Doing it all the hard way...

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mason Lake Road Race 2014 #3 Report and Photos and Results

Why is Evo smiling ?  Read on....

Photos of everyone can be found HERE.

Results can be found HERE.

My mildly amusing take on the race follows:

Despite my acute lack of fitness I made my 2014 road racing debut at the familiar loop of Mason Lake.  Big John and El Pirate were also contesting in the fifty plus race and the peer pressure was palpable. I signed up and I was all in.

Hottie wanted to photographthe morning race (mine was later in the day) so we departed in the predawn twilight.  We sailed down I-5 and shared a colorful sunrise. We drove right past registration so she could get positioned on course.  While she shot photos I exchanged a couple texts with my brothers in transit.

After the first races were done and my teammates arrived we warmed up and I confessed that my goal was a pack finish.  Despite the perceived sandbagging, I sought to assure them that indeed rather than expectations I had fears of humiliation.

John was quickly dressed in his costume and disappeared to warm up.  He does get a bit excited about road racing.  Matthew and I rode up and down the road warming up and then we managed one last bathroom stop before lining up.  Remember this is the 50 plus category (brought to you by Flowmax)…

We rolled out with a peloton of thirty some riders dreaming of glory and at least one hoping to avoid embarrassment.  There were a couple breakaway attempts right away and Big John dutifully chased them down.  I feared a race where John did as much work as everyone else combined. 

Suddenly there were two…. no three in a break and Big John was among them.  The rules of the road mean Matthew and I don’t chase but I quietly worked my way to the front and pedaled tempo.  The gap got bigger.  Try as I might I could not close it down.  An Apex rider took over and I slotted in about fifth wheel. 

Turn Two !!  Matthew center, Evo back a bit, John long gone !

After a little while I moved up and once again tried to close it down but I could not.  I was again passed and settled in.  Soon Matthew was on the sharp end of the peloton.  Alas, he too was unable to bring them back.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is road racing and road racing is a team sport.

As we approached the end I the first lap I was in front when I spotted Hottie.  I was “working” and flashed a wry smile. When we completed the first lap the race official told us the breakaway had a minute. I smiled. 

Follow ME !!

Matthew and I and a rotating assortment of Fisher riders chased down any attempts to bridge or break away.  With one lap to go the gap had grown to three minutes.

Big John leading out Tim P who would take a well earned victory
I was expecting the pace to ramp up and it was a mixed bag.  Everyone wanted to pick up the pace to shrink the pack for the finishing sprint, but nobody wanted to do the requisite work.

With no chance of catching the break I was free to contend for Matthew and my own selfish interests.  I took to the front at turn two (about halfway on the lap) and soft-pedaled waiting for a rider to take over.  I sailed along for close to a mile and when I was passed there was quite the attack. 

I tried to pick it up but my fitness was lacking and I went from first to twelfth to twentieth to holy-shit-batman.  My back was sore from the spending more time at the front than I ever do. To my delight the pack slowed on the next climb and I was able to recover.  I just waited and then after five or six minutes I felt better and I started working my way up.

I could see Matthew in the mix and he was doing a bit of work. If he could do a little wheel sucking before the finish he could be in a great spot.

We were four across a narrow half of the road and I was down in the drops afraid to blink.  Every time I saw a gap I filled it.  I passed on the left, on the right, and up the middle.  We hit the 1k to go and the road drops sharply and the roller coaster turns demands your full attention.  I moved up and went past Matthew.

It seemed as if everyone was taking a breath getting ready for the finishing sprint that was just around the corner, and I took the opportunity to move up just a couple more spots.  I wasn’t on the second row of riders but I was on the third and I thought to myself, “being boxed in will probably help me from going too early.”

Around the corner we could see the 200m to go sign up the road. It looked very far and I was setting up but not going just yet.  I heard a voice say, “On your right 2020.” I was just passing a rider on my right and it wasn’t that rider who was speaking.  We hit the 200m sign (which means we get both sides of the road to sprint to the finish line) and it was all on.  I don’t know who was “on my right” but I didn’t expect them to pass me. Not that I planned to block them, I was just ready to sprint.

I don’t get out of the saddle when I sprint and I dug down. I felt a shot like a mini-cramp in my quad but I didn’t let up. I kept driving and looked around. I had two riders to my left and two to my right. I could see the line and kept spinning hard. I took fifth in the field sprint.

This was how we finished.

It turns out the breakaway was too fast for one of the three riders and John survived and took second. We were sprinting for third so I ended up seventh on the day.

There is some hurt going through those legs !

Although the pace had been pretty pedestrian, I did more than my share of the work and was delighted beyond my wildest dreams with my finishing place.  After warming down and getting dressed we checked the results and sure enough, second and seventh.

This was my first race after my season-ending crash last October. It felt good to pin on a number again. I was happy to have shared it with Hottie, John and Matthew. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Pactimo Breckenridge Jacket Review

Some background: 
After just one season of wearing crappy team uniforms, we switched to Pactimo for our team clothing a few years ago and we have been very happy with the results.  Wearing team kit became something we looked forward to instead of dreading.  When Pactimo launched their branded apparel a few of us jumped in.  The team version of their summit bibshorts proved to be so outstanding that one of our clan flatly declared he wouldn’t buy any bibshorts in the future that didn’t have the word, “Summit” in the name.  When we aren’t clad in the Maglia Bruno many of us are happy to be sporting Pactimo clothing.

I have been almost evangelical about the Breckenridge vest since I first zipped one up four seasons ago.  It is an awesome garment that can save the day when things turn ugly. Based on that stellar performance I was anxious to try the totally revamped Breckenridge Jacket. In the northwest we are all about keeping the weather at bay most of the year and the next generation Breckinridge jacket sounded like it might be up to the task.

Rides in the upper thirties to upper fifties, with the threat of, or actual rain in varying quantities, are common seven to eight months of the year. These are tough conditions and staying comfortable typically requires adding and removing layers (like my Breckenridge vest) and/or guessing and gambling.

I can gamble it will be dry and forego a vest.  If I get rain of any significant intensity, and I am without rain gear or the vest, my training turns into a race with hypothermia. If I overdress I finish my ride soggy and hot.  As much fun as getting it right can be, missing it turns training into character building.

Facing these conditions from February through June and again from September to November means dressing for the conditions is a problem with which we have great familiarity. Despite the repetitive nature of this problem, sometimes we guess right and sometimes we end up with great stories.

In these highly variable conditions I have been putting the Breckenridge WX-D Jacket through its paces.
The jacket looks sharp which appeals to my seemingly endless vanity. The front and shoulders are made of a water and wind resistant fabric that, while not soft and buttery, it isn’t as stiff as a full on rain jacket.  Once I put the jacket on I didn’t notice the texture of the barrier fabric anymore and any concern I may have had quickly went away.  A nice feature is the front of the arms also uses this barrier fabric with the back of the arms employing the more breathable jersey fabric.  It is a pet peeve of mine is when garments ignore your arms and just include the miracle fabric on the torso and leave your arms to freeze. 

A bit of stealthy style on the zipper flap

What I did notice when I had it on was the great cut of the jacket.  It fits close to your body and does not have flappy arms or a big gut bulge that many jackets have.  Not everyone wants a tight Euro fit but I can assure you nobody likes a jacket that flaps and whips like a flag on descents.

The bulk of the back is breathable jersey fabric which in my experience does a wonderful job of regulating temperature. Sleeve length is spot on and the three pockets in the back add to the versatility of this garment.  The outside of the pockets are made of the same barrier fabric as the front so the contents of your pockets should stay a bit dryer if you get caught out in the rain.  Reflective trim is subtle in daylight yet highly visible when needed. 

The reflective trim executes the fine line of not being obtrusive, 
yet is highly visible to headlights ! 

Although the jacket is essentially all black from the front, the colorful name on the back gives you much needed visibility to drivers in low light conditions. The colorful back in combination with the reflective trim qualifies this as a good jacket for commuting or twilight training.

On a recent Saturday morning I zipped up and took off. Temperatures were in the low forties and the grey skies were supposed to stay dry.  The jacket cut the wind and kept the chill off. My arms were especially happy.  The highly breathable back kept me comfortable and I didn’t even unzip to vent on a long gradual climb.  

One feature common across the whole Pactimo line that I really love is the tall collars that add a degree or two to your comfort range.  It sounds silly but when the wind picks up on a late afternoon or evening ride, being able to zip up keeps the chill away.

As it often does; the actual weather ignored the forecast and it started to rain. I smiled as I watched water bead up and run off the sleeves.  The rain was cold on my face, yet my arms and torso remained comfortable. It wasn’t until I was back in my garage that I realized I had ridden for two and a half hours in dry and wet conditions with a temperature change of eight degrees and varying levels of effort; and I hadn’t so much as unzipped to regulate my temperature. 

When I finish a ride without having added or removed layers, I feel a warped sense of pride that I was able to dress perfectly for the conditions. When I finish a decent training ride in which I was comfortable from start to finish and haven’t so much as vented, the credit has to go to the clothing.

Those folks in Colorado know a thing or two about changing weather conditions...

I have also used this jacket skate skiing in sunshine and during wet snowfall and it has proven to be a worthwhile ski companion as well.

Pactimo has a winner here.

If you can't wait you can find one here.  If your team wants them in custom colors you can get that as well.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Giro Pivot Glove Review

Yep. This is what they look like...

The Giro Pivot Gel Gloves have become my “Go to” winter gloves.  Just like bad decisions make for great stories because you encounter more than you were prepared for, the true test of any multi season product is how well it performs across and variety of conditions.  Winter is when you get big temperature swings on longer rides. You can start out dry and finish your suffering in a deluge. With jersey pocket space at a premium you don’t want to be bringing multiple sets of gloves.  It takes longer to form an opinion on winter gloves because you need to see how they perform in a plethora of conditions.

In the rain I smiled as I watched the water bead up and run off as the shell material kept the water out.  On fast training rides where I was sweating a lot the gloves didn’t get cold or clammy.   I found myself comfortable in these from 25 to 35 degrees with a thin liner and without a liner they felt great from about 35 to 55 degrees. 

The palms are super grippy and the little bit of gel padding at the base of the wrist is all you need in a winter glove.  The all black color scheme makes them acceptable for non cycling use as well. The cuff and gauntlet combination seemed odd at first but I never had an issue with drafts or with water going where I didn’t want it.

These have stayed near the front of the drawer because they work well in such a wide range of conditions. If you have ten pairs of gloves you probably don’t need to add these.  If you are looking for a glove that covers a wide spectrum of circumstances, you had better consider these.

Five of five Evos !!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

People will come, Ray. People will come.

Fritz on the left, Olaf on the right
Sophie and Hottie
Hottie and Sophie just chillin'
Yes, ours is a self-service hill....
Sometimes we do get a little help..
Future bobsled talent ?
The horse on the right is a Belgian.  Isn't that the coolest ?  
Sleigh Ride..

17 degrees and windy but we didn't mind (too much)..
Hottie looking comfy in the warming hut..
 Olaf and Fritz again..

This past weekend Hottie and I took our granddaughter to notre Cabane dons la foret.  We did some shoveling around the cabin and then some sledding and snowdude building.  We capped our day off with a sleigh ride which was a first for all of us.
A natural !!

On sunday we went skiing.  This was a first for Sophie.  Early on she fell and in a dejected tone said, "This is hard!"  My first instinct was to say, "No it isn't," but I held my tongue.  Then I knew what to say. "Yes, it is hard. ALL the coolest things are hard.  But you are doing great at this hard thing, keep it up."  

Oddly enough after bringing home an exhausted granddaughter to her mama she said that her favorite thing was skiing because she was so good at it.  Well go figure.  

People will come Ray, people will come.

Of course we could just keep it all to ourselves.  But that would just be dick.  Imagine trying to explain to Jesus why you didn't share your abundance with your grandchildren....Awkward !!