Gambling Problems-Dirty Circles Road Race #3

Wet and Dirty Circles

Wet and Dirty Circles

3/16/14

Rain was supposed to hit in the afternoon. We all knew that. But, as with most days on the bike in the Northwest, you can always luck out and the storm misses you completely. Other times you ride through the middle of it. So tell me. Do you feel lucky?

Dirty Circles road race series takes place in Woodland, Wa. The 6 mile loop includes views of the river, farmland, cows and lots of Bald Eagles cruising overhead looking for critters. The morning races were mostly dry and mild with temps in the low 50’s. By 1:45 pm the sky darkened as the wind picked up.

The women’s 1/2/3 group of 14 lined up on Dike Road and sped off for five laps with a nice tailwind and a light mist. Ironclad, Theraputic Associates and Fred Meyer Team all had players looking to get a win. Attacks came early but the pack remained whole through lap one. Hitting the dam road next to the water, the cross/headwind was gaining momentum and that is where the attacks came, one after another. I had gone with all attempts up to now but this time the women were playing hard to shake the pack apart. Out of the saddle I can feel my quads resisting my efforts and the gap opens leaving me exposed to the wind. Speed continues to increase on the front and I can’t seem to reattach to the group with the headwind slowing me down. Girls fly around me to avoid getting dropped.   As the road curves down and to the left, I know I don’t have the fitness right now to bridge up alone in the headwind. The ref’s car behind us politely gives me time to make a move but I just waive him around with shoulder shrug and a smile. Rain is picking up and my new goal is to make my way up to the other two girls that got popped.

My two new best friends agree to make a tight paceline and run through quick 30 second pulls on the front. NO ESCAPE from the wind as it blows at a hearty 15-20 mph across the fields. Part way through lap 3, our party of three becomes two as one rider can no longer hold on to our pace; a painfully slow pace which ranges from 15-18 mph in the wind to 25 with our brief tailwind on Dike road. My partner in crime is Andrea/Gentle Lovers. She is a strong and steady wheel to follow on our mostly flat course as we TAKE TURNS SUFFERING on the front in the downpour. And then the hail starts. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse. The sharp sting of ice and rain burns my lips and face as everything I am wearing soaks through. Mouth hanging open, slobbering on myself but I don’t care at the point. Even the race photographer took shelter. I CAN do 2 more laps, I tell myself. Just keep my head down and get through it.

Ughhhhh…… This is horrible!” I lament to Andrea as gusting wind engulfs us. “ I KNOW! My gloves are soaked” she responds, making a fist with one hand causing it to release water like an engorged sponge. I won’t quit even though I am freezing and my fingers are numb. “I thought you would like this weather because it’s like a cross race,” she quips over the howling wind. “ Yeah, but less mileage and more running keeps you warmer in a cross race.”

Many riders did not finish today. Without my partner, I would not have pushed as hard in such brutal conditions. Working for someone else and sharing the work keeps you both moving and motivated when you are hurting. As we approached the finish sprint, Andrea got out of the saddle in her last big effort and I let her go. My Legs were cooked and happy to be done.

Even though gamble for a dry race didn’t pay off, I will keep paying to play the game. Sometimes you get lucky.

Men's field along the water

Men’s field along the water

 

Mudslinger Kicks Off XC Race Season

Katie, Melissa, Mielle and Deanna

Katie, Melissa, Mielle and Deanna

  After last year’s cold and tearful ending, I didn’t think I would go back for another helping of Mudslinger but there I was, standing in the mist in Blodgett, waiting to have another sloppy day on the bike.

Mielle is Bootylicious!

Mielle is Bootylicious!

Deanna, Melissa, Alice and Katie came out too. The weather was MUCH warmer, with temps in the 50’s, warming to the low 60’s and just misty rain off and on. Trails were greasy with a smattering of peanut butter but no rivers running through them like last year.100_3672

 

My focus was on having fun so I didn’t feel as “racy”. Deanna and I are in the same Cat 1/Expert group now that we don’t have any age splits. Deanna climbs like a billy goat and off she went. She took 4th and I took 5th.

 

Melissa and Katie at Line-up

Melissa and Katie at Line-up

Katie caught me, making up huge time in the cat 2 group and also took 4th, beating a ton of girls on her flat pedals.

Post Race Smiles from Melissa

Post Race Smiles from Melissa

Melissa enjoyed her very first XC race EVER! After the race she said, “This is something I would like to train for.” (See her race report) And Alice took 2nd place in the pro women.

Lots of cross country racing coming up in Oregon and Washington so we will be a busy bunch. 

Photo credits: Mielle ,Chaz Donaldson

Ladies ONLY Please

Ladies ONLY Please

Tales From A Newbie- Melissa at Mudslinger 4/6/2014

RACE REPORT FROM OUR NEW TEAM MEMBER MELISSA SHER/MUDSLINGER-BLODGETT, OR:

100_3676

00: Where everyone rolls to the start together: This is nice, wonder if anyone would be up for sticking together the whole time?
Start: Alright, I recognize some of these people from cross. I got this.
:10: Hm, I’m keeping up but I am pretty sure it has been about 50 yards of climbing so far. They seem to be pulling off…
:20 min: Everyone appears to be gone. Would it have been poor form to draft? Could I have done that on a MTN bike? Mental note to look up the rules of MTN bike racing if I get home.
:30 min: Still climbing, I guess. That’s cool, I could climb all day. I feel great, probably should have given more juice at the start…
:40 min: Ok, here we go, downhill. let’s find out why this thing is called the mudslinger. I should have put my seat down a little. Mental note to ask appropriate times to raise and lower a seat in a race situation. First fall. I think I’ll lower it now.
:50 min: Climbing again. I must do hill repeats to train for this shit. As punishment, tomorrow you are doing hill repeats.
:60 min: I have only fallen 4 times. That is not that bad. It is really muddy, they named the race after this mud. I am sure everyone else is falling too.
1:10: But I wonder if everyone is falling this much…Still feeling pretty good. though. Where did everyone go? I could probably go faster if I raised my seat for all this climbing. But how much faster? Wonder if anyone has ever done some sort of equation on that. FOCUS. This is a race, that old guy ahead is not in your category but you need to pass someone…anyone.

1:30: I can’t believe I am on the ground again. I have just slid off my saddle because it was covered in mud from a previous fall. I landed crotch first, after being air born for what felt like a year, on the top tube. This might be bad. No, this is definitely bad.
1:40: Just walk it out a little longer. OK, I didn’t want kids in the first place. I should thank my bicycle for deciding for me that now I will definitely not have them. Perfect, I love easy decision making.
2:00: Worst decision ever made was not turning left back there for the short course. I could be enjoying my post race banana right now.
2:20 Seriously, I have to train for this. This is embarrassing.
2:30: I don’t know where I am, but if I get back there better not be people standing around the finish line “clapping me in.” I would never forgive myself.
2:40: Things I could say happened: flat tire? I got lost? Yeah, maybe I’ll go with that one.
3:00: Ok, so, seriously, I wonder how long everyone else has been back. I wonder if I will ever not have mud on me again?
A short time laterI love you man who just said I have 1 mile left. No really, I love you.

Overall: But seriously, the Mudslinger was awesome, though maybe my brain didn’t relay awesome messages to me during the actual race. The weather was great, nice and warm with just a little mist. It was a perfect first race experience and I learned a ton (especially what I need to work on).

I am really excited to be a part of the the Les Femmes, train for MTN biking, and see what can happen!

Melissa and Katie at Line-up

Melissa and Katie at Line-up

FROM FRINGE TO FRUITFUL-Local Race Series Makes Charity A Priority

Festive Ladies of Alley Cross Two

Festive Ladies of Alley Cross Two

We are not strangers to dressing silly and racing cyclocross bikes around these parts. But this year gave me (and teammate Remy) an opportunity to try a new type of cyclocross race and donate to charity all in the same day. ALLEY CROSS is a three race series that was created by local racer Daniel Carter in 2012 and has garnered enormous support from local sponsors this year.

Remy, Julie, Stephanie, Jericho & Mielle

Remy, Julie, Stephanie, Jericho & Mielle

Daniel and Justin post race

Daniel and Justin post race

Unlike most cyclocross races that take place at a known venue, Alley Cross combines the unsanctioned street racing found in Alley Cat races with laps on a mystery cyclocross course set up in various Portland parks. I was so inspired by the community giving aspect of Alley Cross  that I decided to check in with Daniel on how the Alley Cross series came to be. 

Go Pro video of  the Alley Cross 2  race by Paul Laak

http://vimeo.com/82521259

After breaking his ankle at the Kruger’s Crossing race Nov. 2012, Daniel missed the final cross races of the season but wasn’t ready for the season to be over. A lover of both Alley Cat races and cyclocross, he and his friend, Beer Mongers teammate Justin Bruaner, saw an opportunity to take advantage of the amazing local parks they used for training and transform them into a very temporary race course.

Daniel-left, Justin-center front-Volunteers Photo

Daniel-left, Justin-center front-Volunteers Photo

But there is so much more to it than that. When asked what the motivation behind starting this series was, Daniel said,  For me personally, I need to attach more meaning to the things I do than merely self improvement”.

As a Juvenile Custody Services Specialist at the Multnomah County Juvenile Detention Center in Portland, Daniel works with youth that are sometimes homeless and often from low-income, undereducated minority families struggling to get by. I see these issues every day, but many people are more or less oblivious, so this (Alley Cross) is a fun way to help this population and raise awareness.”

Of the six charities the Alley Cross series has donated to, only two were coordinated with before hand, including Outside In, the series finale’ charity on January 11th, 2014.  Daniel admits that he usually just shows up on the doorstep of the charity with food or clothing in hand, but future races will include much more of the charity’s involvement ahead of time. In a few years, the Alley Cross crew hopes to expand and be part of a bona fide Non-profit Organization.

Podium-Kristi 2nd, Mielle 1st, Heather 3rd

Podium-Kristi 2nd, Mielle 1st, Heather 3rd

For the race participants, there is a very long and impressive list of prizes donated by local companies and bike industry shops including Sellwood Cycle Repair, Bob’s Red Mill, Retroshift and Fort George Brewery.  

Piles of Donations

Piles of Donations

Peter Koonce/Team S&M picks his prize

Peter Koonce/Team S&M picks his prize

Race 1 –Cross Dress, asked for warm kids clothing(donated to Janus Youth Access Center and New Avenues for Youth in Portland) and offered amazing prizes for top 3 men, women and kids. A DFL award also given for the very last man, woman and child to cross the finish line. Everyone was encouraged to ‘cross dress’ but the ladies were the only ones daring enough to dabble in dude dress this year. I went as Erik Tonkin, owner of Sellwood Cycle Repair. But funny enough, Chris Brannen(Alley Cross Crew & Team S&M member) and I wore the same outfit.

Mielle giving dudes beard envy

Mielle giving dudes beard envy

Race started  and finished at Normandale Park on 52nd and NE Halsey. We were told moments before the start that our cross course was set up at Rose City Park on 62nd and Thompson. Get from park to park any route you want, then 4 laps on the cross course and race back to the start. 

Mielle on the Rose City Park stairs

Mielle on the Rose City Park stairs

Race 2-Alley Cross 2 asked for canned food items that would be donated to St Vincent DePaul.  Race started at Overlook Park across from Kaiser Permanente in North Portland and there were two mystery locations. We had to find a dog park on Willamette Blvd., hike-a-bike to the bottom of a steep, muddy trail to get a plastic egg containing the address of the cross course. We ended up racing through the streets back to North 7th and Fremont for a course set up in Irving Park, then back to Overlook for the finish. This was way more road racing than the first race. 

Remy at the Irving Park sand pit

Remy at the Irving Park sand pit

Wish List Items

Wish List Items

I asked Daniel how he determines if a race is successful. Every race is successful. Each event spreads the word to more bike shops, more racers, sponsors, volunteers and more bystanders just happening by. I guess the day nobody shows up to race is the day it’ll be unsuccessful.”

Race 3-Alley Cross 3 will take place at NOON on Saturday January 11th, 2014 at Creston Park in SE Portland and entry is 5 items off the Outside In wish listPost race party at Velo Cult 3-5pm. Check out the Alley Cross Three! Facebook page for info and photos from the events. 

Racers and Volunteers

Racers and Volunteers

Sorting Supper-Oregon Food Bank 2013

Collected Donations

Collected Donations

270,000 people use food boxes from the Oregon Food Bank each month, with children making up 92,000 of that total.  Without community donations, our shelves would be EMPTY in three weeks,” explains our volunteer organizer Mike. And if you have never been inside the warehouse at the food bank, it is enormous.  Sky high racking systems run row after row along the football field long walls, housing thousands of pallets of food.  The current building was built in 2001, ironically enough, on an old farm.  As our crew entered the first sorting room for instructions, our gaze fell on the abundance of potato crammed farm sacks (donated by Noonan Farms in southern Oregon) that need to be bagged for individual families .  

Coordinator Mike and Noonan Farms Potatoes

Coordinator Mike and Noonan Farms Potatoes

The food bank requests their volunteers bring a few cans of food so I decided to put a call out for donations at work ahead of time, which resulted in 6 boxes of food collected (Thanks Kaiser Permanente Employees). The ladies pitched in with their own collections too. 

Busy Sorting Line

Busy Sorting Line

Team volunteers Remy and husband Andrew, Audrey, Katie and Margi joined me in the packing room.

I would like to add that Margi is 9 months pregnant  and we joked about her giving birth on the sorting room floor. 

We were given the task of sorting food into “food” and “non food” items, checking for severe dents (lipping) in cans/tops that could result in botulism, and sealing any opened boxes. All compromised items are disposed of in a large box next to the sorting station. 

Andrew taping up boxes

Andrew taping up boxes

 

Katie and Margi checking for dents

Katie and Margi checking for dents

Each food box feeds a family of four between 3-5 days. In Oregon alone, ONE IN FOUR people are living below the poverty level which is higher than our visit last year when it one in six.  

Mielle Breaking Down Boxes

Mielle Breaking Down Boxes

To make sure families get the help they need requires a lot of hands on deck.  150 thousand hours are donated by volunteers each year. Donating 2.5 hours  of your time doesn’t seem like much, but that effort pays it forward in ways that benefit the entire community. 

Audrey Hard at Work

Audrey Hard at Work

Audrey throwing out the damaged goods

Audrey throwing out the damaged goods

Les Femmes de S&M, along with the other groups, sorted and boxed 9082 pounds of food, creating 7568 meals for those in need. If you would like to get involved, see the link to the Oregon Food Bank below.  

http://www.oregonfoodbank.org/

http://www.noonanfarms.com/Katie, Margi, Mielle, Laurie, Audrey, Remy & Andrew

Katie, Margi, Mielle, Laurie, Audrey, Remy & Andrew

Team S&M + Panda- CRANKSGIVING 2013

 

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What IS Cranksgiving? A Panda, and pink tutu and a pimp hat = Cranksgiving! It is also a food drive wrapped in an Alley Cat style scavenger hunt on bicycles of all shapes and sizes. Plus costumes, because well, it’s Portland. What could be more Portland than that? Les Femmes de S&M teammates Jill and Beth F. joined me, along with Judd /Team S&M and Dave/Hammer Velo. We formed Team S&M + Panda.  The event started at Velo Cult bike shop (1949 NE 42nd), and was hosted by Laura Recker and Tom McTighe of PuddleCycle.com.

I SEE YOU!!! JUDD + GO PRO

I SEE YOU!!! JUDD + GO PRO

Here is the video Judd shot condensed into racing speed!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=te3B59VUz7I

THE MISSION: Sign your team waiver- get the manifest! Ride fast and collect all of the items and be back before the time cutoff. First one back wins a prize and most money spent wins a prize.  Since it’s a food drive, our stops consisted of various grocery stores around NE ,SE and NW Portland. 25 teams signed in with names like B-Line Crawlers and Tater Mashers

Pea Pod and Team Tater Masher

Pea Pod and Team Tater Masher

some in costume because a prize would be awarded to the best costumed team (TATER MASHERS won). RULES: You must keep all receipts as proof of purchase, and you have to get all of the items on the list.  Teams of 2-5 riders were required to have at least $10 per person to cover the shopping list.

TIME BONUS OFFERED: If anyone wanted a five-minute time bonus, you had to swap 1 member of your team with another team before the race started at 2 PM. Our team was too awesome to share.

JILL RIDES FAST IN A TUTU

JILL RIDES FAST IN A TUTU

Pre race beer for the Panda

Pre race beer for the Panda

The whole idea started back in New York in 1999 and this year over 25 cities participated. The charity of choice for the Portland version is Outside In, a youth oriented program and shelter for homeless and at-risk youth. They also help find transitional housing through Transition Projects.

With Judd’s Go Pro helmet camera running, we took off with the masses, first stop Fred Meyer just down the road. Dave, dressed in his Panda costume, took the first task. He went looking for quinoa with but overheard another team say they needed underwear from this location. Unable to find a price tag,  then stuck in the checkout line, we were almost the last team to leave stop 1.

Stop #1. Where's Dave?

Stop #1. Where’s Dave?

Beth took the lead as we left, barreling down backstreets until we got to Broadway and stop 2, Safeway on Weidler. I went in to get a can of cream of mushroom soup and cheated the long lines by paying at the deli. Straight shot down to the Broadway bridge, over the river into NW. Somewhere along the way Jill’s fluffy pink helmet cover took flight but we were not going back .

Beth and her SEXY hat

Where to next Beth?

Stop 3 –Food Front on NW Thurman. Cash hand off and Beth ran in to get beans. Short trip from Food Front to Western Bike Works on  NW 17th and Lovejoy where Judd collected our patch kit. At each stop we kept rubbing shoulders with other teams, not knowing how far ahead or behind we were.

Dave and Jill plotting our next move

Dave and Jill plotting our next move

Crossing back over the Broadway bridge, our gang raced to Stop 4- Peoples Co-Op on 21st off of SE Clinton. Judd ran into our teammate Christy, (out shopping with baby Mila Kate) who pointed him in the right direction for our bag of potatoes. Out front, I purchased a Street Roots newspaper for $1 (profits from paper sales provide homeless men and women with a regular income and housing assistance through Transition Projects). Telling the vendor we were doing a charity ride for Outside In gave him a big smile. “Their program helps me!”

We came upon another team heading to Safeway on 28th and Hawthorne. Feeling that surge of adrenaline (maybe it was just me), we sped past the single speeders and their cargo bike guy (carrying his 4 yr old daughter) on a small climb. 

Yeah, we beat these guys

Yeah, we beat these guys

They gave chase but we arrived at Safeway about the same time. Last stop was a short but treacherous sprint in traffic to New Seasons on 40th and Hawthorne Blvd where there are no bike lanes and a high chance of getting doored. Our singlespeeders were quicker at check-out once again!

JUDD AND MIELLE

JUDD AND MIELLE

I led the final chase to Velo Cult, back through the lovely neighborhoods of NE. Catching the singlespeed crew, I beat them back to the door of Velo Cult, slapping our manifest down with our envelope of receipts and the Street Roots newspaper to get our time logged.

Maria reads off the winners and totals

Maria reads off the winners and totals

A round of beers for the team and slices of pizza. Not the fastest team of the day, but our extra Street Roots $1.00 put us over the top for the most money spent, making Team S&M + Panda the winners! 98 riders participated, raising over $1500.00 in food donations for Outside InSpecial thanks to Sellwood Cycle Repair for your support!

Links to the organizations noted in this post are listed below

Big Hearts and Big Prizes
Big Hearts and Big Prizes

For more information about Outside In, Street Roots, Transition Projects or other events sponsored by puddlecycle.com, check out the links below.

http://www.outsidein.org/

http://www.tprojects.org/

http://streetroots.org/

http://puddlecycle.com/

“DNF” My Very First Time 11/10/2013

Still In The Race!

Still In The Race!

My knee hurts really bad and it looks swollen”, I say to hubby Shane, lamenting my two-week-old gravel crash from Bend Halloween race weekend 10/26/13. Through the clear Tegaderm patch, he can see the trapped puss and swollen tissue on my right kneecap. Tearing the patch off FAR TOO SLOWLY  (with much swearing from me) he calmly states, “You need to go to urgent care. No really. This is bad.” It’s 8 AM on a race day. Who has time for urgent care? Cross Crusade racing is in full swing and points matter to racers at the top of their field with only 2 races to go after today. Today is PIR Infield(Portland International Raceway) and I’m tied for first place in the master A’s.

Right knee 10/27/13 post Bend Race

Right knee 10/27/13 post Bend Race

By 10 AM I am home from urgent care with a fresh bandage, antibiotics and cleared to race from the Physician Assistant. Oh, did I mention she is a mixed martial artist in her spare time? Clearly, she understands my need for suffering.

PIR Heron Lakes Line Up

PIR Heron Lakes Line Up

    “RIDERS READY, TIMERS READY!” TWEEEETTTT goes the whistle. Off the line I go charging down the winding pavement with the hole shot, Hell bent on getting to the dangerous gravel right-hander first. “Stay with her, don’t let her get away!”yells a voice to someone behind me as we leave the gravel stretch for tacky mud, turning back towards the infield. The familiar kit of my main competitor Erica Wescott/Sunnyside Sports on my left coming by me now. Over the rollers, past the trees the course sends us around twists and turns, past pit 1, then out to the other side of the venue. Tight turns around low-slung branches and over slippery roots prove slow and tricky. I am losing my lead but doing my best to stay with the lead group. As we head back on the straightaway towards ‘Tent City’, I have slid to 5th and just trying to stay in contact. My rear wheel slides a couple of times in the turns but I keep it upright, just not feeling confident in the corners.

Plotting to bridge up

Plotting to bridge up

Throngs of cheering racers crowd the taped off course next to the off-camber hills dubbed “Pain Cave”. The ground is wet and chewed up with roots waiting to toss your wheel out from under you. “Uhhfffff”. Down I go before hill #2, running my right knee into the ground, but I recovered quickly, running to remount at the top.

After the only set of barriers, gears click to the big ring and off I go on the long pavement stretch to make up lost time. By 3 laps to go, Ann/Bike Attorney and Kristi/UEF look like they are tiring and I am able to bridge back up before we head into the trees again. My plan is to overtake both of them and work my way back up the field. Rounding the tape after pit #1, my rear wheel starts to slide out. Down goes my left foot to catch me but my bike goes sliding to the right with my right foot still clipped in. Left knee goes crashing to the ground at a horribly awkward angle, sending pain from knee to ankle. OMG what just happened?! Scrambling from the ground I tried to stand but the pain was horrible and I couldn’t bare weight as I leaned on my bike. And then I did something I have never done in my 4 years of racing…… I crawled to the other side of the tape and sat down, pain telling me my day was done. My skin is a road map of crashes in the form of scars, but never have I been in too much pain to continue. I found my own Pain Cave and crawled inside.

People came to help, officials radioed the medic as I writhed in pain, still shaking from the adrenaline. “Are you cold?” asks ref Jordan. Not cold, just jacked up from racing. No tears came, but lots of hard breathing through gritted teeth, trying to answer their questions about the accident. I was carried by my human chariot Jordan and Andy from the pit to First Aid where OBRA boss Mike Murray, MD. and fellow racer/nurse Jan Moss assessed me. “Possible MCL tear.” Dr. Mike phoned Kaiser to get me an urgent appointment. I watched my competitors battle it out for two more laps by the finish line while the lump on my left knee swelled. At least my knees are even now.  It was a weird feeling being on the outside when I was just there minutes ago racing. 

Infected Right Knee 11/12/13

Infected Right Knee 11/12/13

    Three doc visits later and the good news is my left knee is fine, no damage. Whew! BUT, the crash from Bend left me with a cellulitis infection in my RIGHT knee and very sore, swollen lymph nodes in my leg.

Doctors orders; Off the bike AND work for the week. If I am lucky, I get my redemption race at Barton Park on Sunday Nov.17th.

Fingers crossed!

Aerial View of PIR

Aerial View of PIR

Photo CreditsMatthew Lasala http://www.lasalaimages.com, Jacob Tong http://www.wolfsmouth.com, http://www.bicycleway.com