Monday, May 21, 2007

Gear West Duathlon RR by Rocker

I love how Friday was 86 degrees, and Monday is going
to be 84…but Sunday? Well, heck! Let’s race in the 35
degree range with gale-force winds :p Gotta love MN.

IN answer to your question, Marjie, Gear was fine.
Cold. Frigid, frigid cold. And HELLO???? WTF IS UP
WITH THE WIND???? But fine. I ended up about 3 minutes
slower than last year.

I slogged thru both runs at about the same pace as
last year (and as a side note, whoever designed this
course should be shot. It has more twists and turns
and cambers than something that is…well… really twisty
and turny and full of cambers. :p And those three
hills right at the end I could do without, as well…).

Which means I lost most of my time on the bike. At
first I was annoyed—the bike is my strongest event
(well, okay, it’s my ONLY strong event, as I’m no
longer a strong runner, and I certainly am no
swimmer—not that swimming was necessary here, this
being a duathlon, and it NOT raining…and admitted
oddity for Gear.). I usually try for a split in the
top 1-5 people. You can out run me, but I WILL beat
you down on the bike. And I felt strong out there,
despite the nasty wind and muscle-cramping cold. The
bike course for Gear West it probably my favorite out
of all the races I’ve done. It’s just roller after
roller after roller, all thru beautiful countryside.

Yet, like I said, I was 3 minutes slower. Oops. Grr.

But after some consideration, I realized I haven’t
been riding. And despite the fact that the bike is my
strong suit…I can’t really expect to not actually ride
and still do well. :p

SO all in all, I was happy with the day. It was nasty
out, but still fun. It’s impossible to NOT have fun on
that bike course, I think. It’s just one of those
rides that reminds you why riding your bike is a joy.

I ended up at 22:54 for the 6k; 51:04/20.0 mph for the
17 mile bike; and (ouch) 21:36 for the 4k. Total of
1:37:35; 20th place OA. Not my best finish, but like I
said, I’m not quibbling. :-) Onward and upward, y’all!

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

how i lost my mtb racing virginity-- by manda

the course: Salem Hills (Harmon Park) in Inner Grove Heights.

the race: one of a series of 10 in Erik's spring cup

the verdict: following the metaphor in the title.. it was like being in high school, and hooking up with a fellow high school student-- with bad planning and not a lot of skill. but in the end, no matter how EH it was.. you know you'll probably do it again.

bad planning: I did get a new bottom bracket for my mtb... but didn't manage to install it. Based on Rocker's TT report, I need a pre-installation idiot check, AND during the install idiot check.

Oh well. Maria and Baba had already assured me the course was do-able on my cross bike.. and I can definitely swap my tires on and off! So.. sweet! i had a ride for the race. My ex, who has done/maybe raced this course before, thought me + cross bike + course == dead panda. I figured 2 outa 3 wasn't, so I off I went to the race... to ride the Sport class (citizen is sorta like cat4, I'm thinking... but they don't really enforce it)... under the premise... "same amount of money. more time on the course. it starts at 11 instead of 9:30".

Ran into Hollywood when I got there... got style points for having the cross bike. w00t! I will DFL in style.. and that I did... with some haggling with the officials. They had me down as 2nd in my age group.. as I thought it was like a cross race, and you're done when the lead group gets down. Apparently this was not the case. I shoulda did my 3rd lap. DOH! When I mentioned this, they wanted to DNF me, but... I asked for DFL, because... it seems slightly better.

The race didn't start out too bad. It all sorta fell apart, when I tried to stop my front wheel from rubbing (the tire was ripping at the bead...and the tube was bulgey). The guys in the front will pass you really calmly and really well, but the deeper you end up in the middle of the pack, the scarier it is. I can get passed by all sorts on the road, and it is good.. 'cause you got one side of the road. this.. you got single track. UGH. MTB being not only a skills thing, but HUGE mental thing... this was bad bad bad.

oh. and skills. in cross.. at I think Lake Rebecca, the officials say "oh hey. there's this one really really sharp turn at... blah blah blah.. but that's the only really sharp turn..." Some of the turns on this course, made that infamous turn look straight... eep. must get better at this turning thing.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Oakdale Duathlon by Nikki

OK - only because Marjie has been trying to get me to post more on the boards and because I felt compelled after Rocker's report (although, please note that I do not intend to be as creative, thorough, or as insightful as Rocker, so read with caution)

I did the Oakdale Duathlon on Saturday.  The best thing I can say is - gorgeous day!  Okay, so I've been out of practice lately and it's easiest for me to blame it on my family and work (mostly work), so I will...

Anyway, my attitude about it was that I was happy to have my registration for the event force me out to run and ride and my goal was to simply finish the race.  (I know eventually in my humble and modest career, I'll have a DNF on record, but I'm trying to lessen my chances).  I also didn't want to hurt anything....

All that is easier said than done.  I have realized since I started racing two years ago (I lost my virginity at the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon in '05) that I have a mean competative streak - not mean to the other riders - mean to myself.  And I think Marjie helped me realize that in a recent email to me asking, "How did "taking it easy" while racing go?  Is that hard, or what?"  The answer is - yes...I found it's difficult to see the person ahead of you and not think, "I can take em"...but I digress...let me start from the beginning.

The surroundings were beautiful at the Lake Elmo Park.  Packet pickup was a snap and access to the t-area was a breeze... Was super comfortable with my placement on the rack and set up fine.

So, I just finished my latte, chatted with my friend about the vaca we want to take ( and counted the minutes to start.

Soon we meandered over to the start line, but where was it?? Herds of people were walking to and fro....half thought it was here and half thought it was there.  So, with my wave supposing to start at 9:06am, I didn't press start on my hr monitor until around 9:19.

Started the first 3 mile run out strong (mainly to get out of the way of the faster people), but soon slowed down and bid my friend goodbye (she's been much more dedicated than I have - but she's also signed up for Grandma's half marathon).  The rest of the first three miles were okay - bearable, but I was super excited to see my beautiful bike in the transition area again!!

I love to ride!  Can sit on my ass and pass the same people that had just kicked my ass on the run.  But, I'm still not as fast as I used to be and averaged around 17 mph.  Course was fine - more hills than I guess I expected, but maybe I was just hopeful for a flat path due to my rustiness.  The last highway road needed some repairs though. As I was riding into the park once again, dreading the last three mile run, starting to weep my goodbyes to my blue Trek, I had the priviledge of being greeted by some bald eagles above.  Pretty park...

The last three mile strategy was to "jog" the flats and the downhills and to walk the uphills....sound strategy!  I find that I'm not nearly as competative on my feet as on wheels!

Anyway, that's enough to give you a rough idea of the morning. Otherthan the starting line issue, it was a fine race.  I'd do it again.

I had another celebratory Caribou Coffee (did I mention my addiction)and a quick stop at Old Navy (stink and all) before treking home to Lino Lakes for the rest of the day.

Okay - maybe I was more creative and thorough than I thought I'd
be,but Rocker was still more insightful and inspiring!

I guess my proudest moment though, wouldn't be on race day, but a
prior when my 4 year old son explained to me the difference between
duathlon and a triathlon....*tear*...*sniff*....I'm so proud!!!
wait for his training wheels to come off and his swimming lessons
paying off - cause he already did his first 1/4 mile!!  :) (I'm so
going to be a stage mom - aren't I?!? Yikes!)

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Elk River, collegiate racing, and life-- by Maria

I've been off the radar lately because of travel for school/work and some school/work transitions. I'm still at the U and I'm still a student, but the end is near, so I'm frantically planning my future.

Any how... Last, last Saturday (5/5) I raced at Elk River's Hillside Park in the BLAST mountain bike season opener. The 3.5 lap expert race sounded like a lot of fun until it started thunderstorming less than 1/2 a lap into the race! Yes, the picture is actually me! Its really sandy at Hillside, so the wet weather took a pretty serious toll on my bike parts. My singlespeed lost all braking capability with 1.5 laps to go (even after several adjustments- the pads were just gone). Instead of dropping out, I decided to make it a real challenge and flipped my wheel over so I could ride fixie (I race a white industry's ENO flip-flop hub). I ended up catching the two women who passed me while I was switching my bike over and
won the women's expert class. This was my first experience riding a
mountain bike fixxed eventhough I commute fixie all the time. Honestly, I'll probably do it again!

This past weekend I was with my fellow U of M teammates at the NCCA
Collegiate Road National Championships in Lawrence, KS. I didn't complete enough conference races during the collegiate season to race in the road race or crit, but I raced the Team Time Trial with Stephanie Thompson (Penn Cycle) and Kari Edvenson (Moorhead, MN). We ended up 11th, which was a little disappointing, but we gave it all we had.

This July-August I'll be in Finland for 4 weeks and other various locations in Europe for another 3. I'll be sure to update everyone if I do any racing in Europe or if I can track down Lieselot!

Happy Riding!

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What a ride by Brook

Well, while Rocker was having heart attacks about gear, and then riding like the wind, Marjie and Jen were volunteering and Barb, how'd your race go? - Kate and I set out to view the whole shooting match only we never made it.

The two of us met up at NOW Sports thinking there'd still maybe be a Saturday ride but alas, just the two of us. So we decided that we would ride a new route, maybe catch part of the time trial, and get back home in good time.

Well, with me "gosh I think I remember how to get there" in charge off we went. We thought it would be an easier, longer distance if we took the bike trail out there. Little did we know that the MS 30/60 would be using it, too. So on we rode with plenty of company until we hit Manning Avenue and then turned what I thought was the right way. Only when we got to 96 I thought "oh, oh," I missed a turn. So then we decided just to keep on going to see if we could still figure it out, or just start heading back in the right direction to home.

Of course, by then I was out of water and my cliff shot and Kate was running low too. But the wind was now kinda behind us and when we hit highway 36 it was totally behind us. The frontage road was nice and smooth and we both were zooming along quite nicely. We checked our speed going up one hill and decided it was the fastest we'd ever climbed. Now we know what some of you guys feel like when you go up hill, ZOOM ZOOM. As the frontage road ran out we saw the trail below us and crossed back down onto it.

By the time we got back to St. Paul, Kate was crashing from lack of food and I was too delirious to know that I already bonked. A quick needs break at Como Pavilion and then back on the road to complete our journey. Our round trip back to square one took us about 50 miles. I think we both felt like Gilligan and the crew with our 2 hour tour that turned into almost 4.

Kate went off to explain to her friend why a 2 hour ride took so long (I told her to blame me and my lack of direction) and I headed out to finish my errands. I was pretty worthless from lack of nutrition and when my husband came home that p.m. I still was unable to put two sentences together back to back. (Now now, those of you who think what else is new.) Anyway, so my advise to the much wiser is a) take a map, b) have a plan, and c) FOOD AND WATER.


Bike Club TT Challenge-- Rocker's version

So the withrow time trial REALLY wasn't a race, but Marjie wanted a
RR. Here is her novella.

This is a time trial, with a "20k" and a "40k" option. I put them in
quotes b/c, for whatever reason, the 40k is ACTUALLY 26+ miles, as
opposed to 24.83. It always has been...yet they insist on calling it
40k. Whatever.

I've always done the 40k in the past, but this year I just haven't
been riding. I think my longest ride was like 19 miles, and that was
just an easy putz. The bulk of my rides have been 45 minute sessions
on the trainer while watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And...well,
er, the tri bike hasn't actually been out of the house since last
year when I sort of stopped racing midway thru the season. So I
figured I'd just do the 20k.

A host of mechanical issues made leading up to race time a logistical nightmare. Let me just tell you all...before you let a loving spouse replace your crank set, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE CORRECT BOTTOM BRACKET. Isis drive 10-spline BB + Shimano Ultegra Octalink 8-spline crank = Oops, you've f**ked the BB and crank.

But, okay, thanks to a VERY nice good Samaritan (Joe Johnson, from
Mankato, MN, you are my HERO!!!), I was able to ride. And, like a
fool, I signed up for the 40k option.

Actually, not like a fool. The weather was nice. I had already paid
$30, and I NEEDED someone to get me out and get me doing longer rides at an effort. In short, I REALLY needed the workout. Although after I signed up, I had like 5 people go..."Er, you're doing the *40*???" The RD was like, "Rocker, you could clean house in the 20k, and win a nice wheel set or aerobars. Why do the 40?" And this is true--all things considered, I would have done fine in the 20k.

But, I heard my dad's voice in my head when I was contemplating
it "Get out and get your a$$ kicked. It's good for you. Being a big
fish in a small pond and not working it isn't going to make you
better. Being a little fish trying to swim with (and not get eaten
by) the big ones will. So suck it up and get out there." And 40k it

For once in my life (or in the history of this TT, anyway), I was on
time for my start, well warmed up, and didn't flat, have a brake
rubbing, or have my hubs pinched. Yeah, there was the whole
crankset/bb/stay in your big ring only issue, but that was in the

Course is constantly rolling; no BIG hills, but steady ups and downs. Some nasty road surfaces in places (please, MnDOT, repave these roads), and a decent wind of maybe 15-20 mph. But sunny, and good temp. In a jersey, arm warmers, shorts, and tights, I was perfect. Not too hot; not too cold.

Came thru the 20k marker thinking, "Wow, I feel not too crappy. I'm
glad I didn't do 20k--I'm just getting warm."

Then I hit about 19 miles, and my legs decided they had better things to do with the rest of their day. Like napping. or gardening. Or possibly a long soak in the hot tub. My lungs felt great--I can tell I've been running. But the legs just tightened up and were done. The last 6-7 miles were MORE than enough to convince me I may need to actually get out and ride once in a while

But at any rate... finished in 1:15:53 for 26.somethingish miles.
About a minute slower than my PR on that course (1:14:4x), so not too bad. And I was even a minute faster than the last time I raced it (1:16:56), so even better. I was 7th OA, out of the money by two
places, but I'm not really complaining.

Unlike Bruce (and most of you roadie people, I'm guessing), I LOVE
the 40k Time Trial. It's just flat out hammerfest fun. And holy
catfish, there were some sexy hot ladyeez working Corner Number Five
at this race ;-)

All in all, I got a good workout (which I needed), it was a nice day
(which I enjoyed), and muscle memory is a wonderful thing (thank god
for that).

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Saturday Ride

I got up early to do the NOW ride, but apparently the Bike Club folks were all at the TT? In any case, Brook showed up, too, so we decided to go on our own. I had the idea to ride out to Withrow to see the TT, and to visit with Marjie and Jenn G. who were volunteering. So we took off toward the Gateway trail to head out that way, and ran into lots and lots of MS Tram riders, who were starting their ride on the Gateway trail. At one point we even got our pictures taken, so if I can find it, I'll post it on here.

Anyway, to make a long ride story short, we went further than we needed to (Manning Ave.), and by then we were so tired we just headed back to St. Paul.

So, sorry that we didn't make it out there, but it was a noble effort! Thanks Brook, for keeping me company for 4 hours and 50-some miles.

Hope the TT went well for Barb and Megan. Post about it.

I gotta go, I'm kinda tired now...

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Monday, May 07, 2007

The Black Dog TT – by Sara Dowling

Wind Speed 19mph
Max Wind Speed 43 mph
Max Gust Speed 58 mph

That means that even when the wind "died down" it was still blowing
at a constant 19 mph.

As I rode down the hill to the race registration, I saw branches,
sand clouds and discarded McDonald's wrappers whipping across the
road. "I hope none of that hits me in the face/arms/legs" I wished.
I could tell this was going to be the roughest 7 miles ever.

There were about 90 riders registered, and I represented the Bellas,
although the results showed me as Unattached – (That's sooo not
true!) I was lucky number 51.

I took a test ride down the course, through the river valley, which
is often populated by fishermen, casting off the side of the
road. "So what?" you say.Well I usually don't care about fish or how
they're caught, except on this day. With crazy 40 mph gusts, that
means that sometimes when anglers cast, their line (and hooks!) go
whipping into the road. And possibly into oncoming riders cheeks!!
Ok- that didn't happen. But it could have...

There's not much I can say about a 7 mile time trial with tropical
storm type winds, other than I think pretty much everyone there
resorted to doing the race for bragging rights, and just wanted to
keep their wheels on the ground (especially those fancy aero
wheels!) I didn't go home with a trophy, but I did get a nice spray
of sand blasted against my legs, which is kind of like getting a
tan. A pink, stinging tan.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Here we are at the Iron(wo)man! The guy in the bombproof helmet and orange vest is our new recruit :)

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Check out for pics of the Bellas at the Ironman. I'll try to post pics on here later, unless someone else wants to beat me to it...