Thursday, April 30, 2009

I raced Leland - Kermesse last Saturday. I use the term 'raced' lightly -- it was a fantastic course, and Flatlandia put on a good event, but due to other races that day and forboding weather, only four people showed up to race the women's open. Three of us from xXx - Jeanette, Beth and I.

Right before the start, the official informed us that not only were the men's cat three field combined [but scored separately] with the men's cat 1-2 field, but that the women's open was also being thrown in there. We hadn't expected this, and were at the back -- which isn't where we needed to be to actually stay with that group. After a mile or two of my lousy pack skills keeping me in the wind, I dropped back to find a less exposed position -- just as the group surged. I was off and unable to bridge in the stiff crosswind. The others dropped back then as well -- being three quarters of a small pack effectively erasing my mortifying mistake.

Until we got to the turn onto the dirt road. I panicked, took a very bad line, and got myself dropped again. Again, my teammates held up for me. Feeling like the complete idiot I was, I went to the front and rode angry, inadvertently dropping the non-xXx racer. She worked furiously to catch us for quite a long time, but the wind was too much. Jeanette, Beth and I rode the next 4 laps together -- no excitement other than the lightening, thunder, rain, howling wind, slippery gravel and mud. We were the last field on the road.

Beth attacked on the dirt road, Jeanette and I countered. I sat on Jeanette for half the dirt road, then attacked, dropping Beth. Jeanette stuck to my wheel until the filth I was throwing up into her face got the best of her and I opened up a respectable gap. I thought I had a chance then, and gave everything I could on the long, uphill finishing stretch. But Jeanette is FAST. She caught me before the finish and won handily. She deserved it - she was the strongest person in our race and hadn't made any dumb mistakes. The volunteers and officials who'd stayed in the rain until we finished were delighted we fought each other for the win.

I have lots to work on. Cornering, pack riding, power, speed . . . pretty much everything, I guess.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Its raining. I watched 'Michael Clayton' on the trainer yesterday. Very good movie. This morning on the trainer I watched a documentary about the guy who did the 'Davey & Goliath' cartoons. Turns out he was a dirty hippie who took drugs and joined a cult. Heh. He also is the genius behind 'Gumby' - it tells you something about my upbringing that I'm way more familiar with 'Davey & Goliath' than 'Gumby.'

I have to get off the trainer. April IS the cruelest month. A beautiful day here and there just to really rub in what you're missing while it SNOWS and rains and freezes.

I keep watching the video of Bos bringing down Impey -and himself- in the final kilometers of the Tour of Turkey. That's panic and bad bike handling, not malicious tactics. No one WANTS to crash.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I wore fingerless gloves this morning! Wheeee.

Friday is active recovery day. I rode to work, and seriously, I *tried* to keep my HR down. But it is really hard to allow other cyclists to pass me - not to mention not chasing down the ones up ahead. I need more discipline.

I know that about three people read this blog [Hi, Brian. Hi, Eve. Hi, mom.] but I'm still going to plug the chainlink - - The chainlink is an online community of Chicago cyclists, all kinds of cyclists - casual, competitive, and everyone in between. Check it out.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I had an excellent ride this morning with two of my favorite training partners, Eileen and Dana. Not too fast and not too slow, but steady and just challenging enough for a rest week, endurance ride. It felt great.

Also great? Walking out the door before 6 am to full sunlight.

Third thing that is awesomely great (and at the same time completely terrible)? Whole Foods has started carrying vegan marshmallows. I'm deeply ambivalent.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Just registered for the John Fraser Memorial Time Trial. I'm going to ride it twice -- in the 40+ category and then again in the Women's Open. It will be interesting to see how the two efforts compare. And it will be good experience for stage racing. I actually have a TT setup now, so learning to use it will be good. In theory, time trialing should be one of my strengths.

Sprint practice tonight. I SO don't want to go. I work out in the mornings for several reasons, but one of the main ones is that I have a hard time motivating myself in the evenings. Sitting at a desk all day does my legs no favors. But I'm committed, I guess.

Crappy mood lately. Not sure how to shake it.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Those chip timers totally give us cankles.

I'm planning my attack.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I've been feeling slow lately.

Today was the first of four Fitness Check Time Trials that coach holds every six weeks. And its official: I AM slow.

Sprint clinic last night was good -- not the horrible trauma its been the past few years. My body simply wasn't designed to sprint, and it forgets how so completely. But I picked it up again much more easily this year. AND I even beat someone in one of the seven sprints! That never happens. Lots of practice will make me an effective lead out or sweeper again.

Recovering from my big effort this morning feels good. Must ride harder more often.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Hillsboro-Roubaix was Saturday -- one of my favorite races. With a 22 mile loop, its a "real" road race with challenging hills, sharp turns, rough roads (including a brick section) and killer cross- and headwinds. I've raced Hillsboro for the past three years - it was my first road race. This is my first year in the Women's cat 1-2-3 field.

I line up with about 40 other women. On both sides of me are pro racers. This is going to be HARD. In the first half mile I drop from the front of the pack to about halfway back before I catch a wheel I can hold. I'm starting to get the rhythm, when I see the women ahead standing up and sprinting. An attack up the first hill. I get ready to go and . . . my legs don't work. I have no idea why, but I can not spin. Beth comes by yelling 'grab my wheel!' but I can't. My legs are exhausted. They are made of cement.

I fall through the pack like I'm riding backwards. When I finally crest the hill, the pack is 150 feet up the road. Pathetic.

I bridge to another shelled rider and work with her. We get 40 feet from the pack before the next attack takes it away from us permanently. Of course, NOW I'm feeling strong. I ride away from the woman I'd been working with and bridge up to the next dropped rider and work with her up to the next. By halfway through the first lap, I'm in a group of six solid riders. We have a rotating paceline going and we're working well together. This is my race.

The first time up the hills and onto the bricks confirms that three of the women can climb adequately. Our group is back together by the start/finish line and we continue to work well together through the second lap. I'm tired. I haven't brought enough food. I eat everything I have except one gel that I save for the end. I take my pulls. I watch the other women.

We ride up the feed hill at a moderate pace and then we all recover on the flat. We start up the last hill and I attack. I still have my gearing from camp -- compact cranks and a 27/12 cassette -- so I have no problem powering up the hill in my big ring. I get a gap, I can hardly believe it. At the false flat I push harder, trying to extend my lead, then scream down the hill onto the bricks at full speed. I take the corner hot and sneak a look behind me -- I still have a good gap! I push and push and push up the long brick section, I'm almost there. I sprint out of the corner onto the finishing stretch, sit down and haul to the 200 ft sign and then sprint again and I WIN . . . my chase group.

I'm 19 minutes behind the winner, 28th place.

It really drove home my big weaknesses: riding in a big pack; explosive power; and to a lesser degree, climbing. I need to spend some quality time at Matteson this year.

Congratulations to Rebecca Much for winning the 1-2-3 race [way to go!], to Jessie Prinner for getting in the break with the pros and finishing fifth, and the amazing Kristin Meshberg for taking the field sprint. In the cat 4 race, my teammate Jeanette took second place -- bringing home the first trophy brick for the xXx women -- and my pal Leah Sanda took third. Two awesome racers who need to UPGRADE SOON and join me in cat 3 limbo. And congrats to all the xXx men who rode hard and placed well in their races.

The race was a blast. Can't wait 'til next year!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Perhaps I'm just tired, but I feel slow. Early season [lack of] fitness is a drag. Intervals are excruciating. My body has completely forgotten how to sprint.

I AM tired.

Heading to Hillsboro to race on Saturday. Really looking forward to this race, one of my favorite courses. I screwed up my chance at a brick last year by dropping my chain after the penultimate hill. This year, NO chance for a brick -- the women's open very well may chew me up and spit me out the back of the pack. It will be painful, but the good kind of pain. I will enjoy it.