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

“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

From Farm to Desert-3 Tough September Courses

Cross Vegas Baby

Cross Vegas Baby

Our neo pro Beth Ann Orton started her early season elite races with a trip to Starcrossed in Seattle,Wa Sept.14th and Las Vegas, NV for the world renowned Cross Vegas race on Wed. Sept 18th. She had this to say about Starcrossed: 

” Fun race, amazing atmosphere, such a unique event.  It’s beginning to really look like cross season. I really enjoyed staying with Mary and sleeping on her sofa-bed. 
 
I was at the front of the race with a pack of 5 for the first 4 laps, then sitting 4 with 5-6 and a small gap to 1-3rd for quite a number of laps.  I fumbled a pedal stroke after transitioning and was dropped.  I shrunk the gap by race end, but not enough.  Great race, overall, and many lessons learned.  Very aggressive, fast, and fun.  The number of screaming PDX folks around the velodrome made it a memorable day.”  
The N in Ninkrossi

The N in Ninkrossi

While Beth Ann was off racing with world famous guys and gals in September, us mere mortals were digging in to some serious mud. Jill and Remy took on the pure climbers course at Ninkrossi, part of the Grand Prix Erik Tonkin series Sept. 28th, held at the Washougal Motocross course in Washougal, Wa.
Remy outrunning the pack

Remy outrunning the pack

While I worked for OBRA in the pit, I had a first hand view of our girls in action. 17 A women went shoulder to shoulder on the course built for the mountain biker.
Jill in the switchbacks

Jill in the switchbacks

Long climbs, tricky, off-camber descents and lots of bike handling. In the end, Remy found her way to the front, bringing home her best A result so far with a 4th place.  Jill came in shortly after with an 11th place, admitting she may have been over geared for such a hilly course. 
4th for Remy

4th for Remy

Post Fazio hose down

Post Fazio hose down

I got my chance to get muddy at Fazio Farms on Sept.22nd in NE Portland.  This is the second year for Fazio, hosted by the Ironclad team. Last year it was bone dry and windy.

Mielle at Fazio

Mielle at Fazio

This year, the rain came down in buckets and three huge climbs were added. The farm grounds were a combo of gravel, clay mud and grasses. I decided to race A’s instead of master A’s since the field was smaller.
2 of the 3 Fazio Climbs

2 of the 3 Fazio Climbs

I managed to get the hole shot, and worked on getting a gap.  I slid back to 3rd position with a solid gap. That was until 3 laps to go. Starting the steep climb to the slip-n-slide descent, my derailleur seized up and ripped off my bike, unable to continue functioning with all of the mud and grass gunkedup within it.. I had to run  with my bike on my shoulder up two huge climbs, around the manmade mountain, over the barriers to the middle of the field to get my 29’r. Totally exhausting.
Mielle on her pit bike

Mielle on her pit bike

I finished the race a lap down. Alas, no podium this day. It was still a super fun race but a very expensive day. 
derailleur, hanger and chain destroyed

derailleur, hanger and chain destroyed

Photo Credit to Jacob Tong/www.thewolfsmouth.com
Adam/www.retroshift.com
Matthew Lasala//www.lasalaimages.com

CHEAT WITH US- Blind Date #3 10/2/2013

Laurie and Mielle got their moneys worth

Laurie and Mielle got their moneys worth

Are you tired of being married to the same cyclocross races, year after year? Day races not as stimulating as they once were? Well then you should check out the services provided by Mash-ly Madison. Enjoy a Wednesday night rendezvous with like-minded adults at Alpenrose Dairy.  Try our Blind Date experience for 5 weeks and we think you will agree, it’s the most fun you and your bike will have in the dark. Tonights pre-race mixer featured a cozy squeeze under team tents, enjoying natures wonders as riders received an impromptu rain storm midrace. Almost too cozy to shed layers and head to the start line.

Muddy Run-Up

Muddy Run-Up

 By my line-up time, the rain stopped but the course was transformed from tacky to liquid. Smaller group of ‘A’ ladies (11 total) but series leader Megan Ferris/Rapha-River City was there in her leaders jersey, ready to make us wish we had stayed home.

Pre-Rain Side-Hill

Pre-Rain Side-Hill

Off the line we piled into corner one, with me, Amy Rice/Lazy Tarantulas, Megan, and Julie Browning/CyclePath in the front.  Mud from the wheels in front of me pitched the smelly liquid mud-goo in my face so I tried not to think about all of the goose poop I saw on the ground before dark. Megan pulled ahead of everyone on her singlespeed but Amy, Julie and I stayed wheel to wheel in lap one. Our course changed slightly from week 2 but the run-up was unridable for anyone regardless of skill. Approaching the new feature, a steep downslope to a left-hander on the back of the velodrome, each rider made a decision. This was ridable at 6 pm but the rain made this a Hershey chocolate slip-n-slide.  I was like, ‘why is everyone running this’. I rode it behind Amy who opted to run.  Made it down but wiped out HARD at the bottom, giving my neck an unpleasant jolt. OK. That was a dumb move not to be repeated but it didn’t stop people from continuing to try riding down the hill into the bushes, trees and on their faces, much to the delight of the photographer camped out on the sidelines.

Cozy View From My Tent

Cozy View From My Tent

I stayed with Julie and Amy for a couple laps until Kristen Minarik/Bicycle Attorney.com showed up. Kristin has been putting in hard efforts each week and I found that I could not stay on her wheel.  The grind up the hill behind the velodrome  to the barriers started to get sticky and required a lot of humping, more than some of the guys next to me could muster as they tried to pass me and failed.  Guys were falling all over the place.  The infield barriers were surrounded by swamp like mucky ground, leaving me feeling like a  7 year old trying to lift my BMX bike over the barriers.

Seth Patla/Rapha-River City, passes after the slick side-slope on my left and gives me a swat on the backside. A few more guys pass me from the A and singlespeed group, “Hey Mielle, on your left” but it is so muddy I can’t really tell which kit is which, I just get out of the way with a hardy, “TAKE IT, IT’S ALL YOU”. Around the trees, then descending to the bottom of the run –up, my balance is lost while dismounting and I hit the ground awkwardly for the second time tonight.

Alone on the run-up,  a spectator calls to me from the top, “Wow, this just looks brutal”.

Dirty Girls are Waiting for you! Amy Rice & Mielle

Dirty Girls are Waiting for you! Amy Rice & Mielle

  By lap 5 I have no idea if I have any chasers but the cheering at the run-up doesn’t include any lady names so I think I have at least a 30 second gap. Based on who has passed me in the men’s fields, I have only been lapped by the leaders once. Bell for 1 to go rings in the distance. Dismounting for the sloppy downslope, I slipped and landed on my butt, sliding to the bottom with my bike. Hey, it got me where I was going.

One to go and nobody behind me. Attacking out of the corners, pavement to the outfield, I still feel strong, finding faster lines in the field in the last lap.  Coming through the finish for 5th place, I see Amy VanTassel/Athletes Lounge was doing her best to catch me, sitting about 40 seconds back. Teammates Remy and Laurie came in just behind her. 

So if you are looking for a little night time zest, put Blind Date to the test. It will be our little secret. 

Mud Pants!

Mud Bathing!