Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hilly Billy Awesomeness

It's been a while since I've written a race report.  Sorta goes with the territory of returning to the same races every year.  This season, my focus is on longer races with some really long efforts planned for July and early September.  Last weekend, I survived a good day on the bike at the Stoopid 50 - managed my nutrition well and basically loved riding.  I finished faster than I was hoping but not as high on the results list - a testament to under/over estimated goals or a faster group of women out here to race against - I'm not sure which.

This weekend, I ventured out to West Virginia for the awesome-sauce of the Hilly Billy Roubaix.  It might be the hardest race I've ever done.  Yes, I count the 40 milers at Michaux as races I've done.  No, Jes and company at Gettysburg Bike, you don't need to make the Michaux races harder.

This was a different kind of hard.  About 65 miles in, I crossed a road with a fire truck marshal.  Up. A gravel pitch.  Loose gravel.  You've got to be kidding me.  I decided that it was okay if I walked.  But then something funny happened, all the guys around me were walking. Anyone who knows me knows that I can be a little too competitive.  If the guys were walking it, I needed to ride it.  I did.  Thanks to compact gearing I'd scrambled to put on my Santa Cruz the night before the race.
Photo - Fred Jordan

Hot and dusty but frickin' awesome.  A mass start of ~250 of us on a mix of cross bikes with fat tires, mountain bikes with skinny, low profile tires, and a few true road bikes thrown in.  I found a training partner's wheel early on and held with a safe group for about the first 15 miles.  I'd get gapped on the steepest climbs and latch back on after any kind of fast descent.  But, I was running without a camelbak, necessitating a stop at the first aid station.  I lost the group then flatted shortly thereafter and was in solo land for a long, long time.  A few guys would come by and I'd jump on their wheel and work with them for a bit, and vice versa.  I honestly think the average number of flats for this race is 1 - mine was a simple slice in the tread that the Stans wouldn't seal, even with added CO2, but the tube held for the rest of the day. 

Somewhere around 5 hours in, I started to feel the effects of heat, a lack of interest in eating for about 2 hours, and dehydration.  I've been through much worse bonks - I just had to slow down and convince myself that the race was almost over.  Somewhere about 5 miles from the finish line, a Pittsburgh rider came along and put me on his wheel.  We'd traded back and forth while he was cramping, but this time he mostly wasn't.  We traded pulls (he pulled more, though) along the windy road towards the park, then he said he was planning to walk the last hill.  I wasn't.  Finish time posted on the results was officially 6:00:32.  Looks like I have to be at least 32 seconds faster next year.
Photo- Fred Jordan

I was closer to some women that I expected to be well off the front, and within 45 minutes of many of my training partners' times - all in all, I think that says I'm not the slow girl getting lost in the woods that I used to be.  The added bonus was that I drove home with a couple of teammates, who indulged my Five Guys craving.

Friday, May 25, 2012


It took me 5 years and 10 days to get a Ph.D.  I defended exactly 5 years ago today.  This fall, I will leave my post-doc after just under 5 years.  I have been racing bikes for 4 years. Doing science for 13. Teaching skiing for 15.

How did I get so old?  How am I possibly still this young?

Anyone else in science knows this about science - it flies and drags at the same time.  Mostly, for me, it drags.  That's why the next 5 years include some pretty big changes in life.  There will be dressier clothes.  An office.  Mountains.  Bikes.  Friends.  Food.  Some things are just constant.  Mountains.  Bikes.  Friends.  Food. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

training is good

Sometimes, I race myself into shape.  Who am I kidding?  I usually race myself into shape, race a lot, and love it.  But this year I've got some big events lined up - longer endurance races than I've ever done before.  This year, I think a different approach is actually working.

It's nearly June.  I've only raced once.  40 miles at Michaux Maximus.  I love that race, but my body wasn't thrilled with all my choices and I had a rough and slow second half - wanting to puke doesn't make it easy to crush any hills.  But, it's Michaux, I finished, and the women's field was only 3 deep (another race was being held about 2 hours away - I'll assume it stole some of the would-be Michaux folks) - I'll take the privilege of finishing Michaux any day - especially in 2nd place.  Especially on a day that beautiful to be in the woods - without an afternoon rainstorm to spoil my spirits.

Next up is a gravel road race in West Virginia followed by the evil fun that is the Stoopid 50.  I owe that race one - last year in the midst of an illness that caused me to lose more than 10 lbs in two weeks, I dnf'd in the pouring down rain at the 18 mile mark.

But for now, I'm training a lot.  18 hours a week on the bike.  Give or take.  Group rides to get dropped from.  Bugging some training partners to drag me around for a hundred miles and a lot of thousands of feet climbing every weekend.  Long, flowy loops on the mountain bike out in Frederick.  And a lot of eating.

It's good.  I'm loving riding my bike.  It's easier to get out the door for the long rides than the short ones.  My legs are coming around and the power tap is showing me that.

But I've gotta curb the eating - this is actually something I experience every year - weight gain as I start training - my body is just craving food all the time.  I'll admit that some other challenges in life mean that I have been pretty stressed - that doesn't help.  The power part of the power:weight ratio is coming round.  Guess it's time to work on the denominator.

Tomorrow, I'll ride my bike.  It's a rest week.  I only get to ride it for an hour.  Saturday and Sunday will make up for it.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

caramelized onion pizza anyone?

I love caramelized everything.  Including caramel corn, though that didn't turn out so hot the last time I made it (typo = 3x too much salt, yuck!).  This week, I grabbed a pizza crust from the freezer when I got home from work and,  voila - when I got back from my ride, it was waiting for me on the counter, ready for cooking.

In an effort to lighten the amount of food that I waste, I'm trying to use what I've got - egg scrambles and pizza crust can help with that.  So this week's pizza was a caramelized onion, garlic, and spinach white pizza.

The crust:
Herbed Whole Wheat Crust (freezes maybe better than it is fresh)
Proof 2 packages of yeast in 2 cups warm water with 1 teaspoon sugar.  Add 3 cups whole wheat flour, 2 cups white flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1-2 tablespoons Herbes de Provence or similar dried herbs. Stir until sticky.  Knead approximately 5-8 minutes incorporating another ~1 cup white flour until it's an elastic ball.  Allow to rise in an oil coated bowl for about 1 hour and divide into 4 crusts.  Wrap tightly with saran wrap to freeze.  Each will make a 10-12" thin crust pizza.

The toppings:
olive oil
caramelized red onion
pizza cheese
parmesan romano

Assemble and bake 15' or until done at 425 on a pizza stone dusted with cornmeal.  Yum.