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

 

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TESTING THE WATERS- Het Meer 9/7/13

Insert your own caption

Insert your own caption

Plotting, watching and assessing. How is this game played in the unfamiliar waters of Vancouver Lake Park? Camping out on a tiny wooden stool someone dubbed my ‘traveling podium’, mental notes were made as I watched strong racers try to escape their pursuers on the long gravel straight, enduring the pain coursing through their bodies from the seemingly harmless uphill run in the sand.  Leaders did not stay leaders for long. The rider that used others to draft from moved into 1st position race after race.  Deviating from my normal ‘hole shot’ mentality, I formed a new plan of attack for my first race of the season.

THE BEACH!!!!!!

THE BEACH!!!!!!

 Het Meer in Vancouver, WA. is fairly new with its inaugural race kicking off in 2011 as part of a new series of Saturday races. This year it continues to gain steam as part of the Grand Prix Erik Tonkin series (GPET).  1.9 mile relatively flat course is off-set by small off-camber turns, sharp corners to pavement transitions, a long road  and…..the SAND. After many face plant photos struck fear in the sand-curious crowd last year, a “raker” was posted at the transition from grass to beach to keep a deep hole from forming at the launch point. Riding the waters edge was the easy part. It’s the run back to dry land that wore down riders.

Heather, Mielle & Amy at line-up

Heather, Mielle & Amy at line-up

Five master A women on the line. My longtime nemesis Amy Rice/ Lazy Tarantulas, sporting her easily-won GPET leaders jersey, is the spider I want to drop in the sand trap today. Heather Vanvalkenburg/Upper Echelon is known for her speed on flat road and track, so who knows if this course will favor her skills.  Racing on a new bike and I’m feeling frisky

Sand Surfing

Sand Surfing

Whistle blows and I have my sights set on “sitting in” and letting our series leader set the pace on the long gravel road.  Left turn on a long, bumpy single-track trail surrounded by bumpier grass and out of sight of any spectators. Following Amy, Heather and new-to-master A’s, Ellen Smith/Lazy Tarantulas with Holly Kotsovos/Tireless Velo behind me and the pace feels slower than normal.  Over barrier #1, around the playground bark chips, our train spins at a moderate pace to the barriers by the finish. Pace myself. That is the plan. Moving ahead of Ellen on the beach I move in behind Heather, still trailing Amy as we shoulder bikes and trudge up the deep sand. Looping back around to the long gravel road I notice Heather is letting a gap open that I am not comfortable with. Hitting the single-track, I make my move into 2nd position to shut down the gap and hit a bump. CLICK-A-DUH,SHHHHHS. My chain popped off my single chain ring (new bike) and slid down the crank  arm. “ ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” I said aloud as Heather rides calmly away.  Ellen finds me trying to unkink my chain, “Mielle are you OK?” to which I reply ‘Yeah’ in a disgrunteled tone.

Laurie at the Barriers

Laurie at the Barriers

CHASE, CHASE, CHASE! Race announcer Luciano makes some comment over the PA system about my current position to the crowd and I tell him I dropped my chain as I ride by. Snaking around the off-camber tree, a group of Team S&M guys are cheering for me and doing THE WAVE.  How do you not smile when people are doing the wave?

Photo courtesy of RetroShift

Photo courtesy of RetroShift

 I catch Ellen quickly and overtake her, eyeing Heather up ahead.  “Hey Mielle, why are you riding like this is a Grand Fondo” yells Sean from Trusty Switchblade, “Go get Heather”.  Oh I plan to do exactly that.  Surfing the shifting sand, Heather is reeled in on the beach. No idea where Amy is now.

Heather and I are together on the road as she tucks in behind me to recover. Single-track is no problem but dismounting for barrier #1 my chain pops off AGAIN. Holy Crap. Really?  “COME ON” yells Heather with encouragement, but like Alberto Contador, she rides away. 

Chain back on, my brain is doing the math. Do I pit and get my other bike with 1 lap to go or chance it? No pit, just CHASE, CHASE, CHASE!  Heather is caught again but my spider is out of sight. Dodging slower girls awkwardly carrying their bikes, I move in front of Heather on the sand run-up which sends my heart rate sky high.  Through the trees to the gravel road and up go my gears. I am suddenly alone to run it home as Heather has given up the chase. DON’T DROP YOUR CHAIN is running through my mind. My stomach tightens powering through the single-track but it is a clean run through all of the barriers and bark, rolling in for 2nd place.

 The good news is I felt super (thanks C-Velo Performance Cycling Studio), and my Sellwood mechanic will make sure I am not dead in the water at the next race.

Remy and Erik at the Sellwood support tent

Remy and Erik at the Sellwood support tent

Les Femmes results for the day:

Audrey earned 9th, Laurie 13th and Remy just wanted everyone to know her new bike was awesome but the rider needed work. 

Photo courtesy of:  Klaus Ochs   http://portfotolio.net/klausochs, 

RichRosko/Hammer Velo

Adam at Retroshift   http://www.retroshift.com/Post race chin wag

Post race chin wag

Grand Prix Erik Tonkin Series Begins-Hot Start for Les Femmes

header-gpet

Quick Draw Tonkin

Quick Draw Tonkin

Our beloved leader of all things cyclocross and mountain bike went and got an entire race series named after him, the Grand Prix Erik Tonkin.  Erik has put in the time with close to 20 years racing professionally and has been running Sellwood Cycle Repair since anyone can remember, so he has more than earned the “legend” status in the world of cyclocross racing. So why the sasquatch? In Europe, Erik was dubbed  “The Caveman” for his non traditional hairy legs and beard.

These days, Erik sightings are very common at Blue Kangaroo Coffee Roasters in Sellwood, and you may spot him providing neutral support at some of the GPET races.

22 women for the first race

22 women for the first race!

Race #1 started August 31st at David Douglas park in Vancouver, Wa. The course combines flat grass sections, gravel, playground bark chunks and two steep climbs. In the middle of the course is a single-track descent that backed up riders since passing here was impossible. The climb out of the descent was a runner for the less powerful rider, but the remainder of the course was dry and fast. With temps reaching the high 80’s, it was a hot start to the season.

Beth Ann with Sue behind her

Beth Ann with Sue right behind her

Beth Ann and Remy took on the A women at what felt like the hottest part of the day and raced for over an hour in the baking sun.

This from RemyWe were all chattering and smiling, who is ready? Who’s not? It’s just a warm up race right? No pressure…READY SET GO!  F@&* an obstacle! Totally forgot I could carry my bike. Too much triathalon“.

Remy flanked by Jon Meyer/Team S&M

Remy flanked by Jon Meyer/Team S&M

Beth Ann and pro Sue Butler/River City broke away from the pack early leaving the chase group nothing but the sad taste of dust in their mouths.  Sue, riding a 34 chainring, was able to conserve on the climb out of the woods and spin, while Beth Ann powered through on her 38 tooth chainring. Each tried to drop the other, both were hurting, but continued to trade blows lap after lap. At one point Beth (without a bottle on board) even begged Sue to give her some water but Sue declined.

Remy shook her head at me as I ran along side her, shouting “supportive” things after the run-up. I think she was wishing there was a transition to a swim on the course somewhere.

Beth Ann and Sue up the hill.

Beth Ann and Sue up the hill.

After lapping slower women and some of the men, the race came down to the 8th and final lap holding a good 2+ minute gap over the remaining chasers. Beth Ann stood up and tried a big sprint on the pavement before the barriers, Sue holds on and slides past as they come into the final barrier.

The Final Barrier Before The Finish!

The Final Barrier Before The Finish!

Sue is able to remount before Beth Ann and finish the last tiny section in the playground bark chunks before they both sprint for the line. Sue won the day but just by seconds.

Remy-wishing for a cookies at the finish

Remy-wishing for a cookie at the finish

Remy shared her thoughts about the end of her race , “FINISH LINE! Oh yeah, that pukey feeling….But hooray I get to eat cookies again!”

Tonkin Family-Gus, Rhonda and Cori enjoying sno-cones at the race

Tonkin Family-Gus, Rhonda and Cori enjoying sno-cones at the race

For the full GPET schedule check out the link

http://cyclocross.gp/

Coffee that is strong enough for the Caveman? Stop by Blue Kangaroo!

http://bluekangaroocoffee.com/