Team Slow
…because speed kills. Pass with care. Makes frequent stops.

Jul
30

The course at Westview HS was flat, hard-packed, and fast. In short, a terrible course for singlespeeders.

Still, I’d signed up and Mielle had given me a ride so there I was on the starting line.

The sad part was that I was the only singlespeed woman in the entire field. No one else had signed up for the category.

At a State freaking championships.

Did they know something I didn’t?

Teammate Erinne asked if she should race singlespeed with me — I’d mentioned I had a few zip-ties with me (OBRA allows racers to choose a gear, then immobilize their derailleurs with zip-ties and race in the singlespeed category, a sensible rule for amateurs since not everyone owns a dedicated singlespeed bike).

I shrugged. “I dunno,” I said. “You could, but wouldn’t you rather beat women your age in a real race? Plus, your field’s still pretty small and you’re strong enough, you could make a podium anyway. I’d enjoy the company but it’s your call.”
Erinne opted to race her age group with derailleurs. (She later told me she was glad she did.)

We were off, and I learned quickly that flat courses are the bane of singlespeeders. Not super-technical, just flat and fast and, well, sort of roadie-like.

(Eeew.)

Just to be clear, parts of the course were actually fun to ride, especially the part that zig-zagged through the trees that ringed the soccer field (and which was put in the make the course “technical”), and the off-camber descent that everyone barreled down with glee. But the large back section of the course, what looked like a farmer’s field just outside the fenced school grounds, was a mowed strip of bumpy, short grass with tons of hard-packed washboard — and this was the worst part of the course for a singlespeeder. (Granted, lots of racers complained about this section, but at least they could shift when the going got rough.) Erinne passed me on the course and yelled, “I understand why everyone else is racing with shocks!” I laughed in spite of myself and we kept racing.

I was surprised at how strong my legs — and my resolve — were. My legs kept turning the cranks with strength and power, even as I gasped for breath on the hot, mostly un-shaded course. And there was never a doubt in my mind that I would finish. I just kept plowing along, breathing hard and telling myself “I can DO this”. And I did. In forty minutes, I completed four laps of almost 1.5 miles each, on a course that absolutely sucked for singlespeeds. For my faith, and my efforts, I won the OBRA Champion’s medal for Womens’ Singlespeed. And unlike the mixed feelings I had about my third-place finish last year (when there were three women in the category and my bronze medal was a foregone conclusion if I only finished), today I pushed myself SO hard, and felt so strong, that when I finished, I felt like a real bike racer and felt like I’d earned my damned medal. No prize is ever so sweet for a bike racer, I think, than to feel like you’ve earned your race.

A big shout out to Erinne who, in spite of crashing into some thorns, still pulled out a second place finish in Masters’ Under-35 category. (But of course. She’s SO strong!) Whoot!

(Erinne and I basking in our little hardware haul)

obra state stxc championships 2011

Congrats also to Pal Mielle, who raced — and won — her age group, and then turned around and raced again in a Cat 1 field and dominated that, too. I suspect she will be invited to cat up soon if she doesn’t just go ahead and ask to. (Winning two state titles is a nice way to celebrate your birthday weekend, yes?)

(Mielle and I share the top step of the little podium for fun)
obra state stxc championships 2011

Rest day tomorrow, then my final short-track race of the season at PIR on Monday evening. I may have precious little left in the tank after today’s effort, but I don’t care. I’ll ride my brains out and have a grand time. If you’re in town, come and join me. The fun starts at 6 pm and concludes with the “very short track” team relay race at around 8:15.

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Jul
14

Last night marked the end of the 2011 Mt Tabor Series “Velo on the Volcano”.

Each race was difficult and sometimes punishing but the finally was punctuated with a VICTORY by Ed Groth in the Fixie category.

Go Ed!

But, don’t forget the rest of the team that did their best each week to lap the reservoirs and climb the volcano.

We ended the night with a team photo and celebratory beers and food at Migration Brewing.
IMG_0318

Here are the over-all results from OBRA http://obra.org/events/18509/results

Go Slow!

  • Ed Groth – Fixie
  • Klaus Ochs – Cat 5
  • Kristin Bott – Fixie
  • John Fritz – Cat 5
  • Tomas Quinones – Fixie
  • Ben Salzberg – Fixie
  • Erinne Goodell – Fixie
See ya’ll next year!
Jul
08

My haiku to the Mount Tabor Series:

Top of Mt Tabor

Fixie Four Laps Hard

Safety Triangle

IMG_7636

Photo by Nita Galambos

-Tomas Q

Jun
23


The new jerseys arrived just in time for tonight’s event on Mt. Tabor.

Jun
14

June 13, 2011

Eight Team Slow Racers tackled the course on a warm and dusty evening at Portland International Raceway. None of us crashed and all of us had fun.  Results are posted here: http://obra.org/events/18476/results

But this is what Team Slow is all about. Cheering on our teammates while they put on the pain face:

Photo Credit: Audrey Addison

Cheering Kristin

Tomas Cheers for Kristin

See more pictures on Tomas’s Flickr Stream

Read Beth’s Race Report

Jun
09

Ben and Ed both took on the Fixed Gear race at Tabor last night, and didn’t die.  Huge success! 

Klaus and J.Fritz both hung tough in the Cat 5s.  Good job everyone!

Jun
08

Chris ‘Fool’ McCraw shares the following: 

threatening skies escorted me on the ride up to PIR this monday but my
spirits were lifted as i happened upon team member KBott and friend
Joel also riding up to the track.  we joined a whole slew of Slow-Folk
for registration, warmup laps, and encouragement through 3 separate
races where fun was had by all!

my race was Cat 3 men and it being my second mountain bike or short
track race ever, i started at the back of the pack and was rewarded by
the sight of team member Rob’s retreating back as he stayed well ahead
of me for the entire 30 minutes.  starting in the back,
Slow-fashioned, allowed me ample space to pass several folks over the
course of a 30-minute sprint during which i had to get off the bike 0
times, struggling to the top of even the steep sections still on my
pedals, and by the end of the race i felt like i was in the zone
and…couldn’t have done a few more laps.  at all.  i was wiped out!
but i look forward to next time–it was a challenge, and a blast.

Jun
07

Ed, Gabe and I rode out from the Hillsboro MAX the night before on what we later found out was the long and hilly route to the Flying M Ranch. We arrived after nightfall and were greeted by a gigantic hug from Rob, who thought we were wandering lost in the dark. Luckily, that was not the case, and being at bike speed we had less problems finding the ranch than many folks who drove. We gratefully gathered ’round the fire to scarf food before setting up tents or bivvies and sleeping.

The morning of the Rapture arrives. It is gray, cloudy & cool but not rainy. Nice day for a hard ride, actually.

So this ride is 70 miles of gravel, eh? No problem! I’ve ridden much farther than 70 miles. And I’ve ridden gravel–well, in 5 or 10 mile increments. I’m comfortable riding the hell out of my Trek 7000, and I put new ‘cross tires on it, so I should be able to lick this. I don’t have the recommended bike computer, but the turn sheet, map and a few well-placed spray paint markers are enough to keep me from taking any wrong turns. I also have an emergency GPS, courtesy of Mr. Anderson’s coworkers, which I thankfully never have to turn on.

At the beginning of the first climb up Trask Mountain/Toll Road, I realize there’s no way I can keep up with anyone. I can ride this, but only at my own pace, in true Slow style. If I push too hard, I’m concerned I will a) burn myself out far before the end of the ride, b) re-injure my knee, and/or c) be miserable. Be a tortoise, not a hare, I keep thinking the whole ride.

The first climb is arduous and halfway beautiful. The ride is primarily on logging roads, and the first section has us riding a line between a beautiful forest and a recent clear cut. I try lifting my head up to take in the view now and again, rather than staring uphill at all that gravel.

I know from staring at the elevation profile that the first climb is technically the hardest–the longest, the steepest and the most elevation gain (2500’+ over 8 mi). But it’s also over in the first 13 miles, so I push through the whole climb, dismounting only for the 100 yards or so of snow on the road. I pass Gabe and Rob patching pinch flats on the first bone-rattling descent before stopping by a stream for a snack and a quick rest.

At this point, I’m pretty much in the back of the pack. That’s okay. Every time someone passes me we exchange greetings and I happily think, “Oh, I wasn’t in the back! Maybe I am now.”‘ I come across Ed patching a flat and give him a few of my patches since he’s running low. I leave him to patch knowing he’ll catch me soon, and he does at my next rest stop by a stream.

Throughout the ride I think about letting a little more air out of my tires for a more comfortable ride, but seeing so many folks pinch flatting makes me too paranoid to do so. Thankfully I have zero flats the whole ride, but I think my seat suffered for it. I’m also really missing my padded shorts that I melted last September in front of a campfire (not while on me, of course).

The rest of the ride is a bit of a blur. The last few folks I was leapfrogging with bailed at Old Railroad Grade Road with another 11 miles to go, and I’m afraid it’s getting close to 8, at which time the ride leaders claim they will call my emergency contact. I don’t want my Mom to worry, so I just keep spinning. The final hill is on Puddy Gulch Road, and it is the one point on the ride where I reach brief misery. There’s a sprinkling of rain, there’s 14% grade with no oomph left in my legs, there’s no one around to cheer on or commiserate with, and there’s the feeling of being so close to the finish but so very far away. As I reach the top of the last of the climbing, though, I am treated with a very pretty pastoral landscape and sunlight on my skin that lasts the rest of the ride.

I pull back into the Flying M at 5:30, well before the time I thought I would arrive. And I wasn’t even last! One final group of 3 pulls in 40 minutes behind me. Huzzah! The organizers even have a keg to help us celebrate and forget our sore bodies.

I’d been looking forward to conquering this ride for weeks, especially since I missed events earlier in the spring from an injured knee, and wanted to prove that I can still push myself. I think that’s why I was in such good spirits the whole ride, because It Was Hard. And I would totally ride it all again.

Mar
08

The front seat of Johns truck fits three, provided two passengers are dating. Three bikes can fit in the bed, as long as none of them are fragile. Fortunately both conditions are met.

We show up to the start about an hour and a half early, and camp out in the coffee shop checking out their eclectic book shelf, including a cowboy-themed new testament and a bunch of historical books from the area.

The organizers hand out cue sheets, pre-packaged in ziplock bags. Awesome.

We head out across the Dalles bridge and begin a gentle climb out of the Gorge. The group slowly separates into smaller groups of 5-10. Theo is off with the lead group and I will see him next at the end. John, David and I are at about the same pace and remain together for the rest of the ride.

A half mile after a right onto SR-14, we take a left onto Dalles Mountain Road, where the road turns unpaved. The fog grows more dense and visibility drops to about 30 yards. We slowly reel in some folks on mountain bikes, we will see them again when they fly by us on the gravel descent. The fixed gear is absolutely perfect for this section. The road gets steeper. Not quite so perfect, but OK if I stand up and aim for the spots with more traction. David’s form becomes ghostly as he drifts away into the fog. I imagine there is a fantastic view here but visibility has dropped to 20 yards and sounds become muffled. We pass a number of discarded couches and furniture on the side of the road.

The GPS shows our elevation at 1800 feet. We’re trying to remember how high the hill goes. 2000 feet? 2500 feet? Finally we see sky at 2200, and we are following gentle rollers along the ridge. We are above the cloud, and we can see farm land to the north.

The road turns left and begins a rad twisty descent. I ride the brakes, going about 20, memories of flying though barrier tape in cross. Mountain bikes fly by going about 30, I show them the horns and they wave. John passes.

Now we’re heading east through farm country. We see the first car in about an hour, a truck loaded high with bales of hay. Like everyone else, they give us an entire lane when passing. I’d really like to write rural America a thank you card.

The road alternates between pavement and gravel. We eventually reach Highway 97, and then turn onto the abandoned section of maryhill loops road. We hop the gate, passing bikes over. Entire sections of the roadway are missing, large enough to swallow a car. Now we pass a stone water fountain with builtin horse trough, and we’re at the race course. There is a solid white starting line, and then a perfectly executed series of semi-circular turns down immaculate pavement. It turns out I can spin at exactly 24.5 miles per hour.

A car is driving up the opposite way on the road, honking. We all wave. They say something like “slow down”. Ok, its not like this is a high traffic corridor, but we keep our eyes open. At the bottom, there are photographers and a number of other cars. It looks like they’re setting up a car commercial or something. Sorry. I guess they had rented the road at the last minute, when the organizers had checked last night the loops road was not reserved. Although they eventually think to post a sign at the top so that other riders end up using 97 instead (after heading back up hill through the unmaintained section, of course).

We head right on 14, and David and I decide we want to detour and see Stonehenge. So we take the left, and everyone follows us! Oh shit! But it turns out this _is_ the route. Never mind.

Stonehenge is a memorial, for the soldiers from Klikitat county who died in the Great War. The pillars have a name and dates. Most of these families lost a son or brother at 24. Some things never change. It is a beautiful spot though.

Another twisty road down to the columbia from Stonehenge, and we pass through the small town of Maryhill, then over the Biggs bridge into Oregon. We stop at a mini mart for gatorade, a bean burrito, and Davids potato-tofu-pasta leftovers.

We head out of town on a road paralleling highway 84, which is most likely a old section of highway 30. We go over a bridge, then take a left on Old Moody Road through a camp site.

The road goes to gravel and tilts steeply upward, I manage to make it up the first switchback, under the rail bridge. I have to stop and remove a layer, and walk for a bit. David continues powering up the climb. Another switchback. I’m completely wrung out. This is a stupid idea. Why am I doing this? I start walking, my GPS shows that we’re moving about 3 miles per hour. John passes me, spinning along with a gentle smile and imperturbable mustache. Jerk. I start running and pass him back. Then give up and go back to walking.

A dude on a cross bike comes from nowhere and says something like “you can make it, don’t give up!”. Ok fine. I hop back on and weave side to side on the road looking for patches of traction. My lower back is tired from stabilizing. I’m seriously tired. The curse of a GPS is that you can see exactly how much more climbing you have to do, in this case two more switchbacks. Somehow we make it up, and the road levels off. We’re still going uphill but only a few percent grade so it feels like coasting.

Now the road is fun. We ride over a number of cattle guards and pass small farms and ranches. I see a bull with one horn. Trying to remember what to do if a bull charges you.

We take a right on 15-mile, and 8-mile roads. I’m keeping track of the turns on my cue sheet but its unnecessary, they both have signs pointing toward the Dalles.

There is a long gentle descent by a river, with a head wind. We’re pacelining with a couple folks from Georgia who moved here recently. We see four people on bikes heading the opposite way, they wave. One of them is a 14-year-old, going pretty fast. He must have awesome parents.

Eventually we reach the Dalles and get to Holsteins coffee shop, and Theo tells us to go sign in with our times. He was riding with a pack of locals, and had finished an hour before us!

In short, this is the best ride ever.

See Matt’s pics and John’s pics and Theo’s pics

Feb
21

Today’s ride was a more mellow, low-key trip from NE Portland to Jazzy Bagels in Gresham.  Beth’s report is here.