Tag Archives: Portland Velo Club

Night Riders

Who says you have to stop riding just because the sun has gone down?

Well, that’s what I used to think. Once we reached the point where we didn’t have enough evening daylight for our mid-week afternoon/evening rides they came to an end. Unfortunately so did the fitness until you started hitting the trainer.

This year a club member who grew up in Philly and used to do “night riding” with her club there has organized a night ride with our group.

Last week was the first one but I didn’t go. It was dark and windy. I had gotten home early enough to settle in for the evening and I would be damned if I was going back out on the bike.

This week was different. I had bike commuted to work so my return trip got me home a little later than driving. I was dressed and ready for biking so I didn’t change. The ride departure was also a little earlier, which meant there was less time to settle in. It was also warmer – in the mid 50’s.

I was excited and a little apprehensive, not ridden in the dark much. However, two days earlier I was out on a club ride and heading back when it was getting pretty dark. Surprisingly I felt pretty comfortable with it so I was ready for a full-on night ride.

A small group met at 6:10 to head north to rendezvous with another group 15-20 minutes away and then we headed off as a larger group. There were 11 of us total with a nice mix of men and women. Everyone had at least one head and tail light on. Some of us had two, like me who had a bike mounted front/rear light in addition to a head lamp and rear light on my helmet. Many of us also had reflective clothing on, or additional items for reflection. In short, we were highly visible and I was really surprised at how much we lit up the road.

I found the drivers seemed more courteous as well. I’m sure many of them were more than a little surprised to see a group of hearty, and perhaps a little crazy, cyclists out on an evening ride well after sunset.

We ended up with a 30-mile route and the pace was such that we all stayed together. That’s key so no one gets dropped or left behind in the dark.

Two hours later I arrived back home and thrilled about my first successful night ride and looking forward to next week’s ride with my fellow night riders.

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March Madness

After posting this photo before heading out on a very chilly Saturday morning ride with the club, my friend called it “March Madness”.

I have to agree with her. It was 21 degrees but felt like 12 with the windchill. So much for March, “in like a lion out like a lamb.”

We have seen below normal temps for over a week now. It feels like it will never warm up. At least this morning it wasn’t snowing like it was last Saturday morning.

The alternative to riding outside this morning was the trainer (yuck!) or waiting for it to “warm up” but having to deal with 20+ mile an hour winds. So a cold morning ride seemed like the best option for me.

I also wasn’t alone in showing up for the club ride. We even took a club photo before the ride. (Though this only represents only part of the riders that rode, many others just weren’t in the photo because they are not club members.)

More to Racing Than Just Winning

The Scarborough Industrial Park Spring Crit Series began today.

This year they added a women’s race and combined them with beginners to get them to try criterium racing.

The women’s race started at 7:30, which was a new addition this year. That meant that my warm-up ride to the event needed to start pretty early, between 6 and 6:15 am. I was thankful that the temperature was in the low 50’s when I started off and was predicted to reach 70 degrees today. Odd for so early in April but happily so. Last year it was very cold and I remember going to watch the previous year and it was just as cold.

Unfortunately there were only a few of us on the line for the first race. However, it’s Easter Sunday so many people had family obligations I’m sure.

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The start of the Women’s/Beginner race.

I was happy that another PVC member joined me for the race.

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Me and a teammate, Elizabeth Ehrenfeld.

I stayed out of the wind and on a wheel the entire race but couldn’t match the acceleration in the end and finished, unbelievably, DFL. Sheesh!

Then I hit the start line for the B-race.

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I managed to hang on for 6 of the 12 laps. I almost got dropped on the 4th or 5th lap and managed to get back onto the back of the group. Then the bell rang for a preme lap and I got dropped. I wasn’t surprised and I just sat up and pulled out.

All things considered I feel pretty good about how I performed. Sure I finished last in af the women’s race. Sure I pulled out of the B-race 1/2 way through after being dropped. Still, I was there and rode some of my best riding. I cornered better than I have ever cornered. When I was getting gapped in the women’s race on the corners I assessed why that was and made adjustments. I was focused and relaxed.

There is more to racing than just winning.

A New Year, A New Focus

You know when you’ve been away from something for a while it’s hard to get back to it?

Like exercise. Or smoking. Or chocolate. Okay, not chocolate, but you get the point.

That’s where I am with the blog.

Gosh, I’ve just been so busy that I just haven’t had the time to post anything, especially anything of real value.

Unfortunately, I can’t say that I’ve been on my bike much lately either. Up until last weekend when we received a bit of snow Saturday night, I was still out riding on the roads on the weekends. I’d ride a couple hours Saturday and a couple hours Sunday, followed by 90 minutes of yoga after the Sunday morning ride. But my efforts during the week haven’t amounted to much with other obligations during the week. Though I have managed to get into a routine of yoga on Thursday evenings.

Sometimes I feel like Twitter is my blog these days. It’s a quick easy way I can update “everyone” without having to put much time and energy into a meaningful blog posting.

I suppose the biggest thing that has been consuming my time has been my involvement with the newly formed Portland Velo Club (PVC) Women’s Club.

This is very exciting news. It’s been a passion of mine for a while now to get more women involved. Luckily, I think David and Eddie of Cyclemania also recognized a need for this in the Greater Portland area. I think this group is going to have tremendous success for the simple reason that it is advertised to all women from all different backgrounds who participate in triathlons, road races, and charity events.

The goal is to have women participate in 6 events throughout the season and can be a mixture of the disciplines listed. We will also be a organizing women’s ride in the Greater Portland are, open to all women, that will be a moderately paced 30-mile ride on Monday evenings in the summer months. There is also interest of forming a morning ride for women only.

At the initial meeting in October we had 30+ women show up all excited about the prospect of a women’s team/club. It was proposed that the women, working with the current PVC kit template, be allowed to redesign the kit with colors of their choice. So a couple were created and voted on and the winner was:

There have been a few meetings to try to keep organized with the orders for the new kit and the memberships, as well as coming up with ideas to keep the members informed and keep the momentum going even though the season has pretty much come to a close. Among communication methods such as a Google Group and Facebook Group, I”ve started a new blog for the PVC Women. However, I have solicited some help in the form of multiple authors to keep it fresh and updated. We are also working on some training events after the first of the year.

Now the holidays are here and I’m feeling totally unprepared. I haven’t had time to even think about it, to the point where this is nothing in my home to even give you the impression that it’s Christmas.

With a new year almost upon us, it’s time to refocus, start training again for the upcoming season, and try to keep my blog up to date with interesting content. Some of it might involve my endeavors with the PVC women’s group as this will become a significant focus for me. I also hope that, if you are a woman, you’ll want to check out the new PVC women’s blog once in a while.

Lake Auburn Road Race Recap

I was pretty excited about a race so close to home. Instead of driving 2+ hours to a race, there was a nice one in my “back yard” of Auburn, Maine, only 45 minutes away.

The pre-race jitters started 24 hours before the race. My stomach was doing flops all day Friday and into the morning of the race. The only time they really settled down was when I got on the bike to warm up.

As soon as I had arrived I realized I had forgotten to pack my race license. I’ll tell ya, it seems like it’s always something before every race. Luckily they let me check in anyway – probably helped that I had registered on line.

I seemed to stand in line forever for the porta-potty. Two were just not enough!

Then with shaking hands I fumbled with pinning on my race number. Better to have it on early then to try getting it on right before. 

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Ready to start warming up.
 

Finally I got on the bike to warm up. I went the opposite way of the route to avoid some of the climbs at first, to give me a better chance to warm up. Then it was time to turn around and do a little climbing, especially the big climb that the race starts with.

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Chatting with a friend before the start.

The length of the route was 11.5 miles and the women raced 3 laps. After a downhill, followed by an uphill, the first half of the course is pretty flat and the second have has mostly rollers with a few short, steeper second. The finish is a falls flat that lends itself to a sprint finish.

I’m always pensive descending in a large group so it’s no wonder I was pretty much dropped on the downhill but they slowed approaching the steepest climb. Of course I was completely dropped on that first climb. I could see  a group way ahead when I got onto the flat section and had to work my tail off to catch back up. (Those time trial events are paying off!) I was happy to find that three of the 4 racers I caught were teammates. 

Once I had a chance to recover we all worked together, with two other racers, pacelining through the first two laps. Along the second lap we thought it would be interesting to try some team tactics to try to drop the other girls. They seemed to be growing tired and it would be better to drop them now and not have them stealing a better place finish from one of us.

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The team working together.

Our first casualty was a teammate. We saw she hadn’t hung on with us over the climb to the start of the third lap. We decided not to wait for her, knowing that she wouldn’t want us to. (After the race we found out we made the right call.)

Then we tried to drill the pace a bit to drop the other riders. On our first try it worked well but then our pace eased up a bit and they were able to catch back on. It also didn’t help when I started getting cramps in my calves due to the effort.

So then we tried to sit back without pulling through to see if we could tire them. Upon another surge by a teammate, I got dropped. I was able to get back on but unfortunately I brought the other riders with me.

Then 1 1/2 miles from the finish my left calf seized! At the top of the first of the two-step climb I had to dismount the bike to stretch it out or I wouldn’t be able to finish the final climbs. I saw my teammates and the two other girls ride off without me and I couldn’t do anything about it. 

After a brief stretch I got back on the bike and prayed it was enough of a stretch to get me to the finish. It was.

I crested the last climb and had sight of the final 1+ kilometer. I buried my head, anchored my hands in the drops and dug deep. I looked up and saw a rider in front of me and dug again. When I looked up again, I was closing the gap. So I kept on digging to close the gap and actually passed that rider right before the line.

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After the race she said she had no idea I was even there.

I finished the race 11th out of 16. My teammates finished 8th and 9th and I know I would have also finished in the top 10 if it hadn’t been for my cramp. 

It was a fun race and I had a blast. It was especially liked trying to work some team tactics, even if they didn’t stick. I hope to be back again next year!