Archive for Cycling

Awareness Video

This is a great video.  Check it before you wreck it.

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Ignorance at it’s best

These are the a-holes running our country.  The only positive spin I can put on this clip is if you take his sarcasm away he’s actually promoting the thing he’s talking against: riding a bicycle to limit our dependency on fuel!

Is this guy even aware of what France and the rest of Europe is doing?
I could scream!

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I Graduated to Wednesday Nights at the Track

About 5 weeks ago I had my first experience riding in the Velodrome.  Once you take the class you are invited to race on Monday nights, which is considered a learning night where you get lots of support and instruction as you get comfortable riding on the track. 

This week I completed my fourth Monday night of racing.  I got to do three races:

  1. Point-A-Lap (x6): this race you go around the track six times, the first person to finish each lap earns points.  I did terrible in the race. I followed someone sprinting off the front and tied/lost to them in the point lap and then couldn’t keep up the rest of the race.
  2. 3×2: this race you go around the track six times.  Every two laps is a chance to earn points.  The points are 4-deep (1st place = 5 points, 2nd place = 4 points, 3rd place = 3 points, 4th place = 2 points).  This was my best race of the night and I scored 7 points.

     http://images.soapbox.msn.com/flash/soapbox1_1.swf
    Video: Group Health Velodrome 3×2 Women’s Race

  3. 3×3: this is just like the 3×2 except points are every 3rd lap and you go around 9 times.  I was tired by this race and kept up with the pack but didn’t do well with points.

The best part is the I graduated and can now race on Wednesday nights.  On this night they actually have an announcer, music and an audience.  There are also Category 1 and 2 women road racers who can eat me for lunch who race that night.  So I expect that I will encounter a whole new set of challenges.  Time to get some sleep so I have half a chance at keeping up!

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Racing the Velodrome

Monday was my second night racing in the Velodrome.  I am completely loving this new cycling sport! There is so much strategy and excitement involved.  And there is definitely a different level of fitness required (which I still don’t fully have).  Most of all, I meet really cool people, all of whom are friendly.  In addition, the track is beautiful and well run.  It’s in Marymoor Park and has views of Mt. Rainier.

I brought our camera this time and Rob and I took videos of each other racing.

The video that Rob got of me shows me loosing a 3 x 3 race, with points 3-deep.  That means that there are 9 laps and every third lap is an opportunity for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd people to complete that lap to earn points.

http://images.soapbox.msn.com/flash/soapbox1_1.swf
Video: Group Health Velodrome 2007 | July 30

You can observe in this race that I am pulling too much and not drafting and conserving energy.  This really prevented me from keeping up on the "sprint laps" (the laps where you earn points).  Part of the strategy of the velodrome that I’m learning is how not to get caught on the inside (hence my outside lane position).  However, I have not quite learned how to stay in the outside lane and not lead too much.  There is a technique that I have watched (that I will try next time) where people ride up the banked turns and let everyone pass underneath them and then fall in the back.  This would have allowed me to get out of the front and creep in an opening in the outside lane to sit in someone’s draft and conserve energy. 

I had done two other races that night where I did much better.  I even earned a point in one of the races.  It is also worth making the caveat that, while I’m improving my recreational road riding, most of the women racing on the track with me are Category 3, 4, 5 road racers with more experience and fitness on the bike.  They are very fun to race with and very encouraging of me.  However, I have to set realistic expectations and be happy that I can even hang as close as I did in this race.

My plan on my road rides are to practice sprinting intervals to improve my fitness.  Perhaps this will also keep my average above 18!

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I broke 18!!

OK, so I guy that was drafting off me asked if I would partner with him, so I got to draft for about 20 minutes.  But I still broke 18!!!  18.2 to be precise.  I’m pretty excited about it and hope to break it on my own soon.

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Eating Bugs

Since my first ride averaging more than 17 mph, I have held that consistently for 3 subsequent rides.  I believe it’s fair to say that I’ve hit a new level of bike skill and fitness.  My best average so far is 17.8 mph.  I’m now wondering how long it might take before I’m over 18! 🙂

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One thing that might be helping is the number of bugs that I eat during the ride.  <wink>
Of all the benefits of being able to ride 22 miles of paved bike trail along the Sammamish river and around Lake Washington are the pools of tiny gnats that form along the trail. As hard as I try to breath like I’m swimming (head down and turn to the side for air), it’s inevitable that I will swallow probably 20 of those bugs during a single ride.  What’s more disgusting than feeling them hit the back of my throat is hearing them pelt like rain off of my vest.  It only re-emphasizes how big the swarm really is.  ICK!

This weekend I venture to more new biking territory and try out the Velodrome.
It’s an amazing facility in the beautiful and expansive Marymoor Park.  I’ve been there a few times now to watch friends race.  For $50 I get to rent a track bike and receive a lesson on the track for 5 hours. I’m most excited about learning the strategy of track riding and most afraid of having no breaks!  EEEK!

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Biking Fitness

Since moving to Seattle, I’ve discovered the bike trails here and have started biking home.  I try to do it twice a week.  My route is 22 miles and is on paved bike trail around Lake Washington.  It wasn’t until my 4th or 5th ride that I was motivated to track my progress.  I have now seen my first significant bump in my average speed and decrease in total ride time.  What’s most interesting to me is what sparked the jump.

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Specifically, there was a point in my ride (around the 17/18 mile mark) where I would just hit a wall/burn out.  During that time my average speed would decrease from the 16/17 mph range to the 15/16 mph range.  I tried eating and hydrating better before my ride and couldn’t keep my speed up. 

That changed on my ride on June 19th.  A couple of cyclists passed by me right around the time that I normally feel myself fading.  I was able to hold my speed and fill in behind them.  It was a challenging pace and one that I could keep up with.  I was able to keep my average up riding with them for the last 3 – 4 miles for an average of 16.7 mph.  Apparently just experiencing that pace allowed me to figure out how to do it on my own.  To my surprise, on my ride 1 week later I was able to pull myself at 17.4 mph.

Today is my first time riding since that bump up and I’m curious to see how I do.

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