Monday, February 25, 2008

Jack Frost

I think this race was called Jack Frost because it's usually cold, rainy and miserable. Instead we got another glorious out-of-character day for February in Oregon. I didn't even wear arm warmers. I didn't exactly follow my plan, either.

Here's what actually happened:
Saturday: Bail out on the team ride because my cold decided to get worse. Instead I rode about an hour at a nice leisurely pace on my own. I made the important discovery that sneezing while in aerobars is a bad idea, so I invested in some decongestant for the race day. I also bought new tires. They feel very good.

Sunday: Wake up plenty early enough, pack things up, get a quick massage and stretch from my pit crew (she's my hero) and then get on the road to Vancouver Lake Park. A few miles onto the interstate and traffic comes to a halt. Turns out there was an accident ahead. Thanks to this accident it took almost an hour instead of 30 minutes. During the sitting in traffic I am getting progressively more stressed and nervous. Not exactly my favorite way to warm up.

We finally arrived and I got myself ready to ride. I warmed up for all of 10 minutes, which is not nearly enough. When I got to the start line they had already been calling me and I only had a minute before my start time. I downed some water, got ready to go and then the holder grabbed my bike so I could get clipped in. They gave me a 5 second countdown, I began to roll forward, with no idea which gear I was in, and felt a hand pushing me by the butt so I could get some momentum and didn't topple over (that was standard procedure, not special treatment). After about a mile of the 12.6 mile course I felt warmed up and my legs were spinning much more smoothly. So I sped up. I managed to pass 2 people before the turn around at the halfway-ish point. I passed another pretty soon afterward. Then I spent the rest of the race staring at the back of an Ironclad girl that just would not be caught no matter how much I tried to slow her down with my psychic powers. There was a sign at 1km to go. I sped up there, but still couldn't catch her.

Once my ride was over we just packed up and went home, the results were not going to be posted for a while anyway. On the way a milkshake helped keep me from passing out due to lack of energy and excess of phlegm. Did I mention there was much phlegm-spitting along the road during the TT? I'm sure you wanted to know that. Anyway, the unofficial results are in and I managed 10th of 24. My overall time was 34:44:04, about 2:44 slower than first place. There was no way I could have taken that much off my time, even if I had been thoroughly warmed up and phlegm-free. So I guess I'll just have to get faster and more confident. I can do that. But right now I'm just going to try to recover from both the TT and the cold. I'll think about Banana Belt tomorrow.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Plan

Friday night: Sleep as much as humanly possible.
Saturday morning: Wake up with no more sore throat or stuffy nose. Ride around Hagg Lake a couple of times with the team. Don't overdo it.
Saturday afternoon: Relax. Maybe sleep more. Eat a lot.
Saturday night: Try to sleep and not lie awake obsessing over the time trial.
Sunday morning: Wake up feeling recovered and refreshed and ready to ride hard. Go to Vancouver Lake and warm up in beautiful sunny weather.
12:12:30pm Sunday: Start Jack Frost time trial.
12:50:00pm Sunday: Be finished with Jack Frost time trial. Celebrate heroic victory. Go home. Eat. Sleep.
Sunday evening: Continue celebrating heroic victory.
Sunday night: Sleep like the dead.

Now that you've seen the plan... I'm going to go. And show the plan to somebody else. I mean, um, implement the plan. Right. I'll let you know how that goes.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cherry Pie Report

Sunday was the opening of the road season in Oregon. It was also my first real race (that one time at PIR doesn't count). I had some goals for this race:

1. Finish the race
2. Don't finish last
3. Learn something (that one came from my coach, can you tell?)

Cherry Pie took place on an incredibly beautiful day that had everyone thinking, "What the hell is wrong, I thought we were in Oregon!" I had three teammates to ride with in the Cat 4 women's race. We started with a long neutral rollout that let us get our legs in working order. At some point the guy in the lead car shouted, "You're racing now!" and we sorta sped up a little. The first half of the race for me involved a lot of careful not panicking and trying to avoid getting shunted to the back of the pack. I managed pretty well, and eventually secured a spot about a third of the way back, content to let someone else do most of the work. That's about when someone right in front of me went down and took a few others out with her. Somehow I managed to stay upright, despite running directly over someone's wheel. That little bit of excitement was enough to let the front third of the pack (including all three of my teammates) get a good lead up the road. Another girl (with hot pink tires and bar tape, no less) was stuck at the front of the stragglers, but didn't look like she was making much progress in closing the gap. No one else was taking the initiative, so I dived in and somehow managed to bridge the two groups. There was a very gratifying series of, "Nice Job!" "Thanks!" and "You Rock!" from the girls I had pulled with me. At that point I figured I had done something to be proud of and really didn't care how the rest of the race went. Unfortunately, the finish line was still 10 miles away.

The rest of the race went something like this: I sat behind my teammates trying to recover from my heroic effort. We somehow end up at the front of the pack. We make the 90 degree turn that was supposed to signal the beginning of the end and then hit a hill. I knew the race would end with a hill, so I gave everything I had to get up this hill (everything was very little at this point). A few people pass me, but I feel pretty good. The road levels out a bit, and then we hit the second half of the hill. No one knew that there was going to be a second half. I'd already used up all my reserves on the first half. A few more people passed me. Then some more. My legs screamed. A lot. Then I saw my cheering section (Thanks guys!) and somehow made it across the finish line. According to OBRA I finished 14th.

So, that's it. I survived my first road race and accomplished all of my goals. Time to start thinking about the next race.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Building a better bike shop

Lance thinks he can build the coolest bike shop in the world. The problem: It's going to be in Austin, TX. Now, I don't have anything in particular against Austin, but it's not the coolest city in the world. And it's definitely not the coolest cycling city in the world. So, why does it get the coolest bike shop in the world?

Portland, on the other hand, is among the coolest cycling cities in the world. It ranks #1 in the USA and is pretty high up there internationally. Even Lance admits that we're better than Austin. We've got Gentle Lovers, bike boulevards, Halloween cyclocross races, and much, much more. Sadly, what we don't have is the coolest bike shop in the world. We have some bike shops that up their cool factor with free espresso and a shrine to Eddy Merckx, or super friendly staff and the presence of an adorable puppy, or even through good deeds and community service. But none of these shops really transcends into the realm of the ultra-cool. So, Portland, I'm calling you out. I've seen what the cyclists in this town are capable of and there is no one, not even a seven time Tour de France champion, that can compete with us. Bring it on, Lance.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Switching gears...

We're going to go from science to math today:

bike + windy descent = high speeds
high speeds + bike = danger
windy descent + car = poor visibility
car + bike + 2(windy descent) = high speeds + poor visibility
high speeds + poor visibility = LOTS of danger
LOTS of danger = bad

Summary for cyclists: Wear a helmet and let cars pass when it is safe.
Summary for drivers: PLEASE do not try to pass on a windy downhill road when the bike in front of you is already exceeding the speed limit. Homicide is not pretty.

We will return to your regularly (sorta) scheduled science eventually... right now the weather is just too pretty to be riding a trainer.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Experimental Session 2: Dance movies

Film NameSave the Last DanceDirty Dancing: Havana NightsDance with Me


Excitement Index332

Plot Complexity343


Eye Candy342

Length: Minutes11286126

Epoch: Year200120041998

AudienceTeenYoung AdultAdult



Experimental Session 1: Sports movies

Film Name Cool Runnings Mighty Ducks Cutting Edge

Soundtrack 3 3 5

Excitement Index 2 3 2

Plot Complexity 3 3 4

Dialogue 2 2 3

Eye Candy 3 2 3

Length: Minutes 98 100 101

Epoch: Year 1993 1992 1992

Audience Family Kids Adult

Watchability 3 3 2

Pre-Viewed? Both Both Caitlin

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Film Science

Now is the time for some serious science. As suggested below, I am on a mission to discover the perfect film to make indoor trainer cycling as painless as possible. After some intense thought, input from experts, and a few too many cups of coffee, I have a plan.

Step 1:
The perfect cycling trainer movie will include: a rockin' soundtrack, minimal plot complexity, a high score on the "excitement index", and dialogue that is both memorable and amusing without requiring the viewer's full attention.

Step 2: The Variables
Soundtrack (from soporific to rockin')
Excitement Index (Dialogue to Action ratio)
Plot Complexity (lower is preferable)
Dialogue (from dry to witty)
Eye Candy (includes all types of visual stimulation)
Watchability (Based on Entertainment Value scale)

Length: Minutes
Epoch: Year
(Target) Audience
Previously Viewed (Yes/No)

Step 3: Experimental Design
  • 2-3 movies per session
  • Minimum of 45 minutes on the trainer per film
  • Test one genre per session
  • Minimum of two test subjects per session
  • Rate each movie for each variable using the scale below
The Universal Crap-Awesome Rating Scale

  1. Crappy
  2. Meh
  3. Yes.
  4. Groovy
  5. Awesome!
Extreme examples of Crappy and Awesome will be included with the application of the intensifier "Epic" i.e. "Epically Crappy" or "Epically Awesome"

The Entertainment Value Scale: Sample Films
Please Note: This scale is based entirely on personal preference and should be adjusted for each viewer accordingly.
  1. Evolution, Starship Troopers, Wrinkle in Time (Made for TV), Lake Placid
  2. Transformers, The Village, Mean Girls, Die Another Day
  3. Fifth Element, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion King, Bridget Jones' Diary, Unbreakable
  4. Serenity, Sixth Sense, The Matrix, Notting Hill, Cars, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Dogma
  5. Chicago, Gladiator, As Good As It Gets, Toy Story, Pride & Prejudice (BBC version)

Several (read: too many) genres have been identified for testing. As each is tested the results will be posted for consideration, criticism, and your entertainment. This is an ongoing process and revisions will be made to the experimental design as needed. Once all the films and variables have been tested to the extent of my patience and interest in the project, the final results will be tallied and the ultimate cycling trainer movie equation will be revealed. I know, you can hardly stand the suspense. I understand, but remember: You can't rush science!


I hate riding indoors. I don't know anyone would actually rather be stuck inside going nowhere than outside enjoying the open roads. Unless, of course, those open roads are covered in ice, there are 50mph headwinds, or rain so torrential that you don't even need to shower when you get home. Weather is not always my friend.

With this in mind, I am trying to discover how to make indoor trainer time as painless as possible. This is not an easy task, but one of my main weapons against boredom is movies. What kind of movies you might ask? That is precisely what my latest experiment is trying to discover. For instance, I have tried: Casino Royale, Batman Begins, Pride and Prejudice, Down With Love, Moulin Rouge, Live Free or Die Hard, and many others. As you can imagine, some of these worked better than others.

Previously, I would just pick a movie at random depending on my mood and what was available. Now, I am systematically going through genres in an attempt to find the ideal trainer movie. The first genre to be tested: underdog sports movies. As a cyclist with more enthusiasm than skill, I am an underdog. And cycling is a sport. Therefore, these movies should allow me to identify with the characters and really get into the story. Plus, there's usually a lot more action than plot. The movies of choice: The Cutting Edge, Cool Runnings and The Mighty Ducks. I realize some people might be embarrassed to walk into a video store and rent those three movies, but remember, this was for science.

The verdict? Excellent. I didn't have to pay attention, because I already knew what was going to happen. They all had remarkably bad, but upbeat, soundtracks to keep me pedaling and when I did pay attention I could laugh at whatever was going on. I deem this phase of the experiment a success. Despite the embarrassment.

Next up: Dancing movies. Similar to the underdog sports movies, but with more inspiring soundtracks.

Friday, February 1, 2008

I made a blog!

This will be the chronicles of my cycling training. There will be frequent attempts to apply the scientific method to such things as: Which movies provide the best trainer workouts? What is the exact relationship between the weather and the number of team members that will ride on Saturday? How infrequently can I do bike maintenance and still keep my bike rolling? Are scientific cyclists actually sexier than the other kind? These are just a few of the important questions that will be explored. Stay tuned!