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Barbarella: The Barbara Howe diary
Just as Barbarella bumps through the universe, comically oblivious to the dangers and threats being thrust at her, Barbara Howe has had a few misadventures of her own. After an illness-filled season in 2006, the 31 year-old Velo Bella rider is working to get her fitness back in 2007. Although 'cross is still the favorite discipline of the Marin County, California resident, Howe is returning to action by racing her mountain bike. When not training on and around Mt Tamalpais, she keeps busy cooking and sewing.
Follow the fortunes of this free-spirited individual here on Cyclingnews.
May 13, 2007
NMBS #3 - Out of the frying pan into the fire
The second NMBS race had been rescheduled from Sonoma to just north of Santa Barbara or in terms of temperatures out of the frying pan and into the fire. Nationals in Sonoma last year were toasty and so was this race.
I enjoyed a leisurely drive down to Santa Ynez with Rachel Lloyd (winner of the pro Super D) of the Proman team. This was the second time I've used my newly installed Craig's List special roof racks. If at all possible I put my bikes inside my little Honda so as not to ruin the gas mileage, also I prefer not to use the A/C but sometimes it's inevitable.
We made it to the venue on one tank of gas and the very first thought upon stepping out of the car was that it's a bit warmer here than at home. The bowl shaped valley reflected the heat from the hills into the exhibition area.
After picking up our numbers Rachel and I went to check out the course. I had raced here a few years ago, it was my last race as an expert and the course has changed a bit. The start was in a new area and there's much more single track than before. About fifteen minutes into our ride we hit the first little hill; it was steep with a few switch backs. It was at this time that I noticed a ringing in my ears and a rather uncomfortable feeling in my stomach. Not good signs; my legs didn't want to work either.
Rachel had stopped up ahead and I pushed my bike up the hill and we hung out in the meagre shade of an oak for some minutes before I started to feel a bit better. The rest of the pre-ride went a bit better, but I still wasn't feeling too good. I met up with Kristen at the Viking Motel in Solvang where I turned the grassy yard into a temporary kitchen. The overloaded Honda was happy to relieve itself of the camp stove and I whipped up some tasty gnocchi with homemade pesto and sautéed tempeh. Later we were joined by Mike, Tim the mechanic and Nikki from Proman.
I was looking forward to short track the next morning thinking that it would be cooler at 11 AM. The weather had other ideas and if anything it was even warmer than the day before. I tried to warm up for the short track but only succeeded in over-heating. This particular short track is one I'd like to forget as the word of the day was "backwards."
The race started, I went backwards, and the race continued, I went backwards. I finally got pulled and could sit under the tent and drink cold water and make good use of a cooler full of ice. The highlight of Saturday was Tim, our mechanic's birthday celebration. Alex F scored a great piñata in beautiful colours and filled it with Tootsie Rolls. It hung as a mascot at the tent and came to the hotel to be broken open. In the cool evening air we had a cake then watched as Tim whacked the body off of the pink and blue piñata animal.
I was concerned about Sunday's race after heat exhaustion on Friday and an inability to pedal my bike on Saturday. Sunday started off noticeably cooler and breezier than the previous days. We had all of our bottles on ice and I planned to take two bottles each feed, one filled with Cytomax the other filled with ice water for cooling purposes.
During warm up I kept myself doused in cool water to prevent over heating. The start, as always, was the worst part of the race for me. I thought things were going well but a few pedal strokes in there was a crash and although I didn't go down I was completely blocked. Going into the first sharp turn to start the first little uphill I was last, not a good position.
It was hard work to pass but I knew that I had to get past as many racers as possible in the beginning. By the middle of the race everyone is so spread out that you rarely move more than a few positions. With the breeze and ice water to cool me I felt better than the past few days but those days had taken a toll.
My legs only really wanted to work on the steep climb; they protested the gradual climbs and the false flats. At one of the feeds I grabbed two bottles of Cytomax without knowing it and partially emptied the contents of one of the bottles onto myself. Yuck!
This race was short, just under two hours, and after Sea Otter's marathon that feels positively pleasant. I rolled into the finish glad to be done and clean the stickiness off my back.
Tim, Nikki, and Mike headed back north right after the race while I stayed behind to train and rest for the next race in Fontana.
Till next week,