also, Emily warned me not to blow it all in the first half, b/c the second half would then suck! OK, so my plan was to be consistent and make it hurt equally the whole 18 miles. I actually had Emily in my sight for the first half up until the descent after the long straight away and then she was gone. I kept thinking I would find her again, but she put a bunch of time on me and although I did not get passed, my time would put me in 24th place, 6:35 back from the winner. Oh well. It was my first road TT and it was 'good training'. There were still 2 more days to go.

Stage 5: Saturday - WY'EAST ROAD RACE
In my mind, this was the 'real race' of the week. Having ridden it 2 weeks earlier, I knew what I was getting myself into and I knew it would hurt. 86 miles and 9200 feet of climbing. But I also knew that I could do it and it would be easier not riding it alone. We pedaled up from the cabin to the start and rolled out of the gate shortly after 10. It was already in the high 70's, low 80's, so I knew it was going to be a hot one. We at least had Doug stationed at feed zone 2, so I felt pretty confident I was carrying enough food and would survive on water between feedzone 1 & 2. Warm water was not so nice, but it worked. Despite the hurting legs and fatigue, the race was pretty much 'on' from the start. Going up road 44 was a real treat with teams pushing the pace and playing tactics that I didn't understand, but my tactic was just to stay on and hold on. I survived the first KOM and then we had our 20 mile or so descent into Dufur. Along with a pee break when it flattened out. Those dropped had the luxury of catching back on. After the first feed zone, it was definitely 'game on' the entire way. We were hammering on the flats and hills, but I kept thinking that 'the faster we ride, the sooner we are done'. It wasn't getting cooler and there was NO shade on the entire ride. The second KOM a large group of us got dropped, but we were able to hammer it out and catch up on the downhill into Wamic. Then the dreaded hill outside of Wamic. Yep, dropped again, but a group of 6-7 of us chased and chased and worked together to get back on, which I did right after the second feed zone after grabbing my musset bag from Doug and having 2 fresh iced bottles of Heed. This was at mile 62. I think I drank my first bottle within the first mile after the feed zone. I was dying, but I was back with the group and hoping to hang on. Hope ended fast when the attacks kept coming and the pace kept amping. I looked at my one lone bottle of liquid left for the next 24 miles in this 100 degree weather. It couldn't have been 3-4 miles later and I found myself dropped again. I just couldn't keep the pace and decided I would rather arrive alive than not finish, so I had to race my own race. I watched the cars pull away, but I did not give up. I kept up my pace and rode strong and eventually was without much water, but saw a car and 2 riders not far ahead. That became my goal and motivation. It happened to be the Valueact Capitol car and Katie Mactier (former GC leader from early on in the race) and Marni Hambleton. I asked the guy in the car if he had any extra water and that ice cold bottle of pure h2o was like a little slice of heaven. I was saved. I rode with them for a while, but they didn't seem too interested in having a tagalong. I guess my positive energy was a bit too much and Katie asked at one point if I was married to Chad, the organizer, b/c I was a bit too positive about the stage. I guess it was the only way to be at that point and this was my home turf. I am an ambassador for what I think is the most beautiful place in the country. And with Mt. Hood looming in the distance, it was really hard to not be happy. I knew the pain was almost over, although it would be hell to get there. I just kept the pedals turning, pulled away from them and then finally found myself on the access road to Meadows. I remembered it was still 3.5 miles though. I put that thought out of my head and raced agains the clock. I wanted to get myself into the top 20 of the GC and I knew I had to make up some time. I finished in 5:01:18 in 18th place, 17:56 back from the leaders. It was a long day, but it was over. It was a great weight lifted and I waited anxiously for Tim to finish, b/c I knew the heat would not be treating him well. I actually missed his finish somehow, but found him laying on the pavement moments later and helped pour some water on him, bringing him back to life. Back to the cabin to celebrate. It was almost over!!! Just a short little crit left. Yahoo!!!

Stage 6: Sunday - Downtown Hood River Criterium
This race held a lot of anxiety for me. Not only had I never done an actual crit before, but I watched it the year before and saw a lot of crashes. Crashing on pavement makes me nervous. Tim raced at 11:30, so when we arrived, I hustled over to the closest point of the course to cheer. This happened to be 'carnage corner' and in the few minutes I was there, I saw 3 cat 3 men go down. Tim was not one of them, but after cheering for him a few laps, I decided that was not the best thing for me to do to ease my mind about crashing. So I warmed up, although my legs didn't really want to go very hard on the trainer and then I decided, whatever! I just have to survive upright and ride carefully and not worry about it. Although I was told to 'line up toward the front', the officials made us take another lap, so I was at the very back. I wasn't going to worry about it though. I was used to starting in the back. The gun went off and the fun began. The first 10 minutes hurt, but I finally warmed up, relaxed and felt great. Then I was actually having fun. It was 50 minutes long, but the pace seemed reasonable and I felt darn good. Apparently there was a break at some point, but I must have been so far back that I didn't see it. With 2 laps to go, I started moving myself up and with one lap to go, made sure I wasn't too far back. I wasn't sure how this would all play out, but I worked my way up and had a pretty decent sprint and ended up 13th!!! A nice surprise. I didn't think that would change my overall GC standings, since I went into the crit sitting 21st, but to my surprise, I wound up 19th overall! Another nice surprise. And it was over!!! I had survived my first road stage race with no major catastrophes!
check out crit pictures at:

Race Afterthoughts:
The first thought that comes to my mind is that I definitely prefer dirt. The second thing is that I really liked the crit. I had no idea that would be my favorite part of that race, especially with the anxiety I had over it prior. It almost felt like a cross race and I kept telling myself that I am a good 'crosser, I had to hang in there and finish with the pack. My goal going into this race was top 20 and I made it. I was a bit disappointed after the mountain stage when I was sitting 21st, b/c I did not think the crit would change the standings at all. The weather was definitely not ideal for me. I am generally not very good in the hot weather, so this was great practice at suffering in the heat for hours on end. Will I do it again? Definitely.

pictures to follow...