Saturday, November 8, 2014

Cyclocross...I may need a new bike!

For a while I've been wanting to try cyclocross.
It just looks fun.
In the past, I never signed up for an event because I don't have a cyclocross bike, the events always seem a long drive away and I was intimidated.

A lot of my reasons for NOT signing up for a cyclocross event changed when SoCal Cross teamed up with Jenson USA and IEBA (Inland Empire Biking Alliance) and hosted Race #8 of the SoCalCross Prestige Series at Martha Mclean Park, just a short drive/run/bike ride from my house.

It was the first time cyclocross event EVER to be held in Riverside.

I was NOT going to miss out.

I mean, who cares if I don't have a cyclocross bike, the event is less than 3 miles from my home.
And since I am a member of IEBA, I got a 25 percent discount on my race entry.

Let's see, the beginner race was $5 entry fee and with my discount, it cost me.....It's like they were almost paying me to go out and ride a bike.

When I went to sign up I saw that I could RENT a cyclocross bike for $10. YEAH!!! I am in.

So Saturday morning I get up and my guy is nice enough to put my mountain bike in the back of my suburban and I load up my drinks and my helmet and bike shoes and snacks and drive the 10 minutes to the park.

I started out being nervous because I was all alone and I didn't know anyone.  But I am old enough now that I don't really care. I'm here to try out cyclocross and have some fun.

I checked in and everyone was really nice.
While one of the guys took my pedals off my mountain bike and put them on the cyclocross bike I rented, I helped set up the bike racks.

Then I put my mountain bike back in the car and embraced cyclocross.
My mountain bike with the pedals off.

My pedals on REDLINE.....and my official first cyclocross number pinned on.

 Within minutes a guy rode by and told me that my number was not suppose to be in the front but on the back, so I switched it. What can I say? I'm a newbie.

I got my nutrition ready.

That's ice tea in my glass.
I forgot a bike bottle, but the people in the Helen's Cyclery tent were nice enough to give me one and let me use their pump and told me what I should pump my tires up to. After all, I'm a newbie and I don't know what the heck I am doing.

Though I am wearing a really nice SunRype kit.

I was ready to take REDLINE for a test ride on the course. REDLINE was short, but not a women's specific so it was a stretch for me from the seat to the handlebars. And the gearing was so different from any of my other bikes.
I rode the course. Well, in truth, I rode about 85 percent of the course and got off and pushed REDLINE through 15 percent of the course since I didn't feel too stable.

 I parked REDLINE to take a picture to show the jumps. I don't know if you call them jumps, but that's what I called them when I rode horses and showed them. This would be considered Hunter Hack.
Obviously, I could NOT Ride my bike over the fence. I was suppose to dismount, throw the bike over my shoulder and jump over the fence, run to the next fence with the bike still over my shoulder and jump it.

Even this guy didn't throw the bike over his shoulder.

 I stopped along the way and took some pictures. The building in the top right corner is the bathroom I usually stop at when I ride the Santa Ana River Trail on my road or tri bike. I've ridden by this park so many times and NEVER realized how hilly it actually is.
Until today!!!!

This is just a picture of an easy downhill section.

I made it through my practice lap and knew I just was not going to be able to comfortably race on REDLINE.

So with 15 minutes to go to the First Timer's Race, I went back to the check-in and found a couple of guys who were willing to show me what tool I should use to take off my pedals. In the process of showing me how to take my pedals off, one of the guys just did it. I stuck the right pedal in my back right pocket of my jersey and the left pedal in my back left pocket of my jersey so I wouldn't get confused about how to put them back on my mountain bike and said Good-bye to REDLINE.

I got my mountain bike and took it back to the check-in area to use the tools to put the pedals back on and the same guys were hanging around there and just took over and did it for me.
At least now I was going to ride a bike that fit me and had gearing I knew I could use to pedal up a hill.

And then the First Timer's lined up at the start line.
There were eight of us.
Me and seven men.
 I was feeling pretty good about myself. I mean, dang, here I was lined up for the First Timer's race and I was the only woman.
And the announcer called me a LADY.

Then a guy came over and told me my race number was pinned on the wrong side.
I looked at him and he was the same guy who had told me before that my number was not suppose to be on the front, but the back.
I reminded him of this.
Yes, he agreed.
But the number was suppose to be pinned on the back left side, not the back right side.
He offered to repin it for me.
I told him to leave it...I wanted EVERYONE to know what a newbie I was.
I Laughed. He frowned.
I smiled at him and he walked away.

Then the announcer said go and all of the guys were off and gone and I was all alone to ride the course.

Two minutes after the start of my race they let the junior racers age 9 through 18 start their race. I'll tell you that I am satisfied that only four of those young speedsters got by me, even though I had to walk/run/push/carry my heavy mountain bike through some of the sand and uphill parts.

Part way through my race I saw a sign that said, "EXIT," and there were a lot of bikes inside a roped off area. It was hot. I was sweaty. I was breathing hard. There was a lot of uphill. And here was an EXIT sign.

I must have been having really loud mental images of me pulling off into the exit area and calling it day because some guy yelled at me, "Don't turn there, that's for people who need to change bikes. They put their extra bike in their in case they need to change bikes. You know, if they are too muddy or have a flat or something."

Okay, so now you know how slow I was going because he was able to say all that to me as I rode by on my mountain bike masquerading as a cyclocross bike.

And while my bike was flipping heavy to carry over the little fences, I didn't have another bike to exchange it with, so I rode on....and probably shortly after that I had to carry/push/pull it up a hill and up three steps.

I know that doesn't sound too hard. But it seemed like this.

Finally, I was at the finish line and it was announced that the "LADY" in the race finished.
I am grateful she didn't say "OLD LADY" in the race finished.

I spent the next two hours being a course marshall and watching a lot of fast racers and a lot of racers who probably were not a lot better than me, but just had had more practice.

 These guys ARE definitely faster than me!!! I mean, they can make dust come off of grass.


This was the course.
I looked at this map the other day and thought "piece of cake." Now that I have ridden it once in practice on REDLINE and then in the First Timer's race, I think of it more as, "kick my ass!"

Here's a link to the event:

Cyclocross - definitely a cross between road biking and mountain biking and weight lifting (hauling your bike around on your shoulder - if you can -  as you run).

I have my fingers crossed that cyclocross comes back to Riverside. I'll be there...and I may have a new bike to ride.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Bike the Coast and No Power

My guy and I rode "Bike the Coast" this weekend.

The ride was fabulous, but the weekend was not exactly as we had planned.

I won the Bike the Coast grand prize last year and one of the prizes was two entries into the bike ride.
My guy and I were already signed up, so the organization let me roll the entries over to this year.

We booked a suite at the Oceanside Marina Suites and packed our bags.

After a long day of working (Robert) and lots of driving miles (Robert and me), we made the cut-off time Friday to pick up our event "numbers" and goodie bags.

It was about 7:00 p.m. and we were HUNGRY so we stopped into 333 (without reservations) for dinner. Since it was Halloween AND a Friday night, most people were probably at a Halloween party because there were NOT a lot of people at the restaurant and we were immediately seated.

My guy and I hardly ever go out to eat, so when we do, we tend to wine, salad, soup, crab, shrimp and lobster cake, grilled tofu with veggies, a little more red wine, lobster tails, coffee and dessert.

Good thing we were going to ride our bikes 50 miles the next day because we had some calories to burn off!!!

We waddled back to the car and drove to the Oceanside Marina Suites and checked in. Our suite was nice and we had a great view.

It was fun to sit out on the decking and think that I will be swimming in that water in March for Oceanside 70.3.

But we had a bike ride in the morning so we didn't sit out on the deck for too long.

I woke up in the morning with the sound of pelting rain and howling wind. I looked at my watch and it was 3:20 a.m. Not time to get up, but time to go to the bathroom.....and that's when I realized there were NO lights.....anywhere in our place and when I looked out the window - NO lights.

Luckily, my alarm was set on my phone and my phone did have some battery left, so I knew it would last long enough to get me up in the morning - 2 hours later.
I went back to bed with the hopeful thought that the weather would clear and the power would come on.

Two hours later, I was up and it was still dark in our place.

Yes, this is actual picture of the kitchen area of our suite.

Needless to say, I was NOT getting in the shower.
I did manage to get dressed by ipad/iphone light.

I looked out the window and it was windy, but not raining.
By ipad light I brushed my teeth and matched my socks.
But no power meant we couldn't make coffee and that was not a good beginning since I am an almost pot of coffee in the morning person. We had to stop at the Harbor House for coffee - and while we were there - breakfast.
We still made it to the start line.

We were bundled up because it was chilly and the weather man did call for 20 percent chance of rain...better safe than sorry. Of course, I was peeling off clothes at the first SAG stop. SAG stands for Stop and Go - potty, food, drink and get back on your bike and ride.
 I peeled off my arm-warmers, jacket, leg warmers and an extra pair of socks. Robert took off his jacket sleeves. We stashed everything in pockets.

It was a gorgeous day.
 Lots of sun, a few clouds and....
birds being tossed around by the wind.

I love riding along the coast, especially when there are so many cyclists out pedaling. I am always hopeful that with so many cyclists out riding, drivers will be more mindful.

It was a nice easy bike ride with beautiful scenery.

The ride was not all along the coast.  Some if it was inland, but it was still very scenic.

Robert has been spending a lot of time behind a desk, but he is working on getting his bike legs back. I wanted an easy heart rate ride, but still wanted a workout, so I rode a lot in my biggest gear, but didn't jam it.

We stopped along the way a lot and took pictures.

And then we only had about 12 miles to go. It was still a beautiful day - blue skies, fluffy clouds and wind.

Pelicans flying by.


 This was the last picture I took before my phone battery ran out. I was happy it lasted this long. Who knows how long it had NOT been charging the night before AND I did use it for light (that great flashlight app) in the morning.

We were in the last 200 yards to the finish line of the bike course when the rain started.
First a couple of little drops as a warning, then a full-on pour down.


 We rode right through the finish line...

skipped the valet bike parking....

 which did NOT look like this when we rode by it...but then again, I couldn't see a whole lot with the rain in my eyes.


 and rode our bikes back to the car where we continued to be pelted by cold rain.

Then as quick as it the rain came, it stopped.

We took "OUR" finish picture....
Windblown (look at the flag in the background) and rained on

....and went back to the expo to collect our finisher medals and free food coupons.

We gave the free food coupons to a couple of homeless people hanging around the expo (there were lots, but we just picked the first two we saw and gave them our food tickets) and headed to "Hello Betty" for some non-fried food and non-dixie cup sized beers.

Driving back to the Oceanside Marina Suites, we said to each other that surely the power was back on by now...

Only it wasn't.

This is what it looked like AFTER I threw away the chocolate milk and a few other items that had been sitting in there for too long not refrigerated. The light is from my flash, not from the refrigerator.

After a long bike ride, I really like to take a nice HOT shower, but since there was NO power, I ended up with a COLD shower in a semi-dark bathroom.
Robert went down to the manager's office and they said a transformer blew and hopefully the power would be back on by 6 p.m.

I waited by enjoying the view.

Again, I imagined my 70.3 swim in March.
Then I laid on the couch and listened to the breeze and the foghorn and I was slowly lulled into a nap.

I woke up to someone outside saying something about watching the sunset. I opened my eyes and the power still was not on. Robert went to get flashlights and I started packing.
NO WAY was I staying there another night without power.
Just a little too scary considering it was the 
Day of the Dead.

Next year? Maybe this or maybe a different bike ride..but either way, I love my cycling "event"ures with my guy.