Saturday, May 28, 2011

Arborkitty, Aquakitty

At 6 months, the kittens are not so kitten-sized anymore.  They are still extremely cute and do funny things.  Marley we call ArborKitty because she loves to climb trees, fences, pergolas, etc.  Drew has had to rescue her twice from up high in the trees.  She seems to have learned her lesson though, and hasn't been treed for several weeks.

Marley is a cuddle bug. She cries to be held a lot, so in order to get anything done around the house, I have resorted to carrying her in my jacket papoose-style.

Max we call AquaKitty because he loves water.  When we shower, he comes in too and skirts the perimeter for fun.  He doesn't mind walking across the wet deck or driveway or going outside in the rain. We rarely go into the bathroom without him jumping on the counter to get a drink and have a good time.  Here he is playing in the water.

One day I caught Max napping in the paper recycling bin.

So then he played a while while Marley looked on.

They are so much fun to have around.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Race Report: Hammerfest at the Hollow

On one of only a few Saturdays Drew expects he will get off this summer, we chose to get up early in the 43 degree weather after a week of rain and race our bikes on muddy trails.  It was so tempting to sleep in, but we won't have many chances to race together this summer, so off we went to the 9th annual Hammerfest at the Hollow Intermountain Cup MTB race.  The event takes place at Soldier Hollow, site of the 2002 Winter Olympics Nordic skiing events.

Race start was delayed by half an hour to let the course dry out just a little bit.  Maybe it helped some, but there were still places that were as slick as snot and we more or less surfed our bikes down greasy slopes and pushed them through a mud bog or two.

I've been super busy with work and gone at a conference this past week, so my pre-race preparations consisted of too much coffee (necessitated by listening to geologists talk about obscure projects while watching Power Point slide shows in dimly lit rooms), too much beer (they give you a ticket for free beer to encourage mingling at the poster presentations and I work with non-drinkers who generously gave me their tickets), out of the ordinary diet (restaurants and snack food), and poor sleep (hotel beds!).  I was not expecting to do well.

I lined up with 4 other Expert Women. Heather from Mad Dog is new to the category, but had similar lap times as me at 12 Hours of Mesa Verde. Lisa always beats me. Teammates Ellen and Alison have been looking strong this season.  I was fully expecting to pull in 5th place.

That's where I started, but about a quarter of the way into the first lap, I started gaining on Alison and Ellen.  I passed Alison, then drew closer to Ellen, who was also gaining on Lisa. Heather was outta sight by this time.  I paced off of Ellen and Lisa for a few hundred yards, then, as Ellen made her move past Lisa, I went too. So now I was in 2nd place!  Not for long; Lisa passed me back quickly, so I tailed her for a while.  At the top of the climb, I was able to get around her, but on the slippery slimy decent, she got around me and rode like a pro.  At the end of the first lap, she had about 40 seconds on me, and Ellen was about a minute back.  I would have to chase on again if I wanted to place 2nd. So I did, and passed Lisa about half way through the big climb on the second lap.  In addition to the soft spongy ground, which we were all struggling with, she had a badly rubbing brake. I know it must have been hell to pedal in those condition, but she did and she hung on my wheel until almost the top of the climb.  There, I was able to put some distance on her, and through the decent I gained some more, so by the end of the 2nd lap, I had about a minute on her.  I held onto it through the small lap for the 2nd place podium and a $20 gift card to Cole Sport sporting goods store. 

Hammerfest Expert Women's podium Ellen, me, Heather, Lisa

Drew has been sick now for almost three weeks. He went on antibiotics this week, so hopefully that will kick the bug.  Consequently, he didn't have a good race and got sunburned through the mud covering he picked up on course.

Since my post-race recovery drink consisted of one and a half 24-ounce Epic Brewery beers, (what a great team sponsor!!!), and Drew's recovery drink consisted of water, we stopped at a funky little joint in Midway called Fill Er Up Coffee Station for a yummy sandwich. Then it was home so Drew could clean up and head off to work and I could clean up the bikes. It took 2 hours to wash all the mud off of them! Oh the things we do to race.

Monday, May 9, 2011

12 Hours of Mesa Verde v. 2.0

OK, so updates did not follow that last post in a timely fashion.  Because neither Bobke's cigarette lighter nor AC outlets work, we couldn't charge our phones easily so had to restrain from unfettered remote blog postings while on vacation like we usually do.

We are back now from our trip to Cortez, Colorado where we raced in the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde MTB race for our the second year in a row.  Last year we decide it was one of the funnest races we've ever done so we, along with 28 other official or unofficial Revolution Peak Fasteners teammates signed up again this year. 

If you recall, last year's trip to this race was to be Bobke's maiden voyage. Now, finally nearly two years after we rescued him from certain disintegration in an Idaho abandoned lot, Bobke was road worthy.  We gave ourselves plenty of time to get to the race early. We left SLC Wednesday evening and made it as far as Salina, Utah by nightfall.  We stopped to put in gas and warm up (no heat in the cab) and noticed a suspiciously large pool of what appeared to be fuel underneath him. We were concerned, but also tired and cold, so we motored on to a primitive campground on National Forest Service land outside of Salina, at the base of the big mountains and crashed out for a very cold, fuel fumey, and worrisome night.

In the morning, the sun was shining and pools of unknown vehicle fluids were no where to be seen, so we chalked last night's episode up to spilled fuel from when I topped off the fuel tank after fill up.  Bobke was ready to take on the Rocky Mountains!

And there were some hills to climb.  This view put knots in our stomachs. Would Bobke make it up the hill without overheating?

But each time we pointed Bobke up a hill, he would quietly down-shift, slow down, and keep motoring.  Did I say slow down?  I meant crawl.  Since the odometer cable doesn't work, we don't know exactly how slow we were traveling on the uphills, but when moths hit the windshield, walk to the side, and fly away, you know you have minimal highway velocity. Loaded semi-trucks passed us easily.  Regular cars went by so fast we couldn't read their license plates.

Oh, and I mentioned no heat.  In fact, it was downright drafty with 40 degree morning air whistling in through the cracks.  This was the required attire for pilot and co-pilot.

So we may not have been speedy or comfortable, but we were stylish.  We chugged along I-70, then Hwy 191 through Moab, then turned east for Bobke's first foray into Colorado under our leadership.  We arrived at the race venue, the Montezuma County Fairgrounds, around 3 PM on Thursday to stake out a large area for our team and pre-ride the race course. The course was even funner and easier than I remembered from last year.  Since we were riding around dusk, we saw lots of animals including this big lizard.

One of my two teammates for this race Leslie and her husband were there to help and pre-ride as well. We had a terrific dinner and beers with them at Koko's Friendly Pub.

Friday Drew and I were both feeling a bit under the weather, so we laid pretty low and waited for teammates to roll into town and set up our Revolution City.  We had 1 huge motorhome, 1 large camper trailer, 1 small camper trailer, two VWs, five big canopy tents, a percolator for our Silver Bean Coffee (that unfortunately did not work), birthday cake, gallons of CarboRocket, and most importantly, several coolers of beer, one full of beer from one of our team sponsors, Epic Brewing.

Our friends and temporary Revolution teammates Jon and Kathy pulled in from Grand Junction in their Westy.  Bobke had a friend to camp with!

Friday folks were pre-riding and getting their bikes ready to go for tomorrow.  Carl, our shop mechanic, was to race solo the next day, but that didn't stop him from generously working on people's bikes on Friday.  He helped me out at 9:30 PM! What a nice guy.

It was early to bed for everyone Friday night.

Saturday dawned clear and mild.  Whitney, my other teammate on the Forty Fillies 3-woman relay team, was ready to go.

 And they're off with a LeMans start!

The first racers were really fast, coming around on their first lap in about 1 hour 10 minutes.  Whitney put in a good time for her first lap of around 1:37:45, even though she stopped for a few minutes to stay with our teammate Brandon S. while first aid personnel came to check him out after a fall.

Then it was my turn to take a lap. I went out feeling pretty good and passed a lot of people, mostly solo racers that were dialing it back so they could ride all day.  The temps were perfectly warm and the trail was in superb condition.  This was my first real test of my bike, Santa Cruz Sam.  Sam performed like an extension of my body except when I would take sharp turns and big hits, and then his rear tire burped air.  I just hoped the tire would hold enough air to let me finish the lap, since I am the world's slowest flat tire changer. The Tallboy in size large is really an excellent bike.  I could not believe how easily I went over rocks and obstacles with the 29-inch wheels compared to last year. On rocks and ledges where I struggled last year with my Blur, which is no slacker of a bike, I simply rolled over this year. I was in awe. It was so much fun!!!  The tires held and I pulled in a good lap time of 1:34:45, which was 1 minute 48 seconds faster than my fastest time last year, when I was training and in good shape. It's all due to the bike!

After zooming by the team tent,
 I handed off to Leslie.  She too was on a 29er and after she came into the timing barn and traded off
to Whitney, she said she was having a great lap until mile 8 (of 16) when her pedal broke.  She had to finish the last half the course without being able to clip into her pedal, which happens to be the most technical and fastest part of the course, where clipless pedals are most useful. She did alright considering, and got a 1:39:10.

The day continued with us taking turns on the course and alternately hanging out at the team tent

or in our respective vehicles trying to recover with fluids and super sexy compression stockings.

The next go around for Whitney was our team's fastest lap at 1:31:50.  Rock it Whitney!  I felt good on my second lap even though it was nearly 80 degrees on course. My lap tome was only 28 seconds slower than my first lap, so I'm happy with that.  It helped that I inflated my tires to the proper air pressure to promote optimal traction and prevent burping. Leslie went out for her second lap and finished up in just over 1:40 and then Whitney went out for what would be our final lap.

Meanwhile, Drew and his partner Jon were racing their own race.  Jon was having trouble eating between laps, and Drew was fighting to race with a cold. They did fine though and both said they were having fun.  Later in the day, Drew and our teammate Jim decided to ride one lap together.

Drew ended up completing three laps. 
As the 6 PM cut off time to go out on another lap approached, racers began piling up in the team tent.

Which had beer!

It was fun to hang out and see our teammate finish their final laps. Leslie and I were watching the clock for Whitney. If she rode a decent lap, we expected her to finish between 6:15 and 6:20.  At 6:00 we got a text from her that she had broken a chain! Yikes. We immediately started calculating how long she had to fix it before the big lead we had over the Mad Dog Team ladies behind us ticked away.  We had a 28 minute lead on them. Would it be enough?  Whitney's husband sent her phone videos on how to fix the chain and she said someone was helping her.  We crossed our fingers and watched as racer after racer after racer came in, but none were Whitney, and none were the other team's rider either. Finally at about 6:40, in rolled Whitney with a smile.

We had held on for forth place by 6 minutes, behind two teams of pro or ex-pro women and a younger team from Colorado.We'll take it!

With the drama over, Drew and I hung out with Kathy, Jon and doggie Addy

to watch the last of the racers come in.  Doug did himself proud and finished a second lap without ripping his shorts.   

We ate the very delicious Lotsa Pasta meal provided and waited for the awards. Finally Leslie and I were able to claim our little trophies.

I wanted to bolt mine to the dash of Bobke, but Drew said no. He's just jealous.:-)
We camped out one more night and then packed it up for a leisurely 8-hour, 55-mph drive back to Salt Lake on Sunday.  A very successful maiden voyage for Bobke and great times racing with our team. We'll be back next year.

If you want to get a feel for the race course you can click on the You Tube link below and watch a 10 minute video highlighting some of the course shot by Drew during a practice lap.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Yes, amongst all the home improvement and bike racing of last year, we were occasionally working on the '80 vanagon. This weekend we are taking him, or should I say he is taking us, to Cortez, CO, for the 12 hours of Mesa Verde mtb race. This our first road trip. Here we are at the San Rafael Swell view area once we crested the Wasatch Range. We were very nervous about those hills!  We are enjoying the scenery at 50 mph. Updates to follow.