Thursday, December 30, 2010

Aching for Mud


By M.M.Blomberg

Veins are missing something,
That kept me rolling on.
For months OBRA
Kept me high
Now it’s all dried up and gone.

A NEED that I paid for,
in blood, sweat and knees.
To play in the rain,
and the dirt,
and the trees.
Every week had a plan, of what, when and where.
Now my schedule is empty,
Left with nothing but air.

My craving, not satisfied,
the heaviness grows.
I’ve got no one to cheer for,
and no races of my own.
Shaking and vibrating,
Anxiety builds.
Wishing Cross Crusade came
in an off season pill.

Desperately I search the web,
I ache for muddy action,
But I’ve seen all the videos
At least three times,
Denied my satisfaction.

Don’t try an intervention,
It’s the grit and speed I love.
The ringing of the cowbell
And the bleeding and the mud.
It’s what I eat
And live and breathe,
Four months out of the year,
It’s the only fix I know of,
That comes in spinning gears.

So go load up
my weekly dose,
Inject that vitamin “C”,
Cause if you raced cyclocross
You’d be and addict.

Just like me.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Baseline Pursuits

Week One of The Pursuit of Glory Winter Training Class has been a hoot. Why? Because folks went fast!

Even in the cold air amidst Christmas car chaos, stress was light and recovery easy in the high intensity, but low volume program.

Time Trials on Terwilliger, Fairmont Loop and Willamette Blvd. gave racers an opportunity to open up the engines - test them at speed, and evaluate data.

Cruising around town strong and fresh, big tempo changes people's perspective about themselves on the bike. Micheal Palmer of Veloce is one fast guy to watch for next season. These intervals reveal his form only improves as the riding hours pass.

Mike Girard of Portland Velo is another "up and comer" who is fired up and focused on championship in OBRA-land next year. Always giving hard effort both on the road in these TTs, and back in the yoga studio.

If you Cat 4/5s see him go long next year, you better jump cause he is going to stay away!

Legspeed, long intervals, yoga... it all adds up!

After meeting up at River City Bicycles, the bike shop Crank is where the class retires, and the real work begins.

Jake Hansen has been learning Bikram Yoga and he shows others the way. Whether they like it or not is another story.
As you can see, we had to stick OBRA Track Champ Maya Bergmann to the ceiling.

Yoga, abs, pushups, plyos, and handstands are just some of the agonizing details in the Pursuit of Glory Winter Training.

Afterwards Non-Profit Executives and new b.i.k.e. CEO Sandra Clark led a discussion with Uof O student and b.i.k.e grad Aaron Boothby about a protocol for quantifying improvement in health and resilience in youth who ride bikes. OHSU Nurse Sarah Hunter,
PSU Intern/Interim Director Jake Hansen, and Bike Board Chair Tim Bergmann added game to the name.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bortolami's Awards Dinner

Gianluca Bortolami (see his Palmare's here) would have been proud to see the amature bicycle racers gathered in the American Pizzeria named after him, one Belgium-wet/cold Saturday in December.

Word-RCB and the Kids of b.i.k.e. by Cyclisme Racing Programs were in the house once again to celebrate The Lore.

"El Presidente," Greg O'Brien called for the end of season event, and with home made medals fashioned by Masters Racer and dedicated volunteer, Dave Wingard, Randy Word used team funds to buy Pizza for all.

Highlights of the 2010 season were recalled as many received special accolades for their accomplishments.

Bortolami was a Euro Star who exemplified class and finished in Paris Roubaix most notably in a "1,2,3 Victory" with his Mapei Teamates Museaw and Taffi. The class of the "Team Pursuits" we acknowledged ourselves with The Women's Team, the Junior Boys, and the "Family Pursuiters" the Bergmann's were all recognized for their Team prowess.

Keegan O'Niell and Sunny Chiago were recognized for their great improvement, and Naiqwan was recognized for being the Fastest.

Others were recognized for kindness and leadership.

The Introduction of the Cyclisme Awards for Service was a hit as recycled things made glorious awards. Recipients included Cooper, Blomberg, Bergmann, Word, Lanners, Bedford and Hansen.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Cyclocross Nationals 12/9/2010
By M.M.Blomberg

Folks around P-Town avoid driving in the snow let alone riding their bikes in it, especially during a workday commute. But racing in the snow? You mean people really do that? Until this week, I’d only seen bike races in the snow on youtube. How are you supposed to stay warm in a lycra? Go fast till you can feel your toes again? Nope. I’ve tried that one. Suitcase crammed full cold weather gear and a tub of embrocation, the goal was to finish my race at Nationals hypothermia and frost bite free.

Leaving my hotel for the race venue early Thursday morning, it’s very cold (35 degrees) and smells like Christmas. Think fir trees and the comforting smell of a wood burning fire in the air. Unfortunately, no Bing Crosby song and fuzzy Snuggie to cuddle up with. Just the cold, harsh reality of cyclocross racing lay ahead that I paid good money to suffer in. Upon arrival, I wandered the grounds, hoping to find a familiar face in the team tent area. Like a beacon in the gloomy morning rain, I found the Portland Velo tent with my friend Malcolm Johnson tucked inside. Complete with propane heater (so nice), trainers and completely sheltered from the low 30’s wind, I am offered a spot in the tent and use of a trainer. Sweeeeeet.

Snow still covered parts of the race course, and the lake we were to paddle through looked like an arctic thaw with huge shards of ice floating on top. I did not pre ride so I had to study the lines of the morning racers in preparation. Malcolm gave me his report and suggestions since he had already raced. With a smirk, he lays his golden nugget of wisdom on me. “Don’t Crash.” Super. With that gem I’m ready to conquer the world. The start is a long pavement stretch to a 90 degree left turn slightly uphill into muck and deep grooves carved by wheels and weather. No barriers in my race but they did add two barriers on Friday. Short steep punchy hills, small sections of pavement, rugged loops through trees and one big set of wood stairs. One large hill was rideable for some depending on traffic and course conditions. Lots of off spectator friendly off camber sections ready to throw riders into the stakes & tape against their will to the chagrin of fans. Having run into my friend and neighbor Johnny Vergis (CyclePath) before my race, he volunteered to pit for me.

My dumb toes were still cold even though I was in a heated tent warming up on my trainer for 45 minutes before my race. Conveniently located next to the start, it was a short trip to the line up. 46 women in the 40-44 age group. And, two time National Champion Wendy Williams (River City) was in the front row. Nobody said this would be a fair fight. To my surprise, I received a nice talk up from my hometown race announcer Splinter as we waited for the whistle. Malcolm took control of my camera and accepted the role of jacket collector at the line. In front and behind me are Ann Kennedy (unattached) and Jill Hardiman (Existential Velo). Brain chatter says, “Keep Wendy in your sites. Stay with Wendy”. Oh silly pipe dreams.

Whistle blows and we jump into action on the long pavement start. The whole field almost slows to a halt when we bottleneck at the first left turn onto dirt. Rounding the corner, Jill gets tangled up with Stephanie Utrecht (WebCyclery) in the tape and they both hit the ground. As I pass the carnage, I see Wendy and the lead group have already turned the next corner past the pit and are sailing through the frozen lake ahead of us. That was the last time I saw her until the end of the race when she gave me a smile of acknowledgement. My own trip through the frozen water was shocking to the system, like watery daggers on my legs and worse on the toes as the water filled my shoes. Trying to find a pace and catch up with the leaders (ha,ha catch up), it’s through the soggy grass, 90 degree turn in more soggy grass and mud, then briefly onto pavement. A high muddy berm looked rideable but the ladies in front of me got stuck and I ended up pushing my bike. Elise Huggins (Veloforma) and Ann are ahead of me so my plan is to pass them. Through the rocky muddy sections in the trees and through the first run up, all is well as I chase Ann. Just before the next run up, my rear wheel hits a rut and I go down hard in big mud puddle, covering my face in dirty water (Malcolm got a photo seconds before this happened). Riding the small hills I am still pursuing. Too much traffic on the big hill so I opt to run it every time and avoid a time sucking crash.

Lap 2, I manage to pass Elise when she gets tangled up in the tape before the run up. Unfortunately, Stephanie and Jill both got around me and I am not able to stay on their wheels. Losing bits of time on the muddy berm because I am to stubborn to run it, I end up getting stuck, almost falling down hill in the ankle deep mud. Elise is chasing me and I know she is a strong rider having raced with her during Cross Crusade. She passes me once but I am able to come around her again on a flat muddy straight section. She says “good job” when I pass her and looks like she is suffering. Lap three and Elise is behind me again at the stairs but in an attempt to pass me, slips on the outside edge of the steps and crashes knees first into and off of the side of the stairway. Yowza, that’s gonna leave a mark. Only slightly better for me as poor line selections sends me into the tape in two different off camber sections, one leaving me under my bike in the fabric barrier. Get up, Get up! Both allow me to be passed by other riders only making me more determined to pass them back.

Final lap and Virginie Calme (CyclePath) comes around me. This action is not lost on our local race announcer. Splinter’s microphone echoes as he announces this new battle between the “Portland Locals” to the crowd. “Who will it be with final bragging rites?!” booms over the loud speaker. At this point, Wendy Williams had long since won the race and in the process, lapped the back 10 of the pack (you get pulled if you get lapped). Glad it wasn’t me. Making my final push on the off camber section before the pavement finish, trying to keep solid lines in slippery mess of grass and mud. Virginie is farther ahead of me than I wanted so with everything I had, I pushed my legs into a final big chain ring sprint to the end. She beat me by 1 second with Ann Kennedy 5 seconds ahead of her and Splinter verbally documenting Virginie earning P-Town bragging rites. Wendy however, beat me by 7 MINUTES for her third National Championship win. I think she needs to Cat up.

Post race, Malcolm made my day by offering to take my Kona to the bike wash and pick up Pinky in the pit while I got dry and warm at Camp Portland Velo. Thank you Malcolm! I owe you a beer or three.

Special Thanks to Eric Tonkin at Sellwood for making my stay in Bend possible. Big thanks to the Chris Snyder (Bicycle Attorney) and Jill Hardiman for inviting me to continue my stay through the weekend in Bend with the team at the Bicycle Attorney team house. You guys Rock!
Lastly, thanks to Kevin O'connell for use of his fancy wheels.


My Vacation of Pain


Cyclocross Nationals Prologue 12/7-8/2010
By M.M.Blomberg

It’s Tuesday afternoon and I am driving through the Mt. Hood National forest on my way to Bend. My vacation of pain and I’ve been looking forward to this all year. Fresh powder leaves a sparkling glow on our northwest wonderland. Can’t remember the last time I was in the mountains but I am soaking up the beauty before me. Dropping into Warm Springs, the entire desert is also covered in white. Strange to see a normally dusty red barren landscape like this covered in snow. I actually considered pulling over to go for a ride but the miles of fences made me think better of it.

Pulling into town, Bend has plenty of snow on the ground but the weather is supposed to bring warmer temperatures and rain. I don’t know that 38 degrees is warmer but it’s better than 25 degrees back in Warm Springs. After picking up my race packet at the Old Mill and scoring a sweet discount on dinner, I settled into my hotel for a nice evening of bike cleaning and cable TV. My sweetie Shane has been left behind at home to tackle his own challenge of finals for school.

Arriving too late in the day on Tuesday to pre ride the time trial course, I set out early Wednesday morning to walk it before my 11:30 am race time. Low 30’s with wind and rain off and on made for an icy, snowy course and the early riders spend more time on foot. Sorta missing the point of a cycling time trial. Walking the course, I found much of it to be just a treacherous. In many sections the snow had melted and refroze leaving a hard shiny coating of ice on top, making it very difficult to walk on. A dangerous turn at the bottom of a steep snowy hill was shoveled down to the red dirt by race officials, as it had been too sketchy to ride. Officials went back and forth about possibly canceling the time trial but in the end, our race was back on, an hour later than scheduled.

After a trainer warm up at the Showers Pass tent (thanks Dave & Vern), I started behind Ann Kennedy (unattached), one of my fellow Blind Date and Cross Crusaders from Portland. Pavement start to a 90-degree turn into a snowy curving downhill and some ladies chose to run it to avoid an “endo”. I rode it and tried to think of the snow as really slick mud. It reminded me of racing the Battle at Barlow in the pouring rain with wheels spinning in the mud. Speed was difficult until I hit flatter sun covered sections with just dirt and sand but those were few and far between. Icy puddles dumped water through the holes of my shoes leaving my already cold toes frozen. I am heeding the warning of others to avoid high speeds in the shady snow as that leads to crashing in the ice. Rounding a left turn in the frustrating snow, it’s time for a dismount. The run up is very steep, covered in snow and ice with few line options. I take the right side with more snow and dig my toes in like I’m ice climbing with crampons. At the top, it’s a remount and back into the slush leading to a steep down hill. I don’t fight my steed as it skips and lurches back and forth underneath me across the cold crunchy surface. Can’t help thinking the ground looks like a big snow cone. I’ll have cherry and high desert flavor on mine! Easy on the brakes, cutting my line in almost an S pattern down the hill, rolling over deep lines from previous races. Successfully maneuvering to the bottom, it’s a right turn and a low climb in more snow. Staying low and to the rear, I try to be consistent with my pedal strokes but the snow is playing catch with my tires, throwing me side to side and preventing any serious speed. The sun has come out (weather changes every 20 minutes around here), leaving my decent mostly melted with a clean line to the bottom. More S turns and it’s the final run up (no barriers in the time trial) before the cement. With a lap time of 10:30, I came in 1 second behind Ann, leaving me 15th out of 33 for the 40-44 master ladies (time trial was optional) and possible 3rd row position for call-ups on Thursday. Points were also awarded for this race giving me my first national standing. I spent the afternoon in my tiny hotel gym doing weights and cardio, and had a super sexy evening eating take-out, watching cable and cleaning my bike. Bike racers have all the fun.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Getting ready at the Ranch!


Cleen and Jerk is an all around power developing lift that racers use to get fast. No pretentious environment is needed when you just want to get strong. What the lifter lifts is irrelevant too, as the old Highlander would just lift a rock.

So at the end of a driveway and on a livingroom floor, we have created a "bicycle studio."

Show up and unpack your stuff, but dress warm because we are training where we race - OUTSIDE.

We go inside once in a while to eat, to talk, and once at the end of a work out, we pull it all together with yoga.
Yoga is a stalwart of elite athletes the world over.

After all that pushing it up, sometimes we also pull it down.

Training on the rusty weights at the Ranch is how some folks are getting ready for the new race season.

Riding rollers is the best way to develop leg speed. Riders train with intervals on the rollers to get fast fastest.

For some folks getting ready to race is something to put off.

For others, it is something to dive into.

Ghetto 500!

500 meters
is an important distance in the Velodrome. Used as monster interval before the big 2.5 K scheduled interval in the infamous "Mass Start Test" issued by the United Cycliste Internationale, 500 meters is also an Olympic event on it's own.

Winter closes Alpenrose Velodrome in Portland, Oregon, so we have to improvise. Recently Peter Smith marked off 500m on SE 62nd. In the rain Sarah Hunter and Jake Hansen put it to the test.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Career Mielle-stone - 3rd at USGP!

USGP Day 2 12/5/2010
By M.M.Blomberg

Orphan: A rider without a team tent of their own (yes, I am an orphan). (Word RCB has no team tent)
Poaching: Hanging out in another team’s tent and mooching their trainers and treats (yup, guilty of that too). Poaching is like hanging out at the cool kids’ house on the block that had video games and a fridge full of snacks. Making friends with those you race with has all kinds of benefits. One of those benefits is the use of a team tent, which shelters you from the weather at a race and gives you a safe place to stash your stuff. A generous offer from Chris Snyder (Bike Attorney) today allowed me to enjoy a temporary home at the Bicycle Attorney tent. On the trainers next to me are Sarah Eustice (Bike Attorney) and Jill Hardiman (Existential Velo). Welcome to the Lion’s Den. We are warming up for the kill.

Day 2 at USGP is known to have a slightly modified course from the previous day and many racers opt to do one but not both days. Since I am a glutton, I wanted to stuff myself full of sweet racing in preparation for Nationals this week in Bend, OR. The bruises on my thigh and knees tell me I got my moneys worth. Missing out on the early pre ride, I gleaned bits of useful info from others that did. Mt. Mucky was a run up and a clean ride down. Temperatures in the low 30’s left the course firmer. More loops around the tree and a two-way pit. With my teammate Jenn Leonard on point to pit for me (hope the donuts were enough payment), it’s time to get this party started.

A 15 min wait in the pre race line up corral made for very a shivery start. Sarah and Jill are to my left but we are surrounded with unfamiliar kits. My race brain has a final note for me, “Whatever you do, STAY WITH JILL”. Off the line I can’t get clipped and the front row gets ahead of me on the long pavement start. Learning from yesterdays’ mistake, I jumped into my big chain ring and sprinted around the group, hitting the right turn into the grass and getting into 4th position with Jill in the lead. Sarah is ahead of me but I am able to get past her as we start catch up with the B’s/Beginners who had a 1 min head start. Swooping around the squirrely and less skilled riders before technical sections leaves those behind you to dodge these human bullets. Round and round, back and forth through the trees, then over to a small punchy climb similar to yesterday. Riding this hill, I am in 2nd position behind Jill now. Down the gravel road, I am back to where it all went badly for me yesterday at Peanut Butter Mountain. Over the whoop de dos, hard left to mucky grass and dismount where the muddy ascent begins. My mantra played over and over, “this hill will not beat me, this hill will not beat me”. Remount at the top and it’s mostly smooth to the bottom.

Lap 2 and it’s Jill and I out front but I know Sarah is back there in the grass waiting to pounce. I wonder if Jill knows I’m stalking her (the sound of me sucking wind might give me away). Getting stuck behind slower riders starts a speed sucking chain reaction, leaving me to chase again. Lucky for me, Jill hits a bad line and goes down in a turn, buying me back precious seconds. I am inches from her rear wheel and plan to stay there even if my lungs burst. Another successful ride on the motocross course and I continue my pursuit into the trees. This time, it’s me with the bad luck. Coming around another rider, I take a turn too wide, clip the stake and hit the ground. I tried to get up but the rider behind me knocked my rear wheel leaving me scrambling to get out from under my bike. Do you hear that? It’s the sound of my gap sailing awayyyyy. A supportive spectator yells, “GET ON YOUR BIKE!” Remounting, I chase Jill out of the saddle around the trees through the roots and ruts but she has already opened bigger lead by the time we hit the small hill again. Back to the whoop de dos, I push my body hard to run through the playdough and get to the top without losing time or a shoe. Success!

Big chain ring as I sail through the finish for our 3rd and final lap. I’ve managed to stay in 2nd position but my lost time from the crash means I am the one being stalked. Sarah catches me in the grass off the pavement and I am feeling the burn from chasing my own prey for two laps. With an empty course over my shoulder, I feel like we are having our own three person race. Staying with Sarah, our pursuit of Jill continues. Slower riders bring our pace to a slow roll and briefly we are wheel to wheel in a bottleneck at a turn around a tree. With more umph and a better passing line, Sarah got to the run up first. Pushing big gears I attempt to catch her in the straits. Up and over the barriers and I hit the right turn onto pavement, sprinting to the line. Sarah gets 2nd with me 6 seconds behind her for a super satisfying 3rd place podium finish. Jill beat me by 20 seconds. Claws sheathed for the day, it was nothing but smiles and hugs on the podium.

I will see you cool cats at Cross Nats.
US Grand Prix Day 1 12/4/2010

By M.M.Blomberg

National races bring the big guns to town like Ryan Trebon (Kona), Chris Horner (Radio Shack) and our own P-Town lady of awesome, Sue Butler (Subaru-hudz). Even though I aspire to those lofty heights, I came to the conclusion today that I am half way there already. My pit crew (every pro has one) was bike mechanic and single speed enthusiast Beth Hamon (Velo Bella), with Word-RCB domestique Keegan O'Neill on standby. My personal photographer, bike cleaner and “Crap Sherpa” Shane (I love you baby) was on course to document all of the muddy action, provide hydration and cheer me on. To round out the group, my coach John Benenate was on site to provide wisdom, support and post race goals for next season. All I need now is a film crew on a motorcycle. Any volunteers?

A pre ride option was open the day before the race from 2-4 pm. Sunny, windy and low 40‘s sounds great for biking, but the course at PIR was no fun for me. Rain the day before left standing water in the bumpy grass and mucky mud made for a slow and sticky pre ride. A large wide hill on the motocross course was surrounded by ankle deep sticky mud and was run by most. At the top of the hill is a decent into shoe eating territory. I did not possess the quads of steel to push through this so I shouldered my bike for the whole thing. Twisting through the trees, I took a bad line in and smacked my kneecap on a stake. OWWWWW. It’s important to get your crashing out of the way in your pre ride. Seemed to work pretty well for me during Short Track. When I was done with two laps, my bike barely shifted and my shoes had been dipped in muck and covered in grassy sprinkles. Guess it will be 3 days of bike washing this weekend.

Saturday morning brings more wind and temperatures in the 30’s but no rain. No team tent set up today but an 8:45 AM race means getting up at the crack of dawn. 30 min parking lot warm up ride and it’s time to line up. 17 Master’s women (all ages over 35 yrs) showed for this test of endurance. Front row start with Margi Bradway (Team S&M), Jill Hardiman (Existential Velo) and Rhonda Morin (Sorella Forte) and a few unfamiliar faces. Whistle blows and I have trouble getting clipped in. Jill and Rhonda take the lead on the long pavement start. My shifting was hinky before the race so I didn’t go big chain ring here until the next lap. Hitting the right turn into the grass, riders are coming around me and trying to gap me off. Sweeping S turns in the soggy grass slows everyone down and I am able to get up with the leading 6. We caught the B’s/beginners quickly and a couple riders went down in a large muddy section before the gravel road along the back fence as I passed them. The course is slick in sections but dried enough for good traction on the long hilly back section before twisting through the trees by the pit. Margi is just ahead of me and I stay on her wheel in lap 1. Jill and Rhonda are having their own battle with a rider from Team Group Health and Colleen McClenahan (Sorella Forte). Looping back past the pit (my personal cheering section today), it’s a downhill to a 90 degree turn up a small steep hill. Some riders dismount but I am able to ride this hill every time. Unfortunately is doesn’t buy me much more than bragging rites. At the top, it’s back out the gravel road and left to the motocross section. Now for the hill you all have been waiting for boys and girls. First small section of 3 whoop de dos are fast and rideable, not much mud at the bottom. No problem. Hard left onto grass and it’s a boggy ride to the big hill. We all dismount where the grass stops and run the muddy right turn to the top of King whoop de do. I run the whole thing but the mud is ankle deep, sticky and the sucking sound my shoes make as I run mark the time I am losing. A set of two barriers and it’s a short trip to the pavement and back through the start for the next lap.

Still chasing Margi in lap two, she hits a rut and washes out into the tape in a turn. Seizing my opportunity, up goes the speed past her but she is right on me. Out of the saddle after each rooted turn in the trees, climbing the small hill pays off with a tiny gap before the whoop di dos. I try half riding and half running Peanut Butter Mountain but neither seems better. The leaders have made a gap but I can still see them up ahead.

Lap 3 and Margi finally catches me. Guess where. Crap. Just behind me coming down the hill is Virginie Calme (CyclePath). She passes me as I remount but I am able to hold her wheel through the twisting and turning over the roots and grit. The three of us hit the pavement after the barriers and kick up to high gear. Leaders are long gone now.

Final lap and I am able to pass Virginie when she dismounts and runs the little hill as I ride it. Margi is getting a gap on us so I am bound and determined to close it. Too bad for me she has a good run on poop hill and it is eating my shoes and my energy. Virginie comes around me off the grass and sprints up the hill like it’s pavement. Why can I find a freekin’ line here? She is able to remount and get to the grass quicker than I can get out of the muck. Chase chase chase but the gap is too big now and the twists and turns make it hard to build enough speed to catch her. Crossing the last barriers, Virginie finishes just ahead of me as I roll in 20 seconds behind her for 7th place.

No race would be complete for a Pro without people giving you free stuff. Thanks to Chris Snyder (Bike Attorney) for the huge bottle of Hop Works Beer. My pit crew at home thanks you too.