Sunday, November 24, 2013

Clydesdale Category, part 4, final

Test Of Endurance

I'd already locked up the series championship, so I had the luxury of choosing between the standard TOE (50 miles) and the extended TOE (100K).  Only the shorter race counted toward the series - it was two laps around the course, and the extended course added a jaunt up to the top of Mary's Peak.  I'd never ridden on the trails up there, so I figured I'd do that.

Race day came and I headed out.  I had gotten a free entry from a guy on Facebook who'd won it in a raffle and wasn't going to use it (yay).  It looks like I didn't warm up much, which was kind of my game plan as it was going to be my longest MTB ride ever - 62 miles.  I vaguely remember getting a few minutes of spinning in - and I was pedaling in circles as Ripley talked us through the race.

Ripley drove us out for a mass start, and I steadily made my way toward the front.  At one point I was in a group that was falling behind the leader group and I realized it was just silly of me to sit back here resting when w/out too much effort I could be in the lead group.  So up I went.

I rode next to Trevor Norland for a little bit - he seemed impressed.  I asked his heart rate, and he was cruising around 130 - I didn't let on that I was north of 150.  I remember thinking that I was probably pushing a little too hard for the beginning of what was to be a long day, but I was a little stoked to be with the lead group.

About 5 miles in, the grade got quite a bit steeper and the lead group got away from me.  I stuck with Trevor for a couple of minutes, but he too slipped away.  I dialed the pace back a bit and settled in for the long climb.  At some point, Melissa Norland caught up with me, and we rode together for a few minutes until we hit the first aid station.  She pointed out the only other Clyde - he was just ahead, but I let myself get psyched out (he regularly races in the 100 mile races) and I figured I'd just let him ride away.  At the aid station, Mel downed some fluid and took off - that was the last I saw of her.  I ate a bit, rested for two minutes and took off.  On to the trail up Mary's Peak.

I didn't realize the course we were doing would take us past where Mary, Simone and I go mushroom hunting, but it did.  The race course traversed across to the Woods Creek gate, and then up the North Ridge trail.  I guess folks generally come down this trail, but we were going up it because Mike figured people were less likely to crash going up and perhaps he'd save himself the hassle of coming to rescue someone.

The trail going up is pretty rooty.  The conditions were great, sunny but cool, the roots were dry and the trail smooth (aside from the roots).  At first I tried getting up all the roots, but as the trail got steeper, and the roots larger, I started walking some.  The pucker factor (aka fcsk-up factor) was pretty high at points due to the steep fall if you went over the side of the trail, so I was OK with walking some of them.  But, the entire time I rode up I marveled at the beauty of that trail.  I've really only hiked up it in the rain and/or snow - this was the first time I'd been on it when it is at its prime.

I was pushing pretty hard going up, and right about the mid-point of the climb (just over 2 hours into the entire race) I started to blow up.  I realized this and pulled over (as much as you can on a trail that's 18 inches wide) and stopped to eat some corn nuts and drink some water.  I stood there for a few minutes, letting my heart rate come down.  A number of people passed me, and while I felt a little disappointed about that, I knew it was the right thing to do.  There was no point in wrecking myself when I hadn't even gone 1/3 of the race.  After 3 minutes and half a bag of corn nuts (there is just something wonderful about salty and crunchy when racing) I hopped back on the bike and resumed the climb.  Looking at my heart rate data, I didn't really ride much easier, but I did feel tons better.

I kept an eye on the roots, and another eye on the odometer, and I pushed my way up to the top.  At the top I sat down and took 6 minutes off the bike just to rest and relax.  I was in no real rush.  Justin was at the top helping folks out.  I saw the 14 year old make his way past me and realized - I've got to beat him.  So, after a couple more minutes sitting down, I hopped back on and began the descent.

The trail down was fun and fast.  Luckily, I didn't run into but two or three groups of hikers, and I cleanly rode all but the one corner that was well advertised as being full of loose, slippery rock.  The down was over super fast, and then the course followed a road back to the Woods Creek gate - rather disappointing to lose all that elevation on a gravel road.  Luckily, right at the gate the race course dropped into a two mile stretch of singletrack - which helped ease the loss of elevation.

A quick ride back on the road and we were back at the aid station to continue on the standard TOE course.

The rest of the ride was a blur.  I remember stopping and resting at each aid station in an effort to ensure I had all my facilities available for the descents.  I remember riding Dinner and a Movie and cleaning the "Danger" section both times (it was scary as all get out the year prior).  I remember enjoying the Side Trail as much as ever (my favorite section of trail in that forest) - and getting passed by a gal on a single speed on it.  I don't know where she had been before passing me, but she was flying when I saw her (so why was she behind me to begin with?).

At some point I did pass the 14 year old kid.  He's a part of the family from Washington who did all the OBRA XC races last year.  I remember seeing his sisters (they ride in long skirts - very noticeable) dominate the podium, and it turns out he's no slouch himself.

I ended up finishing the race after 7.5 hours of riding, 8:12 total time - yes, that's a lot, and nearly 11,000' of elevation gain.  The other Clyde was a mere 12 minutes ahead of me (I rested 45 minutes total) - I could have made up that time had I wanted, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

I could see doing that race again, even with it being as long as it is.  The trails are pretty darned fun, and Mike always runs a well-stocked and well-marked race.

That was it for the XC series, I'd locked the series up with my Pickett's Charge race, and this was just gravy.  Actually, it was more for training, as the next race on my calendar was but 2 weeks away, and would be guaranteed to be longer and harder - the High Cascades 100 miler...

Clydesdale Category, part 3

Pickett's Charge

I love this course.  It's just so different than what we have in the Willamette Valley - lots of bermed corners, open pine forest, mini rock gardens, and the start is so well done that there's never been any confusion.

I headed over to Bend to camp out the night before the race with Jason Saunders since the course is so far away.  We got over there a few hours before sundown and pre-rode the course.  It was a beautiful evening and we did the full lap.  This year's course added a couple of miles of dirt road in the beginning - I think to let the groups stretch out a bit more before diving into the singletrack.  Nice idea in principle, but it did mean sacrificing about 3 miles of singletrack.

We had a lovely ride around the course, chatting away.  Jason seemed adamant about picking paths through the couple of challenging rock gardens, and he made several attempts at each of them.  I was content to watch the sun cast shadows through the forest.  We started a second lap, the part that was now skipped on the first lap b/c of the extra road mileage, and after about 15 minutes on that, we turned back for dinner.  It couldn't have been more idyllic - the sun low in the sky, just a few gray clouds.  Two hours of riding and no drive home to deal with.

We ate dinner and chatted until it got too cold.  We said goodnight and went off to bed.

I slept in the back of the Subaru - I was too lazy to set up a tent, and the forecast was for a little rain, so I wasn't about to sleep under the stars.  That turned out to be a good call as it rained off and on all night.  The bright side of that was that the rain would keep the dust down on the trails.

We ate breakfast, registered, did a nice warm-up ride - nearly 40 minutes.  I then got a little cold, waiting for the race to start.  Things were delayed a little bit by some guy deciding to drive his pickup truck through the racers.  Everyone thought this was rude, but it turns out, he was going to pick up Bryan Ross (see previous race) who had crashed and suffered a concussion during his warm-up.  Luckily, he seemed to turn out OK, but he didn't race that day.

It had been sprinkling on and off all morning, and the start of the race was no different.  The Clydesdales and the Cat 2 Men 50-59 and 60+ all started together, so it was a bit challenging to see who I'd be racing against.  We took off and began the nearly 4 miles of dirt road riding.  I didn't start quite as fast as I should have and had to spend a few minutes of energy catching up to the lead group - you'd think I'd learn.  We cruised pretty fast in a pace-line, eventually catching up to a few of the stragglers of the Cat2 40-49 (Jason was one of the first, he hadn't been riding much this year).  The pace-line spread out a bit, and I worked to stay with the top 4 or 5 guys, letting the others spread out behind us.  This meant I was in good position - the first Clydesdale.

Since I had pre-ridden the course, I knew the turn off of the road onto the single track was a crazy sharp left turn (think 120 degrees), and as we flew up to it the first few guys totally missed it.  I was beginning my turn when a guy came up on my inside and I fell.  I scraped my knee just a little bit, but was OK other than that.  But, that did mean I lost some precious time there as a bunch of people passed me while I was dusting myself off.  I didn't lose but a minute or so, but even Jason caught up and passed me.

I spent the next 5-10 minutes just getting my composure back.  I think things like a little crash, or having to get off and walk the bike, really throw me off.  I'd been pushing pretty hard, but I think the transition to singletrack would have been ok, but after the crash, it really felt challenging to get back up to speed.  I was definitely having to work to breathe - granted, we were at 5200' elevation, but still.

It turns out, a Clydesdale passed me at that point.   grrr....  He finished 4 minutes in front of me.  Jason finished 20 minutes behind me, happy to be done.

The race was fun, as usual.  The overall topography is all downhill the first half, then all uphill to the finish.  I pushed pretty hard on the first lap, and kind of settled into a nice rhythm in the second.  In general, I tried not to let people pass me, and there were but a few - generally much smaller - guys who did.  Right at the beginning of the second lap I was riding with a couple other guys - they were stuck behind me (they didn't ask, so I didn't pull over).  One of them was the Cat 2 50-59 series winner.  He figured he was third in this race and I told him we could try to catch the other guys, but he wasn't too worried, so we just chatted and rode.  We eventually dropped the other two that were with us and it was just the two of us.  I'd like to say I beat him, but I've a feeling he dropped me at some point.

I rolled across the finish line after a final burst of speed (just to make sure no last minute passes happened), and that's when I found out I was second.  Bummer, but it was by 4 minutes, which is a lot to make up.  I chatted with third place after the race, he was almost two minutes behind me.  He said he kept on seeing me, but just couldn't catch up - go me.

I stayed for the awards ceremony, and of course the Clydesdales were the 2nd to last to get awards, by which time it had begun to pour and most everyone had left.

Jason and I packed up and drove home.

Clydesdale Category, part 2

Alsea Falls

For some reason, this race was pegged as the XC championships, which basically means it's a regular race, except that the winner of each category/age-group gets to claim to be the "state champion."

I like Alsea Falls, it's got a nice, paved road up to the top, and then a mixture of logging roads and pretty nice singletrack coming down.  None of it is very technical, it's all pretty shaded, and it's close to home.  I volunteered to help set up to get the race entry fee waived (thanks Mike!).  And, until about 10 minutes before the race, I was the only Clydesdale registered.

I didn't get much time to warm up - I changed into my gear and then switched places with Todd - who was directing folks driving in.  Todd hadn't even registered at that point.  I got about 10 minutes to spin my legs before the race, which wasn't very good, but since I was the only Clyde... no big deal.

Of course, as I rolled up to the start, Ripley is on the microphone and entertaining people as the different flights take off.  He points me out, along with one other Clyde - Bryan Ross.

That name won't mean much to you, but I recognized him.  At the end of the Cascade Chainbreaker I remember chatting with him briefly, well, it was more like I butted into a conversation I overheard.  He talked about winning his category, and I noticed he was kind of a big guy, and a little older than me.  Not real tall, maybe 5'7", but pretty barrel-chested.  You could tell he wasn't a fat guy, just large.  I was confused, because I remembered seeing my name atop the Clydesdale category, so I made a mental note of his race number and looked him up when I got home.  He had won the Cat 2 Men 40-49 group, and gotten 1st, 2nd, and 4th in the other races (same category) - obviously a fast dude.

Well, his team had convinced him he should race Alsea Falls as a Clyde - for team points.

Not only was I racing against a ringer, who was older than me, he also had his grandchildren at the race to watch him.

He was a legitimate Clydesdale, tipping the scales at 220#.  Evidently, he had weighed 305# at one point, dropped down to 180#, didn't like how he felt, and he was back up to 220# and happy there.

The starter gun/beep went off and we took off, along with a young group (15 year olds).

Bryan left me in the dust going up the hill - and I figured the hill would be my strength.  As it was, I had to work pretty hard to stay even with the 15yo's - some of which passed me.  By the end of the climb, I'd caught all the 15yo's and saved a little face.  I was reassured myself that they were faster going up because they weighed but half of what I weighed... still.

I didn't see Bryan again, but I heard he had a pretty hard crash.  You can judge for yourself - his crash is on YouTube right here.  He cracked a few ribs, brushed himself off, and finished the race 7 minutes ahead of me.  The man is a machine.

I don't remember a lot of details about the race.  There were the big water ditches (that Bryan crashed on), and at one point a guy in green asked if he could get by - and I've never seen anyone disappear that fast.  He flew past me at nearly double speed.  If only I could acquire some of those skills...

I remember catching a few of the other Team Dirt guys who had started a couple rows ahead of me, so I felt good about that.

I look forward to more races there.  Team Dirt and the BLM are working together to put in nearly 20 miles of trails in the next few years (2 miles of MTB specific trail have already been put in since this race).  It should be an awesome place to bike. 

Clydesdale Category, part 1

I finished the XC series, racing at Sister's Stampede, Alsea Fall's, Pickett's Charge, and The Test Of Endurance.  Wow... so much to catch up on.

First, spoiler alert.  I won the XC series for Clydesdale.

Now, on to the races.

Sister's Stampede

First, the Sister's Stampede.  As usual, it was over the same weekend as Simone's birthday.  She and Simone gratefully helped me get to the race.  It was HUGE - the promoters had to turn away around 150 people, but I had pre-registered and got in no problem (though I did miss out on the complementary socks).

I warmed up for a nice, solid, 30 minutes, weaving my way through the beginners as they started 30 minutes before the rest of the riders.  I lined up with some 20 other Clydesdales, which was pretty amazing.  I'd never raced with such a large group before - it was pretty exciting.

So, the gun went off, and the pros took off, then the Cat 1 guys, then the women, ... and various other groups until us big guys lined up.  They said, "go" and we went.  I was about a third of the way back in the pack and figured I should head up to the front.  I worked hard and by about a mile and a half I was with two other guys in the front.  I wasn't quite topped out, but pretty close.  We had put a little distance between ourselves and the rest of the pack, so I felt content to hang with them knowing we were the top 3.

At about mile 3, we started catching up to the stragglers from the wave in front of us (Cat 2 old guys), passing them pretty easily.  There's a straight away road section at 3.5, and we settled into a pace line, passing guys right and left.  The guy in front took off, and I was in third and didn't immediately jump after him - I guess I was waiting for number two to do so, dumb of me.  I didn't have much left anyway, so I don't know if I could have kept up with him, but I still felt like a dork missing my chance to stay with him.  After about a minute I decided I shouldn't let the guy get too much of a lead, so I took off, and number two fell in line behind me.  We were passing people quickly, but then number two (now number three) passed one guy too closely and clipped the guy's front wheel - instantly taking him out.  I looked back to see if the guy was OK - he was swearing enough to confirm he was pissed and not hurt.  I didn't (still don't) know the etiquette of what to do when that happens, but it wasn't me that caused the crash so I kept on keeping on.

I put a little distance between me and number two as the road continued to climb.  At one point I thought I might be passing number one (it was a guy with crazy hair), but it turns out I was mistaken and number one was long gone.  Number two eventually caught up with me - I couldn't put too much distance between us, because he caught me when we got slowed down by a group of Cat 2 guys.

So, we chatted a little, as we waited for opportunities to pass the choke points - we agreed to work together to catch number one.  There was a lot of singletrack with small rock gardens sprinkled around.  Every time we got to a rock garden things would back up quite a bit.  It's like an accordion - the first guy slows down a little bit because of the rocks, the person behind him slows down even more, eventually someone is forced to come to a stop and then it's all over, everyone gets pissed off and folks start yelling.

At one point, when the yelling got real loud I snapped and went around the rock garden, with number two right behind me.  It worked out - I was able to find a clear path around the rocks and made it through before the first guy left the garden.  And we were off!

Number two and I chatted a bit, and then the trail started heading downhill.  I tried to go real fast, but number two wasn't going anywhere.  He asked if I minded letting him in front, and as he went by he said, "just hang onto my rear wheel!" - and then he disappeared.

Seriously, I don't know how to descend well enough - especially in the Bend/Sister's terrain.  There was little to no chance of me keeping up with him.  I caught up with him and passed him on the next climb, but he was in front again as soon as we turned down.  The climbing was over for the most part by mile 14, and that's pretty much the last time I saw number two.  oh well.

The rest of the race was fairly uneventful (plus it's been 6 months, so I don't recall much).  I felt good, the descents felt better than they did the year prior.  I rode most everything cleanly, passing fewer and fewer people as the day went on, and only two or maybe three guys passed me - all pretty small - so no worries about losing positions.

Long story short, I rode pretty hard.  I left a little in reserve as I approached the end of the forest.  I didn't want any Clyde passing me in the last 100 feet like the year before.  I punched it pretty hard on the last little bit.  I rode into the finish area, feeling confident about my position.

Turns out I got fourth.  No idea where the first place Clydesdale came from, somehow he came in front of the two guys I was racing with.  None of us recalled a Clyde passing us.  We all lodged complaints (independently), but no change was made.  I didn't really care - the difference between 3rd and 4th for me wasn't important (1st and 2nd - that's a different matter).  The guy's story is that he actually started behind us with the Cat 2 women - only thing is, there are no pictures of the guy on the photo pages.

It was my second time racing that race, and I improved by four minutes and 6 places - boo-yah!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Downtown Fountain

At some point this summer, Simone and I had a trip down to the fountain.  She played and played, had a grand time.  We chased each other on the grass to dry off, and then finished up with fries and a rootbeer.

Simone is so zen

Caped crusader

A pink burrito underfoot

Finishing with fries and a rootbeer

Monday, November 11, 2013

Artsy Beach Photos

We've gone to the beach twice in the past three months, and while there I did take a few artsy photos.
Seaweed in Newport

Seaweed in Newport

Gearhart Ripples

Sand Worm?  Gearhart

Signs of Bigfoot in Gearhart

Classic "fairy" mushroom, Gearhart

The trips themselves were fun, but I thought I'd have a post just for pretty pictures.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Meow Meow Cat Deluxe

Simone made a third coloring page to finish the set.

Meow Meow Cat Deluxe by Simone

She's made books in the past, books for reading, books to teach you how to draw... perhaps she'll make a coloring book in the future.

Witch Cat

Simone has come up with a second coloring page for folks to use and play with  We've already colored the first one.  She promptly cut out the cats and we played with them.  And those are a bunch of brooms for the cat to ride on.


Witch Cat by Simone

Cat Deluxe

Simone enjoys drawing pictures, and coloring in coloring pages we find on the internet.  So, this morning Simone decided she wanted to contribute back to the world.  She drew this picture and wanted it to be available for all the kids to find and download to color themselves.

I hope people find it.

Cat Deluxe coloring page
And, if anyone does download it and color it in, Simone would probably be tickled pink if we got to see the colored version.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Wait.... what? Yup, We Got A Dog!

Her name is Ruby.

She is a Labradoodle, a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle.  Mary did a bunch of research to figure out what kind of dog should be the best fit for our family.  Long story short, Labradoodle is it.

Happy with her new puppy.
We picked her up the first weekend of August, at the ripe young age of 9 weeks.  She was somewhat potty trained and had been socialized to some extent.  We were excited to see how a puppy would get along with Simone and Jupiter.

What's this camera thing?
We began puppy play classes pretty quickly to socialize her with other puppies, and started with the joy of potty training.

Simone loves her puppy.
Simone loves Ruby and they get along well.  We're not sure if Ruby thinks Simone is more alpha than herself, or if they're siblings.  Time will tell.

You have a treat for me?
Ruby potty trained pretty quickly, she began sleeping through the night in just a few weeks (yay!), with really no accidents after two months (ignoring the two pees at the beach house this past weekend).  We've been doing daily walks, playing with a flirt stick, and lots of training.
The first week or so of sleeping in the crate was a little brutal - she would whine for 10-30 minutes, and finally settle down.  But we've been fortunate as she is a quick learner and has adjusted real well.
As she is a Labradoodle - she doesn't shed, so we need to trim.  You can see in the picture above, her eyes are kind of obscured by fur... so we trimmed it the other night.

I have Wallace & Gromit eyes, don't I?
The trim looks fine - we think she can see a lot better now as she's picked up an annoying habit of barking.  She must not have been able to see anything before, and now, gee, there's a whole world out there to bark at.  Or, it could be that she's right in the middle of her (equivalent) teen years.

First Grade

This is the year of first grade.  Yup, Simone began the school year with Mr. Highfield - who will be her teacher through 8th grade if all goes according to plan.  She and 16 other kids are all getting to know each other real well.
Yay, first grade!!!
It's been a little bit of an adjustment, she gets to sit at a desk, which is both exciting and challenging.  She's currently in the "gold" row, and every month she gets a new desk partner.

So far they've gone through a unit of reading/writing and a unit of math, and while she loves reading, she had some resistance to math initially.  It seems as though Mr. Highfield was able to get through that resistance and she had a good time.
Also, she learned to finger crochet, and then made some knitting needles and is now knitting like a mad woman - I think she's knit more than Mary has in the past week.  She's made a scarf for her stuffed animals, a small kitten and a momma cat.  I'm sure she'll soon learn the purl stitch soon.

Snow queen outfit
We had the Halloween celebration just last week, and tomorrow night we have the lantern walk with the 2nd and 3rd grade classes.

Gwinna costume - made by Mary