Wednesday, April 27, 2005

More Walla Walla Fun

A few pictures have surfaced from some of the more interesting events at Walla Walla this past weekend. First, we have the crash of one of my teammates. In the first picture below, he's the guy in green about to go over. Notice his front wheel is pointed completely to the right. This is something you want to avoid. In the next shot he's flying out of the right side of the picture. Fortunately, he was ok.

wwcrash1
wwcrash2

And finally, here are a bunch of us waiting out the storm that ultimately cancelled the road race:
Waiting out the storm

Monday, April 25, 2005

Tour of Walla Walla

This weekend I headed down to Walla Walla for the appropriately named Tour of Walla Walla. The Tour is a 3 stage race consisting of an individual time trial, road race and criterium.

The fun started Saturday morning with an individual time trial of 5 miles. Each rider went every 30 seconds. My start time was 08:14:30. How's that for accuracy? Anyway, I did a good warmup and got in line a few minutes before my start time. Once the fun was underway I tried to make sure I didn't push too hard and explode. I focussed on finding that point of suffering that you can maintain for more than a minute. Fun sport. In 12 minutes and 24 seconds the suffering was over. I rode back to the start area and starting resting for the afternoon's 57 mile road race.

Around 1pm that day I headed back to the start area and began another warm up ritual in preparation for the road race. I checked the result sheet and found I finished 21/100 in the time trial. I was about 30 seconds behind the leader and going into a long road race had a shot at a good overall result.

For the opening 20 miles or so my teammates did a great job of keeping me up front and protected from the wind. When we hit the first climb the field started to splinter a bit, but I stayed with the lead group through the climb. As we descended at speeds approaching 50mph we were hit with fierce cross winds that tossed our bikes around and a light rain that made you wonder just how fast you should be entering the corners. Fortunately there were no incidents.

After calming down and regrouping from the descent we found ourselves in the midst of a lightning storm and the kind of rain that made you wonder when the hail was going to start. The race director pulled up next to us and said the race was being neutralized (no competition) and we were going to head to the next town to find shelter. So, for the next hour or so the tiny town of Waitsburg, WA found itself host to hundreds of racers waiting out the storm. Unfortunately, and for reasons I don't know, the road race was ultimately cancelled and we had to ride back to the starting area (about 16 miles). No official results for the road race, but quite an afternoon!

The next morning we had a 40 minute criterium on the streets of downtown Walla Walla. I think everyone had too much energy remaining from Saturday's events because the crits (all of them) were just out of control. Ours was fast and furious until a bad crash at the midpoint stopped the race while an ambulance was brought in to clean up the bodies. On the restart and remaining 20 minutes I lost the good position I had at the beginning of the race, but finished with the lead group.


Waiting for the crit start
Doug - Walla Walla Crit


In the final standings I finished 15th overall. My best result to date. Even with strange events I had a blast this weekend and remembered why I enjoy this sport so much.

Pictures are posted here.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Seward Park Spring Classic

This weekend was supposed to be a pretty intense weekend of racing, but unfortunately it didn't work out that way.

On Saturday, I was planning to attend the Tahuya-Seabeck-Tahuya race. This has been rated the best race in Washington, and at 65 hilly miles, promised to be grueling. I've been battling a slight ilness for weeks and have noticed my motivation slowing a bit. I woke up Satuday to pouring rain and gave in. The idea of riding that far in the rain with no teammates had me thinking, "why do I do this?". I didn't even bother with my 3.5 hour training ride Saturday, I just threw in the towel.

I was feeling a bit more motivated Sunday morning, so I headed to Seattle for a criterium at Seward park. It wasn't raining and one of my teammates showed up. I also think I might have recruited a new teammate. Simply put, I had a blast. Having a few friends and decent weather really made all the difference. I suddenly remembered why I enjoy this sport. Hell, I even had the motivation to throw in a training ride after the race.

As for the crit. I started off exactly as I did last year, by getting flat on the ride to the race. Yay, panic! I got that fixed and headed for the lineup. Last year I let myself slip back and got dropped when the field started to string out. This year I stayed up front for the duration of the event (40 minutes). On the last lap I missed the led out acceleration by a hair, but stepped on the gas and managed a respectable finish -- top 15 I think, but the results are posted past top 10.

Ok, I think I have some motivation back, now back to training. :) This is probably a good thing since next weekend is a long stage race.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Cool Firefox Extension

This one could prove to be very useful -- resizeable text areas. Get it here, try it below.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Findory

The news folder in my RSS reader essentially never got used. There was always too much in there to read so I just went to cnn.com once in a while to get caught up. Out of curiosity, I decided to try out Findory to see if it could manage the daily flood of news. I signed up on the website and subscribed to several personalized RSS feeds in my interest areas.

I have to say that so far I am impressed. After clicking through on just a couple of articles the feeds started to morph toward my interests. For example, the only sports I really care about are cycling and formula 1 and that is pretty much all Findory shows to me. Now I am regularly going through my news folder since virtually all of it is relevant. My only complaint is that there are still duplicate articles. Sometimes the the same article appears in different categories or the same material shows up from different sources. It is a minor inconvenience.

Anyway, Greg has definitely done some nice work, so go check it out.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Campy electronic group

Cool article about Campy's prototype electronic group.

I think this is a very cool idea. Not that cables are bad, but there is a gee whiz factor about this. Hopefully they can work out all of the kinks.

Power Meters

I really want to invest in a power meter, but I am completely torn on the models available. There are 3 main contenders: SRM (~$2000), PowerTap (~$900), Polar (~$350).

I'd love to get the SRM, but it is simply out of my price range. The PowerTap unit is built into wheel so it is easy to transfer between bikes, but probably not something to race on (unless you build it into a race quality wheel, which I wouldn't). The Polar unit goes with the Polar heart rate monitor I already own. It attaches to the bike, which means I could race with it, but couldn't easily transfer it between bikes.

I would get the Polar in a heartbeat (ha!) if it wasn't for some questionable reviews I have read. The measurement method it uses is more error prone and it is generally considered to be less accurate. People have also claimed that it can be difficult to install and keep working, but I don't necessarily believe that.

So, it's down to choosing between the PowerTap and the Polar. The Polar is significantly less money, but I don't know if I want to take the risk on an inferior product. I'm confused.