Wednesday, October 28, 2009

SO SORE! I started plyometrics and strength work last week - I can ride my bike for 8 hours and my legs feel fine. A couple sets of explosive squat jumps and I can barely move. I admit, I'm kind of enjoying the feeling.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I haven't updated in a bit, but things are going much better. The tailbone is 95% healed - it only really bothers me when I'm driving or sitting a certain way. I only had to miss one race.

Last Sunday I raced Carpentersville cross - a long and technical course with a lump track [or rhythm section], sandpit, creek bed, barriers, and lots and lots of twists and turns. I got there early and practiced riding the course and I though I had it down pretty good. We started on pavement, so I got a better start than usual and was fifth wheel at the first barrier. Unfortunately, I was penned in and trapped behind a woman in her first cross race ever who had no idea how to dismount and get over the barrier. By the time I got around her and back on my bike, I'd lost a bunch of places. Then I slid out and went through the caution tape that delineated the course and lost a few more places. And, without realizing it, I'd picked up a streamer of the plastic tape in my derailleur.

You can see the tape in this photo. You might also notice that my chain is off. I couldn't pedal it back on and had to stop and manually fix it while MORE racers got by me. Then the tape started causing all sorts of shifting problems. I couldn't get it to stay in gear and couldn't get any speed up. I couldn't close the gap to the riders who'd passed me. I finally got it to stay in one gear, and rode the final lap single speed. It was pretty frustrating - I finished 13th, which was way higher than I expected with the problems I had. But lower than I had aimed for.

Happily, I had no mechanical problems this past Sunday at Bartlett. With new cables and a new bottom bracket, my bike was running better than ever.

The race course in Bartlett was a power course with long straight sections you could pick up some speed on. I got a TERRIBLE start - I've GOT to work on that - and was one of the last through the first corner. That's hard to come back from, the leaders get SO far ahead. But the course suited me, so I started picking riders off. There were a couple of sections that I could shoot past a girl and get a bit of distance before the next technical part. I managed to work my way back up into the top ten and pass some racers that had been beating me all year. I was even getting close to women who consistently finish in the top five. But I ran out of time - a longer race would suit me better.

In the end, I had Jamie from Cuttin' Crew and my teammate Natalie hot on my tail. I'd gotten past them, but I couldn't break their spirit. Natalie went off course and lost time, but Jamie was chasing hard. All her teammates were at the top of 'heckle hill' the little run-up, and they were cheering her on. I could sense her at my elbow. I stayed ahead of her through two more turns, and then she got by me. I rode her wheel through the last bit of the course, but could not come around her in the sprint. She took seventh and I took eighth, with Natalie coming in a moment later ninth. It was VERY exciting - I so rarely have racers around me at the end of a cross race, it was super fun up to race hard all the way. Props to Jamie!

Next Sunday is St. Charles. Last year this was a very technical course with some serious uphill sections. I'm looking forward to it!

Thanks to Duane, Brian Morrissey, and Luke Seeman for photos. You rock.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Had to skip yesterday's race - riding bumpy grass was painful and swinging my leg over the bike to dismount shot electric bolts up my spine. Not the good kind. I'm supremely irritated about the whole situation. Now coach wants me to go to a doctor and get my tailbone looked at - to what purpose, I don't know. Bruised or broken, treatment is the same. And its not broken. I'm not saying that like George HIncapie said his collarbone wasn't broken the last five days of the TdF - I'm 98% certain its not broken. I should've just tried to race.

Friday, October 9, 2009

You'd think celeste green cross tubulars would be on the market. You'd be wrong.
I have new respect - and awe - for Andreas Kloden.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I managed to bruise my tailbone during cross practice last night. This is apparently one of those injuries with a pain level WAY out of proportion with its seriousness. The ride home was grueling - I wanted to alternately cry and throw up.

I decided I would be fine this morning, so didn't cancel my training ride. Which turned out to be overly optimistic. By the time I met up with my training partner, I couldn't sit on my saddle any longer. I had to bail and ended up on an elliptical trainer - which was uncomfortable but bearable. I'm walking and sitting and bending very slowly and carefully today.

I really hope I'm able to race on Sunday.

On the bright side, I had a bit of a breakthrough with barriers and mounting. Julia helped me out a bit, and things started to come together. Yay.


Here's a question: why is my cross bike so heavy? I have a carbon frame, double chainring, ultegra components, aluminum seatpost and handlebars, and ksyrium elite wheels. Ultegra isn't the lightest, but it shouldn't weigh me down THAT much. Other people with the same frame have MUCH lighter bikes.

I took the seatpost out last night and propped her upside down over the utility sink - but there doesn't seem to be any water in there. Hmmm.

I DID just get tubular cross tires, so soon I'll have a lighter wheelset for racing. But still . . .

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Raced Dekalb Cyclocross on Sunday. SUCH a great course. Half Acre really outdid themselves. I had a lot of fun.

I'm still getting back into the swing of cross. I'm slowly remembering how to ride off-road, how to navigate sharp corners without braking. Slowly is the key word - the last lap of my second race, and I'm finally starting to get it.

I was called up to the front of the line in seventh place - good spot. I thought I was doing OK in the sprint, until we hit the first corners, then I realized I was WAY too far back, trapped behind some slower riders.

Like this awesome chick racing her commuter bike with the rack still on. I worked my way through and around quite a few women. Coach had told me that when passing, sprint by so the racer doesn't think she can catch my wheel. That worked well for me.

By the end of the second lap, I'd dropped everyone near me and was desperately chasing my own teammate Natalie. No one else was even in sight at this point. I'd get close to her, then we'd hit the barriers and I'd fall back. I'd get close again, more barriers. She successfully held me off and we finished ninth and tenth. Not the placing I wanted, but good enough.

My teammate Julia - the cyclocross phenom - won. She's applied for her upgrade, but it hadn't come through. I was GIDDY when I found out that my other teammate, Courtney, finished second! Looks like xXx has a chance to take the women's cat 4 cross cup for a second year in a row. That would be cool.

Photos by Luke Seemann. Thanks, Luke!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I raced the Fall Fling road race on Sunday. It feels really good to be racing again - my injury is bothering me less and less and I'm feeling stronger. And ABD really knows how to put on a good event – I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed Fall Fling.

The 123 women were combined with the 50+ men - we could work together, but were scored separately. This makes for a very different race - much less likely that any of the women will break away. You just sit in until the end and see what you can do in the sprint. And that was my goal - to hang onto the pack.

I started out in the front, grabbed the wheel of a guy going by and sat fifth wheel to the first corner. Unfortunately, I seem to be unable to ride through a corner without letting a bit of a gap open between me and the wheel in front of me. Entering the corner, suddenly there were riders on my inside and outside. By the time I hit the other side, I’d gone from fifth wheel to 20th.

I sat behind two of the other women. I had some chances to move up, but didn’t take them – thinking that I could stay in touch with these girls and be OK. The second corner sent me to the back of the pack.

Corner three was sweeping, no problem for anyone. I rode through the rollers feeling good. It was fast, but felt like a run-up to Old School on the team ride. No problem.

Except I stayed at the back – what was I thinking? I was comfortable in the pack. There were opportunities to advance. Why didn’t I take them?

I got a little gapped through corner four. Easy enough to make up with the tailwind. Back to corner one. Again I’m gapped a little, but this time, I can’t make it up. I trail ten feet off the back, and then 15, and then 20. I’m dropped.

So I failed to achieve my goal for this race. Frustrating.

I spent the next five and a half laps working with one of the men. We didn’t get lapped, we finished in less than two hours, and I broke my power records for 30, 60, and 120 minutes.


This morning I went out with a teammate and practiced cornering at speed for an hour. If I went through the corner first, I was fine. If he went first, a bike length would open between us. We drilled over and over – and this isn’t the first time I’ve worked on this – and still I could not hold his wheel through the corner. I don’t even feel like I’m slowing – but I must be doing small things that slow me just enough. It comes down to an irrational panic response. I don’t even really FEEL the panic, unless I really focus on what’s in my head while I ride the corner. But its there. I don’t know what to do.