Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hipsters discussing "cyclo cross racing"

Ha! Too funny. Thanks to Kori for posting this to Facebook.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

a new direction:

The past few weeks, sick with the flu, I've been provided with hours of entertainment by the one and only Lady Gaga. Her new video, Bad Romance, dropped last Tuesday and within 24 hours of its release I had watched it at least 12 if not 20 times. And it seems like nearly every day, or every couple of days, there's something new - a new interview, or a new song from the upcoming Fame Monster. And every single I hear is awesome, and every thing I hear her say is brilliant. She really is the new Bowie, in a completely original way. Everything I want in a pop artist and more.

But i isn't just that Lady Gaga has been killing it lately, or that I have exhausted myself and run my immune system down to the very wire. There's change in the air right now, and new ideas and thoughts are going to be very necessary to survive and thrive in the changing world. Lady Gaga has it made because everything she conceives can be made reality, because of her team and her media placement. But she worked hard for several years before she found that place. What is it that I have to share with the world, that I've been working for several years on and am ready to share? (Besides bike racing, or science?) Well... there are all those sketches and paintings and random creations that have accumulated over the years.

And the million dollar question that an item in my google reader posed:

Is it art if you don't share it?

And the correct answer is that no, it is not art if it is not shared, because the very reason for creating art is for it to be shared and to create a different feeling in other people. In order to become Art, a sketch or a painting or a sculpture must be brought out into the eyes of others, outside the protective embrace of its creator.

And with that I am proud to announce the launch of my new art blog. I'll be posting some old stuff and some new stuff, a little at first, and hope that it resonates. It's all very personal, of course, but what art isn't?

We'll be back to the usual bike racing on this channel soon enough. I just have to get this flu out of my system and I'll be back in action.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

right brain update

long radio silence. been busy; been sick. 'cross season has been going well; that is, it *was* going well until i succumbed to ye olde swine flu. i've spent the last week mostly in bed. the worst part is the brain fog... even when i'm not on nyquil my brain is moving at about 1/25 normal speed.

i finished my NSF grant on time, fortunately before i got sick. i even turned it in a few days early. it feels very good to be done with that deadline... though the next deadline, the comprehensive exam, is imminent (contingent upon me recovering from this flu). i have a topic and i think i understand it pretty well, but i still need to pick which testable hypotheses i am going to propose experiments for. it's interesting, since there are so many unanswered questions in biology, it's like low-hanging fruit. which one of these will i test. and since it's a proposal exam, i don't have to have any intention of actually *doing * those experiments (in fact i shouldn't). so i can suggest expensive, or time-consuming, or radically new procedures, as long as i can defend why i picked them and what they would show. and so it goes.

a large part of what i wrote about in my nsf personal statement essay was how my... *ahem*... "unique" background has prepared me for studying and communicating science. i chose to draw (no pun intended?) from my background as a visual artist/designer - although not a very experienced or good one, since i tend to be way too self-critical to be good - to visualize and communicate science. and i've been doodling today with my new wacom bamboo. it's a really fun toy - opens up completely new frontiers. so far nothing i've produced has really been scientific at all, but i am having fun playing with my own perception of visual objects. the little picture at the top of this post is one of the things i've spat out - this one probably took 10 minutes tops. i'm not sure if she's princess leia, or if she's got huge ears, or even if she's human, but i kind of liked her and felt like i could maybe let the world see her too.

it's almost like the virus has shut down the left hemisphere of my brain. my right brain seems to be functioning just fine - or maybe even better than usual. without that annoying left brain timekeeper ruler metric voice i can just produce things that resonate with how i feel. hopefully later on this will translate to me being able to communicate the ideas i am nurturing that have to do with development and neural circuits.

i also expect there to be bicycles in the near future. a future without bicycles is grim indeed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cross season begins! CC #2 race report

This past weekend was my first 'cross race of the season (finally!) I was a little late to the game because first, I was tired from road season and wanted time off, second, my 'cross bike was in pathetic shape, and third, I caught a little virus that ended up keeping me down for awhile.

The time off was great, but it couldn't last forever, because I get antsy. I finally got my Surly back in some sort of racing shape, and I'm mostly recovered from the virus, so this Sunday I headed up with my friend Jon to the Cross Crusade race at Rainier High School. I have to say, RHS is a damn near ideal 'cross venue. One complaint: It's a high school, so there's no alcohol on campus (and the whole venue is on-campus). No beer garden, no pre-race whiskey nip, no post-race pint of homebrew. Oh well - it was perfect in every other way... and it is, after all, a high schoool. I can respect that.

The weather was partly cloudy and kind of chilly, but the sun poked through in the afternoon before my race, and the course was bone-dry (and thus dusty). I didn't get a chance to pre-ride the course, but I did tool around campus and checked out most of the course from the sidelines. The crux of the course was the long climb - since the campus is built into the side of a hill, there was a lot of climbing, and most of it all in one section. More on that later.

My race didn't start until 2, and we had arrived around 11:30 or so, so I had plenty of time to warm up. The ride from the car to registration/start/portopotties was downhill, which meant it was a climb to get back. So just riding around I got a pretty decent warm up. But I had brought my fancy new impulse-buy trainer (a pink kinetic road machine, from biketiresdirect - great deal AND super-fast FREE shipping!) so darned if I wasn't going to use it! After the singlespeed men's race started (which my friend/carpool buddy Jon was racing in) I went back to the car and set up the trainer, plugged in my iPod for a good 30 minute session - easy, then some harder intervals. Around 1:30 I popped the trainer back in the trunk and rode down to the course.

I was feeling surprisingly good after my warmup, and also surprisingly, given it was my first race of the season and my first race as a cat B, not terribly nervous, at least until well after callups as we were all corralled in the start chute. I lucked out on the callups - they do it randomly, based on the last digit of your number (after they call up the series leaders). My number is 172, and they called the 2's maybe 4th out of all the digits. So I was in maybe the fourth row for the start. The start was tricky, too, because the start chute was pretty much all gravel. We were fortunately staged on the grass, which made it easier to get started, since gravel is much kinder when you have momentum. So that was good. The Masters women had to start in the gravel, which I really don't envy them for.

The Masters A women went off first, with a 30 second gap before our start. Then we went off - all 54 or so women in the B field. I had practiced starts the week before, so I felt pretty good about mine: push, shift, push push shift, keep clicking into higher gears as high as you can go, picking off as many people as possible before the course bottlenecks. After about 30 yards of flat gravel, we turned onto the course just above the GRAVEL HILL OF DOOM, and started the paved part of the climb. I passed some women in the start, but I also got passed by a few. I think was in the top 15 or so by the top of the climb, where the course took a left hand turn off the pavement and onto a running trail. It was flat, and straight, and fast. A tricky turn with a big gnarly root in the middle of the trail, then another section of straight trail, with a slight downhill. Another left hand turn onto a section of LONG, FAAAAAST descent. Some bumpy roots in that section, but not too bad. At the bottom of the descent was an off-camber left, into a section with a lot of off-camber turns and a loop around a tree. Another turn, more descent, into a really rocky bumpy section at the bottom. Short rocky kick, gravel trail section, and the first pit entrance. It was at this point that I blew past LK, last week's winner and all-around monster (in a good/fast way). She was clearly having bike issues and was trying to get to the pit. that sucks: you win some, you lose some. Anyway. Around a practice field, a set of double barriers - hey, look, I've been practicing my dismounts and remounts! My barrier hops, not so much. That's still hard. Single track through the wooods, a couple of short kicker hills. Back out onto the grass, a really bumpy grassy off-camber section. More turns, a fast off-camber descent, then a blind corner into a barrier before a run-up. This dismount killed me on most of the laps: if you didn't get off before the uphill started you lost time. Pushed my bike up that hill every time, instead of shouldering it, because I ride 28 lbs of surly 4130 cromo, what's your excuse? Remount at the top of the hill and fly down another fun steep descent, a couple more turns on off-camber grass, past the pit again, then onto the gravel. This is where you know it's coming: THE HILL. OF DEATH.

You can see all the riders in front of you struggling up the hill. It makes you want to slow down, so you don't get caught behind them. But you know it's better to build momentum before the climb, then shift down just as you hit the incline. There are only two tracks through this brutal climb, because it is doubletrack gravel road. And it is steep - probably 18%. The rocks are not your friend. Neither is the dust. It's alright on the first lap since the only people in front of you are the faster girls, but on the subsequent laps there are slow beginners and juniors slogging up the hill, complicating things. I think I only cleaned this hill once out of four laps - I had to unclip at the top on two laps, and actually was forced to dismount on the third.

After you cleared the top of that GRAVEL HILL OF DOOM, though, you weren't done, because you had just come to the point where the start chute meets the rest of the course. The climb leveled out a little when the pavement started but was still very much up hill until the finish line. Then, past the finish, it kept going up. Up and up and up, until the flat fast part, and then the descent. Off-camber turns, u-turns around trees, flying past teams warming up by the bottom of the descent. Bumps. Rocks. Barriers and dust. And on every lap, as much as you didn't want it to come, before you knew it you were back at the HILL OF DEATH. Grinding up that stupid unpaved ridiculous brutal climb. As I finished the third lap, and heard the bell, the woman next to me gasped, "i don't think I have another one in me!" Like i felt any better. Seriously, after that hill, my eyes were blurred, I was breathing like an asthmatic emphesymic whale. And I was fully focused on not throwing up. But there was just one more lap. So you have to crank it out, even if you don't think you have it in you. (Turns out she was lying: i know, I saw her finish.)

Push as hard as you can - without puking or passing out - on that climb. Take the descent a little hot. Clean those turns at the bottom - blowing past that beginner rider who's clearly unsure of this part. Show her how it's done, just like they showed you last year and the year before. Push through the bumpy section and dismount cleanly for those barriers because it takes less energy to do it right. Don't cry as the lactate builds in your muscles as you crush the little kickers in the woods. Just keep going, pass that girl in front of you, but don't knock over the junior in your way. Go go go - you've done all this three times before. Totally botch the dismount before the runup, because you forget to get off in time. But run - RUN - that run up, and don't even slow down as you jump back on for that screamin' descent. Doesn't matter if you're not clipped in until you get to the bottom. Clear those corners, don't worry about cutting off that girl (she's a beginner; she needs to learn) in the u-turn by the pit. This will be the LAST TIME you have to climb that HILL. OF. DEATH.

Build up momentum on the flat. Go go go. Hill starts. Downshift. Stand up. Push. Weight over the back tire prevents slippage but you need to stand up for leverage, and to keep your front wheel from popping up. People in front of you hate this hill too; they're just as tired as you; use that to your advantage. See up there, not too far ahead? That's Tori, who's been your rabbit slash battle buddy this whole race. She is really cooked. You can catch her! Bump up onto the pavement and upshift a gear - this is the climactic sprint finish. Push it until you're tire and tire with Tori. She accelerates. You accelerate. She gains an inch. You stand up and MASH. Tori yells a profanity (you'd do the same!) as you take the sprint - the "sprint" - for 13th place. Yeeah!

Downshift all the way. Soft pedal another ten yards. Get off the course, come to a stop, and start hacking up all that dust that's gathered in your lungs. That hacking noise? It means you gave it what you had. Your pulmonary cilia will take care of the dust.

Chug something sugary if your road trip buddy is as awesome as mine and hands you Powerade when he finds you at the finish. Collapse briefly onto the grass. Try as hard as you can not to vomit. Complain loudly about how much you hated that course - pure sweet hell. Commiserate with everyone else at the finish line - wow, that hill was BRUTAL! Wasn't that horrible? That was no fun at all!

For some reason we all maintain this spirit at the end of a race: wow, we hated that, that was horrible. But we all know that we're all lying: in the middle of all that pain, that suffering, that flavor of bile and stomach acid in your throat and the juicy wheezy rumble in your lungs, is the most fun you have ever had in your life, on or off the bike. Pure, sweet, unadulterated hell. Until you try it, you probably can't understand; try it once, though, and you're hooked for life.

Yeah, I think that was a pretty good first race for the season. Great course, awesome weather, very respectable competitors. I'm looking forward to next week, which is supposed to be a similar course, except it's not at a high school which means BEER. Which is correct and appropriate for cyclocross. AND, I found out on Sunday that if I just jump through a few red tape hoops, I can qualify for the Collegiate National Championship race this December in Bend. Holy crap yes please! My first nationals - way sooner than I'd expected! My friend and teammate Sonja will be there too - we have just about exactly two months to prepare. Cross Nats, here we come. But in the meantime, Cross Crusade, here I am. I've missed you!

My name is Kat Reinhart, and I'm a cyclocross addict.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Balance nutrition bars

Confession: I LOVE energy bars. Clif bars make up an embarassing proportion of my diet. I've tried most of the bars on the market - especially the ones under $1.50 each - and Clif remains consistently my favorite. But they were $1.19 (good, but not awesome) at the market today, and another bar caught my eye at the same price: Balance nurition.

I glanced at the ingredients and nutrition info, and found it to be inoffensive enough to buy: 210 calories, 15 g protein, no HFCS or hydrogenated oils. Okay.

Bought a couple, brought them home. Am now eating one. It's hard and chewy, like many of the high-protein bars on the market, and claims to be "caramel nut blast" flavor. Meh. The caramel is inoffensive enough, but for the texture of the bar, I would expect it to have more than 15 g of protein (out of a 50g bar). Chewy. Not really tasty. Meh.

Think I'll go back to Clif bars.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

good bye road season

Well, I finished up the road racing season last weekend with the Eugene Celebration Stage Race. I really enjoyed the whole race, ended up taking 5th overall in cat 4, and got myself a stage win in the crit. Stage racing is so much more difficult than single-day races - it's hard to recover and eat enough food and get enough sleep in order to get up the next day and race again! It was really fun though. I'm kind of glad that road season is over, but am definitely looking forward to 'cross, and to next year.

Up next: Psycho Cross #1 this Saturday. I just need to install cables and a chain on my Cross-Check and it's all ready to go! Can't wait. 'Cross season is going to be off the hook.

In the meantime, I spent the past week out in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada riding a cruiser bike around the playa, climbing no hills whatsoever, but learning a lot about holding my line in a sand pit. I wasn't expecting my trip to Burning Man to be anything vaguely resembling training, but I actually got quite a bit of exercise riding around the city and the playa. Black Rock City is something else entirely - a temporary city, built by volunteers, populated by artists, intellectuals, freaks, geeks, hippies, celebrities, and "normal" people. I could probably spend a couple of hours talking about everything that I did and saw, but I think I'm going to leave that for later, or for another forum. I survived my first Burn, and I have a feeling that there will be many more to come! What a week. I think that's all I'll say about it here and now.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Co-Motion Criterium

I went out and raced the Co-Motion Criterium this afternoon. The Co-Motion Classic is a stage race for tandems, and the final stage was today's crit. Fortunately, the promoters decided to let us non-tandem riders[*] have a go as well. Unfortunately, they didn't have the turnout or the time to run more than one womens field, so it was a combined field - from Cat 1 through Cat 4. Even so, only 7 women turned out.

It's getting late and I don't really have the energy to write a whole race report right now, but here's the abbreviated version. The field was shattered early on due to a couple of attacks by the stronger riders. I suffered like hell for a few laps alone against the wind after an attack got away with 3 riders. I thought I could catch them, then they would open the gap. Just as I was nearly spent, they rang the bell for the prime lap - and the 3 leaders sped up. Crap. I was pretty much toast at this point. Halfway through the prime lap, someone got shelled from the lead group of 3, and not too long after that lap I caught up with her. It was Pam Archer, Lisa's teammate on Therapeutic Associates. I sat on Pam's wheel for a few seconds, but she was pretty cooked too, so I took a pull... we traded pulls for the rest of the race, maintaining our lead over 5th place, but not gaining at all on the lead group. It was Lisa Turnbull and Cara Bussell off the front, and, well... those two are dang strong girls, especially Lisa, who had just raced the tandem stage race with Galen - and won overall, beating all the guy/guy teams! So basically it turned into Pam and I trading pulls. After a good solid effort of team time trial style riding, she rode off away from me for 3rd place (because HELLO, she's a cat 2 and I'm a 4) and I pulled in for 4th. It was hard, especially with the really strong cross winds, but it was really fun, as always. I think that I am getting better at crit riding, but I still need to work on following wheels through turns.

Mad props for the day go to my UO teammates Mike Brunelle, for winning the Cat 3 mens race with a ballsy solo attack FTW, and Galen Mitterman, for not only winning the Tandem race with Lisa, but also making the Pro/1/2 field hurt a good bit with a (perhaps ill-advised) solo flyer early on. He stayed away for 5 or 6 laps, but eventually the field caught up. Damn impressive pain tolerance, man. Mark Hibbard won the P/1/2 race, setting a good example for his son, who was there to see his win, even though he won't be born for another 4 weeks or so.

Next weekend is the Eugene Celebration Stage Race. It'll be my first stage race ever. I'm nervous and excited... especially for the prologue stage, which is the 5K uphill time trial up McBeth Road. That hill is my nemesis!

[*] You will never catch me stoking a tandem - I am *way* too much of a control freak. I'd captain one, though.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fight Like Susan

If you read any bike blogs at all, you are prbably already aware that Susan Nelson, wife of the Fat Cyclist, passed away last night. For someone I never met, Susan was (and still is!) such an inspiration. Via his blog, Fatty inspired me to get personal in the war on cancer; because of him, and Susan, I rode my first century in the LiveStrong Challenge in June. Because of Susan's courage, thousands of people are stronger and more courageous as we face the scariest thing in the world. I don't know anyone who isn't scared to death of cancer; I know that my family and I have been lucky - my mom's cancer was caught early and she is now almost two decades cancer -free; my grandmother's battle has also been comparatively easy. We have been lucky. But we are still fighting, every day. Cancer is evil and horrible. It robs us of people, of time, of health, without remorse. So we have to fight it remorselessly. Tirelessly. Endlessly. Fight cancer with every fiber of our beings, like Susan did. Because she sure did fight, with courage that even her family didn't think she had. Fight like Susan.

Thank you, Fatty, for sharing your family's battle and inspiring all of us. Thank you, Susan, for showing us how to fight. And thank you Lance, as well, for everythig you have done. Cancer sucks, but if we all fight we can win, just like Susan.

Fight on. Fight like Susan. And fuck cancer in the face.

(sorry if this is ridden with typos, I am posting from my phone.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Eugene-Roubaix

well, that decided to auto-publish for no reason. apologies for the phantom feed, RSS subscribers.

This past Saturday was the now-fabled Eugene-Roubaix road race, put on by Midtown Racing. It was an absolute blast.

I rode out to the course because it was a beautiful day, I didn't start until mid-afternoon, and it isn't really all that far at all. The ride out was scenic - midday Saturday on the bike path, with the sun shining. Not terribly crowded, but definitely populated, with people and birds.

To get to the start/finish from the bike path, the most direct route took me up and over the one big climb in the course, Oak Hill Road. It's a bit of a climb. Not really terribly tall, but quite steep, and going the direction of the race, a really sketchy off-camber turn at the bottom of a flying descent. I climbed up this hill in reverse, watching lots of guys negotiate the descent as well as the climb as a warmup for their race. I got to the start area, registered and paid, and soon it was 2:00 and the men started lining up. Cat 3 and Cat 4-5 fields - both huge - went off before the women lined up.

I counted 12 women at the start, in a combined Cat 4/Masters field. We rolled out, neutral up and over the first hill, and started climbing, then descending, turning, up over a roller, a right hand turn, and then suddenly the lead car honked and we were racing. The pace quickened quite a bit immediately as a few girls started attacking. No one really had teams to speak of, so tactics were a lot different than in the races I've been used to. I planned ahead with Mackenzie, and based on what I've learned racing collegiate, figured i could get her the win (and place well myself) by exploiting a little strategy.

Crow road, heading south away from Eugene, has a little riser, and then a long descent, with some twisty sections but mostly flat for the most part. Coming up over the riser I attacked a little, then someone else would attack, but for the most part everyone toward the front of the group seemed intent mostly on holding onto the wheel they had, not sharing in the work, and certainly not letting in one who had just made an effort. So I got pretty tired of the fact that I had to attack from the back and then fall all the way back when I got tired.

Coming off a right turn onto Petzel (?) Road, the course started climbing a bit with a series of rollers. Nothing too high, but enough to break up the monotony of the flats, and wear some people out. The pack still held together for the most part through this section, then the course turned again, and the road was much flatter, with a bit of a head/crosswind. Again with the pacelining attempt, this time it got a bit more organized, and I thought we had it down for awhile. Then Mackenzie attacked, we chased - Serena attacked, we chased... and so on. Another right turn and we were onto the final stretch, with a few miles of flat plus a little kicker or two, and pretty soon the gravel section was coming up. I was leading going in when Mackenzie attacked and jumped into the gravel section right in front of me. I grabbed her wheel, and in we went.

I was so focused on holding onto MK's wheel I didn't really notice the point at which a gap opened up behind me; all I know is that at one point I could see someone's shadow behind me and then awhile later I couldn't. I stole a quick glance backwards after we hit pavement, and couldn't see anyone - though that doesn't mean they were far behind. I focused again on the race, gave Mackenzie a tow across the finish line for the first lap, and started to fade before we started climbing.

That hill - Oak Hill - crap. It seemed so easy when we did it neutral at the start; this time, though, I was chasing a rabbit all the way up, in hopes that we could work together to hold off the field. MK is a much better athlete in general, and a stronger climber in particular, than I am... by a long shot. (She is an elite triathlete after all.) So I was in full-on suffer mode, trying not to throw up, by the time I made it to the top. She was waiting. We descended, taking the turn cautiously, with me chasing the whole time to the corner of Crow Road again.

What happened for the next half lap was exactly this: Me focusing on MK's wheel, watching the pavement blur by, hanging on for dear life. We had a couple of updates from our lead and follow cars as to the time gaps: 35 seconds on the first chaser (Serena), and then 1:30 on her, 2:30 on the next chaser, and back from there. We had shattered the pack - oops! Er, intentionally.

So I hung on as long as I could, but at one point, I needed to swap out my water bottles and I couldn't use one of my cages, because I hadn't tightened it enough when I installed it that morning and it was rattling like crazy. I couldn't have a bottle in it or it got much worse, so I kept one in my jersey pocket for most of the race. But toward the end of the hilly section on the back side of the course, I wanted to swap bottles because the one in my functional cage was empty so I rolled back and handed the bottle to Galen. By the time the handoff was finished, Mackenzie was just far enough ahead that as hard as I chased, I never caught back onto her wheel. My race became a time trial. The only thing that mattered was holding off 3rd place. Time trial time... sufferfest time. I was slowing down. I knew I couldn't catch the elite fucking triathlete ahead of me, so I guess I dialed down the effort... well, it was enough for Galen to notice in the follow car, so he pulled up beside me to yell at me a bit. You're slowing down! Push harder! Catch her, dammit! "Ha! That girl is a fucking beast! I can't catch her!" STOP TALKING AND RACE.

Head down. Maximal effort plus 10%. Last right turn. Last kicker before the gravel. And then the gravel. Hold the line, avoid the holes, don't slow down. Halfway through the gravel section, a couple of cheering guys fixing a flat. Another group by the port-o-potties, a few more cheers and words of encouragement. Suddenly, the 1K sign. A quick backward glance: phew, no one right on my wheel. Head back down. Hammer time. 200M, flat becomes false flat, and then perceptibly uphill. The last few meters pass and I'm across the line, people are cheering, wow, that was so much fun. Holy cow I got 2nd place! I worked hard for it, definitely... but... wow, my efforts are actually paying off. That, I have to say, is the coolest feeling ever.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

CWU omnium: check.

(warming up for the crit, Easter morning)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Seward Park Crit

It was crisp and clearing after a hard rain when I woke up way too early on Sunday morning for the Seward Park crit. After a good breakfast, I headed out from Capitol Hill to meet the team at the race. Sunday meant the end of Spring Break, the UW-hosted criterium race, and returning to Eugene after five days of fun and bikes in Seattle. The streets were mostly empty at 7:20 AM as we rode down 12th Ave, across the Rizal Bridge (which afforded a gorgeous sunlit view of new snow on the Olympic mountains, across the sound, as well as downtown), and onto the I-90 trail, then down to Lake Washington Blvd. The ride to Seward Park took about 40 minutes, and I arrived at the scene of the race with 30 minutes to spare before my start. I found the team vans, dumped my backpack, and surveyed the area. Even though I'd been to Seward Park a hundred times before, I had never actually made it up the hill to the loop of road that served as the crit course.

After the Men's D field finished, I jumped on the course and did a lap before lining up for the start. Front row, right side. Rules, regulations, safety discussions, number-adjusting, roll-call, chatting with an OSU rider, and suddenly we had 30 seconds to go. 15. 10. 5. The whistle.

I jumped at the start, though my starts have never been super-explosive, and was probably 7th or 8th wheel coming into the first turn, a tight 140-degree hairpin followed by a nice descent. My heavy bike came in handy on the descent, and I passed a few women on the way down, and mashed it through the flat section on the other side. Next came a 200-meter climb back to the start/finish line. I was 3rd wheel at the bottom of the climb, and I gave it an extra kick to pass Rachel Hoar, a Whitman rider, to take 2nd. At the start of the 2nd lap, a bell indicated a prime. I held onto my lead over Rachel through the second lap, trying to keep the first rider in my sights. I managed to open the gap behind me, but didn't manage to close the one in front of me. And thus the rest of the race proceeded - riding by myself, not passing anyone, not being passed. The turn was always sketchy (and I was distracted by Ivar, who had positioned himself at the corner and was probably taking awesome pictures of me as I turned - I haven't learned how to ignore cameras) so I tended to take it pretty slowly, but mashed on the descent to try to not lose time. After two laps, the 5-lap sign came up, and then I just ticked them off in my head. Three more descents, three more climbs. Two more climbs. Two more descents, one more climb, one more descent. Bell lap. Final descent, mash mash mash through the flats, and push push push up the climb. As the finish line came into sight I kicked it up into high gear and laid it all out on the road - sprinting with everything I had to the line. Not that there was anyone nearby to sprint with, but it seemed pointless to save anything at that point.

2nd place: fully respectable. Now I think it's time for that upgrade, though... the C field is for people who don't want to or have time to train, and I shouldn't sandbag, since I have been working pretty hard all winter. Two of my other teammates have upgraded to B's, and another is putting in for an A upgrade this week. This means we'll have a women's A time trial team, which is fully exciting - if you do well in the A field, you have a chance at nationals! I don't think that's going to happen this year, but next year it will definitely be in my sights... and if we continue to work and grow our team, we could have a shot at it. I gotta say, the idea of getting a stars and stripes jersey is a powerful motivator... though it would take a lot of hard work.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love racing bikes?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

end of the quarter

winter quarter has come and gone, it seems. it's thursday of finals week, which means that people are finishing/finished with exams, and campus is starting to empty out. being done with finals, however, means something different for those of us on the cycling team: it means that our first road race is only a few days away.

i'm not panicking, i'm not nervous. i am a little tired from lack of sleep and writing, but not too tired to function. problem is, at the end of a rotation, what's a first-year to do? keep futzing around with the devices i spent all quarter tweaking? read a bunch of papers about my next rotation project? go out to lunch with the other first-years and catch up on the gossip? fill out basketball brackets? (only if i want to be cool like Obama, of course.) (my picks: washington for men's, stanford for women's. predictable? if you know me. likely to win? ehh... maybe, maybe not.)

other things going on: going to seattle next week, hoping to see the baby that will appear on this flickr stream as soon as she makes her little entrance, though she seems to be taking her sweet time. she will most likely have arrived by the time i get to seattle next week, though. squee! babies!*

DSC05553.JPG
in other news, it's march in oregon, and finally almost spring. i think this picture sums up what that is all about.

*i'm not normally so stoked over babies, but chris and jenn are both awesome people, and i think they'll be awesome parents. and it's their kid, not mine, which is 99.999% of why it's awesome.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Thoughts on a Saturday

Went on a great ride with the team this AM - out the bike path, Crow
to Doane to Territorial to Lorane to Fox Hollow (up the back side - a
climb I had never done) and back down into town. Someone flatted
coming down the hill and we stood around waiting at the bottom until
my friend Lindsay rode by, and I hitched a ride with her and her ride
partner, kid named Ryan, to the top of Dillard. Turned around at the
top instead of doing the big loop on the other side of the hill, and
rode home in the rain through town. When I was almost home, I saw that
the altimeter on my Garmin said that I had climbed 2870 feet. Well,
that close to 3000, I had to run it up to the 3k mark so I rode about
halfway up the butte behind my house. Totals: 52.8 miles, 3009 feet of
climbing. Awesome!

Now I am doing laundry and reading a paper. It just came out in PNAS
this week, and it's a really elegant model using network theory and
established cellular signaling pathways to predict gene expression
patterns. Right now I am trying to walk through the math - my eyes
glaze over when I see equations, I need to get over that and re-awaken
my inner math nerd. Because this is a really important paper and will
be the next big thing in the dev bio field... or so says me. I think I
am going to use this for my journal club presentation next quarter...
it is damn cool.

Lembong J et al (2009) Pattern formation by dynamically interacting
network motifs. PNAS 106:9 p. 3213-18. doi:10.1073/pnas.0810728106

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

CX Worlds 2009

Check out this footage from CX World Championships in Hoogerheide, Netherlands from Feb. 1 of this year.



Katie Compton is AWESOME! Hanka Kupfernagel said in an interview after the race that she just did not want an American to win, so she and Mariane Vos managed to reel Katie in. Still, 3rd in the world is nothing to sneeze at, and Compton is a real American hero. And check out those thighs - that is power.

Monday, February 16, 2009

update: cherry pie

Results from yesterday are up. 15th out of 47, not damn bad at all. Major props to the Ironclad ladies for their complete domination of the race.

Major props, actually, to everyone, dammit. That was a tough race, the first road race for many of us, and a damn big field. A few of us got some scrapes and bruises and a few others got a cheap cherry pie, but we all came out and raced, and we did an awesome job.

Racing is awesome.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

cherry pie

You know what's sketchy? 50 nervous novice cyclists in the first road race of the season.

The first one went down on the turn at the end of the neutral roll-out. I heard her bike hit the pavement behind me - an unmistakeable sound.

That didn't do much to calm down any of our jitters. Neither did the headwinds of probably close to 20 mph at some points, though they did keep us from getting any real speed. Strong crosswinds kept people to the right of the rider in front of them, and I had a tough time finding a draft... riding in a peloton is a lot harder than the pros make it look. I felt like I was riding in the wind most of the time and when I did manage to catch a draft, I was trying to avoid getting my front wheel knocked out by someone swerving in front of me.

About 8 miles in two more went down, not far in front of me - including the lovely & talented ms. heidi swift. That split up the field a bit more, put us all on edge.

It wasn't until the third crash, though, that the field really got split up. Someone went down right in the middle of the pack, and took at least 3 or 4 others with her. I saw it all happen in slo-mo and maintained ("Slowing! Riders Down! Stopping!"), went off onto the shoulder and around the tangle, and gunned it, spending a good deal of my reserves time-trialing it back up to the pack. At this point, the headwind we'd been fighting had become a tailwind, and the peloton was going really darn fast. I was fighting being off the back for the rest of the race, but was never completely dropped - the lead group slowed down a bit as the finish loomed - we knew there was a big climb at the end.

About 3k to the finish an officials vehicle drove along side us and said something about if he honked, it meant we were supposed to "go neutral" and move right, because another field was overtaking ours. "Keep your speed up and we won't have to," I heard him yell.

At 2k to go, the climb started with a pretty moderate hill - maybe 7-8%, noticeable, but not horrible. Our pack started stretching out, and I tried to move forward as much as I could, but probably got passed by an equal number.

A short downhill and a sharp right turn meant we were under 1k to go, and the course took a decidedly uphill turn: a 9% slope to the finish line. This was the crucial finish, that we had been saving for, the dramatic ending. And just then, the call from the officials: "WOMEN MOVE RIGHT. MEN OVERTAKING." The front of the Cat 5 men's peloton was overtaking us. This couldn't have been timed worse - the first women were probably within the last 200 meters of the finish, and we were supposed to move over and let the boys pass? Here, on the final climb, where the race ought to be decided? I had a lot of suffer left in me, and wasn't about to give up or downshift... so I put on my suffer face and grunted my way to the top. (There are pictures. You will see my suffer face.) I think I only passed 3 or 4 women, but I gave it my best effort without puking, and I finished strong... with boys on my left, girls on my right, and a bunch of really tired riders just over the line. The officials probably had a ton of fun with the finish line camera footage trying to sort out the final results. What a mess.

After the finish I caught up with Lisa (who later won the Cat 1-2 race!) and Doug, who were both right at the finish line yelling for me (best feeling ever) - and Lisa's friend Mackenzie, who was also racing in the same field as me. Got yelled at by the officials for accidentally crossing the finish line again (thus negating having finished at all? hopefully not), and then rode back to the start (at least 3 miles away from the finish line) with Mackenzie. I'd never met her before... she's an elite triathlete and full-time athlete/exercise nerd and a fellow first-year grad student. It was fun to hear her perspective on the race - her first as well. I still maintain that triathletes are crazy. Also crazy: me competing against her. (Seriously, check out her blog. She is 100% not messing around.)

Aaand... I'll post more later with results and all that good stuff but that is all I have in me right now and I am going to go sleep now.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

little victories

Yesterday was definitely a *headdesk* kind of day - stressed out about course work and lab work, pissed off at the sunny day while stuck inside, completely unable to make tiny objects do my bidding under a dissecting scope - though thankfully, today was much better.

It started out better already when I met up with my friend Lisa at 8:30 for a ride. After I dropped my stuff off at school, we headed out for a bitch of a hill-climb - up over Dillard - followed by some really nice flat to rolling roads toward the southeast of Eugene. Lisa is way better at riding bikes than I am, and so it was really fun to get to go out with her and pick her brain. I'm sure she was going easy on me, but we did climb the hill at a pretty brisk pace, and kept it up the whole ride.

The roadies around here have a tradition of sprinting for "Stop Ahead" signs - so if you're ever on a group ride and people just start sprinting, there's probably a Stop Ahead sign coming up. Since there were only two of us, we weren't super-hardcore about the sprints, but there were several signs on the course of our ride. I went for the sprint on the first one, only to get passed by her within maybe 3 seconds of sprint. The next two she noticed first, and sprinted pre-emptively to make sure I didn't pull a fast one on her. But the next sign, I noticed while we were still a few hundred yards out, and as we were side-by-side chatting I nonchalantly moved down into my drops, continuing to make small-talk, and then upshifted and sprinted with all my might. Lisa went into sprint mode within a few seconds ("See, you're in your drops now, so I know you're about to sprint"), but I pushed it with everything I had and crossed the line of the sign about 6" in front of her. HA! Life's little victories! We had been talking earlier about how it's fun to try to beat the crap out of people who are in actuality WAY stronger than you are... so she probably let me have it, but I'm going to savor it anyway!

So with a 20ish mile brisk ride under my belt I felt way better than yesterday when I rolled into lab at 10:15, and I was certainly more productive. I may have to start making this a habit at least a few times a week... if not with a super-fast friend, then by myself - then I'd be sure to win all the stop-ahead sprints!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

happy inauguration day!

It's hard to overstate the importance of this day - 1/20/2009. We've been waiting so long for it to come, and it is finally here. I hope everyone had the opportunity to see the inauguration live, or to watch it online or rebroadcast on cable. Obama's speeches are always uplifting and resonant, but today's was particularly good - hopefully you all got to see it. One thing that he said really resonated with me:

"For the world has changed, and we must change with it."

Today is the beginning of a new era, the dawn of a new day, and all sorts of other cheesy metaphors. But it's true what the President said: the world has changed. How are you going to change with it? Do you have any new-administration resolutions? What will be the biggest difference in your life, now that Barack Obama is President?

Monday, January 19, 2009

hot girls with road rash

Wow, it's been a bad weekend for fast girls on bikes:

world DH champ Rachel Atherton
lovely ladies of the veloshop team (via molly)
vanderkitten racer liz hatch

All in bad (though thankfully not tragic, unless you count the bikes killed) crashes this weekend. Heal well, ladies, and be careful out there! There was ice on the road in places on the UO ladies' team ride this Sunday, but we managed to keep the rubber down. Ride safe!

Friday, January 16, 2009

friday!

It's the end of the second week of classes, meaning the term is 20% over already. I gotta say, I love the quarter system... there's not enough time to get sick of a class. So the quarter is 1/5 done, and I'm already dreaming of spring break... hoping I can go to the NW Developmental Biology meeting in Friday Harbor, race bikes in Eugene, Corvallis, Seattle and Bellingham, and spend at least a little time in Seattle over the break. I think I'll need to rent a car for the week, if that all is going to happen, but it'll work out.

Last night was Grateful Dead night at the Villard. Nothing could have been more Eugene. The first years all had a huge exam yesterday evening, so we all went out for beers afterwards. I'd been to the Villard before, but never on Dead night... and I have to say, I've never really listened to the Dead. I associate them with old hippies who have smoked too much pot in their lives and say "groovy" a lot. But the music wasn't horrible, and the company was good as well. There are some pretty cool people in my department.

Going snowboarding tomorrow with a bunch of biology folks. It should be really nice up in the mountains - a high pressure inversion (see cliff mass's weather blog for more on current NW weather, if you care) has trapped some cold fog in the valley here, but it'll be sunny and warm up there. Warm is good - since there hasn't been any new snow recently, slushy is better than icy. Should be a good time.

OK, time for a late night trainer session plus a little lifting. And then vegging in front of buffy. I've been slacktastic lately (no morning runs! so lazy), time to put in a little sweat.

Monday, January 12, 2009

snippets

Took this picture over break and wanted to share it here:
DSC05279.JPG
Crows dive-bombing a bald eagle at Seward Park in Seattle, taken the day after Thanksgiving 2008. There are some other new ones up on my flickr.

In the past week I have:
- started eating right, thanks to Precision Nutrition (and a bit of willpower)
- ridden every day, including around 70 miles on Saturday, an hour on Sunday, and an hour and a half today, bringing my 3-day total to somewhere around 100 miles
- turned 26 years old
- gotten an Oregon drivers license (goodbye, ever paying sales tax again!)
- assembled some sexy bike parts for a major upgrade to the Serotta
- thrown a pretty kick-ass birthday party
- reached the fundraising minimum for my liveSTRONG challenge participation (thanks to everyone who has contributed!)
- started lifting weights again
- started running (just a little, don't die of shock!)
- and begun my second quarter at grad school.

My schedule this quarter is pretty conducive to being able to ride a lot, provided I get my ass in gear in the morning: all my classes and other responsibilities are after noon, and on Wednesdays, I don't have anything before 4pm. I predict many mornings out on the road resulting in a silly shit-eating grin on my face all day.

I've also discovered that I can run to the top of the hill behind my house and back down in around 10 minutes, giving me a fast workout to do before breakfast, which will almost certainly pay off come 'cross season. Eventually I'll start doing it twice, but for now, I'm just running up and down once. And by "running" I mean jogging and intermittently walking uphill and running downhill... though my goal is to be able to run a bit further before I have to walk each day, and eventually I'll be able to run the whole thing. Ultimately I hope to get to the point where I can just sprint up that fucker like it's nothing... but I'm a long way from that.

Life is good.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sorry the posting has been light but...

Blogger sucks. You probably already knew that, which is why most of you don't use blogger, but I'm mostly too lazy to switch over to something else and thus keep starting entries, leaving them alone, and coming back to server errors. Sigh.

Better post this quick before the server decides to flake.