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The Summer of Century Rides

It’s been a long season for me–my first race was Rev 3 Costa Rica back in March and I’ve done races in May (Mt. Rainier duathlon), June (Honu 70.3), July (Rev 3 Portland), and am currently sitting on my ass waiting for Sunday to roll around so I can cap off my triathlon season with Ironman Canada. Several months of training means several months of riding, and this year Teresa seemed especially intent on destroying my nethers by assigning me a stupid amount of century rides. Here’s a rundown of the 100+ mile rides I’ve done this year: 1. Flying Wheels Flat Tires: 1 (me) Got lost? No Bonk Factor: 4/5 I already wrote about this ride, so I’ll just reiterate again how crappy it was. Of all the centuries I did this year, I think this one was the hardest–it was just one of those days where nothing really went right. It was kind of cold out, I got a flat tire, rode by myself for a bit until I caught up with my teammates, and struggled in the back stretch of the course. The highlight of that day was getting cookies from Alley for giving her husband Bill (one of my teammates) a ride home (yaay, cookies). Also, the team camaraderie made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, so at least we all suffered together. All in all though, it was a tough day, moreso mentally than physically, but isn’t that usually the case with endurance training? 2. Coeur d’Alene Ride Flat Tires: 1 (Coach T) Got Lost? No Bonk Factor: 3/5, then 5/5 This was the glorious ride where Jason’s deaf dad shot down a hill and forced me to chase after him. The workout after that was kind of ball-kicky since I was riding with three people who were all way faster than me. Teresa got a flat tire but we managed to stay on course (we rode the old Ironman Coeur d’Alene course, which I enjoy 152% more than the new course). I felt alright but a little tired from chasing after Team Fast for a few hours, but after a long break where the group hit up the Ironman expo area for a while before Vicki and I headed out for my last hour of riding, I was spent. I watched Vicki get further and further ahead of me as I started to feel woozy and tired, wanting off the bike forever and thinking that whoever thought up the idea of riding over 100 miles deserved to get buried up to his head in sand and have a large, sweaty man t-bag his face for six hours. Surprisingly, my transition run afterwards went fairly well, but overall the ride was a mixed bag. 3. 7 Hills of Kirkland Route Flat Tires: 1 (Aimee) Got Lost? Yes, gloriously so. Bonk Factor: 1/5 For this ride I met up with Gary, a teammate who was training for RAMROD (Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day), and Aimee, who was also training for Ironman Canada. Gary wanted to do the 7 Hills of Kirkland century route so he could practice hills. I mentally punched Gary in the face 15 times, then we took off from Kirkland. Aimee had some problems with her rear brake rubbing and later got a flat tire, but the ride went relatively well for a while… …until we missed a turn and got off course, ending up in effing Monroe. Both of them were following me and I tried to play it cool despite the fact that I hadn’t seen a course marking in quite a while, but I figured that...
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Jim, You Deaf Bastard

When I was in Coeur d’Alene for the Ironman, Jason was staying off his feet and prepping for his big race while I had a big training weekend on my schedule. Coach T scheduled a century ride and a short brick run for the day before the race, but since I was volunteering at bike check-in that day, I wasn’t going to be able to cram in volunteer duties and a six hour ride. I ended up having to slog out 100 miles on Friday, but nobody was interested in riding the full distance with me (sad trombone) so I organized a “Bec-share” program: Jason’s dad Jim would ride the first two hours with me and then I’d meet up with Teresa, Paul, and Vicki to bust out the last four. I’d be like the Stanley Cup of TN Multisport athletes, getting passed from one cyclist to the next (uh, in a non-slutty manner). Jim wasn’t interested in doing anything too strenuous because he rode with us the day before, so we took off at a fairly easy pace and did the beginning part of the CdA Ironman course–an out and back along a paved trail that follows the lake. The trail has a couple of long, gradual climbs that aren’t too bad, but I didn’t want to kill my legs since I still had several hours of riding ahead of me. We did the out and back twice and realized we still had more time to tack on, so while we pondered which route to take we ran into a nice older woman with a Southern drawl and a little foo foo dog. We chatted up the woman for a bit and she gave us directions for a little loop we could tack onto our route that would take us back to Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive. The gist of the directions were as follows: Woman: “Take a right on Yellowstone Trail road, and ride along that for a while, then left on Bonnell.” Me: Right on Yellowstone Trail, Left on Bonnell. Got it.” Woman: “Have fun, y’all!” Me, to Jim: “What a nice lady!” Jim and I took off to go find Yellowstone Trail road. When we came across it, we took a right onto it and were immediately faced with a hill. I climbed it, avoiding potholes and jagged sections. Since I’m better on hills than Jim, he fell a ways behind while I continued to grind up and dodge chunks of broken pavement. The climbs were not especially fun–so much for my plan to try and save my legs from getting worn out on too many hills. Me, sweating profusely: “What a horrible woman!” The nice Southern lady with the foo foo dog was clearly a sadist in disguise, hell bent on rerouting unsuspecting cyclists onto shitty quality roads with non-stop climbing. After ascending for some time, the route flattened out and turned into a long descent. I coasted around a bend and noticed a left-hand turn up ahead, so I slowed down to read the street sign and identified the road as Bonnell. “Oh good,” I thought, and pulled onto Bonnell, then stopped so I could wait for Jim. He’d round the bend, see me at the turn and then we’d complete our little out-and-back route before heading back to the house. I waited for a bit, then saw a red shape winding around a corner. I recognized the form as Jim shooting down the hill on his Felt road bike. As he rounded the bend, I smiled and waved at him so he’d know to turn left onto Bonnell. Instead of glancing over to...
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Ironman Canada Training Camp 2012 Day 1: Blinded by the Climb

The last weekend of July was my team’s Ironman Canada training camp. It had been a couple years since I had ridden the course (the last time I trained on it was when I raced the event in 2010), so I was really anxious to dust off the ol’ cobwebs and re-familiarize myself with the area and see how much my fitness had improved in the past two years. I was also excited to hang out with my teammates–even though we were going to be working our asses off all weekend long, it’s still fun to spend time with your friends and enjoy each other’s company away from the stresses of the real world. The camp consisted of three days, which I’ve broken into separate posts. Here’s a recap of Day 1: Day 1: What Doesn’t Kill You Just Half-Blinds You Canada camp was scheduled a bit differently than Coeur d’Alene’s training camp. At Coeur d’Alene we swam, then rode the course, then did a brick run (and the day bested me because I was battling a fever and a cold and chumped out after 80 miles on the bike). At Canada, however, we’d start the day off by tackling the bike course, then doing a 20-30 minute brick run. No swimming? Boo-yah! I took off with my cycling group from our hotel. It was going to be warm (mid to upper-80s) but not as hot as the ridiculous training camp back in 2010 (when temps hit 97 degrees). I was supposed to stay in zone 2 for my ride but my stupid Garmin didn’t charge overnight so I had to ride “naked,” so to speak, and went without heart rate information. It was actually kind of nice riding based on exertion/feel for a change, but I was mildly disheartened when the guys all took off as if they stole something and left me, Aimee, and Leslee behind. It was hard to tell whether I was going out too easy or they were going out too hard, or if they were just riding comfortably while I was sucking it up. Not helping matters was hitting Richter about 2 hours, 3 minutes into my ride, which was a few minutes slower than my training time two years ago. Cue the “Oh God, am I actually slower than I was in 2010?! My bike split is going to be shit this year! Why did I sign up for this race, I’m no good, I’m not getting faster, what the hell is the matter with me, I’m not going to break 12 hours this year, not by a long shot, screw this sport, I’mma retire and get fat instead.” I pushed the doubt out of my head and instructed myself to just ride. Don’t worry about the watch or how fast your teammates are going, just focus on what you need to do out there. So that’s what I did–I powered up Richter at a good clip (hooray for improved climbing skills this year!), busted through the “rollers” (aka the “Little Bitches,” as Slowtwitch so appropriately named them), and made it to the TN support car at the end of the out and back turnaround. And wouldn’t you know it, my lovely ladies Leslee and Aimee were right there with me as the first three in our group to make it to the car. I guess we all paced ourselves perfectly fine, after all. 🙂 By this point I had to pee something fierce. I looked around for a semi-private place to wander off to but there really weren’t many options, especially as more teammates started to roll in. Aimee tried to...
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Band of Brothers: Flying Wheels Edition

When I got back from Hawaii I checked my training schedule to see what sort of torture Teresa had in store for me that weekend. She wanted me to do the Flying Wheels century ride, so I met my teammates at Marymoor Park at about 7:45 am on Saturday to get situated. I hadn’t thought much of the ride going into the workout and just figured a steady bike ride in zone 1-2 would be a piece of cake compared to the windy hellfest I endured in Hawaii the week before. Once I got there, however, I realized that the ride would be much crappier than I initially figured for a couple of reasons. First of all, my mind still must have been in warm, humid Hawaii mode because I was underdressed for the ride. The weather report said it would get to low 60’s but the entire day was overcast and I remained half-frozen throughout the entire workout. Secondly, before I even started the ride I realized my front tire was partially flat. I found that perplexing since I had pumped up my tires before I left my house, but instead of switching out the tube right there like a smart person would have done, I just had the REI dudes re-pump it up and hoped the mysterious disappearing air pressure was just a fluke. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t. I got a measly 40 minutes into the ride and was following my friend Kirsten up a hill when I noticed that I was working harder than usual to keep up with her. I started to wonder if my front tire had gone flat again when some dude behind me yelled, “Hey, your tire’s flat!” Guess that solved the mystery. I sighed and pulled over, watching Kirsten ride further away from me until she was out of sight. Tire Change Mode, activate! Unfortunately, Tire Change Mode was less Optimus Prime-y and more Herpy Derpy since my hands were frozen and resulted in a profound lack of dexterity. A five-minute job turned into 10+ as I fumbled to get the tire loose. Two of my teammates, Lyset and Ashley, stopped to help and were super patient as I rained expletives down on my stubborn wheel. When I finally got the new tube in, I promptly blew through a cartridge because I can never remember how to work the damn valve thing right, and I also freezer-burned my hand because I forgot that cartridges are full of COMPRESSED FREAKING AIR and was holding it like a moron while it was leaking all over the place. Thankfully, I had a backup cartridge and managed not to waste that one. Success! I rode with Lyset for a while and then we parted ways. When I rolled up to the first aid station, I figured I had to be at the halfway point because I had been riding for like an eon already. I pumped up my front tire the rest of the way at the REI tent, inhaled some chomps, and glanced at my watch, expecting to see something like “3:00:15.” It read “1:30.” Son of a bitch! The never-ending ride continued. I was starting to feel a bit lonely since I had lost my teammates, so I’d tuck in and draft behind random groups of cyclists before leapfrogging to the front in an effort to find someone I knew. When I got to the fork that split the 100-mile riders from the 65-milers, I had a Choose Your Own Adventure moment where I seriously contemplated saying “Screw this ride” and cutting it way short so I could go home and watch movies...
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Conquering the “7” Hills of Kirkland

Last week I checked my training workouts and saw that Teresa was seemingly intent on turning my taint into a giant callus on which I could strike matches by scheduling me four bike workouts: one tempo/strength ride, a recovery ride, a 3 hour interval workout, and the 7 Hills of Kirkland metric century ride on Memorial Day. She emailed me and asked if I was doing the ride. I responded with a “Maybe…who else is doing it?” Teresa directed me to our Yahoo! group forum so I could coordinate with some teammates and have someone to ride with. I, of course, was too lazy to do that so I ended up not knowing who was riding and when they planned on starting. My half-assitude lasted me through the weekend until I figured it was time to actually do some semblance of research and see who I could ride with. I had never done the Kirkland ride before (it’s put on by the city every year to raise money to help homelessness), so I asked Jason if he’d sign up with me. He gave me a “Pshaw hell nah, I’m tapering for Boise.” His dad, on the other hand, was interested in doing the ride so at least I’d have one cycling buddy for the day. In keeping with my “total lack of research” theme for this ride, I woke up early Monday morning, got my gear together, did a quick glance at the 7 Hills website to get the address of the starting point, and took off. I met Jim, Jason’s dad, at the park where the ride took off from at 7 am and begrudgingly coughed up $55 for the registration fee. (A cost that I think is too expensive, especially considering that the course is still open to car traffic and we’re really only paying for a couple of aid stations. I reminded myself it was for a good cause and remembered to take more fuel gels than I needed at each food stop to make up for the dent in my wallet.) The ride started out pretty decent, and the climbs were pretty good but nothing that was pants-crappingly difficult. Unfortunately, I found out pretty quickly that it’s not the best idea to do the ride on a time trial bike — there are enough climbs that having a road bike would be more beneficial, plus the descents are often winding/zig-zaggy and there aren’t that many flat/fast stretches to get into aero. I ended up being that doosher trying to look all bad-ass on my TT when a road bike was way more appropriate (at least I didn’t have race wheels *coughBrentcough*). Jason’s dad had warned me ahead of time that the Winery Hill climb was the worst, and he had also cautioned me to be in the proper gearing as soon as we turned onto it. He wasn’t lying — as soon as you take a right onto that road, you run directly into the start of the hill. If you’re not in the correct gear when you hit it, you’re pretty screwed. The climb itself is shorter than the other hills on the ride, but it’s a steep fucker. My rear shifter was pointed towards the sky and I was cranking down on my pedals so hard, I nearly keeled over a couple times (I do not know how those professional cyclists wobble back and forth on their bikes so aggressively). When I got to the top, I was greeted by a woman sitting in a lawn chair and clapping, and once I made my way out of the neighborhood, a bag piper played the...
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