Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ice cream or bicycles?

I have stolen this survey from Chad's blog. Just the survey, not the answers. Then again, I'm assuming it's a survey and not Chad talking to himself.

If you could have any one — and only one — bike in the world, what would it be? A Seven cyclocross bike with disc brakes. Ohhhh sweet nectar...

Do you already have that coveted dream bike? If so, is it everything you hoped it would be? If not, are you working toward getting it? If you’re not working toward getting it, why not? No, I don't already have it. If I did, then it wouldn't be a dream. And without our dreams, we die.

If you had to choose one — and only one — bike route to do every day for the rest of your life, what would it be, and why? Well, the road is out, as I really don't like riding the road. I never do a road ride and think "Oh, this is fun!" So for mountain bike rides, I'll pick Sedona. Oh red rocky goodness. And Sedona has a ton of vegetarian restaurants.

What kind of sick person would force another person to ride one and only one bike ride for the rest of her / his life? Have you met my friends?

Do you ride both road and mountain bikes? If both, which do you prefer and why? If only one or the other, why are you so narrowminded? Actually, I don't own a road bike. I have a tri bike, a cyclocross bike currently outfitted as a commuter with slicks, and 3 mountain bikes ranging in suspension. That pretty much takes care of everything. I prefer the mountain bikes because trails are more fun. Staring at a white line is not fun.

Have you ever ridden a recumbent? If so, why? If not, describe the circumstances under which you would ride a recumbent. No, never ridden one. If someone gave me one for free, I'd ride it.

Have you ever raced a triathlon? If so, have you also ever tried strangling yourself with dental floss? It depends on your definition of "raced." Have I paid money to slog through a swim, bike, and run course? Yep. And I've finished in front of others while an oversized clock was running, so I guess that counts. I have not tried the dental floss thing, but might in my next "race," depending on how bad I feel out there.

Suppose you were forced to either give up ice cream or bicycles for the rest of your life. Which would you give up, and why? Bicycles, but let me explain. Ice cream is no good unless it has chocolate. Change "ice cream" to "chocolate" and the bikes would go (hey, there's always motorcycles). Change "bicycles" to "running" and ice cream it is!

What is a question you think this questionnaire should have asked, but has not? Also, answer it. You know that guy that ate an entire car over several years? What part of your bike would you eat and why?

Give me a metal file and a spoke and I think I could handle it.

You’re riding your bike in the wilderness (if you’re a roadie, you’re on a road, but otherwise the surroundings are quite wilderness-like) and you see a bear. The bear sees you. What do you do?
A mountain bike in the wilderness? Uh....wasn't me...

How sad...the summer aquathlon series is over

Last night was the championship night of the summer aquathlon series. I was looking forward to a fun race of searching for tennis balls in the bushes, or twistie ties on the fences. Not so. We did the same 800 yd swim and 5K run, but were assigned a partner, and our times would be added together. My partner was a spry young fellow in the 15-19 age group. I tried to go fast, but just didn't have it in my legs. And, hello! I'm supposed to be tapering for Snow Valley. So no grand prize for our team.

Last week was my best race of the season. I finished the swim in 13:23 (1:40 per 100 avg), and did the 5K in 26:53 (8:40 min/mi avg) for a total time (with transition) of 40:48. I shall try to beat this time next season. Gotta work on that running thing. I finished 4th overall in my age group of W30-34, so I was just out of the money. But given where I started, I'm pretty happy with this season and my improvement. Plus, I did the entire series in a bikini. That in itself is an accomplishment.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Squeeze the Lemmon and get cookies

We made it! The climbfest is over. This Saturday, Zac, Tammy, Johnny, and I all climbed to the top of Mt. Lemmon. We graduated and concluded the Lemmon Squeezy summer rides. It took me 3 hrs 13 min to climb the 25 miles to the top. 5500 ft of leg-busting climbing, and I only took 1 rest break at mile 11 to wipe the salt from my face.

I'm glad this is over. Now I can get my Saturdays back. I learned that for climbing, one really needs to just go to Palisades. You climb a little after that, but then descend to Summerhaven. Meaning, you have to climb back OUT of Summerhaven after you have gorged on cookies, pizza and pie.

The mountain to climb:
Who says tri bikes don't have luggage space? This is how I carried my jacket:
Bikes at the top:
Me and Johnny at the Cookie Cabin:
Me and my cookie, with a Coke for size reference:
Zac opted for the pizza:
Heading down the descent as the rain clouds rolled in:

8000 ft elevation sign:

The back side of Thimble Peak:

The storm clouds we rolled through on the way down:

Friday, July 18, 2008

More Lemmony goodness

Last Saturday (yes, I know this blog post is late) we met up again for ride #3 of the Lemmon Squeezy ride. Today's destination was Rose Canyon at Mile 17. Now, I don't know who keeps saying "up to Molino is the worst part," but whoever it is is on crack. Because Mile 15 (actually 14.5 - 15.5 but we'll round to 15) is where you actually climb the entire mountain. Everything before that might as well be classified as a "hill." I had been tooling along at 8.5 mph. Then past Windy Point at around mile 14.5 the fun started. I the road pitched upward, I looked down and saw 5.5 mph and tried to keep moving forward. Because if you stop, you may roll down the mountain backwards. Adding even more joy to this part of a ride was a freshly dead skunk in the other lane. So I'm sweating to death, trying to stay on the road against the force of gravity trying to pull me down the mountain, and now I can't breathe due to the stench of dead skunk. Oh, and the sight of a buzzard feasting on innards was a bonus.

Zac was ahead of me at this point, but the road was so curvy I could see him disappearing around every corner. It felt like I was in a Dali painting. Finally the road leveled out around mile 16-ish and went back to rollers. I rolled up to the Mile 17 sign and proclaimed "I'm not going any further." Goal met for the day...extra credit means nothing.

The 7000 ft sign. Why is this significant? Because just 16 miles ago we were at 2800 ft!

Photographic proof I was there. You don't realize how large those signs are until you get up right next to them (meaning no, I'm not an elf).

Zac (dork).

Johnny had plenty of time to rest while waiting for me. That's a SINGLE SPEED MOUNTAIN bike he's riding. So he's less aerodynamic, has more rolling resistance, bike weighs more, and he has one gear. And he still goes over 10mph up the mountain. He's the man I hope to be one day.

On Sunday I headed back up the mountain (in the comfort of my Jeep this time) to run Bear Wallow Rd. Yep, my weekly torture-at-elevation workout. This had better pay of at Snow Valley. It was quite humid and cloudy, as a storm was rolling in. About half the time I had to take my glasses off as they were fogging.

I got back to my Jeep just in time to hear thunder overhead. Ok, time to go! I hit fog at Mile 21, then torrential rain at Rose Canyon all the way down to Windy Pt. Lots of passenger cars were pulled off on the side of the road in the rain, but I figured the more one waits the more water there will be down the mountain. Besides, I was in my trusty Jeep. Ha! Take that passenger cars! Gas prices be damned.

View of the storm from Windy Point.

LOTS of water on the roads from the drainage, which turned all of the valleys into huge waterfalls. I felt bad for the cyclists that were at the higher elevations that would have to ride through this on their way down.

The day before, this was a peaceful-looking roadside waterfall. Now it was the waterfall-o-death, just waiting to take a passenger car away.

So the schedule worked out well. Saturday was a good day to ride, and Sunday was a good day to run.

Friday, July 11, 2008

"Rough" water swim...eeek!

I can't believe I'm contemplating this. But in order to reach my big, hairy goal in the sky in a few years (the type of goal that makes your palms sweat just thinking about it), I'll need to learn to swim in the ocean. Which I'm not too keen on. All of the tris I've chosen have had lake and river swims. No ocean. It's not the sharks that I'm worried about. It's how I'll react to the waves. Heck, I take Dramamine for every OW swim I do. I can feel waves on Tempe Town Lake. So how the heck am I to survive swells of several feet? Everyone talks about loving clear water. I hate it. AZ lakes are great because they are cloudy and you can't see anything. The less visual input my brain has of where it's at in the water, the better. If I can see the bottom, that's a bad thing. Then I can see how I'm moving in all directions in the water and it's too much and then the bad nausea sets in. So if I see the bottom, I shut my eyes for the part of my stroke where my face is in the water. It kinda messes up the sighting though.

I've been looking at the La Jolla Rough Water swim. There's a video here. As a member of US Master's swimming, I can be in the women's masters wave. I would definitely be doing the 1 mile swim. If they allowed adults to do the 250 yard kiddie swim, I would do that instead. All I want to do is survive the swim and see if I can swim in the ocean. Funny, this race is the one I'm most nervous about. Ironman was cake compared to this! Oh, and NO WETSUITS are allowed in the 60-some degree water. Wonderful.

Creative commuting

Well, if I decide to do the SOMA half ironman, the training plan started this week. I'm following the plan (figuring the volume will help with getting to the Tahoe XTERRA) but I'm not sure about the race. Then again, I've had 2 months off of "structured" training, so after a few weeks of training I may feel different and sign up for SOMA.

My bike commute into work is 25 miles one-way (route below). I try to do this commute 2x per week when we work on Fridays, and 1x on the off-Friday weeks. But that gives me 50 miles a day if I bike to and from work in the same day. With the half iron training plan, I need to start running more. So this week I got creative. On Tuesday I brought 2 pairs of work clothes, 1 pair of running gear, and 2 lunches, and stored them in my locker at the gym that's on our plantsite. On Wednesday I rode my bike into work in the morning. In the afternoon I changed into my running clothes and got on the bus. The bus took me to Speedway and Harrison, which is the closest it comes to my house. My bike stayed at work overnight while I ran home, a total of 5 miles. The next morning I got up and ran to the bus stop in my running gear, rode the bus to work, and then rode my bike home. So this gave me 25 miles of biking and 5 miles of running each day. The only rough part was getting up at 4AM on Wed and Thurs to get to the bus on time. Oh, and this saved 100 miles off my Jeep, which is always nice with gas prices being the way they are.