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!*

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