Saturday, December 06, 2014

2014 Vert180 - First Skimo of Season

Into the 2nd climb of the Vert180 with heavy legs and high breath-rate, I determined that skimo racing is way tougher than any other endurance sport I've done!
Skinning up the slopes of COP - photo Kent Toth Stockflo

Just returning from my epic cycling trip in Taiwan, I just removed the storage wax off my skimo skis race day morning. I was going to be winging my transitions at the 6 pm event that night at Canada Olympic Park (COP)!

photo Stockflo
With a top-notch field of women on the start line, I went out at a fast though self-preserving pace for the 180 minutes we were to be out there.

Kept in pace with Michelle Katchur Roberts, fellow skimo teammate from last season. At the top, Michelle's transition was lightning speed and she was gone.

I doddled methodically with removing my skins, a little bit of a gong show to watch.

Former National team racer Kylie Toth Ohler just behind, passed me before beginning the descent. Good thing, as I had no idea where to go or how to take the descent. It was a great feeling to ski down hoping I did not forget how from last year (not my 2nd nature sport!).

Trail of skiers bootpacking up - photo Kent Toth Stockflo
2/3 way down, had a sharp hockey stop to the right for transition to bootpack up a short climb with kicked in steps. All went smooth on this transition to bootpack.

almost to the top - photo Kent Toth Stockflo
I found it easier to chip my boot toes into the untracked path and run up for parts of the climb, then use my poles on the steeper sections.

At the transition, it was a total gong show to clip into my bindings. Frustration did not help, as the calm volunteer pointed out. The descent was bombing fast straight downhill to complete a loop. Max speed on this section hit 65 kph!

I impressed myself with cleanly removing my skins with skis on, without toppling over! - photo Kent Toth Stockflo

Just as my transitions were finally getting better with removing and putting back on the skins, I had a scary incident on one of these speedy descents near the end of my 7th lap.

As I was in a tuck position bombing for the finish, midway down my right ski wobbled and completely took off with speed in front of me. I managed to balance on one ski, then took a fall to prevent further carnage with a bad crash. Hobble-skied down the hill with one ski all the way to the bottom to grab the lost ski. Skate-skied back up into the finish. Lucky to come out of that unscathed!

With the balmy temps, the air still felt cool. At the top of the hill, while the nightlight views were outstanding, the headwinds were cold coming from the west.

Within a few loops, my gloves were soaked from all the ski handling in the snow. I finally changed them after lap 6 to my super waterproof gloves.

The wicked music playing at the lower transition zone kept motivation going as it was heard most of the way up the climb. It was a small though hearty crowd.

Ended up with 12 laps, 1833m elevation gain in 180 minutes, 17.4 km distance. Max speed was 65 kph!

This is a great event to practice transitions early season and get a feel for skimo. Awesome training event as well.

Thanks to Kylee and Travis Brown and all others who helped out with putting on this event.

Canadian Skimo Women racing that night - Michelle Katchur Roberts, Tele-Martha Burley, Melanie Bernier, Marg Fedyna; missing in photo Kylee Toth Ohler, Jean Ann Berkenpas

The volunteers were super awesome at the transition points with their cheers and calmness!

The timing control crowd who cheered for every person who came in for a loop were amazing to hear all the way up the hill.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Exploring Taiwan as a Cycle Journalist

The Taiwan KOM Challenge event was brought to my attention by fellow ERTC club racer Greg Nicholson after the inaugural event in 2012. I finally got my toe in the door and was able to attend the event this year as a journalist with expenses covered by the Taiwan Tourist Board.

Jo Hogan and Marg Fedyna at a freebie photo booth at the Come! Bike Day event
Once I arrived to Taiwan, I figured I would need to figure out what to do on my own until the press conference mid-week for the event, and the actual race on the weekend.

Once all 8 of us journalists & photographers from Australia, New Zealand, UK, Malaysia and US were together, we were treated royally every moment with nice accom, a guide and luxury bus to show us amazing sites, and fed way too much at restaurant three times a day. Another 6 joined us from Malaysia, Singapore, Australia & Korea mid-week.

I will document my travels with this motley crew in the next while. So many photos to choose from! I had an amazing time.

To sum up... the hospitality of the Taiwanese is unlike any other culture I have experienced. This started before I even arrived... in the check-in line-up in LA airport, other than me being the average height of everyone in line (!)... it was a noticeable calmer demeanor of people. Exchanging money at the airport before even going thru customs, I was boggled and a woman in line made sure to help me. Could brush it off as just a nice person, though every person I came across thereafter was helpful like that!

One day when we heard a horn honk as we were riding in the busy city streets, we all commented that was the first horn honk we had heard! Amazing with 23 million people on an Island the size of Vancouver Island.

Update to come....

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Great Reports from Taiwan KOM Challenge 2014

The scenery is outstanding!!
Awesome recap video of the race in action… well, mostly the men's race… exciting to see eventual winner John Ebsen make his move on the 27% grade! 

Link to my post-race CBCradio interview with Doug Dirks, where I bumbled through and forgot to mention "raw food"!! and green juice...   

My race report in Pedalmag

Press Conference with Lee Rodgers - photo Changmin Park
First race report out by Lee Rodgers, Director of Communications for the event

Aaron tasting his 1st Persimmons I bought from a street vendor
Articles: by Eurosport-Australia writer Aaron S. Lee:
Cdn Marg Fedyna Wins Taiwan KOM, Will Routley Finishes 15th
Awesome article focusing on the women:
Queens Rule Atop Taiwan KOM Challenge

Chris bravely trying "stinky tofu" in the streets of Shuishe
Descriptive account from 14th spot by Velonews journalist Chris Case: Case Suffering Taiwan

Dave & Marg could not resist hugging the Bear at Press Conference
Coverage (report and video) from Cycle Tips journalist Dave Everett: The Definition of  Epic Tackling a Rain Soaked Taiwan KOM Challenge

Pre-race Video by Dave Everett
I enjoy Dave’s humour... comment to Nicole Cooke (World/Olympic Road Champ) and Tiffany Cromwell (5th Road Worlds this year)... "both of you got not bad results"! Love Nicole’s response at the end talking about compact crank.

The coverage Dave shows while racing is cool, to see how wet and cold, and steep it was. How Tiffany talks about the crash is admirable. Seeing Jo riding was great! I'm bug-eyed in the video, learning not to do next time!

Jo waiting at a light with the many scooters
Peloton Pillow Talk video with Jo with Dave Everett
- 2 min in, shows the wicked Taiwan scenery on a ride the first day we were there… and my climbing style which I have never seen on video. It feels smoother than it looks. 
- 3:40 Pre-race, Jo mentions my raw food and being a dark horse... so very cool coming from a competitor friend!
The crash about to happen... photo Danial Hakim/Taiwan Cyclist Federation
Jo and Tiff are directly behind the fallen rider. The men's winner Ebsen is right in front of the crash. Front of peloton is usually considered safest!

Day after the race, we all went riding in the countryside by Taipei

One of my favourite photos of the "engaging conversations" eight cycle jounalists and photographers had during dinners!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

My Pedalmag Article: Taiwan KOM Challenge 2014

Taiwan KOM Challenge Report, Photos – Canada’s Fedyna Wins, Routley 15th

by Marg Fedyna    

November 20, 2014 (Taiwan) – Working with a few racers on the 7% graded highway at a hard though comfortable effort, I glanced down at my GPS. It registered 42km in distance of the 105km event, though only 450 metres for elevation! After starting at sea level in the eastern coastal village of Hualien, it was hard to comprehend the elevation gain left to finish at Wuling, Mt. Hehuan at 3,275 metres.
Sub-tropical vegetation early on

The wet weather was playing havoc with the GPS readings though I took heed. With the pounding rain keeping me soaked, I was quick to note that I needed to gauge my effort, food intake and warmth level to get to the top.

After the inaugural Taiwan KOM race in 2012, fellow ERTC club racer Greg Nicholson sent me a link to the personal account of Daniel Carruthers’ race with this message “Bucket list! Never knew this climb existed. Outstanding! Marg, I think this one has your name written on it.”

I was definitely intrigued by this event and was excited to be a part of it this year.

The rains began the night before. The racers staying at the Parkview Hotel were huddled under the hotel loading zone roof waiting for the last moment to ride the 8km to the beach location for the 6:30 a.m. start.

Forecast was 16°C, to cool to 13°C by the top of Hehuan. Since the air was humid and warm, most racers wore basic jersey and shorts.

I was contemplating clothing options with Nicole Cooke (GBR) who was here as a journalist. She was the only Olympic and Road Worlds winner in the same year. Will Routley (Optum/Kelly Benefit Strategies) from Abbotsford, BC offered his feedback that whatever he wears… he’d be too warm at one point and too cold at another.

With only a slight predicted decrease in temperature I decided to add arm warmers, and wore a lightweight Sugoi rain jacket to keep me dry for the start.

On-route riding to the race start, the spray from the roads and cyclists’ rear wheels already made my clothing damp.

Pre-race performance by the Taroko drummers. [P] Taiwan Cyclist Federation

I missed out on truly enjoying the powerful beat of the Taroko dummers as I was concerned how to keep my damp body warm before the start. Valuable energy was already burning to do so.

Despite the drizzling weather, the atmosphere was quite relaxed at the start line. I took a place near the front of the field for the neutral start.

Neutral start from 0m elevation at the coast [P]Taiwan Cyclist Federation

Once the event began, the large peloton of 473 racers rode out the main road at a pace controlled by the commissaire vehicles and motorcycles. The constant bike wheel spray was tough to avoid.

Even though Cooke is retired from cycling, she instinctively was at the front of the peloton. Jo Hogan (Rapha Ambassador) and Tiffany Cromwell (Specialized-lululemon), both Pro racers from Australia, were hovering near the front as well.

Crossing the bridge before the turn to Taroko Gorge [P]Taiwan Cyclist Federation

The pace quickened before the turnoff 18-km in. Once on the Central Cross-Island Highway, we rode over the official timing mat. Though damp, the humid air was warm. I wondered when best to remove my rain jacket to not overheat.

I hovered within the top 30 of the field. As the peloton squeezed onto the narrow road, the riders began to string out. The road gently snaked its way beside a tall rocky ledge. The slight grade of 3% allowed the high pace of the peloton to continue.

Marg Fedyna amidst the peloton. [P]Taiwan Cyclist Federation

On the first gentle descent, I was spooked by my lack of braking power to scrub off a little speed. With the wet roads and closeness of the riders, I relaxed my pace dropping further back from the front group.

Photo 6 - The marble walls in Taroko Gorge

Within kilometres on this narrow highway, the marble walls in the Taroko Gorge towered hundreds of feet above us. I tilted my head back to take the full view in! Outstanding!! The height of the walls surpassed any photos I had previously seen and was eye-widening. The media described it as out of Jurassic Park.

Even while racing and with my raindrop-spotted eyewear, I was able to take in the magnificent views.

Photo 7 - Tunnels built into the mountain

The road was narrow and occasionally undercut into the rock. Wherever a section was impassable, a tunnel had been built through the mountain. The highway is an engineering wonder that was completed in 1960 with enormous effort and at the cost of 212 lives.

Riding through the tunnels gave relief from the pelting rain. With no wind, there seemed little need to draft other than for moral support to be together.

Photo 8 - Rock slide that occurred with the evenings rain

The road surface was pleasantly smooth. With the recent rain, loose rocks had fallen in places with a human-sized one in the middle of the road.

On a tight left hand turn 25 km in, a few riders had collided just ahead. The group I was with managed to ease around safely. This reinforced for me to be cautious.

Soon after I heard “hello” from Nicole just before the first big increase in grade. The rain seemed to let up and I was considering removing my rain jacket.

Slowly, I moved up in the field and came by Tony, Will Routley’s dad, riding well. A few racers passed by which had Tiffany pulling strongly.

I figured the top women were up ahead with the lead peloton so I was surprised to see both Tiffany and Nicole.

Photo 9 - Tiffany Cromwell pulling strongly after an early crash

My rain-spotted eyewear gave limited visibility though I wanted to keep my eyes protected from grit as long as possible. I then noted that Tiffany had ripped shorts and it wasn’t just a rain spot on my glasses.

A few km later when Tiffany eased her pace, I asked if she needed anything. Her reply was “new legs”! The grade was steepening as I continued at my pace.

Photo 10 - Tunnel reminiscent from an amusement rid

Countless number of long tunnel sections through the mountain also kept me wary of other racers riding skills. Fortunately, there was sufficient lighting in the tunnel to make out the road and riders.

Early on there were plenty of racers around. As the gradient slowly rose, I mostly rode my pace jumping in to follow another rider’s quicker pace every so often.

To help conserve energy, I backed off my effort when sporadic 12% grades popped up. Then I rode harder on the lesser grades suitable to my riding style.

Periodically, I ate some of the chopped up pieces of dates I had in the side pockets on my shorts. The humidity unexpectedly softened the dates to goo. I had to squeeze them out of the plastic bag like a gel.

Passing the first feed-zone offering food, only bananas were available. I hollered ahead “banana, peeled” as I wanted to grab the banana as I rode by.

Photo 11 - Banana hand-offs at the feed-zone

The first couple of volunteers were caught by surprise with the request as I passed by. Soon, I had five feed-zone volunteers running to hand me a peeled banana! Big thank you for their effort, as I grabbed one.

The climb went on and on. In no way was I bored!

Photo 12 - Tranquil scenery

The guard railings painted red and yellow made a nice contrast with the green lush foliage brightening the limited rainy view. Though the scenery in the distance was hidden on this rainy day, the amazing road with its constant change in grade, twists and turns offered sneak peeks of the twisty road below on a switchback.

As the rain pelted down harder, I was glad to have kept my jacket on. Now, I was concerned for my finger dexterity. Over the years of endurance racing, especially 24-hour mountain bike racing and adventure racing, my fingers and wrists have taken their toll with overuse under extreme conditions.

My fingers were becoming numb. As I rode, I began to shake one hand at a time and do one-arm windmills. I even tried sitting on a hand while riding or warming my fingers under my armpit.

Fortunately, my body core was warm.

With my finger dexterity limited, it was more difficult to grab my food from my pockets. Passing the next feed-zone, I made the effort to slowly eat the whole banana welcoming the energy.

I had taped the distance and elevation points onto my top tube to appease the analyst side of me during the race. In the rain, I found I barely glanced at it.

At that time, I did notice 3 hours of duration completed from the start-line on my GPS. I guessed I had at least another 2 hours – two more hours to ride with frozen fingers!

Would my fingers keep mobile that long? I was also concerned with how much body heat would be zapped on the upcoming descent section. I was smart enough to not look at the temperature reading! I did not want to know.

I began playing distance games thinking once I had 35 km to go that this would be just like the climb leaving Penticton on Green Mountain Road going all the way up to the end of the pavement at the Apex Ski Resort.

Photo 13 - Occasional kiosks of fruit vendors

I managed to grab a Vega gel from my rear pocket and wished I had a few more.

At the 85 km mark, the few km of descent began. I passed a couple of riders braking to a crawling speed. Only one guy zoomed by being brave enough to go fast.

My dexterity was diminishing. It was scary to gain too much speed on the narrow roads with limited braking power. I hoped my hands and wrists would not fail me.

The descent was over before I knew it. I welcomed a nicely graded climb to relax my grip and warm up. My pace picked up with new-found energy. At this time, a motorbike hovered behind me with a helmet cam. No smiles were to be had.

Within a few km, I was 95 km into the climb reaching Dayuling at 2,565m elevation. I was relieved to make it to this point with the “real climb” up next.

Even though the course so far was interspersed with short increases in grade, the 7% average grade for the first 95 km was quite enjoyable to ride. I was happy to be riding in my big chain ring of a compact crankset wondering why I even switched my cassette to an 11-28 for the race.

When I looked up ahead, I immediately knew the 11-28 cassette was a necessity. The road just rose steeply. It was time for the small chain ring! The way the road snaked up with steep pitches around corners was wowing with the exclamation each time “not again”.

LAST KM_????????_English

The last 8-km was an average 17% grade with a short pitch of 27.3%! I passed a couple of riders traversing the road zigzagging. And a few walking, already.

The grades were very inconsistent. The minute time in between allowed for a brief rest. Each time the grade ramped up, I hoped I was in the proper small gear.

With 8 km left, my hands were still an issue. I was furiously shaking them to bring back feeling.

The rainy weather was playing games with the GPS gradient reading so I did not get to see the unbelievable 27.3% grade show up! It reminded me of a road going up a steep driveway to a house on a hill with a plateau, before it rises again.

Photo 15 - The scary wet metal grates

On the steep pitches, I was spooked each time my rear wheel spun in one spot over the intermittent metal grates across the road. It was hard enough to focus on keeping momentum going let alone to give an extra pedal stroke to get over the grate without toppling over as I was climbing out of the saddle.

Finally seeing the 5km to go sign, I was mentally confident I would be able to gut it out with ice block fingers to the end. Physically, I was feeling fine. The grade lessened for a couple of km until the last vicious km.

Maybe it was a good thing the top was not visible with the rainy clouds.

With 500m to go, the course was marked with a sign every 100m. Time ticked in between each sign as the road rolled through more open rocky terrain.

Photo 16 - Winner John Ebsen visible metres before the finish

The finish line popped out of nowhere. As I approached the finish, I was told I was the first woman!

That did not register quickly with me as I had pictured Jo working with the peloton ahead and wondered how far back I was.

Early on, both Jo and Tiffany had been directly behind a rider that fell. It was inevitable for both of them to crash. Both women courageously finished which is a statement of perseverance. Jo made her way back to 4th place.

Nicole was riding as a journalist and successfully finished. She stated she would rather attempt such a challenge with the appropriate training.

Photo 17 - Women’s Podium

Next women to finish were from Taiwan with Qin Xin (ECT-Specialized) just over three minutes back and Guo Nian Wen (YCCAA Yilan Cycling Team) another 12 minutes back. Cool to have ridden my best and bonus to come out on top!

Five Canadians finished the event with just over half the field making the time cut off of 6.5 hours.

Top Canadian male was Will Routley in a competitive field including the previous winner from 2012, John Ebsen (Atlas/Black Inc.) from Denmark. Ebsen also won the 2014 event breaking away on the challenging 27.3% grade to the finish.

Will came to this race already settled into his off-season, though gave it his best effort. Battling the altitude was a factor for him. He stated “it would certainly be nice to show up with better form, and with the experience of having done it once. All in all it was a great off-season adventure I got to share with my father.”

A recovered Will Routley greeting his father Tony Routley at the finish [P] Daniel Simms Photography

Tony Routley, Will’s dad placed 6th in the 50-59 category. Knowing Tony had previously ridden the road up Haleakala in Maui, a 52 km climb from sea level to 3,037m, I asked how it compared. Tony stated, “Haleakala is a consistent and gradual climb”. Taiwan KOM Challenge “is definitely more difficult”. Tony also mentioned “the altitude and cold combo absolutely killed me in the last 5km.”

Dylan Cunningham (Russ Hays’ Accent Inns Cycling Team) from Victoria who finished 31st at the men’s National Road Race Championships in Lac Megantic, QC this year, placed amongst the top of the field in 19th.

Fraser Young, originally from Victoria now living in Taiwan, who raced for his 3rd time placed 28th worked his way to a higher placing and time in the more inclement weather.

Gearing choice is a major factor for this event. While standard gearing is possible at a deathly effort, compact gearing reduces the effort. The choice of cassette matters as well. My selection was limited with the rear derailleur. I was quite happy with using an 11-28 as I climbed mostly out of the saddle.

Prior to the race, I noticed the large cassette on Tony Routley’s bike. After the race he said “the 32-tooth cog was perfect. I was really happy with that choice.” Even with his perfect gearing choice, Tony found the altitude and cold combination haunted him within the last 5 km.

Photo 19 - The 2014 poster for the race came to reality

This mountain climb needs a strategy to conquer.

After the 95km “warmup”, the last 10 km of the course is the toughest part. That final section is unique in its steep undulations to create the average 17% grade. No other climb I have done compares to it. I definitely want to ride this course again in dry conditions.

The scenery alone puts Taroko Gorge on the Top 10 Best Things to see in Taiwan.

Taiwan KOM Challenge is at the top of the list for Top 10 Epic Hill Climbs in the world!

Special thanks to the Taiwan Tourism Bureau and Taiwan Cyclist Federation, as well as Race Organizer Gary Shu and Director of Communications Lee Rodgers for the opportunity to experience the hospitality and beauty of Taiwan.

Friday, November 14, 2014

My Pre-Race Article Pedalmag: Taiwan KOM Challenge

Taiwan KOM Challenge Canada’s Routley on Board

by Marg Fedyna

November 15, 2014 (Hualien Qixingtan, Taiwan) – The Taiwan KOM Challenge is a one-day road bike race that starts in the eastern coastal village of Hualien Qixingtan at sea level and travels 105 km through the breath-taking Taroko Gorge to finish at WuLing, Mt Hehuan at 3,275 metres.

The road is cut into the side of the marble slabs of Taroko Gorge [P] Daniel Simms

No problem, those stats sound similar to a day in an Haute Route race in the Alps and Pyrenees that I had ridden this summer. A typical Haute Route stage has a similar elevation gain over three separate climbs, with descents in between allowing a welcome break from the climb.

The major difference with the Taiwan KOM Challenge: It is one continuous climb! The toughest gradients are closer to the top of the course, while the thinner oxygen levels increase the effort greatly.

The only major descent in the course is at the 85km mark for 4.3km. Up until then, the average grade is roughly 7%. After that, it will be a survival race to the top with an average of 17% including a section of 27.3%. Tough to imagine!

Previous KOM competitors stress the last 8km’s are extremely challenging. Pro rider Lee Rodgers, who is the Director of Communications for the race, stated the event is “beautiful beyond words, but I’m happy in the car.” He has “done it twice and that was like open heart surgery without anaesthetic – twice!”

His description made the race even more enticing to enter, so I could experience it myself!

A significant prize purse will be awarded with the top male receiving one million dollars ($37,000 CDN) with the top female receiving 200,000 dollars ($7,400 CDN). Equal prize money will hopefully eventually come to this event as it continues to draw top female riders.

Nicole Cooke, Marg Fedyna, Jo Hogan, Tiffany Cromwell [P] Martin Cox
Tiffany Cromwell from Specialized-Lululemon is back for her second time, this time with a compact crank, a hard lesson learned as she switch-backed up the steep climb last year.

Joanne Hogan from Australia, recently racing for Team Bigla out of Spain, is excited to be sporting Rapha gear and has her eye on the top spot.

The only Olympic and World road Champion in the same season [P] Marg Fedyna

The recently retired Nicole Cooke with an amazing list of cycling achievements (Commonwealth, Olympic, World, Giro and women’s Tour de France winner) is here as a cycle journalist. When asked if she misses racing, she confidently replied “no”.

Tony Routley, Marg Fedyna and Will Routley at the press conference [P] courtesy of Marg Fedyna

Featured rider is Will Routley from Canada riding for Team Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies, who made the trip over with his dad Tony Routley.

Knowing that he was settled into his off-season, spending time on his farm in Abbotsford, Will acknowledged at an interview after the press conference that “regardless of the form, I’m going to go as hard as I can.”

Half of the racers are from Taiwan with the other half being international. A handful of Canadians are noted on the starting list.

Kenyan Riders [P] Marg Fedyna

An intriguing team to follow is the Kenyan Riders with their future goal to be the first African cycling team at the 2016 Tour de France. The Kenyans are known as exceptional runners and are taking steps to build towards cycling.

A significant feature of this non-UCI race is a doping control system to be run by the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee. The organizer will not allow riders as participants who have previous records of doping. As an advocate for anti-doping, Will stated that the new rule was part of his decision to attend this event.

The event begins 6:30 a.m. Saturday November 15 with 473 racers from 28 countries taking on the challenge.

Many thanks to the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, the Taiwan Cyclist Federation, Lee Rodgers and Gary Shu for the support to participate at this event.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Mike Nosco Memorial Ride 2014

Took in my 2nd Mike Nosco Memorial ride. Wanted to get the Hammer Award (fastest time up a designated climb) as I gave the Hammer Award from last year to my couchsurf family. 

This year’s timed climb was 2/3rds of the way into the 80-mile course, Latigo, one of my favourite climbs for a beautiful canyon and average 7-8% grade.
Neutral descent down Los Posas road went ok, with a break of silence at the bottom to respect Mike Nosco's life
 - photo Facebook Mike Nosco ride

Then… the peloton dashed off in a flurry on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). Way too fast! I hung in due to the odd hill. A headwind finally slowed the leaders. Noticeably in the lead group were 4 of us women.

Up the notoriously steep Deer Creek climb, I chilled at a comfortable yet hard pace to conserve energy. I slowly passed a few riders.  Coming up on a strong woman rider, I recognized those legs again and said hi to Sue Sutton.
Tyler working the big gears! - photo
When I reached the peak of Deer Creek the field was spread out. I was solo on the next few rollers. Lead the descent down fast twisty Yerba. At PCH, I was with 2 other riders. Fortunately, one was a strong flatlander, Tyler Locke. He hauled towards the peloton visible ahead a couple hundred metres. Myself and the other rider helped on the gentle climbs.
tough climb up 15% Deer Creek -
Glad we caught up to the peloton by the beginning of the climb up Mulholland. Pace went nicely super casual. I noticed a guy take his cellphone out to take a photo of the peloton from the rear. Up in the peloton was a guy with the Mellow Johnny’s jersey though I brushed it off as I did not think he looked like the rumoured Lance Armstrong that was to be here as the Specialized helmet threw me off and his current physique.
Ha, Marg riding behind Lance! - photo Tyler Locke
At the peak, everyone stopped at the feedzone. I quickly filled up water and grabbed a slice of watermelon. Blazed the descent with a couple new riders forming a peloton of 6 riders along PCH.

Reaching the turnoff for Latigo, my peloton zoomed past the feed-zone to start the climb. I stopped to grab an orange and take a pee break. Another huge peloton went flying by.

Starting the Latigo climb alone, I went a hard pace looking for the painted KOM line. I had a race pace going already when I hit it and continued on to catch the peloton ahead. They were loping at a casual pace as I slowly passed the peloton on the left.

Only one guy came with me, and it was Tyler who was doing this event his first time. Tyler and I worked together for a couple km until all of a sudden he drifted back. I continued on at a good pace focusing on catching each rider ahead. Passed Steve Tilford riding casually with another rider and chatting. They started cheering “Ham-mer ham-mer” as I went by! I eventually passed the guys in my original peloton individually.

Riding westward there was a headwind so I chilled the pace treating it like the wind adding another 2% to the grading. Riding eastward, and in the sheltered canyon spots I picked up the pace. Happy to see the painted KOM line at the top and stopped at the feedzone 100m later with my head hanging. Felt like a decent effort!

When Tyler showed up,  I asked how it went. He said we both rode by Lance. "What?". Tyler points to Lance getting a coke at the feedzone. Tyler took a photo. What the heck!photo Tyler Locke

Rode the rest of the way with a good sized peloton with Lance in it. It was interesting listening in on conversations with him… stuff like "how are the kids" and tri training. Just another cyclist now. I had boycotted watching the TdF years ago post-Lemond days. 

A few of the guys in the peloton commended me on my climb. One said it was interesting to see my climbing technique throughout. I thanked him though did not know what he meant by "throughout".

Marg sharing a "Hammer Award" beer with Tyler

Post-event, I chatted with Tyler who then told me that when he dropped off my pace, he floated back to the peloton. He ended up next to Lance who said to Tyler “Are you going to just let her go?”! Funny!

The peloton then picked up their pace. Tyler thought they were going the same pace as me though were too far back to bridge up. I had looked back one time though did not see any riders. Bonus for them to have a peloton in the wind. Mine was a good individual time trial effort!

Tyler took opportunity to get a selfie while on a 10% grade. Probably a record day of selfies and Facebook photos with Lance

Chatting with Rich Roll, vegan athlete
Post-event, it was fun to hang out and chat with the riders. The catered food at this event is one of the nicest spreads for a cooked meal I've seen at a race.

I handed in my GPS for the Strava reading for the Nosco Hammer. I managed to have the fastest women’s time, just under a minute of another strong woman, and 4th overall of the guys who handed in their GPS. 
Strava name is Little Hobo