Monday, May 28, 2007

Drive home from Somerville, NJ

After about rear ending a VW that about rear ended a truck towing Sea-Doos when he came to a complete stop on a major highway going 60+ mphs, I am damn glad I am alive. I think I lost 5 lbs. out of shock. That was the first time I had to slam on the brakes in my little Prius. The salesman said the brakes stop on a dime. He was right. I hope I never have to do that again. It was like we were pace-lining, too. Very dangerous. We were all very lucky.

I arrive home 1/2 hr later still shook up. Brad heard on the radio the next day about the spot I almost crashed (the exit for the Reading - triple crown race - going south, though). Earlier that day a police officer was setting up a speed trap and got hit. 222 southbound was shut down for 4 hrs after a 3 car pile up occurred after the officer was hit. I came up on the road closure around 7 p.m. where they detoured us off the exit ramp. The cones and a fire police guy were the only things in the road. The guy was standing in the left lane and we had all just moved from the right lane to get around some dufus (little did we know why we he was a dufus - he probably saw the cones) and that's when we went from 60 to zero in 5 seconds. Everything went silent. I poured sweat and my stomach sank. When there were no metal crushing, air bags bursting, I started to breath. My whole body went numb. Then I hope the traffic behind me would stop. The road closure was at a very dangerous spot on a crest bending to the left at an exiting ramp with an other ramp entering the highway. The fire police guy was lucky he didn't get hit, either. No flag, nothing. Just standing in the middle of a 65 mph highway behind small orange cones.

Note to self - drive slower and more focused, especially alone and when I am close to home. I tend to rehash the bike race in my head and the next thing I know, I'm going 80 and drafting a truck. On long drives, I get anxious about getting home and try to push the speed limit envelope.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Why I love bike riding

On my morning spin after racing my first NRC race of the season (BikeJam), I rode about an hour to work out the crap in my legs. I didn't last long when I came upon the cutest little cow-looking goat! Isn't he too cute? I stood and watched the goat and cow hang out together with the black goat. I think they are family (That's Lancaster County, dont ja know, wonst?!)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Wilbur Buds

Mmmmmmm. TWENTY pounds of milk and dark chocolate buds. 20 lbs! I think Wilbur is better chocolate than Hershey. Oh, if I could only keep this BIG box of chocolate. I felt like a little kid leaving the Candy Store with the box of chocolate. I had a smile so big while I was skipping to my car, I had cars honking at me!

I teach spinning Mondays and took the box in with me so they would not melt into one big bud and I thought I had started a riot at Tim's Fitness Center. Everyone got excited and were my next best friend. I was lucky to get out alive.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The race of truth

For the love of coffee, cosmic carbones, foo fighters and an awesome tailwind after the turnaround, I dropped 3 minutes and 45 seconds off my time from last month's April Fool's 40 km TT in Carlisle, PA. Plus, starting toward the end of the list helped as I had rabbits to pick off. This time I came prepared with a cooler full of frozen gel wraps and freezer blocks. The only thing I forgot was the ibuprofen.

I almost missed my "start time" as I had to line up at 8:05l no earlier than 8:05 but at least by 8:05. I did not have a specific time but a rider number. I am terrible warming up for a TT. Luckily I got 15 minutes on the rollers. I switched out my wheels, added the needed layers for the cool, wet roads. The time rolled by and it was 8:00 a.m. I am pretty sure it took me 5+ minutes to get to the start going slow last month. I haul arse to the start - perfect as I did not get my heart rate up on the rollers. I got to the start line at 8:05 by my watch. I hacked up a lung to find out that they were on number 21! Whew.

The 20K out was tough with the headwind. I had hoped to do 8 minute 5Ks. The first 5K rolled by at 9:06. The 2nd 5K - 9:08, the 3rd 5K - 9:00. Okay. I did not panic. I did not want to kill myself out so I told myself to use the tailwind on the way back. I thought that I could shoot for 7 minute 5Ks. I wasn't really serious because that seemed too fast. At the turnaround, I was 8:45. My hammies were freaking out so I got out of the saddle on a few rollers. The tailwind was awesome. At 25K, I pushed the heart rate button at 6:37 Alright! That boosted my confidence. My legs, neck and hammies were screamin' but Brad's carbones were humming so I kept on rolling working a quick leg speed. All the 5Ks on the "back" were all below 7 minutes! Shocking. Amazing what a little training can do in a month. I even rode 4 hrs the day before with two 25 minute hill climbs with a 25 year old Bad Andy (blue kit, yellow bike). I just hope I have the leg speed for the National Calendar Race series that begin for me this Memorial Day weekend with my team, Hub Racing.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Homemade Granola

The last three years I have been making my own granola and it has been a pre-race favorite of mine with yogurt. I am all about saving money and cutting back on the sugar in yogurt so I started buying those tubs of non-fat PLAIN yogurt. We bought Costco yogurts for the longest time but the sugar and calories were too high for me. That is when I decided to by the tubs of non-fat PLAIN yogurt. Pretty yucky and PLAIN. A little better with some jam. Rocks with granola. I am partial to the vanilla tubs of yogurt BUT check out the sugar content!

My granola recipe is from the Food Network - Maple Granola. I wing it as I make a huge batch that overflows one of those Costco nut containers.

Start with at these measurements and add more of this or that as you scoop.

1/4 cup vegetable oil like soy, peanut or corn (I use canola) A friend of mine follows a recipe that uses orange juice - and brown sugar and honey instead of my "liquids" - I haven't tried hers yet.
2/3 cup dark amber maple syrup (I use Brer Rabbit Molasses)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup of toasted wheat germ
1/4 cup of sesame seeds
1/4 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut (I don't like shredded coconut - I do not add)
3 1/2 cups of rolled oats
1/2 cup green pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/2 cup cashews, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped (I have added pecans, flax seeds, walnuts, ... As I add more nuts, the liquid has to increase, and sometimes the oats, too)

1 cup mixed dried fruit (currants, diced pears, apricots, cranberries, blueberries, dates, etc.)

Pre-heat oven to 225 degrees F. I have done higher but it tends to burn.

Combine the oil and syrup and heat, stirring over low heat. Remove from heat and add the vanilla.

In a LARGE bowl, toss together all the dry ingredients (oats, nuts, seeds, wheat germ) except the dried fruit. Add the syrup mixture and stir to coat evenly. If there's not enough liquid to "coat evenly", I have added honey or more Brer Rabbit. Spread the granola mixture out on a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown - about 1 1/2 hours. Stir mixture occasionally while baking so it toasts evenly. When done - stir in the dried fruits and let cool. Store in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for 2 weeks or freeze up to 2 months (unless your teammates raid your freezer and the container disappears!!)

Remember I said I was cutting back on the sugar and fat in my yogurt. Ha! At least the granola has good fat and flavorful sugars.

Swedish Pancakes

We have this local restaurant that makes these pancakes and they are nothing like the recipes I have found online. Swedish Pancakes seem to be more like a crepe. But the "Swedish Pancakes" I have had at Wish You Were Here are more like a pancake with oatmeal. Think, heavy and yummy. I think the heavy is the buttermilk. I have made these twice and I let the batter sit overnight. If the batter is too thick, I add water before I make the batch.

2 cups of rolled oats
1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
1/8 cup of sugar or honey
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups of buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten (I have used eggs whites for the "2 eggs")
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla

Make them like you would make pancakes. I cook up the batch and freeze them. Better than let go of my eggo! These may be my new pre-race staple if only I can make enough batches.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Tour de Ephrata - Stage 3 - Crit

As it as been for the last three years, I have been lucky to finish the crit. I am barely in shape as all the women are flying in April. Even though I faired very well in the road race and did not finish dead last in the uphill TT, I cracked for the crit.

For me, it was balls to the wall (if I had them), sling shot fast as I whipped around the back end of the pack again.

I made the classic mistake and did not double check the race details. The races all paid out 7 deep and I though the omnium did, too. So I thought I was the D**k spot for the GC - 8th. If I wanted to "move up" in the GC, I had to finish top 20 to get some points. As I am whipping around the 14 mile race, never moving up but for one lap and flushed back so fast I thought it was over. That was with 5 to go. I gave up. This was all about training and I was getting it. I hang on until the last lap and get popped into the last two turns. No biggie. I finished. Because I did not finish top 20, I did not get any points. But the GC went 10 deep. Hmm. Would I have fought harder knowing that I was still in the GC before the crit? Probably. So I ended up with the D**k spot with 11th overall. I still had a blast racing in my home county, hanging out on a Sunday afternoon with friends and family and avoiding the local fare of pumpkin whoopie pies and funnel cakes.

Enjoy the short video of the Pro 1/2 crit.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Tour de Ephrata - Stage 2 - Pain Mountain TT

The stage race is set up as an omnium based on points instead of time so I had to race on the rivets for the TT to get as many points as possible because I have cracked the last three years in the crit, never finishing in the money or GC. The 8 miles of point to point had 3 miles of flat to rolling twists, turns and headwinds with a right turn up into Pain Mountain's valley of rollers to the last mile and a half of engines shutting down suffering efforts.

I thought I went so slow after that right turn into the wind and rollers to the final climb that I had to be bottom third of the field. Can I turn off the brain? Can I flip the switches because the brain and nerves waves were not sending very nice messages. With 2 km to go, I thought for sure I was going to fall off my bike in my 39/25. I have trained on this hill in the past. Ridden up it many times. Wow. This experience was painfully unforgettable. I shocked my body into realization that I am out of shape. Oh yeah, I haven't done any interval training yet, let alone hill repeats. I forgot to mention that I was first off for the women; had that going for me (not!) I hear my 30 second rider with 1 km to go. Thankfully, I didn't get past but not my much. Luckily I was not bottom 3rd and I grabbed a few points with my 17th place finish of mind numbing racing and this picture says it all. Loose some of the pudginess and I will race up pain mountain a little faster. It will still be just as painful but hopefully I will be faster. Like the retro 1980s helmet? It really makes doing TTs much more fun.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Tour de Ephrata - Stage 1 - Caffeine, Patience and Luck

Sorry for the delay. Work and early morning training has cut into the blogging. Three stages in two days in beautiful Lancaster, County, PA where the weather was perfect for staying home to garden (4/28 & 29)

I pre-registered to whip myself into shape. Brad left early as his race started at 9 a.m. This year, the first wave of races had the opportunity of racing right by Floyd Landis's home in Farmersville.

Brad woke my arse early so I could move my car out of the driveway. Oh, he couldn't do that himself?! So I putzed around the house as my start was noon. I decided to ride to the course because I am a social butterfly chatting up with my racing buddies I haven't seen in a year and my warm-up somehow goes out the window. Gardening the front yard, I start to talk myself out of racing. I go through this head game every season. This year seems a little rougher, though. I'm taking my indoor plants outside for the season, I do some laundry, clean up the kitchen, bag some weeds, ... too much time on my hands before I needed to leave.

I eat a stage race breakfast. Swedish Pancakes, two eggs, juice and coffee. You would think I was racing 60+ miles. Ha! Only 30. But 30 would be enough after I ride at least 15 miles to the race.

Luckily, I find companions to ride with me to the race so I don't blow it off. Ernie and Glenn Lapp may have been unlucky to have my company because I yammered all the way, working myself into a basket of nerves like this was my first bike race ever. I even questioned what was in the coffee. Usually, we drink half caff, but I found out after the race it was full test.

We get to the road race course and I ride up the new part of the race to see the guys climb. I hang out with Floyd's sister, Priscilla and her boyfriend, Manuel - who also races. Again, talking non-stop. Fast forward to my race. I am a little behind on the race report so let's see if I can wrap it up.

Awesome field of 55+ women lined up for an open women's 30 mile (5 laps) road race on country roads that barely accommodate two car lanes. Yellow line rule in affect. I hate the fight to get to the front anymore so I started in the back and closed gaps for 2 1/2 laps. The pack hollered "SLOWING", "BREAKING" for 5 laps. The wind was pretty strong so I know from experience that the riders in the front were working their tails off. Why ride through the rider in front of you? Some of these women need to go to a training camp to learn about the ebb and flow of a road race. I tried moving up because I am getting too old to fall down but the pack "flushed" me to the back. (a new term I learned after 15 yrs of racing! I had fun with it as I got flushed a lot) Oh well, so I enjoyed the scenery and waved to Floyd's parents for three of the laps.

With two laps to go, we dropped enough riders that I eventually moved up the left side of the pack after the covered bridge. The wind was coming from the left and there was a clear path to the front. Woohoo! I had to laugh when someone yelled; "up, up, up", because I was not moving too fast as it took me a while to get to the front. I say hello to some of my buddies and get my nose out of the wind. I needed to take advantage of my position of fourth wheel. I hold the position for at least 2 miles and we rolled through the start/finish for the bell lap. The second turn is off camber and the front riders punched it up a notch. Okay, my legs were turning but I think the engine cut out, flushed to the back in an instant. I resigned myself to the chaos of a downgrade sprint finish. My heart was pounding out of my jersey as we slowed up for the last mile as 40 women jockeyed for position.

When I registered at the last minute for this race, I eyed up the roster. I marked a rider and she happened to be in the back with me with one to go. I reminded myself before the start of the race that this race was going to be about patience. I thought about how in the world were we going to get from the back of the pack to the front. Patience. I knew we had the whole road with 1 km to go. The moto reminded us we had the whole road with 1 km to go. My heart sank as we crawled to the 1 km marker with the tension high. The 1 km was a slight grade up and a slight grade down. Wind coming from the right. I am all choked up with sweaty palms trying to recall this finish. The rock star was Lauren Shirock. I stuck to her wheel like Gorilla glue. She rolled up the far left side of the road. Far left side on the edge, treading the gravel. I shut the brain down. I sucked wheel. It was beautiful. We rolled to the front, somehow came to the center of the road, I hear metal bending from the right side of the road, see Susan Hefler trying to catch us on the right, Lauren's gears click into her hardest cog and she rips my legs off. (Later I learn her gears are JR gears of 54/14!! And she was sick, too. Did I say rock star?! ) My brain turns on and all the pain and suffering kicked in. I buried myself, with patience and trust in Lauren's talent. I started to come unglued at the 200 meter sign. I swear she started to get a gap on me. Out of the corner of my eye, Heidi Woolever came around me on the left. I tried to go around Lauren on the right. There really was no going around but I just did not know who else might come around. The phenom gets me third! I was elated. So elated that as an afterthought, I geekishly threw my arms up for 3rd! Of course, I am so high from adrenaline that I forgot that I threw my arms up until later that night - so no wonder I was so confused why some women in the race had congratulated me - I was thinking - for my 3rd place finish! We rolled around the first turn and I thanked Lauren profusely for getting me third. Yammering a mile a minute, pouring her accolades. Poor girl, I think I scared her. :-) Caffeine, Patience and Luck.