Monday, October 29, 2007

One way to improve as a cyclist is to ride with people who are faster than you are. Its something I try to do regularly. On Saturday, a couple of our elite racers were on the team ride, so I got into their group for the ride back. And I got dropped three times. OK, so yeah, if I got dropped more than once, it means that I caught back up, which is good I guess, but I hate being dropped in the first place. There are three places where the guys sprint. Its always a challenge for me to hang on to the group then, but it was beyond me with the cat 2 riders driving things.

And its SO FRUSTRATING. Which is dumb, because I'm riding with them BECAUSE its a huge challenge and I expect to get my ass handed to me. But each time I lost the wheel ahead of me and watched that gap grow . . . it totally sucked. I have to get better at this. I hate being dropped so much.

I felt bad for the guys behind me. I get gapped and they get gapped too. They let me pull them into the wind at 30 mph until I simply can't keep it up, then they swarm past me up to the group [at my urging]. And I'm so wasted from trying to bridge, that I can't grab a wheel as it goes by and ride back up.

I'm wondering if switching from compact cranks to regular would make a difference. Compact cranks have only 50 teeth [that turn the chain] as opposed to 53. They're slightly easier to pedal -- especially going up hills. The tradeoff is that you don't go quite as fast. I'll be in my hardest gear, my 50/12, and I'll lose the wheel ahead of me. Now part of it is that I need to develop the strength and endurance to pedal the 50/12 faster and longer [yes, yes, that's what she said] -- and that's the real issue. But its still worth having a conversation with my coach, I think.

Must. Get. Faster.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I was taking it easy on my ride home last night, when a guy on a time trial bike with a disc wheel shoots past me on Armitage. I laughed --- how often do you see disc wheels in traffic? I sped up and kept pace with him, and the chase was on. He wasn't able to drop me, but I never did get a chance to chat him up about his fancy bike.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I've been thinking about my goals for next season. The success I had at the end of this season felt great. And I want to start next season stronger and faster and able to win races. I want to be the one launching the blistering attack in the last miles, riding the other girls off my wheel.

I'd like to compete in a real stage race. Where you have to complete each stage within a time limit to move on to the next. And I'd like to be comfortable with the effort. I hesitate to say I want to be formidable in my first stage race, but its something to shoot for. I definitely want to finish all the stages.

And my big goal for next year: I want to get the points I need to cat up to the 3s. To do that, I'll need 20 points in a 12 month period. I'll have to place in the top 6 in a race with at least 10 racers to get points. If I meet my goal of being good enough to win, I should be able to do this. But more than just catting up, I want to be strong enough to be a viable cat 3 racer. The jump from women's 4 to women's 3 is huge --- the cat 3 women are usually lumped in with the cat 1 and 2 racers, making the races much longer, harder and faster. So I'll need to do a lot of hard work to get there.

I'll have to stop racing master's for the time being. My wins have been in the master's 35+ category, but those points don't count towards the 20. And maybe I should stop racing master's altogether. I don't want to cat up to the 3s and find myself outclassed and end up in the less difficult master's races. If I become a 3, I want to be able to compete at that level.

Another thing I've been thinking about is equipment. I have an awesome bike that I LOVE LOVE LOVE. But I'm not sure I want to subject it to winter riding. It would be very nice to have a secondary bike for training. If something were to happen to my racing bike, I'd have something else to fall back on. Of course, I have two other bikes: a mountain bike that I've had for 10 years [take my advice, don't buy an aluminum hardtail. CRUNCHY!], and a touring bike that I raced on last year. Its not a bad bike, its just not a racing bike and it held me back. The geometry is wrong, it has several "comfort" features that aren't right for racing, its a little big for me, and its a bit heavy. My experience racing it has left me not liking it. Its a perfectly fine touring bike . . . but I'd rather have a good "B" bike or a secondhand cross bike for dirty winter riding. And I could race cross next year if I had a bike! I don't have the $$$, but I'm keeping an eye on Craig's list to see what shows up. Can't hurt to look.

I'd also like to get rollers for indoor training and aerobars for time trialing --- better to get them now and practise. A powertap would be awesome too, but they are major bucks, so that's not happening this year. I'd rather have a backup bike. Not that that's happening either. Heh, I can "make due" with my amazing and wonderful racing bike.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

So I'm transitioning into off-season training. Right now, that means about 2 fewer hours per week, and very little intensity. Most of my bike time is endurance riding, not interval training or sprint practise. I'm only on my bike 4 days a week now [as opposed to 7 before: 5 days of training and 2 days active recovery], and I'm back to weight training the other three days. Which I've really missed.

My job over the next 5-6 months is to maintain and build my "base" with lots and lots of long, slow endurance miles [relatively slow, anyway], and to build strength with resistance training. It also doesn't hurt to work on my "power to weight" ratio, which is a nice way of saying "lose a few pounds." And actually, the pounds only matter going up hills, and weighing less doesn't matter nearly as much as being lean. Especially if you care how you look in the incredibly unforgiving spandex shorts.

The weather is slowly getting iffy. Its now very dark when I leave the house to ride before work. Some days its very chilly, other days temperate. There seems to be more rainy days forecasted. Soon --- I hope not too soon --- I'll be stuck indoors riding endurance on the dreaded trainer. As much as I sometimes can't stand yet another trip up and down the Lakefront Path or out to Highland Park and back, 2 hours on the trainer is worse, much worse. Its boring. And its hard on the body. Outside, you're constantly adjusting pedal stroke, coasting here, pedaling harder there, standing to climb . . . on the trainer its the sameness that gets you. Numbs the brain and causes overuse injuries to the body.

I'm planning to buy some rollers this fall. Heh, check out the fun: --- at least it won't be boring.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

High tide on the Lakefront Path!
I hope my shoes and socks dry out before its time to ride home.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

So I've finished my last race of the season. I'm sad. It was really SO much fun, I don't want it to end. But unless I take up cyclocross [not likely], there really aren't any more races until March. And Jackie would divorce me.

I raced in the Fall Fling road race--the Fall Fling is a series of 4 races, two crits, a time trial and a road race, with an overall winner. The women's cat 4 road race was three laps equalling 24 miles. We got there early and I rode a warm-up lap --- very valuable to learn exactly how strong the wind was and where it was a serious factor [Very strong. Very serious.]. Jeanette and I were there to try to keep our teammate Cecile in the overall leaders jersey. We were thinking we'd try and push the pace and see who we could drop, but a triathlete in her her first road race got on the front almost immediately and singlehandedly pulled us all around the course at a very strong clip. So we let her do our work for us. I sat on her wheel waiting for attacks and Jeanette sat back with Cecile.

On the second lap, I attacked up a hill. But no one chased. I figured they were going to let me dangle out in the wind until I died. I sat up a bit and they finally caught up. Soon after, we started dropping women. By the third lap we were down from 12 to seven, and dropped one more in the rollers. Cecile's two main competitors attacked after the third turn. Jeanette helped Cecile bridge. It took me longer to catch up, but that is a long uphill section and I had the triathlete's help. [this is the same place there was a big attack in the road race two weeks ago, and that didn't stick either. Its just too long of an incline into the wind. I think you need to either go earlier or wait until just before or after the fourth turn.] When we regained the leaders, Jeanette was pulling and Cecile was fourth wheel. On the next attack, Jeanette was left behind. I stayed with Cecile, hoping to give her a leadout . . . but I couldn't get into position and I didn't want to alert the other riders by talking about it. So when the sprint started, I just tried to keep up. We left the triathlete behind, and the four of us raced to the line. I saw one of the other women crack and I passed her! Unfortunately, Cecile wasn't able to outsprint the other racer, and she came in second, with me right behind [taking points away from everyone else].

I enjoyed the race a lot. I should have done some things differently, but I guess I'll work on that next time. In March.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

I'm back from my conference in Toronto. Great conference, a wonderful, relaxing time with Jackie. And 5 days off the bike. Eating way too much. I thought the hotel gym and lots of walking would be enough, but my ride this morning was awful. I'm so slow. Or at least I was until I started trading pulls with some strong guys. I finally got warmed up and started feeling OK. I'm still fat and slow, but its not as bad as I thought at first.

My teammate Cecile is currently #1 in the overall at the Fall Fling Omnium. So I'm going to ride the road race on Saturday in support of her. I hope Jeanette and I can help her keep the yellow jersey another day!