Wednesday, November 16, 2005

La Ruta 2005

Wow! Today was a really long day. a lot longer than previous years. We started at 5:15 am (which would be 3:15 pacific time). There was a long neutral start but that didn´t stop people from crashing. i saw a couple of people going off the road. After the paved neutral start we turned off on to a dirt road which was really similar grade and length as Kennedy, so that was fun. After that we had about a 3 hr section with peanut butter mud. On and off the bike the entire time, it was really slick and some sections were hard to hike. I didn´t feel like I was having a really good race at this point. My neck was bugging me, by camelbak felt uncomfortable, and I felt like I was pretty slow. I was pretty sure I was in first place for the women, but it was hard to know for sure since my spanish is pretty lacking. At some point a local yelled something about 4 minutes and later someone else said 8 minutes, I have no idea what that meant, since I never passed anyone. Maybe they meant I was ahead by that much, I have no idea.
After the peanut butter section there was an awesome roadclimb for about an hour. At this point by camelbak was a little lighter, and after I turned my head and my neck made this really loud cracking sound, it felt much better... sounds healthy. The climb was really fun because I passed a ton of guys. Every time I passed a guy they did a double take and started pedalling like crazy for about 20 seconds. Guess the latino men don´t like being beat by a girl.
There were a couple of slow muddy climbs after the paved one. At this point it was raining a little bit, but it felt really good. I though I had a decent second part of the day, but I ended up in 70th place at 8hrs 30 minutes which was WAY behind the male winner who came in right under 6 hrs!!! AMAZING. For the first time there is a non costa rican leader. There are some really fast guys here this year. I´m not sure how far behind me the second woman was, I sat around the finish line for about 30 minutes and then I had to go EAT.
to be continued....

So on day 2 the race started in down town San Jose. Although it was a controlled start again there were 2 pretty major crashes. One because of a pothole the size of a car in the road and anothere one because somehow a car had gotten into the middle of the field and was just sitting there.
the race starts climbing up the vulcano Irazu and although there are a few small decents it pretty much climbs up to 10,400 feet. it took me 3 hrs 35 min to get all the way to the top. I was pretty happy, because that was 10 minutes faster than last year.
There is a long rocky descent and I actually had to get off my bike and walk on a couple of sections because I couldn´t keep my momentum going when the rocks were too big and sharp. there is still some climbing to do before the finish in Turrialba. I ended up in 1st place again, with 65th place amongst the men. Today a Costa Rican man won and Thomas Frischknekt got 4th.
In La Ruta the racing is only part of the adventure. Trying to get back to the hotel, and actually hoping that you are assigned to that hotel can be an adventure in itself. I didn´t feel like waiting around for 3 hrs for the shuttle, so myself and 2 canadian guys asked a local guy if he would take us in to the town. I was so scared. The "road" was like a fire road but with more pot holes, and the guy was FLYING in the pouring rain. In town the road was asphalt and I was sure we were going to hydroplane, but we made it safely!!

On day 3 no one knew exactly when the race was going to start or when the bus was picking us up from the hotel, but breakfast started at 5:15. When we got to the race start it was already hot! The race finally took off at 7:45, which was 45 minutes later than they told us when we got there!! Pretty funny! They also told us that a train had fallen off one of the bridges we were supposed to cross, so last night they had to reroute the course and add 40 km of pavement to go around the broken bridge.
We stared with 3 pretty steep climbs. My legs were really tired, so I decided to be a little conservative. There was one Costa Rican woman in front of me. I could see her on the climbs, but was hoping to catch her. After the last STEEP HOT gravel climb there is a
paved downhill of about 15 k and then the FLAT roadsection began. I was able to get in a group with 8 Costa Rican men and Dan Badger (check spelling) who rides for the adventure team Subaru. I thought this would be perfect. Dan and I tried starting a paceline, but no one wanted to work. As soon as someone else got up front, they sat up, slowed down and rode 3 people across in front of me. then they pointed to the left so Dan and I thought we should turn. As we slowed down to look for a green arrow, 3 of the guys sprinted and took off. We finally realized they were trying to slow us down, so I couldn´t catch the Tica woman!!!
Dan and I pulled away from the rest of the group, and then it was just us two taking turns pulling for about 40 K. It was so hard, but kind of fun. With 20 K to go, the race got back on the original course where we rode on the bumby railroad tracks and then along the carribean ocean. The race ended right on the beach. I wasn´t too far behind the Costa Rican woman, so I ended up in first by close to an hour. The CR girl was so happy to win todays stage that she was crying! It was pretty cool! Guess this means I have to train even harder for next year :-) Thomas Frischkneckt was appearantly working together with 2 Costa Ricans and Jeremia Bishop and ended up 2nd in this stage and 1st overall. Very impressive. My times were 8.32, 5.32 and 5.57 for the 3 stages.

Friday, September 16, 2005

24 Hour World Solo Championship 2005

24 hr WSC seemed to last a whole week for me, since I had to leave the Bay Area on Wednesday morning before the race. It took about 19 hrs to drive up to Whister, but I stopped between Portland and Seattle on Wednesday night. The drive there actually didn't seem that bad. I was just a little worried my legs were going to be really stiff by the time I got there. Friday before the race I pre-rode the course and thought that it actually seemed a bit easier and more plush than last year. A couple of really technical sections had been taken out due to the 2010 Olympics. I thought this would be a better course for me. On Saturday morning it was raining, but everyone was hopeful the rain would let up and the sun would come out like the previous few days. It was still raining at noon when the race began. I was set up next to Brett Wolfe. His wife Loni had promised to help me out until Alex Wheeler arrived. Alex was flying in straight from Euro-bike to help me out in the pit. Talk about hard-core!!! As I was racing the first few laps I was trying to calculate what time Alex would get there. Due to the pouring rain, I hadn't set up my night bike with lights in case I needed to switch bikes sooner. I was hoping he would arrive in time.. The first few laps I was feeling pretty good, I was staying close to Marg and Monique and worked on staying steady and consistant and not taking any breaks. I had started out on my Giant and was planning on riding my brand new Blur at night.

The course was still fun the first few laps although the roots and rocks were kind of slick with all the rain. I thought the course was holding up pretty well. On my 3rd lap I was going a little fast on a wooden bridge. I hit my brakes, and when the bridge turned, of course my bike kept going straight. Just as someone yelled "careful with that bridge girl" I hit my head on a rock and jammed the end of my handle bars into my chest! It felt great!!! Other than that I didn't have any major crashes or wrecks. I saw so many people flying over their handlebars on some of the technical descents, I decided to be smart and get off my bike on a couple of difficult sections.

After my 5th lap Alex had shown up. I was so relieved. He had off course already set my Blur up, and I switched bikes. I put my other helmet on, which was set up with my Lupine light. Unfortunately, I was having some shifting issues and the chain kept falling off the big cog and I had to stop a few times on the first night-lap to yank the chain back out from between the cassette and the wheel. Not that big of a deal. I switched bikes again while Alex worked on the Blur.

I think it was around 3 in the morning when I started seeing something in the air that looked like snow-flurries. It was getting really cold! By the time I got back to my pit, the rain was pouring down, and I had gotten really cold. I was shaking so hard I had a hard time holding on to the hot soup Alex had made me. David and James, who were Marg's mechanics, came over and offered to give me an electric blanket. They were going to hook it up to a car-battery. Someone else offered me his glove liners because I had run out of long finger gloves. I put my short finger gloves over the liners. After I changed all of my clothes and put my water proof adidas jacket on, I was still cold, but I had stopped shaking. Time to go back out again.

This is when I really slowed down. After the "hypo-thermia" incident, I could never really get warm again, even on the climbs. I also had a really hard time keeping any food down. Every time I tried squeezing a gel into my mouth, or take the smallest bite out of a reeses peanut butter rice crispy treat, I was gagging and my stomach turned. When I did manage to swallow some food, it came straight back up. I tried to force down some eggs that Alex made in the morning, but I couldn't even take one bite. Alex seemed a bit concerned when, after my 15th lap, I came into the pit, and sat starring into space. Afterwards, he said that he couldn't really make out what I was trying to say because I was just mumbling. 24-hr racing is so much FUN!!! At some point earlier in the race,I had been in 2nd place, with about an hour on Monique, according to my pit-crew. But as I was sitting there, starring into space, I see Monique, FLYING by, looking very spry and fresh!! I knew there was no way I was going to catch her, because I was happy just making it around the course at this point. My last 2 laps were pretty much just surviving. I tried chugging a little Ensure, which gave me back some energy. I was so out of it however, I had to slowly walk a lot of the single track. Many other riders seemed to be in the same boat. I was sooooo happy to see the finish-line after my final lap. Drew who was announcing, gave me a big hug and was kind enough to not ask me too many questions over the microphone.

In the end, I rode 17 laps, about 169 miles, and got 3rd place. I was happy to be on the podium again. I know I could not have done this without Alex's help. He was calm but efficient. Always had a second bike cleaned, lubed, and ready for me to hop onto. Batteries charged and lights set up, food hot and ready to eat (I probably should have taken more advantage of this...), dry clothes for me to change into, camelbak filled up. Thanks Alex! Thanks also to my sponsors X-fusion shox, Magura, Giant, and Adidas clothing and eyewear. I could not have done it without all the great equipment and your support.

The race wasn't quite over for me on Sunday at noon. On monday I had to get up (after a pretty sleepless night) to begin my drive back to San Jose. I probably wasn't the safest driver on the road. Every time I had to stop for gas or food, people were giving me funny looks. I had a hard time getting out of the car, I moved like an old lady. My legs were bruised, my eyes swollen, and I kept dropping things because my hands were completely numb. 24-hr racing is a great sport... I'm sure I'll be back next year!