Tuesday, May 27, 2008

New Road to Europe, Part Deux

Articles are still poppin' here, and my latest is on USA Cycling's website. It's a follow-up to my very first article for them, and describes the experience of three up-and-coming American women who spent a month racing in Europe -- mainly France.

You can read it here. Come on ... you know you want to.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Elsa Was Here!!!

Wednesday I had the wonderful pleasure of picking Elsa up at the Denver airport, as she flew in from Knoxville to visit until today. I really appreciated getting to introduce such a good friend to Boulder, and I think Elsa appreciated getting to do whatever she wanted for four days -- she and hubby Tony have two small kids who she adores, but like all other dedicated parents, she can use a break now and then. The difference between single me and married-with-kids her? It was a treat for her to watch movies whenever she wanted and go out shopping without kids in tow, and it was a treat for me to make breakfast for two in the morning! Go figure!

Of course, we hit some of Boulder's great restaurants. Had lunch at the Boulder Dushanbe Tea House one afternoon -- here we are outside waiting to be seated. There's almost always a waiting list.This is some of the detail on the outside of the building.

And inside, Elsa "Vanna'd it up" and displayed her tea (because I made her). There is a whole menu-full to choose from, and it's all delish.
On another day, we took a tour at the Celestial Seasonings plant which is here in Boulder.
While we waited for our tour to start (our ticket? A Tangerine Orange Zinger tea sample packet!), we sampled a variety of teas (there's a pomegranate green tea that was my fave) and looked at a pretty crazy tea pot collection on display.

We weren't allowed to take pics in the plant -- kind of like Willy Wonka's ... secret stuff! -- but got this lovely shot of the two of us in our hair nets after the plant tour was over. Nobody likes what they look like in these, but, hey, better homely than drinking tea with hair in it. At least we don't have beards or mustaches, as the guys who did had to wear face nets, too. Sexy!
And later we drove up Boulder Canyon and looked around a bit. A couple from Georgia took this shot for us -- kinda cool since Elsa's from Atlanta.

On the way back down the canyon, we spotted this guy diggin' for something ...
He took a little break to say "Cheese," and then continued to dig. We watched him at least five minutes, and he never got what he was after, so we headed back down to town.
Friday night, Elsa's last night, we ate at the Boulder Cafe on the Pearl Street Mall. No pics there, but we ate outside and did some wonderful people watching. We had margaritas, crab legs, and two kinds of cheese fondue with apples, bread, potatoes, and sausage for dipping. Yum! Oh, and yah, we hit Ben & Jerry's after ... that goes without saying.
And this morning, we hit the brunch at The Sunflower, an organic restaurant, before I took Elsa back down to Denver to catch her flight out. I've wanted to try this restaurant since I moved here, and this seemed the perfect opportunity. The dark chocolate Mochaccino and whole wheat blueberry granola pancakes were worth the wait! And you couldn't beat the company.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Another Article ...

... of mine has been posted on USA Cycling's website. You can read it here, and it's about the Talent Identification Camps that they have for women every summer.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

College Nats in the Fort

Big fun in the Fort this weekend. I headed there early Saturday morning to get in a very, very windy ride with Velo-One teammates (the wind definitely wasn't the fun part), and then at noon, headed over to Hughes Stadium, Colorado State University's stadium, to volunteer with teammates at USA Cycling's Collegiate National Championships. We were all course marshals all weekend, and it was good times. Saturday, I hung out with new teammate, Mark, as well as Tony and Ruth at a sharp turn on the road race course up in Masonville in the mountains above Ft. Collins. We kept cars from entering the course when the cyclists were coming by -- they did four circuits of this section. The only bummer was the owner of the store on the corner we were on -- he's an angry, angry man, very bitter that cyclists were on the road all day, and he's sure we had no right to be there ... says it ruined his business that day. Pretty hard for me to believe, as the course was a "rolling enclosure," which means that traffic was only kept off the road a-ways before and after the group of cyclists as they made their way around, and, when traffic was held up, it was rarely for more than a few minutes. Road construction takes more time, for goodness sake. So, if you're ever Masonville way and you're at all supportive of cyclists, don't frequent this really mean man's store. Absolutely no sense of community, as having Nats in the Fort is great for the economy and good, clean fun.

And, geeze, who wouldn't want to hang out all weekend with these fans of the U.S. Air Force Academy team at Sunday's crit?
A power house team from a teeny-tiny college in Banner Elk, North Carolina -- Lees-McRae College -- took the Division 1 overall team omnium. I think the other teams here are Ft. Lewis in second, Colorado State University in third, UC Davis in fourth, and Stanford in fifth. Don't quote me on that, though -- I was out in the sun all day on a corner as a course marshal and am a bit brain-dead at the moment. (Note: Division 1 schools are those with 15,000+ students, which Lees-McRae and Ft. Lewis don't have; however, they both were granted upgrades from Division 2 status because their cycling programs are so strong.)
And this has absolutely nothing to do with Nats. Just a cool bumper sticker in front of me at a stop light as I was heading out of town and back to The Bubble.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Toyota-United Rocks

On Monday, May 12, the Toyota-United men's professional cycling team is going to auction a jersey signed by all 14 of their riders on e-Bay. The proceeds will go to Fausto Esparza Munoz, the former national champion from Mexico who is paralyzed from the waist down from a crash on the last stage of the Tour of the Gila. He has a wife and three children who he supported by racing.

The Toyota-United jerseys are sah-weet -- all patriotic-looking and worn by one of the best teams in America. (And if they make you look like Dominique Rollin, sprint like Ivan Dominguez, or spout absolutely the best quotes about bike racing ever like Chris Baldwin, well, who could complain about that?!) Get a piece of the action for a good cause, aye?

On May 12, you can find a link to the auction on their website -- www.toyota-united.com

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Google on the Internets

Apologies to my Republican fam, but you've got to admit -- this is funny.

Click here.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Just looked at the official results -- my time was 39:15.

The overall winning time was 25.19 by a four-person team.

There was only one other woman, she was a Senior Cat. 1/2, and her time was (gulp) 33.23.

I wasn't last ... I beat two junior boys, 13-14, and one 2-person team who did 56.36.

Please remember that I wasn't on a TT bike ... I'm sure that made all the difference. Thank goodness I took that rain jacket out of my pocket ...

Boulder TT Series -- #1

How weird is this? Before moving to Colorado, the only type of bike racing I did was road racing -- no crits (I'm too wimpy -- my skin might be too pale for some, but I'm pretty partial to keeping it on my bod ...) and no time trials (no equipment, no interest). Since moving here, though, I haven't done any road races, and today I did my second time trial! (No crits still -- ain't gonna happen!)

The Boulder Time Trial Series started tonight -- a 10.5 mile TT that starts at the town of Lyons and heads back into Boulder. It's every Wednesday night through late June, and Chad and I decided that it would be good training for me, good motivation, and hopefully a good measure of my growing fitness. I've not really found a good fitness groove in the last few months, so decided to give it a go.

My start time was 5:15, and I was nervous all darned day. Silly, I know -- very little chance of crashing, and basically just racing the clock. But racing -- any kind -- involves being able to suffer, and I've had a really, really difficult time over the last few months pushing myself to suffer on the bike. Chad's had me doing heartrate work for some time now, and I even struggle sometimes to get my heartrate up to tempo -- which isn't that high. I was mainly nervous that I would not be able to get my heartrate up very high, and therefore feel like I wasn't able to push myself.

But, I did positive talk all day, ate well, hydrated the last few days, and felt pretty good heading out to the start at about 3:50. I'd had a good ride yesterday, and felt pretty good when I started out today. In fact, about halfway out to the start, I realized I was feeling awesome ... calm, relaxed, and like riding was pretty effortless -- even when doing some of the little climbs along the way. Then it dawned on me -- I was riding with a tailwind ... which meant that when I turned around to do the TT course ... yup ... headwind.

But, I sucked it up, and made my way to the start still feeling optimistic. The registration area wasn't quite set up when I arrived, so I rode past, and found Mark and Rachel -- I know them through MS Global, as Mark is one of the ride leaders, and he is also a really great racer, wiry and strong. I chit-chatted with them, and Mark and I rode down to the start together to get our numbers.

So we pulled up to the registration table, and I'm looking around, checking out who all is there. I don't have pictures, but first, this is what I looked like. I'm wearing my Velo-One kit, and my back middle pocket is stuffed with a rain jacket, as it was raining just before I left the apartment. I'm in a normal helmet, and on my road bike -- a steel framed road bike with two bottles (one already empty that I drank on the way out, and one for the race -- probably didn't need it, but I wasn't going to take any chances). The only carbon on my bike is the fork, for goodness sake. And all around me were guys (no women at all at this point), including Mark, in skinsuits, TT helmets, and on super aerodynamic TT bikes. Yup ... I looked like a total dork and I could hear the Sesame Street "Which One Doesn't Belong?" song playing in the background. My VeloNews editor, Ben, was there with Matt, the technical editor, and they were both decked out in full TT gear, as well. I'm sure there were some prominent pros there as well -- I saw Bissell and Slipstream kits -- but, frankly, at that point, I stopped checking people out, and just tried to maintain my dignity as best I could!

So, Mark pinned my number on for me, and I pinned on his, and then I went to ride around a bit before my start. With about 6 minutes to go, I realized I could ask Rachel to keep my rainjacket in the truck with her, as she would drive to the finish to get Mark. Though he was leaving 6 minutes after me, I knew he'd get to the finish WAY before me, so I told them not to wait and I'd get it later, but they insisted that they'd wait. The pressure!

With about 2 minutes to spare, I pulled up the the start line, and chit-chatted with the race official there, pointing out my majorly sleek "TT" bike and gear. He was impressed, as was a 10- or 11-year-old boy standing there. Sigh.

So I started. There's a long very gradual climb right at the beginning, and, yes, that incredible headwind. My plan was to ride at around 160-165 bpm the first 6 miles, and then ramp it up as much as I could the remaining 4.5. I had no trouble getting my heartrate up to 160 or so right away on that first hill, and felt a bit overwhelmed, but told myself to calm down and my breathing steadied out.

I intentionally had signed up for a time slot that didn't have people starting right after me, as people were going off every 30 seconds, and I wanted as little demoralization as possible. Thankfully, not a lot of people signed up close to me, as it was about 10 minutes or so before the first person passed me. And in the meantime, I'd passed about 6 recreational riders on the course -- it's an open course with traffic and a very large bike lane, so you just share the bike lane -- so that was feeling good. I simply pretended they were racing ... the mind is a wonderful thing.

I found my rhythm, and was able to keep my heartrate between 160 and 168, stay in the drops, and also was able to stay in my big ring the majority of the time. The course is straight for the most part, but there are quite a few gradual climbs that keep you working. I didn't want to get too freaky about my speed, but it ranged from as low as 11 on some climbs (ugh!) to 26 or so on some of the descents. On one long descent, I was spinning in the big ring as hard as I could, and with the headwind was only doing about 23 -- and my heartrate? 171! THAT'S a headwind!

Mark passed me at 19 minutes -- I was relieved, as, honestly, I thought he'd pass me at about 10. Rather than demoralizing me, it actually inspired me, as I tried to keep him in my sights as long as I could, and sped up a bit. The miles ticked away more quickly than I'd expected, and by about 7, I knew I could ramp it up -- I'd actually forgotten to pay attention! -- and I did, riding at about 169-172 most of the rest of the way.

The finish is at the top of -- you guessed it -- a long gradual hill, and I was able to keep it in the big ring and go harder as I went up. As I crossed the line, I thought I was going to die, but it was awesome to be done. I was so thrilled, I forgot for a few seconds (maybe as many as 10) to turn off my stop watch, so I'm not sure how accurate my time was, but it said 39:22. I had hoped in that headwind and with my less-than-great fitness, I'd at least do it in under 40 -- so was pretty darned happy.

I turned into an area where folks park, and rode past Rachel sitting there in their truck. I saw Mark up ahead, as he was cooling down, so we rode a bit and talked to cool down. He rode 5 minutes slower than usual, he said, because of the headwind, so that made me feel even better about my time. My average speed was only just over 15 -- not too good, but given the headwind and my lack of being able to suffer lately, well, I'm pretty stoked.

And looking forward to next week's TT ... how weird is that?

Triumph and Tragedy at the Gila

Leah Goldstein of ValueAct Capital won the Tour of the Gila, a brutal stage race down in New Mexico, last week. You might remember that I mentioned her when I was covering Redlands because she has come back from a horrific crash at the Cascade Classic back in 2005. Additionally, Fresno State prof, Felicia Gomez, also ended up on the podium -- woo-hoo!

Unfortunately, though, there was a major tragedy in the men's race. A 33-year-old rider from a Mexican team, Fausto Esparza Munoz, went down in a bad crash on the last day, and at this point, is paralyzed from the waist down. Doctors are not optimistic about his regaining feeling. His teammate won the overall, but I'm sure that is little consolation.

There's an article on VeloNews.com about Munoz' condition, and it includes information about a fund that's been set up for his medical care. If you're so inclined, please give it consideration. Such a tragedy.

While Leah was not paralyzed after her crash in '05, she definitely surprised everyone with her full recovery, so please join me in sending positive vibes and prayers that Munoz will, too.