What this blog is about

Bicycle commuting, bicycle touring, bicycle racing; bicycle ADVENTURING.
To the grocery store, up a mountain, across the country or to the finish line--
it's all an adventure.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Getting to Xterra Portland

A few weeks ago I wrote about my experience at Xterra Black Diamond. It was my first off-road triathlon.

At the end of my lil' play-by-play, I noted that I'd soon attend Xterra Portland. WELL. I didn't tell ya' how I got there!

It began at Xterra Black Diamond. I was packing up my gear in the transition zone, listening to the race director announce awards and raffles, when he says--

"First athlete to run to the lake and back gets free entry to Xterra Portland!"

We looked at each other. Is he seri-- wher-- He-- um,--

"First athlete to run to the lake and back gets free entry to Xterra Portland!"

SPRINT! sprint/sprint/oh!I'magonnamakeit/I'mgonnamakeit/awwww, I didn't make it.

Here's a box of Gu for your hard effort. *Sigh.

Walk back to my stuff in the transition zone. Resume packing up.

"First athlete to run around transition gets [SPRINT!} free entry [sprint/sprint] into Xterra [sprint/ohmy..] Portland [legs wobble like jello! Keep GOING!!! The crowd is cheering for you!!]"

Aw. I got passed in the end by the dude who won the men's race.

"Wait, come back here-- he already has free entry because he won the race. What's your e-mail address?"

..and then so I went to Xterra Portland. :)

Everybody Scrambles

When I was in college and got super hooked on bike racing-- it was the diversity of the team that kept me going. Some kids were still too nervous to grab their water bottle while riding while others signed pro contracts. It meant that there was a place for everybody.

That's what I like about Street Scrambles and orienteering events in general-- they're for everybody.

Here's a sampling of folks from the Night and Day Street Scramble that took place in Seattle on a warm July evening:

Go to WWW.STREETSCRAMBLE.COM to check it out!

The next Scramble is Sunday, September 26 in Fremont!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Touring Scratchwork

*In the summer of 2009, my friend Mia and I rode across the country on the TransAmerica Trail.

While on a bike tour, a note pad is a handy thing to keep in your handlebar bag. You'll want to write down the addresses of people you meet to send them postcards, grocery lists, mileage math, to-do lists and more.

This (above) is from the day I went to bed feeling a little queasy-- then Mia looked at me and said, "do you know what you ATE today?" So we scratched it out. That funnel cake really did me in-- especially when preceded by 2 donuts, a cinnamon roll and all that soda! OOF! You really CAN overdo it while on tour!

We took 1 day off each week-- in part to rest, in part to just catch up on chores and To-Do's. Chores can take a surprising amount of time-- there's no way I ticked off everything on this list!

Mileage math. I am often asked how to figure out mileage for a bike tour. Well.. you gotta figure out how much you can reasonably ride in a day. REASONABLY. Don't overestimate!! Both Mia and I have backgrounds as racers, with some national success at that, but we both felt a bit body-checked after our first few days on the road. WHOA. We can't ride 22mph anymore. More like.. 12.

We soon figured out that we could count on 10mph (including stops for food, bathroom) to figure out how far we'd be going that day. In a typical week, we'd average 63 miles/day, including our 1 day off. So we'd ride 45, 65, 85miles/day and 300-400 miles/week. We never learned to get up super early, so we never rode more than 85 miles in a day. With 2 more morning hours, we could have broken 100. With touring, it's not about being fast on the road-- it's just the time you spend on the road.

You've also got to accept that weather and terrain will have a huge influence over your plans. We tried making plans to meet up with a friend of ours in Idaho.. and ended up arriving 24hours later than anticipated. Thunderstorms, mountains, headwinds, flat tires, chaffing thighs, brutal sun.. there are a lot of things that can slow you down!

Remember-- you're not just out for a bike ride and will be back home in a few hours.. you are LIVING on the road!

So-- don't get too cocky when planning out your mileage. You might feel comfortable hopping out of bed and whipping out 60-80 miles on your carbon fiber road bike.. but try 55 miles on your steel rig, with Marathon Plus tires and 40-50 pounds of extra gear/food/water, making an 80-90 pound boat to steer up the mountain pass instead of a 17 pound whip.

If I were to do the math for my next multi-month tour, I'd plan an average of 55 miles/day (knowing that this includes the 1 day off/week) instead of 65. I'd ride earlier in the morning and have more time to relax in the afternoon. Even if I rode farther/faster, it's good to have some 'buffer' days for unexpected delays or opportunities-- like that shredded tire or blue grass festival.

For tours a month or less, I'd be tempted to plan a higher average-- but I'd use the extra time to smell the flowers.

My Dad's New Bike!


That's a new Trek Portland!

On which he will be riding to work!

Street Scramble

A couple weeks ago, I participated in the Night and Day Challenge (the 3 hour course)-- which is a Street Scramble event. Street Scramble is an urban orienteering series-- you get a map labeled with point-valued checkpoints, and you walk, run or bike around the city finding as many as you can before the time cut-off. It's quite a fun way to see both a new city or your own backyard that you thought you knew!

For this event, maps were issued at 2:30pm and a mass start began at 4. So you had 90 minutes to plan out your route around the city for 90 minutes, 3 hours, 7 hours or 16 hours of adventure!

And truly-- your Scramble experience is WHATEVER you'd like it to be! You can run far and fast, or walk and push a stroller.

So just to prove a point..

I got a latte during my hunt.

See? You can do whatever you want!

#9-- this was one check point that sat atop..
Yes-- I climbed the cobbles up the Queen Anne hill.

Another checkpoint-- how many flags at the Fun Park?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Xterra - The Story

In words, how did Xterra go?

Well, to start-- my two pals Jess and Elly brought me to Black Diamond! (THANK YOU!!) I need to get them "Support Crew" or "Cheerleading Squad" shirts, because they're always there to shout at me... though they went hiking that day instead-- and if you saw their pictures, you wouldn't blame them.

But my parents soon arrived, and were troopers in the transition zone-- taking pictures, video, smiling and waving each time I came through. We all had our age written on our right calf, so they had fun guessing people's ages as they ran by!

Oh, but I forgot the wetsuit that my friend Teal had lent me. D*MN! I was really looking forward to the buoyancy and slippery seal speed. And just looking bad ass.

So I swam in my sports bra and bike shorts, which worked fine, though it (or I) was a bit slow. I stayed calm in the water (it's easy to get all excited and thrash) and was VERY excited to reach each bright buoy that marked the swim course. We swam to a teeny tiny island, manned by a girl in a hawaiian skirt and a volleyball that resembled Tom Hanks' friend Wilson, ran across it, then back into water. I have to say-- it was a great opportunity to wipe the snot off my face.

I've grown much fonder of swimming than I ever was-- but BOY was I glad to see my bike!

I've never actually raced my mountain bike, so it was neat to rip around the course and keep pushing. No photo breaks!

I was a bit too shy about passing people, or maybe too complacent to sit on their wheel-- but after I had to stop and readjust my saddle (the nose flopped up so that I looked like a freestyler!), it lit a fire under my bum and I had to really scoot to make up time. I also had NO idea what "15 miles" really meant on a mountain bike, but now I do!

After mobbing down the open stretches, looking gallant for the photographers and bumping along the rest-- I approached the transition zone once more.

Oh.. I still had 6 miles to run. Hmm. I don't really run all that often except when orienteering/adventure racing, soo..

my legs felt GREAT!

I know, right? Legs feel AWFUL after sitting in exact same position, spinning the exact same cadence in the exact same motion on a road bike. But a mountain bike? Heck, you're all over the place on that thing! My legs were FRESH!

Well, perhaps "fresh" is too strong a term. My legs felt better than worse.

I was a bit apprehensive, though-- because I had no idea what 6 miles would do to me. Turns out-- I just had a blast! I only really trotted along.. then I would see a rabbit, accelerate, stop a moment to "draft," that I would ATTACK and zip around them, ensuring that they wouldn't tag on. While I throughly enjoy "chicking" the men (at that point, I had them beat by 5 minutes, as they started ahead of the women), I kept hoping that the next person I'd see would be a woman, to claw my way up the rankings. I never started with competitive intentions, but, you know, why not?

Also-- why do people run on pavement? That just seems stupid. Trail running is about 10,000 times better.

Then the finish came, sooner than I ever thought it would, and I opened it up down the finish stretch, happy to complete my first OFF-ROAD triathlon.

And then-- OH! Ohhhhhhhhh...


Yeah, I had forgotten how my hands had been cramping since the swim, my shoulders clenched and throbbed, and little zings went shooting up my lower back. So I laid down. Happy.

I'll be doing the Portland Xterra on August 14!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Xterra Black Diamond - Photos in Transition

Setting up in the transition zone.

RED BAG: swim
PURPLE BAG: schwag bag

The set up.

Wipe feet > put on socks > shoes > helmet > glasses > gloves > jersey > swig water > and GO!

Oops! I forgot to bring the wetsuit.

Swim > Bike

Bike > Run > FINISH!

REALLY, finished.


Sweet reward!
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