Archive | March 2011

Seattle RainMan Triathlon Race Report

I read a participant’s recap of the Seattle RainMan Indoor Triathlon the other day and found it fascinating. I hadn’t planned to do any reminiscing of the event, let alone documenting, but I got to thinking: Hey, I paid my forty bucks, I should write a recap, too! This is basically a bunch of whining about not training at all and being disappointed in my performance.

I haven’t done a real (outdoor) triathlon before, but I RainManned last year. I was similarly out of shape so I figure it makes for a good comparison. My short-term training consisted of watching cyclocross on TV the night before (I figured I could visualize those poor muddy guys charging uphill with their bikes on their backs and not feel as miserable during the run) and not drinking any beer for a week (because I had a really tired week, not as a conscious decision).

The day didn’t start off smoothly. One great thing about the RainMan is that the heats start all through the day, rather than super early in the morning like a real triathlon. I chose a reasonable start time and figured I could easily get there the required hour early. Of all the days to rely on the kids to wake me up, no one woke up at the usual 7:30am. Instead, I woke up to a quiet house at 8:10, 30 minutes before my show time. This would have been fine if I just had to get myself there, but I had planned to ride over with both kids in the double trailer behind my road bike and let my husband could come along a bit later. The big kid refused to get up so I ended up just bringing the little kid with me. This threw everything off because we’d only made the one trailer accessible in our recent move so the stragglers would have to come by car and I didn’t expect them to find easy parking. I wasn’t quite an hour early, but I still had plenty of time to get checked in and pace around impatiently. I didn’t need to do any warming up, but I had hoped to have time to drink some water and get my hair wet. Instead I nursed the baby for twenty minutes right before my heat (that’s anti-hydrating!) and left my hair dry so I wouldn’t freeze while waiting barefoot on the curb. They pulled up two minutes before my heat so I tossed the baby into the car and ran inside. Phew!

Swimming: 15 minutes in the pool
My swimming training was two swims since last RainMan. I swam the Green Lake Open Water Swim one-mile course in July, plus one “to verify I won’t drown” pool swim shortly before that. Hopping into the pool with one minute to spare kind of sucked, but missing the start would have been worse. I ended up sharing a lane with the fastest guy in my heat and got lapped four times–ouch. I should point out that if I had to pick a sport I’m good at, it’d be swimming. I’m not a swimmer by any stretch, but I like swimming and played water polo in college. Of course I was the caliber of water polo player who strived to avoid swimming–my All West Coast Honorable Mention was for a game-tying half-court lob. I had time to swim a bit closer, but chose the lazy shot instead. ‘Nuff said.
2010: 17 laps
2011: 17 laps

Cycling: 30 minutes on a stationary trainer
I didn’t do any real cycling training, but I’ve been riding more this year than last. Plus I’ve been hauling more kid poundage around. I knew I’d have a much better ride this time because last year they misplaced my bike and I wasted precious minutes looking around for it and then carrying it over to the trainers. Plus I wasn’t able to get my shoes locked into the pedals. Oh, and it’d been so many years since I’d used the road bike I had to overcome embarrassment and ask the guy next to me how to shift. So this year was awesome: the bike was there, cleats were sufficiently loose to lock in, and I shifted to my heart’s content. The only thing I forgot was a water bottle. The gal next to me ate an entire meal during our 30 minute cycle while I got hotter and hotter and thirstier and thirstier. It as during the cycling that I finally noticed the awful dance club music. Is that what spin classes are like? I don’t remember music last year, but I do remember the guy shouting birthing encouragments at us (“Push harder! Bear down!”) and was happy he wasn’t around. I smiled and waved at the kids periodically which probably means I wasn’t pushing myself hard enough.
2010: 5.35 miles
2011: 7.91 miles

Running: 2.97 miles around the lake
This is the embarrassing part. Last year I had planned to blow the run and retrieve the baby from my husband and walk the lap while wearing him. But I didn’t see them when I got out of the building and somehow managed to run the whole 5K. It was verrry slow, but I was still amazed at my performance considering I hadn’t done any running since high school. This year I tried to train a bit. I have an incredibly old and wobbly double jogger that I’ve shoved to the nearest playground or library a few times. I figured that would make running without a stroller really easy. I’m sad to report that I walked more than I ran, but I was only a minute and a half slower than last year. I remembered to picture the cyclocross racers as I plodded along, but I also spent a lot of time fretting about my hair turning green.
2010: 34:16
2011: 35:51

It doesn’t seem fair to post results since I wasn’t a serious competitor, but here they are:

    Overall: 92 out of 282
    Female: 24 out of 170
    Age group: 5 out of 42
    Bike split: 67 out of 282
    Bike split female: 18 out of 170

The after-party was better this year than last. I got a free posture evaluation: I slouch and I’m crooked. Hopefully the free chair massage evened me out a bit. And Makeda Coffee was a sponsor–yum! Everyone got a medal. The kids immediately commandeered mine.

I don’t know if I’ll do it again. I’m sick of doing these races (this one and the one-mile swim, that is) without taking the time to train for them. I have a friend who wants to do the Danskin triathlon this year. It sounded like a fun idea when I told her I’d do it, too, but I’m having second thoughts.

Fun with bungee

I’m new to the exciting world of bungee cords–I’d never used one before lashing a stroller into the double trailer last year. And today was my second time bungeeing the stroller atop the Milano’s basket. The first time didn’t go perfectly and it slid into a vertical position by the time I got home, but I did good today and it stayed put there and back. I just own the one bungee cord, but I’m tempted to go get a second one so I can put bulky stuff on both sides. Of course I don’t need to add more weight to my rig as I’m already slow enough and still haven’t found a rideable route home from the Burke-Gilman Trail. But think of all the stuff I could haul!

Today’s excursion was to the zoo, utilizing the busy, but flat-enough N 46th Street. While still in Wallingford on 45th, I ran into a friend who was also headed to the zoo. She was traveling by car and had stopped on the way for coffee. We ended up arriving at the gate at the same time. In the summer when parking is in higher demand I’m sure bike will prove much faster than car.

Join me for 30 Days of Biking in April

This post also appears on the Seattle Big Blog. Join the conversation in the comments section there.

Last August I was new to Twitter and in my poking around soon discovered 30 Days of Biking, in its second iteration. The brainchild of two friends in Minneapolis, it’s heavily populated by Minnesotans, but open to everyone. Round three starts next Friday and I can’t wait!

I started the challenge just to see if I could do it, but in the end it changed me from a fair-weather cyclist into someone seriously working towards becoming car free. Over the course of the month I cycled to places I hadn’t dreamed possible or previously considered practical. I ride with two small children on my bike and two baskets stuffed with toys and snacks so I have to keep my routes pretty flat or I get stuck dismounting and pushing my heavy rig slowly uphill.

I mustered the strength to ride from Green Lake to Phinney Ridge every week and eventually found a route (albeit twenty blocks out of the way) that was completely rideable. Since the bus was so easy for getting to the Seattle Center, I never thought to bike there. Turns out that while it’s a bit of a pain to cross Aurora, it’s totally worth doing. Plus it set us up for confidently biking to Bumbershoot later in the month and taking advantage of the secure bike parking and the freebie-filled VIB (Very Important Biker) booth.

Of course there were a couple less-than-stellar days, including a pajama-clad ride up and down my driveway at 11:59pm and bribing the Puyallup Fair parking lot attendant with an apple fritter to let me ride his mountain bike for a couple minutes.

Here’s the official blurb from 30DoB:

The only rule for 30 Days of Biking is that you bike every day for 30 days—around the block, 20 miles to work, whatever suits you—then share your adventures online. We believe biking enriches life, builds community, and preserves the Earth. This is the second year, and third round, of 30 Days of Biking.

Want to join the fun? The first step is to register. There’s also a Facebook page to like and a Facebook event to attend. Follow the tweets with the #30daysofbiking hashtag and use it in your event-related tweets.

Group rides are also part of the bargain. Minneapolis boasts several rides and it seems that Portland is getting into the 30DoB game in a big way, too. I’m hoping more Seattlites get involved that some events spring up here.

September 1, 2010: My first 30 Days of Biking ride

Hub and Bespoke trunk show

Even this unfashionable slob can appreciate stylish cycling apparel.

I snuck out without the kids to the Nona Varnado Trunk Show at Hub and Bespoke, a cycling boutique. The clothing was very pretty and had all the appropriate extra pockets one wants in cycling gear. I really liked the hooded jacket I tried on, which will be available in black soon. The teeny crop jacket and hipster (upper left corner) looked great on Nona, but were a bit too fasion-forward for moi. The Midori punch and sushi was great, too.

Juliette politely listened to me complain about the weather and told me about the thigh-high merino wool socks that sold out too quickly in the fall. And I realized aloud that just because I’m ready for winter to be over, it doesn’t mean I should wear summer footwear when going out at night. Fortunately, the hilly ride home keep me plenty warm.

I took the Milano over because I was curious to see if I could make it up the hills home without the extra kid weight. I still haven’t found the flattest round-about route and have had to walk half a block each time to get home from the Burke-Gilman Trail. I took the direct steep route and was able to barely power my way up the hill. So that’s good to know. Perhaps there’s hope for me yet.

Seattle Bike Expo

The boys and I donned rain gear and swam our way to the Kidical Mass meeting point this morning. We found ten brave participants–distributed on two Madsens, one Bakfiets, and one road bike–sheltered under the overhang of the Ballard Library. On the way over, I discovered my jacket is not waterproof. Nor were my gloves. The kids fared pretty well, but the baby kicked off one of his rain boots at the library so I removed his damp sock and tucked his bare foot into his Newt Suit and hoped for the best.

The rest of the ride was just as wet, but given the fun company it wasn’t too bad. The bakfiets and road bike family made it to the locks before heading home. The blue Madsen pulled off a bit later so in the end it was just the Totcycle crew and us. I’m so happy I finally did the locks with them again because now I’ll remember (perhaps) to take 27th up from Commodore.

It was a relief to arrive at the covered Bikeworks bike parking corral. I met a very nice woman from Whidbey Island who admired my front bike seat and invited me into their group to share their $2 off coupon. We must have looked more bedraggled than I realized because one of the other women in the group spotted my entrance fee before I had a chance to dig out my wallet. Once inside we shed our wet outer layers and mixed with the dry Expo goers. I don’t know how other people managed schlepping their rain gear around, but I was lucky to spot Fritz at the Dutch Bike Co booth and he let me stow my two bags of wet crap under their table.

The boys loved watching the German artistic cyclists last year, but they were not interested in sitting still this year. We also missed Ryan Leech (too crowded), but I was able to sit us down for most of the fashion show. We lasted just long enough to cheer for Totcycle before needing to go in search of more stickers. I was able to spend a little time at some cool booths: the S.U.Velo Boxie cargo bike looks nice in person as do Bike Wrappers reflectors. I noticed them beforehand when browsing the exhibitors list, but hadn’t realized one needs to reverse them to change from the pretty pattern to the reflective side. I can barely remember to lock my bike so I don’t think I’ve got it in me to change a wrapper around. However, they would be a great way to pretty- (and safety-) up my mountain bike if I opt to take that out in icy weather next winter. The Family & Cargo Bike booth was wonderful, of course, and the boys hung out in another S.U.Velo there and I noticed on its label that it will be carried by Dutch Bike Co. The Classic Bike Show was very cool, but not kid-proof so we ran through quickly on our way out.

I did have one mission, to buy a dry top for the ride home because even though the rain had stopped, I wasn’t keen to ride home in just a t-shirt. I was having trouble deciding between a hideous $15 very visible yellow shell at the HUGE BLOWOUT booth and a $99-marked-down-from-$220 grey Trek rain jacket. It wasn’t the jacket I’d buy if I had time to shop around so I decided to look around for something long sleeved and not necessarily water resistant. At the Recycled Cycles sale rack I admired a Canari Sub Zero Jersey Jacket. It was too big, but it seemed worth it at $65 because my little buddies were getting restless and the label said it was from San Diego. If only Recycled Cycles had a sister store called Recycled Jerseys and I could swap it for a size smaller. But it did the trick for the sunny nine-mile ride home. Didn’t make it to Commodore via 27th, by the way, but next time I’ll get it right.

Ready for my bike boulevard

Being called a dude by a homeless man was a high point of today’s ride.

I read Seattle Bike Blog’s piece about the new Wallingford bike boulevard with only mild interest back in January because that was before we had plans to move to the affected area. Now that I’ve travelled both directions on 45th, I see the need for it.

Today I put one more notch in my shopping-by-bike belt and rode to Whole Foods–first time from the new house. This was my first trip east on 45th and it wasn’t any better than going west. Maybe even worse, due to the freeway overpass. I might be slightly biased because waiting at the light to cross 7th a homeless dude said to Brandt, “What are you doing way back there, little guy? Helping your dad?” Apparently my two ponytails could not counteract my masculinity today.

Heading up 11th wasn’t bad; it’s not too busy and it has a bike lane. It probably gets crowded during rush hour, but my “work day” tends to happen during off-peak times. Our small shopping trip was a success. I padded a glass jar by wrapping it in my Ergo before stowing it in the basket and the baby held our bag of Tings so they wouldn’t get squished. Heh, actually it was all I could do to pry the bag out of his hands at checkout. I’m not sure I could routinely count on the kids to help tote groceries, though.

I considered detouring by the old house to avoid all the Roosevelt/U-District traffic, but if I ever want to be a real urban cyclist I need to HTFU so we stayed on Roosevelt. Roosevelt was fine and 45th was still somewhat sucky. I don’t think there’s any time of day that 45th isn’t busy so I rode on the sidewalk. I don’t like resorting to the sidewalk, but I’m grateful it’s legal to do so in the city of Seattle. That bike boulevard can’t come soon enough!

Women on Wheels

The reminders were there (nursing bra, diaper bag), but I was kid-free at WOW! First time in three years. I could actually look at everything I wanted to and didn’t have to ask anyone to please stop chewing on bike tires. I saw one woman with toddler at the event and think I managed not to look superior. By the way, Women on Wheels is “A special night to help motivate and educate women cyclists” at Gregg’s Cycle. Motivation includes free food and drink, good live music, and special in-store savings.

Unless there was a big bike parking area behind the shop, I didn’t see many bikes. So that was odd. I wish our house move had happened a couple weeks later, because the old house was a flat half mile from Gregg’s and I could have used my beach cruiser for the first time in years, but I took my road bike (sans double trailer for a change) for the two-mile uphill trip.

I couldn’t stay for the whole event, but I got my two beers (I don’t remember the drink tickets from years past, but I’m sure it’s just my poor memory and not a new thing) and plenty of Theo chocolate and saw the first speaker, Kat Sweet. She is so cool! I wanted to give my mountain bike a big kiss when I get home and apologize for keeping it locked in a dark garage for so many years. Duthie Hill sounds really nice so we’ll check that out this summer…assuming it stops raining by then.

Saw a lot of nice bikes. The Specialized Ruby, a step up from my Dolce, looks really sweet. The sales rep almost convinced me I need to replace my perfectly good bike. I asked the Cervelo rep if it’s true that Seattle has the highest per capita number of Cervelos (those pricey bikes are everywhere!), but apparently they don’t keep track of that. I nearly bought a super-on-sale purple Castelli jacket, but I wasn’t feeling the purple. I’ll probably regret it tomorrow. Oh, and I couldn’t kiss my mountain bike upon returning home because it’s too buried under other bikes in the new garage. But I waved to it and said “See you soon! I have the most amazing surprise for you this summer.”

Capistrano Beach biking

Byeee Seattle snow. Hello land of beach cruisers. I don’t wanna go home.

Sun! While my husband is moving us from one house to another (Walk Score 65 to 89!) the boys and I and our respective BFFs escaped to Capistrano Beach. I’d never heard of the city before; we chose somewhere we could fly directly from Seattle and find a last-minute VRBO. The little boys all loved the proximity to the train tracks and I loved the bikey beach culture. The VRBO even had two beach cruisers, one with a Bell baby seat.

I haven’t been on my beach cruiser in a couple years and riding this Atlantic Coast Cruiser / Extreme Comfort Design bicycle made me miss it. I’ll have to drag it out and do some solo riding back home. Baby Rijder totally rocked the purple Disney fairies helmet. The VRBO also had a couple adult helmets, but California politely leaves the over-18 helmet decision in the hands (noggins?) of the rider so I did like the locals and went bare-headed. I saw plenty of helmeted road cyclists on the road, but we beach cruiser riders stuck to the path and adjoining parking lots.

I saw several people riding beach cruisers along the beach. I felt sorry for the bikes. Yeah, I parked my borrowed bike in the sand for a quick picture, but I don’t think it would have been happy with renter after renter riding it in the wet sand.

Inspired by the casual beach people, I went out our last morning for a ride in a skirt. First time. I didn’t want to pester the fancy Beach Road people to take a picture of me so I did the best I could with the camera aimed at myself and at reflective windows. It’s hard work! I need to find a tutorial on Photographing Oneself from a Moving Bicycle. These two shots are the best of many attempts and still feature a grimace and a cut-off baby.