Nomad Bike Life

Over the past 12 months of training and racing, I’ve lived and stayed at an amazing number of places. Although I wouldn’t call it world travel, I would call it couch/air mattress travel.

1 week or less
Tony’s apartment
Annie’s parent’s
My Aunt and Uncle’s
Debbie’s house
Debbie’s condo
Chris and Karey’s
Tony’s cabin
Derek and Kim’s

1-4 weeks
Hostel in Gent
CJ’s house
Will and Larry’s
Tony’s parent’s
Mike and Steve’s
Jeannett’s cabin

1-2 months
Israeli house in Belgium
Geoff and Anna’s house
David and Maire’s

2 months or longer
Tucson with Aaron, TJ, and Tony
My parent’s house in Sherwood

When I do get a place of my own, I’m going to have to have a huge guest room to pay back everyone who I’ve stayed with.

Cascade stage 6

I just posted about the crit so read that before this. Although it isn’t a very interesting post. Neither is this one. No good humor. I had some good ideas a few days ago for something funny, but I forgot what they were.

One thing I forgot to add about it was when a little kid came up to me after the crit was over wanting something from me. I was eating some free cookies from a food stand–they were going to throw them away–and he approached me with a pen and Cascade Classic pamphlet poster thing. My first reaction was to bring my handful of cookies close to my chest out of his reach, because I figured he wanted my cookies. There was a whole plateful of them on a table, so it wouldn’t have made a ton of sense for him to want mine. But I wasn’t thinking properly because, well, I was focused on eating those delicious cookies. Turns out he didn’t want my cookies; he wanted my autograph!! It’s the first time that’s ever happened, and it did feel pretty good. I wasn’t sure how to sign my name though, because my usual signature is a big K and a scribble followed by a big P and a scribble. Instead of the scribble method, I signed in a third grader’s cursive hand writing. It needs some work but I think there are other things I should work on first, namely getting faster.

Today I lined up pretty close to the front. It was hot out, upper 90’s. Probably 100 or so on the black top. I envied all the guys with ice bags in their jerseys. After the neutral section ended, the attacks began. I started drifting backwards, but held in the top 20 or 30 for a while. Before long, we reached the first considerable climb, the one right before the feed zone. By now, I had drifted pretty far back. The climb hurt a lot, and the field turned single file as we entered the feed zone and false flat, tail wind section before the next steep stair step climb. This section hurt. Guys were going off the back and pretty soon I held the very last position on the tail end of the peloton. We entered the steep climb and stair step section and more guys popped off. I was definitely in the red zone here, just barely making it. I was really hoping the pace would slow down on the next lap.

You could tell the peloton was tired on the next lap. There was less competition to move up, gaps were opening off the back (I was there for a little while before smartening up and moving forward). And the constant meandering of the pack in the head and side winds began causing crashes. I lucked out and wasn’t behind any of them.

We started the climbing again, this time I felt much better. I was still near the back, but not as far. But when we started climbing up the 20% grade section, my chain somehow popped off without me even touching the shifters. Both of my feet came unclipped and slammed on the ground, I nutted myself, swerved and almost went down. I had to get off my bike, put the chain back on, and start up on the steepest section of the course. I was off the back now with the stragglers. I put some big watts in over the next five minutes, but didn’t quite make it back into the pack. I picked up a few guys after the hill section (Sean Passage and one other guy) and we worked together for the rest of the race, roughly 50 miles of hot wind. We were only a minute behind the pack for a long time, but it eventually went out of sight and we were left to ride on our own, sweating out gallons of liquid and kilos of salt. We finished 87th, 88th, and 89th and I finished 97th GC, 2nd to last. Almost 100 people didn’t finish the race this week. Definitely the hardest stage race I’ve done, and probably one of the hardest NRC races of the year.

Afterwards my dad, mom, and brother and I went to swim in the river and later ate some mexican food. Now I’m back ‘home’ in Sunriver by myself. I’ve got four days until nationals. Time to start concentrating on rebuilding those broken muscle fibers. I just ate over a pound of cherries. Cherries are proven to help recovery. Look it up, it’s a fact. Or maybe it’s grapes. One of those small round fruits.

Cascade Crit, stage 5

The crit was packed with people. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions. My family came out to watch the crit and the last road race, so I made sure not to crash.

I was feeling decent, not good not bad. I had spent the day watching Super Troopers and part of the movie ‘Fly Boys,’ which I don’t recommend. But it did help pass the time until 6, when I got ready and rode over to the course in downtown. I had eaten a bunch of food that day, overcompensating because of my bonk the day before. I ate too much, actually. And I started the race feeling a bit full. This would be fine for a long road race, but a 90 minute all out crit is different. My stomach revolted throughout the race and the taste of bile, quinoa with chili sauce, and cherry flavored sports beans entered my mouth on numerous occasions. Some of it’s still splattered on my handlebars.

Of course, I started the race lined up next to dead last. I go to the start line with what I thought would be plenty of time to get a good spot up front, but 15 minutes early wasn’t even close to enough. I chatted with Evan Elkan and Chris Hong as we waited for the gun to go off.

I moved up a bit in the first 15 minutes, but not much. The first 20 minutes of the race was very fast and very painful. The course had two long straight away sections and four corners. Corner number 3 and 4 required slowing down to about 5 miles an hour and sprinting out of corner number 4 into a strong head wind. The pack began dwindling after half an hour and a breakaway that had gone early in the race was almost about to lap us. But they must have lost steam because their gap started getting smaller and smaller and they were caught with 2 laps to go. But before that, I got dropped. I made it until 15 minutes to go and an official held out his hand for me to stop, or at least I thought he did. Turns out he says he wasn’t pulling me, but just telling me to keep going. I was in oxygen deprivation so it didn’t quite dawn on me that I should have kept on going for another couple laps since I had just fallen off the back of the pack. But I didn’t know that there wasn’t a breakaway group about to catch me or what was going on, so I exited off the course after I thought I had been pulled.

I cooled down on some back streets while the race went on for another couple 15 minutes, then began questioning why I had been pulled so early, thinking that maybe I hadn’t been pulled. Whatever, I figured I’d go back when the race finished and make sure they knew I wasn’t still in the pack.

When I told the officials what had happened, they said that I had not been pulled and that I had pulled myself, which meant that I couldn’t start the race on Sunday. I was shocked and very mad. The cut off point of the race was only 30 minutes. You only had to accomplish 30 minutes and you’d make the cut off time. I had done 75 minutes, plenty of time to spare and yet the official still said I was out of the race. I argued with him, explaining that I thought he had pulled me, him disagreeing. I won’t get into the details, but after about 10 minutes of debating, he agreed to let me race the next day. I was very happy. Although my placing was all messed up. I finished at about 90th or so but the result they gave me was 133rd or something. No point in arguing about it, I was content just being allowed to race.

Cascade stage 4

Today came very close to being the last stage for me. I hung on by a mere two minutes, finishing dead last but making the time cut. It was the hardest race I have done this year, not because of the pace, but because of how bad my legs were today.

My lack of recovery caught up to me. I’ve been riding to and from some of the races, sometimes hanging around in the parking lot at the finish for hours, waiting for a ride back into Bend. Yesterday after the time trial, I rode around trying to find the MBSF building downtown where they store all the discarded water bottles (because I ran out of bottles) then rode to a couple bike shops to get more goo, electrolyte pills, and cliff bars. Then I rode across town back to the house I’m staying at. Way too much time not spent lying down on the couch.

I was on the brink of making it over the first climb today, but came up short by just a bit, which made for a much longer day than I had planned for. I suspect that last little bit of power that I was lacking on the climb was due to all the extra time spent on my feet in the heat. Next year I hope to have some team support so this doesn’t happen again. And next year I also plan on finishing first instead of last.

We started out at Summit high school again, leaving at 10 and winding our way out to that road that goes to Mt. Bachelor. I was feeling fine, chipper even. I was excited to place in the top 20 today–my goal that I didn’t even second guess to becoming reality.

My slide to the back of the pack was gradual. There seemed to be a lot fewer people in the peloton today, and before I knew it I was at the very tail end. I had never been at the very back before during this race, and didn’t like the feel of it. I moved back up without too much effort, but kept on finding myself there on the gradual ascent (which was getting steeper all the time). Pretty soon I was breathing hard, then I was struggling, then almost immediately I couldn’t go at the pace any more. I went from being comfortable to blowing up within a few minutes. I swear, this has never happened before. Ok maybe, but usually not. Still talking about cycling.

I fought hard to stay in contention, but the pack slowly kept getting farther away. And the hill kept on going and going. Other dropped riders would either draft me or I’d draft them, then one of us would blow up, drop back, and later on catch back up and then the other guy would blow up. Just when you’d think the climb would end around the next bend, the stupid thing would rise up even steeper, just to spite you for your wishful thinking. Then the stupid 5K sign to the KOM decided to come around, just when you thought there couldn’t be more than half a K to go.

I started the decent by myself with no one in view in front of me and no one in view behind. It seemed like everyone who had been suffering with me up the climb had vanished. I think most of them had turned around, but there were two guys that eventually caught me by the time I had given up. I had been thinking about making a sandwich back at the house in Sunriver, since I’d be passing it in a few miles, but the other two guys who had just caught me were still going hard. I joined them and pretty soon we caught some other guys up ahead. It occurred to me that we might actually make the time cut. For some reason, I was thinking that if you were down 15 minutes, you’d be cut from the race. Obviously that makes no sense, considering that I knew that the cut off point was %115 of the winner’s time. I realized this, figured that the winner would finish in about 3 hours, which meant that we could finish 45 minutes behind and still make the time cut. This of course also doesn’t make sense, but when you’re working hard and have already blown up 17 times in the last hour, it won’t necessarily occur to you that there are 60 minutes in an hour, not 100.

First it was five of us, then four, then we dropped another guy and it was down to three. I was feeling pretty good so I started taking some big pulls. Too big actually, because half an hour later I was dying pretty badly. And there was a long way to go. Very long.

The three of us caught another guy to make it four, then two more about 30 minutes later to make six. And then we started going fast. It was me, Sean Passage, Sam Johnson, and three other guys and at this point I was pretty confident that we’d easily make the time cut. Then we reached the rollers. Sam dropped off, I started bonking really badly, and the other guys drastically slowed down also.

I had drank about 8 bottles at this point, Sam had come by in a car after he pulled the plug and handed us some cokes, and I had eaten two cliff bars, four gels, 6 electrolyte pills, and a couple caffeine tablets. It wasn’t even close to enough. We still had 25 miles to go, and it was almost all up hill or false flat into a head wind. Pretty soon it became a huge effort just to hold on over the rollers, doing 350 watts (shouldn’t be a problem). Then it became hard on the slight down hill sections, doing 200 watts. I was in trouble. But I held off on that last gel until 15 miles to go.

One more guy dropped off on a steep roller, and I lost contact with the what was left of our group–three guys not counting me. I gave one final effort, thinking that every 30 seconds I was able to hold on was worth it. I made it over the hill and was rewarded with a slight down hill. Then another roller. I barely made it. Then another one, and another. I don’t know how I stayed on, but pretty soon I was helping with the pulls again. Really weak pulls of course. I’m talking about 300 watt pulls for like 8 seconds, but at least they were pulls.

We finally came to the base of the climb. 5 more miles to go, but all up hill. The three guys immediately went up the road and I went backwards. Sean dropped off and hovered in between the two guys and me, and stayed there. I was putting out 250 watts, hurting like a mad man and fighting one of the worst bonks I’ve ever had. Someone form the side of the road handed me a gatorade. I downed it instantly like Adam Sandler downs the ‘Fizzy Bubbly’ in You Don’t Mess With The Zohan.

The guy who we had dropped a few miles back caught me and I stayed on his wheel for the next 6K and finally dropped off with 200 meters to go when we reached the finish line. I made the cut off time with only 2 minutes to spare. I was done. My mind a blank for the next 3 hours (while I sat in the hot parking lot waiting for a ride down to Bend). I felt sick. Nauseous. I was hungry and thirsty, but at the same time not. Of course I ate as much as I could, but I didn’t start feeling good until I took an ice bath when I got home.

The results were just posted. I was 143rd today, the last finisher. Down 27 minutes 45 seconds from the stage winner. And I think I’m 142nd on GC now.

Cascade Classic Stages 2 and 3

Yesterday was hard. It started out at Summit High School, the same place that hosts the High Desert Omnium, except unlike the HDO, the parking lot was packed. I rode over there from the house I’m staying at and sat in the shade next to the porta potties for about 20 minutes, waiting for the start of the race. Growing bored of this, I circled around the parking lot, looking for familiar faces. I came across the Veloforma tent and said hello to Russell, got heckled by his team for having my number on crooked, then went over to the start line and listened to the race officials complain about something over a loudspeaker. Then we started.

The pace was high of course, and it stayed that way for the next 80 miles. I sat in, not even trying or thinking of going for the break today because of the final climb. No one off the front would survive that climb.

Sitting in wasn’t hard at all, until we got to the first feed zone. I, like a few other people (maybe 10 or 15) rely on the feed zones because we don’t have cars to go back and get water from. And I think a lot of the non professional teams rely more on the feed zones as well since a lot of those guys are just trying to survive and fetching water from the caravan is extra work they’d rather not do. I’m just guessing here, because I don’t see any other reason why they’d even bother trying to get water in the feed zones since that’s the most likely place to got dropped or crash. Crashing there is likely because of all the swerving that people do to avoid slowing riders and dropped bottles on the road, and getting dropped there is likely because the teams at the front of the pack hammer it through the feed zones to drop all of us barnacles along for the free ride.

The back third of the pack got split off from the front during this first feed zone, and I was in the back third, happy to have gotten a successful bottle hand off. My smile was quickly turned upside down as I realized that the entire peloton was single file in a stiff cross wind section, and gaps were forming. Everyone was soon going full speed, trying to catch back up to the pack. After about 10 minutes, the peleton had 15 or 20 seconds on us and I was starting to worry that we’d been dropped for good. Of the 60 of us that were in this group, only 20 were willing to do any work, so our progress was poor. We’d get close, then the slackers in the back would try to sprint up to the pack on their own. The paceline would be ruined and of course those guys wouldn’t make it and come back into our group.

I don’t know how long it took, maybe 15 miles, but we eventually caught up. After reaching the KOM hill and going over, everyone started peeing. I had needed to pee since mile 2, and now was my chance. I pulled over to the side of the road, tried and failed. I did this about three or four more times, and I could NOT PEE!! I was mad, I had needed to for so long, and now I didn’t even feel the urge any more. I thought about water falls and rapids, melting icicles dripping into pools of water, slip n’ slides and the ocean, but nothing worked. I thought about all the difficult and yet successful pees I had in my life. There was the times I had peed into lakes standing up in rowing sculls, the time I had peed for about a minute and a half without stopping, the time I wrote my full name in the snow, and even the successful pee I had off the bike during stage five of the Mount hood classic. But eventually I had to accept that today was not my day for peeing.

Some more stuff happened, then finally we got to the base of the climb. The pace on the false flat section was brutal. I couldn’t figure out why it was so hard, until after the race someone told me that it was false flat with a side wind.
“A side wind? Which direction was it coming from?” I asked.
“The left.”
I was wondering why there was so much room to pass on the left, and that’s where I spent the entire time during that section. In fact, I find that I like to be on the left side of the road throughout the whole race. I’m not sure why, because the right side is safer because you don’t have parked semi trucks on the shoulder to avoid, and the middle of the pack is easier to ride in, although you end up at the back if you stay there too long. Maybe my past life was spent in England town.

Before we got to the climb, I huge rock shot up way into the sky. I had plenty of time to watch it as it came back down to earth. I figured it was about the size of a lemmon, and I kept my eye on it to make sure it didn’t hit me on the head. I just got a new helmet and I didn’t want any dings. I think someone else must have been watching it too and wasn’t paying attention to the wheel in front of them, because I heard a loud bang and a bunch of people went down. I had plenty of time to go around the crash and get back on track before we got to the hill, but it just added to the suspense. In hindsight I’m a fan of crashes. I like them because they’re cool. duh. They’re loud and violent. It’s like watching that TV show ‘Holy %$&!.’ And everyone can agree that that show is cool. But during a race, I don’t like to think about the missing skin and broken bones of my fellow racers, unless of course they tried to drop me in the feed zone.

Once we hit the bottom of the climb, the field shattered a second time, except this time there was even more pain. Guys in front of me who I expected to be faster than me, went backwards. Some of them had probably spent a lot of time on the front of the pack, others probably didn’t care about placing and just sat up and made sure they made the time cut, but I’m guessing the majority just blew up. Or as Gilad would say, “They’re legs blowed up” (of course with a lot of exaggerated hand gestures and evil laughing).

I stayed on the wheel of a guy in an orange kit. We traded pulls a few times, but I mainly just sat behind him. A group of four caught up to us after a long time, then the grade went up again and I was dropped from the pow wow. But they died too pretty quickly and I got back on. I saw the 5K sign up ahead, hoping that it was the 3K sign, but deep down knowing that it wasn’t. I told myself, “Kennett, that is definitely the 5K sign so don’t even think about getting your hopes up!” It was the 5K sign of course, and I thought about how short that was. Only five laps around the crit course. That should only take…15 minutes? 20 minutes? An hour and a half? Who knew? Most likely no one would have. That kind of math cannot be done under those circumstances. It’s simply not possible.

It was hot, painful, and never seemed to end. It was definitely one of those days when you ask yourself why you do this for ‘fun’. I can always think of a bunch of things that would be more fun than cycling, but the strange thing is I’d almost always rather be riding or racing than doing any of them.

The 3K sign showed up after a while. And then the 1K sign decided to finally come around too. By this time, our group had joined up with another 10 or 15 guys, and it was not OK to go extra hard in the last kilometer. I wanted to, and so did some of the other guys. But people were complaining about the grupeto rule, so of course no one sprinted, except for five guys in the last 30 meters.

We finished 5:13 back from the leader, me in 69th place. It was a hot, long day and my legs were dead. The last thing I wanted to do was wait around in the hot parking lot, sitting on a pile of dirt waiting for the women to finish so I could get a ride back to Bend. But that’s what I did, although I ended up getting a ride back with the Bob’s team.

Today was the time trial. I was 64th in GC going into it, but I’m very sure that I plummeted down the list after today’s performance. Jen let me borrow her zip wheels, but even those didn’t stop me from dishing out the worst time trial of the year. I got passed by three people, and my average power was so low I’m not even going to say what it was. I will say that I have averaged higher wattage for HOURS plenty of times before. Every time I do a poor TT (which is every TT this year), it makes me furious and I vow to get so good at them next year that my cranks will crack. And I will. But for now, I’m just hoping to make the time cut of 120% of the winner’s time. With any luck, Tom Zirbel showed up late for his start.

*edit* I did not get cut.

Cascade Classic Stage One

First off, I did end up getting a place to stay in Bend with Eli’s Cousin AND I got a ride to the race from Jen Aekroyd (sp?). So my 50 mile commute didn’t have to happen.

The race was hot and flat with some rollers and one climb at about mile 30 of the 70 mile race. We started out pretty fast, averaging 31mph for the first hour; I just sat in the pack. Although just ‘sitting in’ in a big race like this requires constant forward motion (not that a race wouldn’t). But for these races you have to either be passing people, or you’re going backwards in the peloton, since the outsides of the pack are always moving forward. So sitting in isn’t as easy as you’d think. Although I did think today was fairly easy. The hill wasn’t bad at all and I felt comfortable on the one other hardish section–a long false flat on chip seal where the entire peloton was single file.

I guess I should say that it was unfortunate that the race was easy for me, because it could have been hard if I had been in the break. The giant break that got over 4 minutes on the rest of us. 12 guys got up the road during one of the sprint points, then a while later 10 guys bridged to them. I wasn’t close enough to the front to even see most of this happen, since I was conserving for the first stage, which was supposed to be a pack sprint finish day. That wasn’t the plan that a bunch of teams had, though. From now on, I should go around to each team and ask what their plan is for each stage so I’m not at a disadvantage. Although my long term goal is to be so fast that I can just ride away from them all. It will make things much simpler.

I finished 30th or so in the field sprint today, and 54th out of 191 starters. I should have plenty of energy for tomorrow.

Cascade starts tomorrow

It looks like I’ll have a 30 mile warm up and 15 mile cool down tomorrow. But if you know someone who’d be willing to give me a lift before the race from Sunriver to Redmond, or Bend to Redmond, or after the race from Bend to Sunriver, I’d appreciate it. I’m staying in Sunriver so it’s possible for me to ride to Redmond for the start, but I’d rather not. And I can also ride from Bend (race finish) to Sunriver, but I don’t want to do that either. I know it’s too late, but I thought it would be worth a shot.

Highlights from Sunriver

Today I’ve killed four flies. I was going to say five, since that sounds much better, but it would be untrue. The last fly is still buzzing around the cabin and I can’t find it. My weapon of choice has been a pillow, which I use to smash the flies between the window and the window shade. I learned this strategy the long way. After stalking the flies around the cabin, listening for the sound of buzzing, I realized that this method was slow and unproductive. And I also learned that most of the flies were already trapped between the windows and window shades. In fact, I don’t think I was stalking the flies at all, I was just walking back and forth from window to window when each concealed fly would buzz behind its window shade. Now, you can’t really see the flies when they’re hidden like this. But on occasion, you’ll catch a glimpse of their shadow. That’s when you have to pounce. At this point you have two options: A) slam the pillow against the window shade in the area you think the fly is located and hope that it doesn’t escape, or B) wait until you see the fly’s shadow and quickly press the pillow against the window shade. This second technique is the preferred of the two because it is less risky. The chance of the window shade opening up and allowing the fly to escape is lower, rendering the slow smash technique more effective.

Observe this writer’s killcount to date:

Photo 35

Note, one more fly was procured during the writing of this blog entry.

What else have I been doing? Yesterday I rode for about 5 hours, but unfortunately my ride time is being cut short over the next seven days in order to taper for Cascade next Wednesday. Other things I have been doing include but have not been limited to:

-Reading a David Sedaris book
-Watching the Tour upwards of 3 times a day
-Trying to decide the order in which I will watch the following VHS tapes here in the cabin: Hook, Forest Gump, Mrs. Doubtfire, Throw Momma from the Train, Thelma & Louise, Street Smart, Hope Floats, The Best of The Benny Hill Show, While you were Sleeping, Home Alone 2, Batman Forever, and When Harry Met Sally. I have seen five of these movies before, and judging by the covers of the others, I would rather see those five again than watch something like Hope Floats or While you were Sleeping. I spend a good amount of time standing at the movie/bookcase, trying to build up the courage to bore myself to death with one of these slumber-fests. So far I haven’t. But I’m guessing the day will come. Back to the list—
-Searching for a pair of fingernail clippers or scissors to cut my finger nails. Unsuccessful so far.
-Eating food (which is limited to Quinoa, oats, bread, eggs, or a plate of aging vegetables. I won’t include pasta in this food list because I officially hate pasta unless it has a ton of meat or cheese in it.
-Checking email and Facebook

that’s about it.

But mainly I just sit on the couch drinking water out of a Tupperware container because I don’t like drinking out of small glasses that have to be refilled after each sip.

Oh, I also have a potato that needs to be cooked. I’m planning a special breakfast one of these mornings where I’ll substitute the potato for the oats. As I’m sure you know, potatoes have a lot of potassium. And nothing spells excitemmint better than potassium!