Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Red Kite #7 Women's 3/4/5 (April 22, 2018)

It's weird. Re-watching the last lap, it doesn't so much look like my wheel got chopped in the second-to-last corner; it looks like I started my lead-out too early and lost steam in the final straight. Good to see the video, and re-think what I can do better next time. Share and enjoy!

Friday, May 4, 2018

In other news . . .

Quick break from cycling to tell you what's up in the rest of my life:

After working on health-related pre-requisites since 2009, I have been accepted to a doctoral physical therapy program for fall of 2018. I'm going to be a doctor!

If I can get through the next 4 years, that is . . .

Monday, April 30, 2018

Race Report: Red Kite #7

In which I race with my new team for the first time!

I signed up for this race on a whim, since one of my new teammates (Teammate L) decided to make her return to racing (after giving birth to her first son earlier this year). It's a flat, fast, four-corner (-ish--it's really three corners and a curve) crit, probably perfect to get me back into road racing after more-or-less 8 months away!

We had three racers in a field of probably 40 3/4/5s. Plan was to hang in, see what happened, and wait for it to come to a sprint, at which point I would lead out another teammate (Teammate D) for a glorious win. The finish line for the race was a short distance from the final corner, so positioning into the last corner was key.

Race went off as expected. In general, I've experienced safe, courteous racing out here on the West Coast, and this was no exception! Teammate L led me out for a prime mid-race. No one else really contested it, and I had about a 50 meter gap by the time I crossed the line. So I kept going! A rider from SJBC (San Jose Bicycle Club) bridged up to me, and we traded turns at eye-searing pace. I have never had such an encouraging breakaway companion! She cheered me on, and kept saying, "We just have to get out of sight! Come on! We can do it!" But big team Breakaway shut us down. Honestly, I was grateful when they caught us. My power profile is better for getting away than staying away, and I am certainly not in race shape currently (still training for Dirty Kanza distance).
I think the blue arrow is my prime sprint, and the red arrow is where we got caught.
Teammate D pulled the same trick, taking a prime and staying away for a few laps. But team Breakaway brought her back, too.

With about three laps to go, I maneuvered to the front. I didn't like the moderation of the pace--a slow lead-up to a sprint spells danger to me. So I started ramping up the pace. Teammate D was on my wheel, letting me know where she was and where to move to keep her in my draft. I went as hard as I could on the last lap, but team Breakaway's train was right beside us. I had the wide line going into the final corner, and two Breakaway riders overshot that turn, pulling directly into my line and cutting me off. Teammate D was still able to get around me and them to sprint for the win in the cat. 3. But I was freaked out, and had done my job, so I sat up and pedaled in for 7th place out of 8.

At first I was annoyed about having my wheel chopped coming out of the last corner. But that's racing. And they were 4/5s, still new to criteriums and learning how to corner. Next time I'll try to position on the inside corner. C'est la vie.

I'll have video from this race at some point, but my little action cam has been giving me fits. The video is on there; I'm just having trouble getting it off. Once I do, I'll throw a video together and post it.

Monday, April 9, 2018


I've been nursing along some sub-optimal equipment for several months--gear cables and housing that could really use replacement, but were still functioning well (enough) as long as I tinkered with them constantly. No more! I did a total bike overhaul this weekend; to be honest, it's bleeding over into this week. Here's how the trusty steed looked on the operating table:
Stripped down to his skivvies!
In addition to replacing shift cables and housings, I pulled off the shifters, lubed everything inside, and replaced the brake hoods. I stripped off both derailleurs, examined all the parts for function, cleaned everything really well, and replaced the jockey wheels. I pulled the crankset for a thorough cleaning and replaced my 36-tooth inner chainring with a 34 (I need that compact gearing for the hills/mountains around here). And I figured as long as I had the bar tape stripped, I might as well replace the brake cables and housings, too. I have some fresh Lizard Skins bar tapes on order at my (new!) local shop, Goride Bicycles in Redwood City. The guys there have been very helpful as I've prepared for this process.
Somebody get him some clothes!
Although it hasn't seemed like much of a process--not nearly as bad as I thought it would be! Previous experiences with internal cable routing have led to much sweating, cursing, and banging around with magnets. I guess I've done it enough times to have the hang of it, and all the internal cable routing has gone very smoothly. I treated myself to Park Tool's internal cable routing doohickey, the IR.2, but I haven't really needed it so far. The strong magnet has come in handy, but I have some old magnets from a name badge that would work just as well. I'm not going to say it was a waste of $50, though, because it's never a waste of money to have good tools!

I have a little more deep cleaning I want to do while I have the crankset off. Then I'm going to reinstall everything, adjust the brake hoods and levers to where I want them, and torque everything to spec. Last thing--and best thing--will be wrapping the new bar tape. That's always my favorite part; it feels like a reward for all the dirty work!

Next big project will be bleeding the brake lines on my Crux before CX season!

Friday, March 30, 2018

New Team, New Kit!

Last weekend, I got in some miles and mountains with my new team: the ladies of SunPower Racing/Alto Velo Racing Team!

I'm the only one facing the wrong way. Well at least they know what to expect from me now.
The team met up in Sonoma, which is beautiful but also mountainous. We rode hard together on Saturday and had the chance to practice some group riding skills, then practiced individual skills and drills on Sunday. Staying in the same house with the group gave me a chance to get to know everyone. I really like them! I'm excited to start racing with them at the Turlock Lake Road Race next weekend.

But you'll notice that the kits are white and blue. I've spent the past three years with team kit that matched my bike! Does that mean it's time to buy a new bike? I think it might. One really shouldn't be riding around all mismatched like that.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Finding my way

I think, relatively, that I haven't moved around all that much. But I have had four significant moves in the last 10 years, so I've had a little practice with the process. Mostly, I don't like it. Packing everything up, sorting through the stuff you naturally accumulate from living in a place for a few years, getting frustrated with packing and giving a bunch away or throwing it out or just leaving it behind, then regretting it a few months later when you inevitably need that exact thing . . . finding a new place to live, and setting it up so it feels like home and not some stranger's house . . . making new friends and connections, finding a doctor, a dentist, a piano tuner . . . figuring out which grocery store is going to be your grocery store . . . in general, I do not like moving and would be quite happy never to do it again.

Still, something about moving that I enjoy, something that I've just picked up on this time: finding my way around on a bike. At first, I went on a few group rides and had no clue where I was; I couldn't get dropped because I wouldn't know where I was (there's still plenty of that, actually)! And I've already written about getting turned around on a bike ride. But on a ride last week, I suddenly realized that I knew exactly where I was, and knew what was coming up next. It's strange how quickly, and without really noticing it, these landmarks and . . . how should I say, the feel of a place sticks in your brain. Without trying, I've acquired a certain sense of where I am, and how to get around.

I'm sure there will still be plenty getting lost--after all, the Bay Area is huge, and there are major parts of it I haven't even considered exploring yet! But it's starting to feel like my area, like I belong here and know a little bit about how to get around.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Getting Lost

When I was a little girl, my dad told me a story about how he got to know Wichita when he first moved there. He had grown up near Ohio, but moved to Wichita when he entered the Air Force. During his first week or two there, he drove around in his Le Mans and got himself really lost. Then he found his way home again. And that's how he got to know his way around Wichita.

On Tuesday, I got lost.

I planned a long ride using a combination of Strava heatmaps, local knowledge, and the few rides I've done with Alto Velo Racing Club. I loaded it to my phone, and hoped that would be enough.

First off, I don't know enough about the area to know high-traffic roads. Sometimes Strava heatmaps show a road that's popular for riding, but all of the rides are recorded on Saturdays and Sundays when the traffic's light, or it's all from weekday commuters who ride on the sidewalks. So I ended up on a long, steady uphill that was pretty high-traffic, and included lots of semi-trucks. That was mistake number one.

Mistake number two was missing my turn and going about 5 miles beyond it, mostly uphill. I figured it out and turned around straight into a headwind. Ergh. I checked my phone at the turn to make sure I knew the next few turns, then did a loooooong descent down a narrow road. I made my next turn, but had to stop and check my phone there.

Which brings me to mistake number three: not bringing a phone charger. My phone got too cold and froze. Have you ever had your iPhone literally freeze? The battery drains to nothing in a second and you can't turn it back on until you plug it in. So now I was about 15 miles from home with no idea where I was or how to get back.

So I tried to use the bread crumbs feature of my Garmin to guide me back. It didn't work. And the satellite dropped out. I was completely without technology, and had to use my wits to get me back home!

I'd just come down from the mountains, and I know those are west of where I live. And I'd seen the south bay from the top of the mountain, so I started heading north and east. I saw a sign for a familiar road, but couldn't remember if I should turn left or right. I guessed left, and followed the road hoping that I wasn't going to end up in San Jose.

After a few miles, I saw a familiar jersey up ahead--a Sunpower racer was within view! I went a little harder to catch up to him, and asked if he could point me in the right direction. He showed me where to turn, and I was back in a familiar area! I was able to get myself home from there.

Tl;dr: I got lost, and now I know my way around my new home a little bit better! But getting lost is worth it when it comes with these views: