Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I am a Tri Geek, Part one.

I accept it, I am now a Tri Geek. I am suprised by this realization, and proud to have survived my first Olympic Tri, especially the damn swim. Here is my story of the swim (that is me in the middle with fellow Cycle U Teamates, ignorantly blissful).

Swimming in a Triathlon is like doing a Mountain bike race at night without lights. Thank goodness for Triumph Multisport for saving my life with a wetsuit rental!

Who ever heard of going as hard as you can with 100 other guys in pitch black darkness, not able to breath when you want, getting kicked, bumped into, going the wrong direction, barely able to see even when you lift your head out of the water, and despite giving it 110% still moving the pace of a slug. That is swimming in my first Olympic Triathlon...and that was the good part.

Let me tell you about after the adrenaline wore off and I was about 1 minute into it...I had relegated myself to breathing every stroke, and still it wasn't enough to get into any kind of grove. I was fighting the water, trying to keep my head and chest down as our awesome Tri Goddess Ironwoman Coach Tammy had instructed me, looking at the bouey that seemed to be getting farther away rather than closer. I was starting to look up so much to keep my "line" (I am a pure bike racer after all and 20 years of racing and working on line and angle and trajectory through courses taught me it was key to not go any farther out of my way than necessary) that I was essentially doing the dog paddle with my head out of the water.

I was spazzing. My breathing was frantic and I had nothing going for me other than determination. I looked into the black water, not able to see a thing and tried again...the thought that I wouldn't make it appeared. I tried to ignore it...it came back. I didn't look for a rescue boat since at the start the organizer told us that the ambulance and medic crew was late but he was going to start the race anyway. I was looking to escape the Federal Escape.

Then an interesting thought occured to me. It wasn't the physical effort to swim, I could do that, it was really that my vision had been taken away from me. I had done a couple 30 minutes in open water at Magnuson Park, but I knew the lake and it was in a roped off swiming area and there weren't any other people swimming around me. In the blackness of 5 mile lake I couldn't tell if I was going to ram into someone ahead of me, and I was certainly getting run into from guys going sideways, or me going sideways. It was like riding a mountain bike race at night, you could kinda see but you really needed to use *the force*, not worry about hitting the tree or rock and just keep going smooth and feeling your way.

Then I was finally coming to the bouy and brushed it and felt the rope hit my legs, and another guy came swiming into me...I looked up for the next one and tried again to find my rhythm...and just keeped hammering away with the arms. Damn this was hard.

Then I remembered what my 5 year old son told me the other week when he tried his first swim team workout, with eyes big as we went to the showeres early " WOW Dad! That was REALLY hard swimming across the whole pool!" I smiled and drank some black lake brew and spit it out and kept truckin...gotta do it for the little man. He is brave every day taking on the world, I gotta suck it up and keep going.

I flailed miserably to the next bouy and headed on the homestretch of lap 1. Eventually I could see a dock with people yelling but my earplugs blocked all sound. I knew people were watching me so I tried to get long and smooth again, tried to focus on the game and doing it well. It was embarassing, ego not happy. Pretty soon I was past the dock and at the end of lap one, half way, and it actually started to feel do-able. I settled into a slow and steady stroke, kept my head down more, there were only 1-2 guys around me now which helped. I broke through at that point. I was happy being slow and steady, breathing every stroke if I needed it, and soon I didn't, I was hitting the breath on both sides and making steady progress. Hey, this is alright afterall. Hope is alive!!!

Pretty soon (felt like an eternity) I was back on the homestretch and remembered what Cameron had told me at the pool, start to kick your legs at the end of the swim to get them warmed up for the bike.

The best feeling in the world was feeling the sand of the beach hit my hands as I swam it in hard and came out of the water like a monster. I HAD MADE IT!
Got on the bike and was back home, loving the challenge of tring to catch the 100 guys and gals in front of me now : ) rabbits watch out! Here I come!

I started to see Cycle U teammates and exchange "atta boys" with the rest of the natives! It was like heaven, free and back in control! Next stop is our Triathlon Team open water swimming clinic to keep improving on this very challenging sport.(next, the bike and how I made back all that time).

Craig out.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

RAOd Warriors - First Place Overall in Race Across Oregon!

David Longdon reporting....

Hey Cycle U Coaches:


My team finished first overall and first in our category this weekend! The team name is the RAOd Warriors (RAO is the acronym for Race Across Oregon). Read the play-by-play commentary HERE. View pictures HERE. Our team is (mostly) wearing a red jersey with a nuclear explosion and "nuke 'em" on the side. Pictures of us start on page 3 of the flickr site.

We were well-matched with a team called Three Rivers Racing and it was neck and neck until 4AM Sunday, where we had a ~23 minute lead for a while. I think we won by about 15 minutes--pretty close for a 535 mile race. We got a 5 minute time penalty because one of our racers ran a stop sign.

Probably the most fun I've ever had on 2 wheels.

Ed, thanks for all the help with the bike fit. I rode the Scott with the aero bars and had no cramping or other body issues. After the race the 2nd place team speculated that since my teammates were all using aero bars, that may have been enough for the winning margin.

Adrian, the interval training program worked great. We mostly did 30 minute rotations, though at the end the other team was gaining on us so we went to 10-15 minute rotations. My legs felt strong and I had plenty of power to go hard on nearly all of my rotations.

Tammy, I think you need to convince the HPC guys to do something like this.

David M. Longdon
Velocity: The Seattle Area Cycling Blog

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Monday, July 14, 2008

InCycle Grad Meets "The Man"

Matthew Feliciano, a dear friend to many of us here at Cycle U, and a graduate of our InCycle program, had the recent opportunity to meet a cycling legend, and we asked him to tell us all about it. Here is his story...

LIVESTRONG CHALLENGE – Portland: Ride Report
(AKA: The Day I got to shake hands with the Man)

This ride report actually starts in April of 1999 when I was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin Lymphoma. I was going through chemo watching Lance Armstrong win his first Tour de France.

Flash forward eight years to a very hot Sunday in July, Lance has since won six more TdFs and started the Lance Armstrong Foundation. I have done several century rides with Team in Training and raised thousands of dollars for their cause. Along the way I joined an online group called Cyclists Combating Cancer, started by Damon Phinney (father of Davis Phinney) who had prostate cancer. The people of this group had two things in common; cycling and some kind of connection to the fight against cancer. Most, like me were Survivors but others had family members or close friends who had been diagnosed with cancer. When the Ride for the Roses and the LIVESTRONG CHALLENGES started up it was only natural for members of the CCC to participate and as the events have evolved so has the level of CCC involvement. There are teams of members participating in every city that the LIVESTRONG CHALLENGE is held. And for the past several years a CCC jersey has been entered in the Team Jersey competition in each city. This year it happened to win in Portland and that’s how I got to shake hands with Lance Armstrong.

I suppose this wouldn’t be much of a ride report if I didn’t talk about the event. This year the Portland event was hosted at the Nike World Headquarters, probably one of the greatest corporate campuses ever built (especially if you are the slightest bit athletically inclined). There is a running/walking trail that circles the campus, a regulation sized soccer field and of course the Lance Armstrong fitness center. The Lance as it is called was closed for the weekend to accommodate the Challenge runners, walkers and cyclists with shower facilities. I have been in some great athletic clubs before but this one has to be the nicest of all. The high point of the weekend for the CCC group was going to be the awards ceremony which took place at 12:30. This meant that the CCC would be riding the 40 mile option to make sure the whole group would have enough time to finish the ride in time.

Forty miles was really a good choice since it was pushing 95 degrees by the time I finished around 10:30. The course was in the beautiful countryside just west of Portland, it was just a few degrees hotter than I like it 80-85 is just about perfect for me. The 40 mile option was mostly flat with some rollers and there was very little wind, which was great since I was solo most of the ride. I like to do shorter rides on occasion because the people you meet seem to be having much more fun than the ones on the 100 mile course. I also love to ride in the Portland area; they have really done a lot for cycling since I moved away in 97. One thing I noticed out in the countryside was the signage, I’m used to seeing singe that say something like “Bikes next 5 miles” but in Oregon I saw signs that said “Share the Road” with a bicycle symbol. The difference between the two really struck me; the first is more of a warning to drivers that something slow and annoying may be on the road for the next 5 miles the second tells everyone what they should be doing.

Anyway, I finished in plenty of time for the award ceremony. I showered and even considered a massage before meeting the group but instead I wandered over to the backstage area where the CCC group had assembled. We hung out back there until it was our time to go up, security tried to kick us out but the LAF staff set them straight. I took some pics for Coach Tammy with my cell phone. Of course I didn’t think to bring my camera and I’m still kicking myself.

When it was our time to go on stage we filed up and each got to shake Lance’s hand then had a group photo with him and our winning jersey. So there you have it after eight years of fighting my own personal battle with cancer I finally got to meet one of the people who has inspired me publicly to do what I do to help fight the disease. Even more important however was getting to meet and put faces to the names of CCC members who I have only heard from online. Members of an international cycling club that no one joined by choice, people who truly know what it means to LiveStrong and be a part of a grass roots effort in the fight against cancer. The CCC is made up of people who inspire me to keep riding and keep fighting as long as I can.

Ride to Live!

Photo left to right are:
Mark Blum, Susan Murphy, Steve Bartolucci, Lance Armstrong, Matthew Feliciano, Debra Doerfler, and Todd McLaughlin