Yesterday marked my long ride ever, coming in at approximately 139 miles as a part of the Rapha Gentlemen’s Race. We headed out to the beach (Lincoln City) on Friday evening and stayed in a suite at the Inn at Spanish Head thanks to team president Jim who served as sugar daddy for the evening. [...]
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These days I’m busy enough that I don’t find much time for blogging, and you’ve probably noticed that there haven’t been many updates here.
However, I do find myself wanting an outlet for brief thoughts, images, etc. which sounds like the perfect use for Tumblr.
Find it here: http://tumblr.adamedgerton.com/
I’m also still active on Twitter and Facebook, so you can follow me there as well (see sidebar links).
After a great spring campaign of racing in the Cat 3s capped off with a 5th in the GC for Cherry Blossom Stage Race, I found myself with 53 upgrade points and a forced upgrade to category 2 (which I was planning on doing anyway).
Kenji put it aptly in his email response to my upgrade request:
In response to your request for an upgrade,
No. You may not race with the 3′s any more.
Hahahahaha. Welcome to the hurt.”
So now I’ve done 3 races as a Cat 2. For those who don’t know, Cat 2s are often grouped in with the Pro/Cat 1 riders in races and are not scored separately. This means I’m now racing against the fastest guys out there.
In my Cat 2 debut at Eugene Roubaix, I did a lot of work, rode aggressively when I wasn’t hanging on for dear life, and managed to take 12th overall after taking 6th in the field sprint behind a breakaway. Okay, not bad.
Then I go and do something like this:
There’s me in the first lap at Silverton Road Race, probably two minutes ahead of the pack with no one in sight except that random guy standing in the middle of the road. That worked out well until it didn’t. Eventually I got caught by the lead breakaway/chase group, fell out of that group into the next chase group, fell out of that one into the next one, and so on until I was pretty much the last rider on the road.
Here’s the insight from my race report to the team:
“Well, it was hard. So there’s that. I non-attacked my way off the front in the first lap and spent the better part of a lap solo off the front doing about 80-90% intensity knowing I was going to get scooped up eventually. The group was lazy until they turned on the engines and gave me two minutes at one point. When they wanted to bring me back, they brought me back quickly. I was having serious stomach cramping issues and couldn’t really get comfortable or eat or drink very well. I got picked up in the second lap by a breakaway group of 10 including Eli and Chris, and I took pulls and suffered knowing it was only a matter of time before I blew off that pace. I was starting to want to puke (and tasting some in my mouth) with the stomach issues, and I couldn’t keep drink or food down very well.
So eventually I let that group go and drifted back to the chase group of 12 or so including Marcel and David M. I hung in there for a while before the deyhdration from not being able to drink enough got me, and then eventually got spit out backwards from that group as well. From there David M, Trevor from Ironclad, and myself had a nice group ride just trying to finish. I’ve never had so many bodily issues in a race… I remember at one point simultaneously being constipated, having shooting pains in my stomach, cramps in my calves, a heat headache, and spasms in my lower back. Lovely.
So we finished, and I actually enjoyed myself regardless. Plus I spent my first time off the front ever in a 1/2 race. I managed to force down three bottles, but food-wise I only got down a third of a flask of goo and a bite of a Will bar in 70 miles. That wasn’t going to fly.
Then after the race I went and puked a bit. I hope nobody is eating dinner while reading this.”
So after that not-so-stellar performance combined with several weeks of poor weather and tired legs while training, I was feeling fairly concerned about my condition going into Mt. Hood Stage Race next week.
The Mt. Tabor Circuit Race last weekend gave me one last racing tune-up before Hood, plus it’s one of the race courses used for Hood so it was a good race preview. The race started with strong rain, and about 60 riders took to the start line. 24 finished. The next hour and a half was filled with crashes, splits in the group, riders giving up mentally and/or physically, rain, sun, and lots of suffering. By the end of the race I found myself in a lead group of 14 riders getting hailed on with one lap to go. I bided my time and managed to sprint for 6th place. That was definitely the confidence boost I needed.
Photo: Pat Malach, Oregon Cycling Action
Which brings us to Mt. Hood Cycling Classic. 6 days, 6 stages. I was originally excited at the prospect of getting to race in a Cat 2-only field and see how I stacked up, but then they announced that the cat 2 field would be combined with the Pro/1 field. That wouldn’t be that remarkable, except that this is a race where the pros actually show up in numbers. Bissell and United Health Care will be there fresh off of racing ProTour teams at the Tour of California, plus elite amateur teams like Cal Giant and Exergy will have a strong presence. Check out some of the featured riders. To say that this will be a race of survival is an understatement.
Luckily, Team Oregon is going to have a good showing, with all the “pro” perks. We’ve got 7 strong riders, a car in the caravan, support in feeds, team cook, and a sweet rental lodge in Hood River. Now I just have to trust my legs to do their job and get me through the race.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
I wish I had time to update you. Too busy living life and such to have time to write about it.
FYI: If you make it all the way to the bottom of this long post, you’ll be rewarded with a spoiler picture of my new race bike in nearly-complete form.
Some nice spring weather happened to coincide quite well with a busy last several weekends. It was Jess’ spring break between terms and even though I worked the standard M-F (taking Thursday off) it was good to take a bit of a mental break when not at work as well.
Now it’s back to more winter before spring truly arrives:
Two Weekends Ago
Team Oregon team training camp in Hood River/The Dalles area! We had a blast with about 30 of us all crammed into a big house in Hood River. On Saturday we rode east of the Dalles up in the rolling hills south of the Columbia River. Nice big climbs, huge wind farms, gravel road, and some fun wind made for a great team ride.
On Sunday, we went and previewed both of the road race courses for the Cherry Blossom Cycling Classic coming up in April. I’d ridden the first day’s course in this same event last year, but the new circuit race was exciting to see. For my field, the race will consist of a number of laps on a short loop and a long loop. The short loop isn’t anything too spectacular (outside of the fact that it goes through cherry orchards that will be in full bloom during the race), but the long lap is exciting, with several big climbs (including one on a gravel road) and a fun, technical descent towards the finish. After that preview, I’m very excited for this race.
Check out the full gallery of the training camp on the Team’s Flickr page.
Last Week went about as normal except that I took Thursday off to go skiing with Jess at Mt. Hood Meadows. I was glad I got out skiing at least once this year. It was a fairly stormy day, with decent winds at the top of the lifts and just enough snow coming down to make visibility interesting at times. I enjoyed myself and definitely want to get out more in coming years. Jess was coming off a cold and didn’t feel great but really wanted to go skiing with me anyway. At least there was homemade hummus available in the lodge!
Speaking of, my homemade hummus experiments are coming along. I’ve now gotten to the point where I’d call my hummus “decent”. It generally tastes like hummus should taste and has the correct consistency. However, now I’m experimenting more with how to really make it taste good. It’s really tempting to buy a bunch of different types of hummus from the store and flavor-match, but part of the point is saving money by not buying it from the store. It would be a little silly if I end up buying more hummus than I otherwise would have.
After a series of “we’re going camping” followed by “oh wait, we’re not” followed by “yeah, actually we are” followed by “nope” followed by “yes, let’s leave in 30 minutes”, we went camping at the beach on Friday night. Six of us (Derek and Leeann, Chris and Karey, Jess and myself) headed out and got to our campsite at Cape Lookout State Park in the dark just after sunset. We set up camp and had an enjoyable evening of food, beer, and a campfire that wouldn’t stop smoking.
The next morning, Chris and Derek decided to play super hero…
… and then went surfing. It was Chris’ first time trying it out, and he had a rough time fighting fairly strong surf to get out into the good waves. I haven’t surfed since Hawaii some years back, and I found myself wanting to give it a try again.
In the afternoon, we went for a nice ride near the coast that involved some of the same roads that we traveled last fall for the Rapha Gentlemen’s Race including a beautiful stretch of winding road along a river past Beaver, OR. One of the highlights was definitely climbing up to the top of the road in Cape Lookout for a good view out at the ocean.
Following the ride we headed back into Tillamook for some seafood dinner. Looking back, it was probably a little risky to have crab cakes the evening before a race, but it didn’t seem to be much of an issue.
Here’s Derek looking rather nonplussed about the fact that he’s surrounded by various sauces:
On Sunday, Jess and I headed to Piece of Cake Road Race near Amity, OR. We both got to race for free since we volunteered before/after our own races. I figured it’d be a good training race for me to get in with a flat course leading to a bunch sprint. It seemed like a fairly straightforward course on paper (pretty much a “piece of cake”) but when you factored in the wind, things got really interesting.
In the second lap (of 4), a break went up the road that I was pretty sure would stick, so I set about bridging to it when they were probably nearly a minute up the road. I fought a nasty crosswind section for about 5 miles before finally making it up to the lead group. From there, I quickly figured out I was one of the stronger riders in the break, and we organized well enough that it quickly became apparent to me that we weren’t going to get brought back. The break worked its way down to six of us coming into the finish, and my only mistake in what was otherwise tactically one of the best races I’ve ever ridden was picking the wrong wheel out of the final corner with about 500 meters to go. The rider on the front of the group opened up a gap on the rest of us and I didn’t react quickly enough to catch him. It was a pretty easy second place, however, and it’s one that I’m very pleased with.
During Jess’ afternoon race, I sat out on one of the corners of the course directing traffic as needed and watching the races go by. Here’s Jess (left) chasing a breakaway group that ultimately managed to get away:
Finally, the race bike months in the making is nearly complete! Still to come is adjustments, custom fitting, and bar tape. Plus a chain… those are always helpful. But for the most part, here’s what it will look like. I can’t wait to ride it. The teammates who have theirs together have been raving about how the Blue frames feel in the road.
Chris DuBois posted a great report on this one, so I’ll let him do the storytelling this week.
This one could be of some use to all you cyclists wanting to improve nutrition or generally eat well.
It has come to my attention recently that I eat nutritiously. Very nutritiously. It’s been an interesting progression, but thinking back I gained some insight into how that has come about – mostly relating to the series of events shaping my life over the last two years. It can be broken down into some distinct phases:
College: Broke collegiate cyclist. Most of my diet consisted of staples like pasta, rice, grains, and vegetables. I usually managed to eat on less than $100 a month. For the most part it was healthy eating, but with that kind of food budget there were compromises nutritionally, and I while I was managing to fuel myself well, I was definitely lacking the proper amounts of some key nutrients.
Life on the Road: My full-time traveling marketing gig in the 2nd half of 2008 really reintroduced me to the concept of good eating through the form of hotel continental breakfasts and a daily meal stipend. However, when I say good eating, I’m referring primarily to taste (see here, here, and here for some examples). Thanks to a good amount of running and working out, somehow I actually lost weight while basically eating out three times a day for that long. Don’t try that one at home.
Job? What Job?: A bad economy put a damper on the job search following the contract travel job ending, but for five months I lived with a very gracious aunt and uncle and ate mostly whatever they were eating. This consisted of a fairly typical diet of a Midwesterner who migrated to the Pacific Northwest – hearty foods like meat and potatoes, pasta and rice dishes, and salads.
On My Own: A new job and living completely on my own for the first time ever gave me a blank slate as far as eating goes. Combined with a more flexible budget than my college scrimping, I now spend a bit over $200 a month on food, and that generally goes a long way.
Here’s what you’ll find in my cupboards/fridge these days. Note the categorizations:
Bananas, apples, applesauce, orange juice, grapes/raisins, frozen blueberries, squash, beans (black, pinto, kidney, re-fried, red), green beans, broccoli, spinach, corn, zucchini, onion, green pepper, garlic
Cheerios/whole grain cereal, oats, pancake mix, granola, jasmine rice, pasta, tortillas, wheat bread, bagels
Protein Sources & Good Fats
Avacados, peanut butter, roasted unsalted nuts, fish oil, chicken breasts, turkey lunchmeat, milk, tuna, whey protein powder, eggs, yogurt
Saffola mayo, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, stir fry sauce, BBQ sauce, mustard, soy sauce, parmesan cheese, cream cheese, salsa
Dill pickles, corn tortilla chips, cheddar cheese, microbrews, red wine
Note what’s lacking – specifically pretty much any sort of processed food, as well as much of anything with added sugars. The impact has been really interesting. My tastes have changed to some extent, with processed foods now tasting “processed”, if that makes any sense. Raw and plain foods taste better, and by cutting out most added sugars, now when I do eat something with high sugar content, the sweetness can almost be too much. You body definitely likes this sort of diet.
As far as cycling goes, your body REALLY likes this sort of diet. I’ve never felt this good training, I recover quickly, and I pay particular attention to eating foods with lots of proteins. I still eat a ton – probably twice what your normal person would (should) be eating, but I’ve still cut some weight/fat and added muscle mass in the last year. I think in addition to a great training regimen and getting good rest, one of my secret weapons to being strong on the bike this year is how I’ve been eating. And when I do eat sugary/high glucose foods intentionally while riding, the kick my body gets from it is huge- to the point that it’s very noticeable.
While I’m pretty happy where things are at currently, I have some minor upcoming changes to make:
1 – I plan to switch to brown rice from white rice. More nutritious, and while I currently don’t like the taste/texture as well as white rice, I think I’ll get used to it.
2 – I’m going to cut some glutens out. While I don’t think I have gluten intolerance (which does run in my family to some extent), humans just aren’t genetically programmed to digest gluten very well. I definitely notice that my body doesn’t process it as well. While I don’t plan to cut it out entirely, I think I’m going to eat more substitutes like quinoa, rice pasta, etc.
3 – This one should be a fun one. I’m always tempted by things like hummus, pesto, and salsa at the store, but the fact of the matter is that they’re all ridiculously overpriced given the manufacturing costs. So instead, I’m going to get myself a decent food processor and make them. Hummus is the first experiment. I’ve already got the chickpeas, tahini, garlic, and other ingredients. That $4.99 2 cup tub of hummus you find at the grocery store? I can make that same quantity for a little over a dollar. The food processor will pay for itself in a hurry.
Speaking of food, it’s now 7PM the evening before a bike race. Time to go make myself a nice big stir fry.
I made yesterday’s race a lot more interesting than it was supposed to be for myself. Sublime Sublimity, now in it’s 2nd year, already has a reputation for being one of the harder one-day road races in Oregon, not to mention that it comes very early on the calendar. For my field, it was 40 miles of rolling hills and unforgiving terrain that doesn’t give you much of a chance to rest. As it turned out, I gave myself pretty much no chance to rest.
About half way into the first lap (of 3 laps plus several miles of a fourth lap to the finish), I rolled slightly off the front of the field with teammate Chris DuBois coming over the top of a climb. We decided to work just enough to hopefully put some panic in the field and make them chase us hard enough to drop anyone that was hurting early in the race. The intention was never to stay away, but after two more riders bridged the gap up to us, we decided to give it a go. DuBois dropped back to the main field fairly quickly, but the remaining three of us took off up the road. It was an interesting mix in the break, partly because two of us could climb, and the third rider from Portland Velo was extremely strong on flats and downhill but couldn’t climb very quickly.
After only 5 miles or so, the break began to fall apart, and I found myself alone up the road with somewhere just under a minute lead on the main field. I decided I had nothing to lose, so I chose to try to stay away solo with just over two laps to go. I had several things working in my favor besides being strong on the climbs and having decent time trialing strength; first, the course had enough corners and rolling terrain that I knew if I could stay about a minute ahead of the field, I’d be out of sight for the most part. Second, I was catching a number of Cat 1/2 racers that had fallen off the pace of the race that started several minutes ahead of us, and they would serve to confuse the chasing field nicely on exactly where I was at.
After a lap off the front on my own I was feeling decent and still had about the same gap on the field of a minute or slightly less. Then things got interesting when a dump truck blocked the road briefly, bringing me to a stop and allowing the main field to catch up with me. The race officials kept the main group back and allowed me to regain my break time once the road was clear, but I think having me close in their sights waiting for the dump truck probably made them smell blood and want to bring me back. Worse, I was in a really nice rhythm, and having to completely stop and then immediately get back to a hard threshold tempo really hurt and I started cramping slightly.
I stayed away for another full lap while fighting cramping, but eventually I was reeled back in with only 2-3 miles to go in the race. At that point I was hurting and worried I’d get shot out the back of the lead group, but I managed to hang in alright and actually found the strength to close a gap or two that opened up during attacking that occurred in the final miles. I spent the last mile yelling at Chris DuBois that my legs were toasted and I’d be pissed if he didn’t beat me since he should be fresh. Apparently that helped with some motivation, because he had a strong finish and came in 6th. I hung on for 10th on a short finishing climb with a 20 percent grade that made everyone’s tired legs scream at them.
All in all, I’m pleased with how it went, even if a 30 mile time trial wasn’t in my original plans for the day. This one told me a lot more about my fitness than the win at Cherry Pie did. It’s good – really good. April races, look out.
My aunt was there and took some great photos:
Next up come the Banana Belts which I’ll mostly treat as training races. That said, if the opportunity to snag the rest of the points I need to secure a Cat 2 upgrade arises, I’ll definitely take advantage of it.
Lots to say about the race, both good and bad, but I guess the bottom line is that I won, which is awesome! Sorry if the report is a bit long.
This one was a weird one. It still hasn’t quite sunk in fully, partly because with a mile to go my only goal left was to try to salvage my race and pull out a top 15.
First off, I feel really bad for the portion of our field that missed the start. Apparently our field’s registration capped out at 100, yet we were staged and started a full 8 minutes early and we rolled out with probably only 70 riders. One of our riders didn’t make it in time, and several other teams were lacking a majority of their groups. Not sure why that happened, but at the very least I hope the promoter gives them all refunds.
If they didn’t manage to catch up with the group before the end of the neutral rollout, it was race over for them. As soon as the race began, someone drilled it and we were going 30MPH from the gun. Early on in the lap, Rob and Derek made things interesting up front, and then about the time Rob moved back to rest up, a break got away that ended up being 7 riders at one point. I tried to bridge to it into a slight headwind and failed, coming within probably 30 yards of the break before not being able to hold the pace and dropping back. I don’t feel quite as bad about that looking back, considering at one point I looked down and I was in my 53X13 chasing them.
I made one other attempt to bridge with two other riders, but the peleton chased us and we never got much of a gap on them. At this point, I wasn’t feeling very good and needed to rest up.
Coming into the climb the first time, suddenly I was passing riders all over the place and started to feel a bit better about my form. The break started shedding some riders and was down to 4 starting the second of two laps (26 miles each for a total of 52). At this point it began to look like the break was finally going to get caught, and I slipped back in the pack a ways to rest up to be up front for the last miles of the race.
We had a fast first lap – averaging over 26MPH, and then as soon as the break was caught about a quarter of the way into the second lap, the pace slowed significantly and the movement in the peleton bottlenecked worse than I think I’ve ever seen it before. I spend the last 20 miles of the race trying in vain to move up even a few spots, but found myself stuck very solidly around 40th place in the pack. We were 5 wide, bumping bars, crossing wheels, etc. Justin managed to get himself up to a comfortable spot near the front just in time before things froze up, but Pat, Derek, and myself all found ourselves mid pack trying to get a glimpse of the front of the race.
Nearing the Finish
With several miles to go, everyone was getting anxious with nowhere to go and feeling pretty much completely stuck. Some yelling, bumping, and other general sketchiness occurred. I just tried to keep myself calm and patient, telling myself that a line would open up. That hope started to fade as we approached the base of the final climb to the finish.
The Finishing Climb
The base of the climb was about the point where I decided a top 15 would be a decent way to salvage the day, and I figured I could pass enough people to do so. Up the first of the steps of the climb things stayed fairly packed together with nowhere to move. Then, out of nowhere on the second step of the climb a huge line opened to the left and I jumped hard, going from 30th or further back up to top 10.
Justin gave me a very motivating “go get ‘em” as I passed, and I found myself sitting 5th-6th wheel around the final corner into the steep part of the finishing climb – which was right where I would have wanted to be regardless of the last 20 frustrating miles. I was already a bit spent from the effort to move up, but I figured I’d trust my legs from several weeks of hard 2-3 minute Tabor intervals to carry me to the finish.
Someone jumped pretty much right away after the corner, and I grabbed his wheel as he came around everyone heading towards the 200 meter sign. Instead of starting to die off, I actually managed to grab an extra gear and came around him with about 100 meters to go and put my head down and dug hard hoping no one could come around me.
I made it to the line first and was fairly sure I had won, but had to double-check with officials partly because there were a few riders up ahead that it turns out had fallen off the back of the race in front of us. That, and I was in a mild state of disbelief that I’d managed to pull a win out of what seemed like a hopeless situation.
Justin got caught up in a crash on the finishing climb, which spoiled what would have otherwise been a very good finishing place (he’s fine). It’s his turn next week.
Thanks also to Derek for trying to help me move up. Even though we never actually made much headway, he definitely kept me focused on trying to move up, which in reality at the very least kept me fighting to hold my position and not slip further back.
Here’s a Panorama shot from Bryce National Park yesterday. I merged it from 12 photos taken at the Bryce Point Overlook.
See the big version here – still only 25% of actual size.
If I were to print this thing out at 100%, it’d be something insane like 50 inches tall and 360 inches (30 feet) long.