Friday, July 27, 2012

Super Specialized

Most of you out there in cyber-land know that I am extremely devoted to my herd of Specialized bikes.

My relationship with them began in 2008 when I purchased my first Specialized Tarmac S-Works.  He quickly became known as "Falco" due to his interest in descending hills like a falcon screaming down from the sky upon its prey!  He was sleek, he was fast, he was my first "real" racing bike.

Since then, I have been lucky enough to expand my flotilla of bikes from one Specialized to the current haul of three!  It would have been four, but Falco had to be sold in order to make room for the most recent edition - "Mari" the Amira S-Works.  Along with the Basque goddess of the wind (Mari), the bike room is home to "Bernie," the HTC Team-colored Tarmac, and "Azkarra," the freakishly fast Transition time trial bike.

Needless to say, whenever anyone asks me about my bikes, they soon regret it, as I am capable of talking all day about the handling, the speed, the responsiveness, and the sweet design of these machines.

While I am not necessarily in the market for another Specialized (yet), I have to say that I am so intrigued by their most recent addition to the S-Works line, the aluminum Allez frame!  WOWZA!  This thing is HOT-OLA!!  And, light as a feather.  I can't wait to see how this line develops in the next couple of years.

I think that I may need to find another parking spot in the bike room...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Arsenal Crit- The Power of 3 and the Letter 'V' !

Nikki, Jackie, and I lined up with a small but mighty field at the Arsenal Criterium in the Philadelphia Navy Yard.  Arsenal is my favorite kind of crit-- fast, technical, and flat.  

With no big numbers from any single team in the field, we knew going into it that we could control the race.  Aside from a random SUV on the course at one point, things were relatively uneventful.  We quickly shutdown any attacks and made sure to keep things together throughout the race.  With three laps to go, Nikki got on the front and I got on her wheel.  There were small counter-lead out trains that tried to form, but Nikki did an awesome job of stringing things out.  With little less than half a lap to go, I looked back and realized that a rider from North-Tek was on my wheel, and that I was going to have to sprint for this.   RAWR! Nikki led through the final turn and peeled off in style--a text book lead out!-- and I jumped.  It was probably a little early, but I was able to power to the line.  Victory!

Many thanks to my grrrlz Nikki and Jackie for coming out to race.  Snagging the V is always fun, but it’s a real treat when great team work gets you there.  Thanks also to QCW for putting the crit on, and to Julia Lonchar for the sweet pic of the finish!

Next up:  Grandview Grand Prix!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Another First!

10+ years this Jeep has been my sidekick.  Brought into the family in 2001, it’s carried me from one athletic endeavor to another. Initially it was filled with lacrosse sticks and coaching equipment, then golf clubs for weekend outings throughout Virginia, and then skis and snowboards for the winter treks up to Vermont. But then in 2006, it got into the sport of cycling. When we added the three bike racks to the roof, it was a done deal – this truck was destined to carry me (and friends, teammates, and later my husband) to dozens of bike races over thousands of miles. 

Its longest trek for a bike race was Louisville, KY. Here, it helped us put our legs up pre-race after spending way too many hours on the road. And even when the battery decided to die on me on the first day of a stage race in Altoona, PA, we said, “eh, batteries are replaceable” and we were back on the road in hours. [I confess, at the time, this particular breakdown was extremely stressful; have you ever tried to tow a truck filled with six bikes to an unknown auto shop—only to be told they can’t get to it for a few days? We managed to bump that time estimate up significantly.]  A year later when the heat decided to cut off in winter, we said, “eh, dress in layers.”  And then a year later, when the AC decided to crap out on the front passenger side, I said “I’m driving!” so as long as I was chilled, no problem and besides my passengers could just put the window down for some fresh air. Fine, until the window decides it doesn’t want to go back up. Nothing a little tape couldn’t fix until we replaced the window motor.

You may recall the weekend we were headed to the velodrome and the truck was pulled over because (ahem) all but one of the tail lights was out. (See previous cawescycling post.) Just a little short-circuiting officer: the check-engine light is always on. No worries. Until it’s lights out for everything. Turn the key and silence. Dead. Even with a helpful jumpstart effort from a family member (Volvo). Yes, whatever you call the grips that used to hold the hood up long ago wore out, but that’s why you carry a bike pump with you no matter what. But the pump and the jump didn’t work.

So we called in the big guns. The Sponsors. Who? That’s right, the companies and businesses and individuals who support our sport. In this instance, a quick call to Beyer KIA in Falls Church, VA to let them know we were in the market for a new ride. Like now. 

But first we want to test drive a few. The KIA Sportage. The KIA Sorrento. The Optima Hybrid. I’ll spare you the Goldilocks analogy, but for the result: the KIA Sorrento was juuust right. Ahhhh. And here is a first for me. The car color we wanted – titanium – was only available on the car on the showroom floor. So what’d we do? Watch this video.
How cool is that…we watched our new car come right out of the glass-enclosed showroom to enter the world . . . of bike racing. Thanks Beyer KIA. You rock.