Thursday, September 23, 2010

Photo by Jeremey,

First race in the Chicago Cross Cup series - SUCH an excellent series! - Jackson Park. I raced the women's cat 4s along with 51 other women! A HUGE field.

My goal was to finish in the top ten so I'd get a call up at the next chi cross cup race. I had a pretty good start, but once we hit the trees, women started shooting past me. A LOT of women. Not good. But I rode a clean race -- didn't fall, didn't get tangled up. I'm slow over the barriers, but pretty fast on the straights. I worked hard at catching the racers ahead of me, passing them and dropping them. It was super fun! I ended up 11th -- so didn't quite make my goal. Something to work for.

And really, not good enough to upgrade. Yes, this is my third year racing 'cross as a cat 4. I've never won. Last year, I don't think I broke the top five. I would love a longer race, but I've seen too many women cat up and spend the rest of their race days fighting as hard as possible to be 'not last'. I do that enough on the road -- I want to have FUN in 'cross. That said, catting up's not out of the question. We'll see how the season goes.

Photo by Vladimir Istomin.

I got a call up to the line in the men's 4b race. It was CROWDED up there -we were shoulder to shoulder. The whistle blew and I started sprinting and [I later learned] the guy next to me unclipped mid-stroke and fell into me. I crashed in the middle of 75 guys in a mad dash for the hole shot. These guys will ride over you -- I covered my head until the bulk was by. Then I leapt up, jumped on my bike . . . to find my seat was sideways. Off the bike, pound it with my fist until it's straight, jump back on and CHASE. The back of the pack was in the willows by the time I was off.

I caught up with the back and started passing guys. Hey -- Flannel Mike has a cross bike! I would ramp it up in the straights and speed past, trying to go fast enough to break their will to chase me. Coming through the start/finish, the lap counter says '2'. RATS! Only three laps to make up ground. I was counting on four.

On my last lap, I passed an unattached guy in a blue jersey. He did NOT like that. He got right on my wheel and at the first set of barriers, passed me back. I got by him again after the baseball diamond, and he once again glued himself to my wheel. At the second barrier, he got around me, but I passed him immediately on the straight -- I knew I had to put some distance between us before the third barrier, so I hit the S curves hard, powered back across the lawn to the little hill. Rode through the off-camber maze -- couldn't stop for the money monkey -- pushed super hard and could see that I was gapping him. I rode harder, and it worked -- I got to the third barrier, got over and back on my bike. As I started to pedal I could see him in my peripheral vision just beside and behind me, so I sprinted away, took the curves as fast as I dared and when it opened up into the start finish, stood up and rode as hard as I could and I beat him! I hear him say "I can't believe I got beat by a girl!" Dude, you got beat by a woman who gave you a whole minute head start. Heh.

I ended up 50th of 75. I cannot wait for the next race!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I'm depressed.

My racing this past season has been truly unexceptional and it's gotten me down. I work really hard. I spend a significant portion of my life training. I want to do well.

My best results this year: third place in the 1-2-3 field at Leland Kermesse in April and second place in a cat 4 tempo race at the track in August. Both of which I'm proud of - but they aren't nearly enough. Wins: Zero. Zilch. Zed. Upgrade points: 3 (from Leland).

Everything else has ranged from completely undistinguished to absolutely mortifying.

I pinned a lot of hopes on Master's Nationals in early August. And I felt pretty good going in. But it rained and I slid out and crashed in a slippery corner and that was the end of that. Down the drain.

The worst part is that I can't get the negativity out of my head. I don't feel good about my performances and now every training ride is NOT GOOD ENOUGH. My efforts are no longer building blocks to something greater, they are reviled as puny and pathetic. I'm Eeyore.

The Chicago Cyclocross Cup starts on Sunday. I plan to race the series. And I fully expect to be just as mediocre as I was last year - not strong or skilled enough to win, but doggedly placing between fifth and tenth. If I'm lucky -- the Jackson Park women's cat 4 race has SOLD OUT. I'll be racing 49 women instead of 19. I'm really thrilled about this -- I'm so happy that women's racing is taking off! To win THIS race would be *something.* Something I strongly suspect I will never experience. It's crushing. I can't seem to shake off the bitterness and just enjoy it for what it is.

And - despite being solidly unexceptional - I'm still accused of sandbagging in the cat 4s in 'cross! Why would I want to cat up? Yes, I'd have a 45 minute race in the 1-2-3s, instead of the 30 minute cat 4 race, but I'd be back in a field of seven women, DEEP in cat 3 limbo. If they scored the cat 3 women separately, it would be one thing. But racing as hard as I can to finish sixth instead of LAST is nowhere near as much fun as racing in a field of 50 where my hard work allows me to crush half the competition.


On Sunday I raced the ABR Team Time Trial National Championships in lovely Leonore, IL. My TTT teammates from the past two years, Heidi and Eileen were unable to race this year, so I had a whole new team: Mia, who's flying and has been on a winning streak; Courtney, recently returned from riding across the U.S.; and Natalie a strong racer whose work has interfered with her training lately.

We were able to get together to practice only twice. We'd all raced the TTT last year, so we pretty much knew what to do, but we were a bit ragged. The race was in a new spot this year, slightly farther away, so we all arrived behind schedule. And then my rear race wheel decided it was a *great* time to refuse to hold air. But we got ourselves together, pinned our numbers, warmed up for seven to ten minutes and got ourselves to the start on time.

On the line, Courtney leans over and says that she feel awful. I can relate - I'm still stressed out from the scramble and my legs are barely warm and I'm pissed that my race wheel is broken. I reassure her that we'll be OK - we'll warm up quickly in the race. And then the clock counts down and we're off. And Courtney was not lying, she was having one of those devastatingly bad days where your body simply refuses to do what you tell it to. We gapped her. We waited and she caught on and almost immediately she was gapped again. We waited.

Within the first mile, she asked us to go without her. Which meant the three of us left HAD TO finish together - your finishing time is taken from the third rider.

We hauled ass into the headwind and quickly passed the team four minutes ahead of us. That was encouraging. In the tailwind, Mia ramped us up to 30 mph and we sailed along in her wake for minutes at a time. The longest stretches of the race had an unrelenting crosswind. Mia continued to anchor. I would pull through and concentrate on not dropping speed for as long as I possibly could so Mia could rest. Natalie floated at the back, going from my wheel to Mia's wheel, back to mine. Mia, sitting upright on her brake hoods, would haul us into the wind while I crouched in my aero bars, barely clinging to her wheel. She was incredible. And Natalie pulled herself inside out. I gave everything I had, I only wish I had more.

We finished fifth, two minutes off fourth and four minutes off third. Not bad I guess, considering.

I would like to say 'next year we'll have it together! Next year we'll practice and we'll all have aero equipment and we will trounce all the Alberto's and Project 5 girls.' But that's what I said last year. I don't know what will happen. I hope we'll have more success.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I've been remiss. I joined Facebook and stopped posting race recaps here. But I have been racing quite a lot.

This is the time of year that I get a bit burned out. It's not so bad this year, but I'm still feeling it. I'm looking forward to cyclocross season and planning to race at the track a couple more times and do the team time trial. But right now, I want to relax a bit, see a movie, hang out with Jackie, shop. And - dare I dream - sleep in.

So . . . I took second place in a cat 4 tempo race at the track last week! It's my best placing at the track -- and sadly, my best placing all year so far. In a tempo race, points are awarded to the first two people to cross the start/finish line every lap - two points for the first to cross and one point to the second. So its a super hard race - one that never lets up. It being just the cat 4 women was great - without the 1-2-3 women, I'm one of the stronger racers [with them, I just try to hang on].

Track is a great interval workout for me - it increases my fitness drastically. And it helps with my abysmal pack skills - or I hope it will, I feel a bit like the bull in the china shop in a fast track race. I need to be able to control my track bike better.

This past Sunday was the first cyclocross race of the season. The brilliant brainchild of one of my teammates, it was a tag-team relay 'cross race. Everyone raced in teams of two, trading off laps. I raced the women's open and the co-ed races. Natalie, my partner in the women's race, was a hero - she sprinted the 100 yards to the transition station AND rode the first lap. I really enjoyed the race, the skills - such as I have them - came right back. I'm not as powerful as I want to be [am I ever?], but I managed to catch and pass a couple women. Nat and I finished a respectable fifth.

It was 96 degrees by the time the co-ed race started. This was a short race, three laps each. My partner, Paolo, established us solidly in the first half of the race and I did my best to improve our placing. We finished 18th of 49.

I was really blown away by how strong and fast a lot of the women have gotten. I'll need to up my game significantly to compete. I'm weary of being pack fodder! Time to break some legs.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Photo courtesy of Paolo Urizar

Got a last minute ride (thanks, Todd!) out to DeKalb for Half Acre's Gravel Metric on Sunday. This 62-ish mile ride on gravel, dirt, and a bit of pavement was not officially a race, but of course, I was racing.

I decided to take my road bike. I felt fine on it at Leland, and I didn't want the rolling resistance from my 'cross tires. And, frankly, my 'cross bike still has Montrose Harbor all over it. When we arrived, though, almost everyone had 'cross or mountain bikes. Only a couple of us had our road bikes - and everyone kept telling us how 'brave' (i.e. foolish) we were.

After the neutral roll-out, I made sure to be near the front. There was a wicked cross-wind, so I was staying tucked in next to Dave Norton. As soon as he said "someone's going to jump soon," someone jumped. He was on it, and I was on him and we were flying up the road.

We hit the first gravel section and just hammered. The guy in front of me let a gap open up, I darted around and closed it. Then we hit some deep gravel and I fishtailed just enough to get myself shelled. But I had a good gap on the groups behind me.

Pretty soon, Paolo comes by, towing the guy who'd been gapped earlier. I got on that train. Paolo was setting a brutal pace - he was SO steady that I was able to stick with him for a bit, but I was on the rivet. At the first uphill, I was on my own again. Which was fine. I set my own pace and rode within myself. Turning into the tailwind, I felt great and caught a couple guys that Paolo had caught and left behind. I kept my pace and worked with them to the first checkpoint.

Where I made the mistake of not filling up my waterbottles. A group was leaving just as we arrived, so I hurriedly checked in and rode off with these guys. Turning into the headwind, there was another group of four or five just ahead - so I bridged my group up and we had a long paceline.

I took my turns at the front, but bridging had taxed me, and I had run out of liquids. Before we got to the second checkpoint, I was gapped on a hill. I chased for a long time, but never caught back on. They were at the second checkpoint when I got there, but I HAD to fill my bottles, and by then they were gone.

So I was alone again, riding within myself. I was a bit dehydrated and starting to feel ill. I was forcing myself to eat, but everything was gross. But I had full bottles, and I drank often.

I got to the point in the course where you could choose to take a longer, 'easier' way, or a shorter way that took you through a creek. I'd had absolutely no problems at all with my road bike on the gravel, but everyone was making the short way sound so ominous, so I took the longer route. I suspect I was the only person to do this. The first leg of the 'easier' way was down an insanely rutted dirt tractor path. A mountain bike would have been VERY handy through there. Then a paved stretch into the headwind, then finally a gravel road back to the regular route.

I could see groups crossing the road I was on, I must have lost at least ten places by going around (and later found out that the creek was shallow and had a cement bottom - no problem on a road bike). So I chased a couple guys ahead of me, passed them as one bonked and they stopped. Then I came across 10 guys standing around while one changed a flat, and passed them by too. I slowed to eat a Clif Bar, and the two guys I rode with in the tailwind before the first checkpoint caught up. I sat on and let them tow me to the third - and completely awesome - checkpoint.

Checkpoint three had cold water. And cokes, cookies, bananas, peanut m&ms, chips, and all sorts of other stuff. They handed me a coke and filled my bottle for me. I ate a banana. The group of guys changing the flat showed up, so we all embarked on the last 22 miles together.

Despite feeling sick to my stomach, I had a bit of a second wind. After a few miles, we let one guy ride away from us and dropped a couple others. I sat in with two guys on 'cross bikes. I felt badly that I wasn't able to take any pulls, but they were so nice. They didn't mind me sitting in most of the time.

We were all feeling the heat and the miles. It was really grueling. When we finally got to town - Sarah Lu was there pointing us in the right direction. "You're in the top 20," she yelled. That gave me a boost, so I pulled us through town. The endless town! Finally we got back to the bike shop. I collapsed into the grass with the hard men who finished before me, while the awesome Half Acre volunteers gave me water.

I WAS in the top 20, and I was the first woman to finish. Yay!

But, man, did I feel AWFUL. I had all sorts of recovery food - a sandwich, salty pretzels, a builder bar - but I couldn't eat any of it. Nothing appealed in the least. Finally, I got my sandwich, but after one bite, threw it away.

My carpool went to the after party at Fatty's bar to eat. Half Acre knows how to have a party! They had a couple kegs of free beer there. We all sat in the beer garden and a very nice server in short shorts brought me a root beer, a veggie burger and big, soft, plank-like french fries. Soft, bland, sugary and salty - just what I needed.

By the time they gave me a CASE OF BEER! for being the first woman to finish, I felt much better. I gave away three of the six packs, and took one home for Jackie.

Thanks again, Half Acre - you're a class act. Next year, I'm going through that creek.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Did my longest ride to date on Saturday -- 157 miles. Last year Coach initiated the Eric Sprattling Memorial Three States Ride -- Eric Sprattling was a founding member of xXx, an experienced racer and a mentor to his teammates. He regularly did a 'three states ride," north to Wisconsin, south to Indiana and back. It was the day before Spring Prairie last year, so I only did the Wisconsin leg. I was excited to do the whole thing this year.

After a century, I still felt good! That was cool. And while I was pretty done in by the end, I recovered quickly -- well, I haven't attempted intervals or anything yet. We'll see tomorrow.

It was fun! I'll definitely do it again [and bring more food with me - buying a bun from McDonald's for the carbs was pretty gross].

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The second fitness check time trial was this morning and my time was abysmal. Almost two minutes off my best time and one minute slower than last year at this time. WTF!! I should be improving.

I don't feel like I can blame the injured ribs - they really aren't much of a factor anymore. They interrupted my training a bit, but still. TWO MINUTES?

I hate being slow.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Had a great time at Monsters of the Midway on Saturday. SO many more women are racing and so many of them are STRONG.

I got there a bit late and had to rush to register and pin my number for the 3/4 at 8:45 am. The pace was high with lots of attacks until Stacy Appelwick - who placed third at Tour of Gila this year - rolled off the front with 5 to go. I saw her and thought, 'let her dangle and waste her energy - we can catch her.' But then she had 15 seconds on the field. I could see she was struggling and knew if we got organized and worked, we could pull her in. I went to the front and put in a dig, as did my teammates Maggie and Courtney, and a couple other racers worked hard too, but most of the pack wouldn't pull through. The will just wasn't there. So I though 'fine, sprint for second place. I'm not going to win a sprint anyway, what do I care?!'

Stacy stayed off and won. Coming around corner 2 for our last lap, I knew I had to improve my position. I got around a woman who was slow in the corners and took a good line through corners 3 & 4, managing to pass half the field. I actually participated in the sprint - not at the FRONT of the sprint, but still. Ginger from Project 5 pipped me at the line and I finished 12th of 38.

The women's Open was at 1:20 pm. There were fewer of us in this field - 20, I think - but LOTS of talent. Stacy was joined by her Bulldog teammate Val Bostrom, Leah and Kristen were there from Flatlandia, Project 5, Mack and Kenda and teammates Courtney and Natalie all stayed for this second race. Oh my god, this race was hard. I tend not to have good legs for the first lap or two, and it was all I could do to cling to the pack. For the prime sprints, the elastic streeeetched but somehow did not break. I really focused on my cornering, not letting any gap open up so I wouldn't have to work as hard on the other side.

After 35 minutes or so, the pace slowed. A couple dropped riders managed to catch back on. I considered attacking, but I knew I didn't have a chance in hell of succeeding, and stood a good chance of ending up dropped. So I went to the front and took a long pull. Not a very fast pull, but everyone was content to sit behind me and wait for the last lap.

Leah took the front and set a blistering pace on that last lap, leading out her teammate Kristen Meshberg. My cornering was solid, but this pack wasn't letting anyone by - I finished just behind the sprint, beating only the soft-pedaling Leah to the line. But I'm not ashamed of a pack finish in that race - it was the hardest flat race I've ever done.

Thanks to everyone who helped put on this race - it was a FUN day.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Joe Martin Stage Race.

I went knowing that I wouldn't be at my best - the crash last Sunday did a number on my ribs. I didn't really know what to expect, but I wanted to have fun and get the most out of the experience.

I drove down to Arkansas Thursday night with some teammates and we spent Friday checking out the different courses and getting an easy hour of riding in. Saturday morning, my time trial time was earliest, so we were all at the TT course by 7 am. I sat on a CycleOps trainer [the Saris trainer tents, open to all, were fantastic!] for 40 minutes, fretting about my lack of computer, about what I was wearing, about my nutrition . . . about pretty much everything. I rode down to the start house 10 minutes early -- to find I was to go off in about a minute and a half. They were running things early and hadn't publicized that fact very well.

I had borrowed a TT helmet from Chicago woman racing in the pro 1-2 field, and I had my skinsuit and some borrowed shoe covers too -- even though this is an uphill TT, the first part is flat and every tenth of a second counts! I was the only 3/4 with any sort of aero equipment, and the other girls teased me for it. I laughed and told them I was wearing it in the road race too.

I had an OK start, but I really missed having a computer to tell me my speed and time. But as soon as I turned the corner and hit the hill, I spotted the woman 30 seconds ahead and started trying to reel her in. I feel like I gave everything I had -- I never quite caught her, but got within 5 seconds. Halfway up, the woman who ended up winning rode by me like I was standing still. I crossed the line just destroyed -- and the millisecond I crossed that line, my ribs exploded with pain. I couldn't breathe, let alone cough -- and after an effort like that, you have to cough. I ended up needing help to get off my bike. All for a lousy 13:59.39 -- almost 3 minutes off the leader. Arg.

The wonderful guy who was hosting our team at his home was there ready to drive me to the road race which, for me, started before noon. I didn't get a great warmup, but my legs felt good and my bike was ready to roll. I felt very comfortable in the pack - able to move into openings and improve my position in ways I hadn't felt able to do at Hillsboro. The attack that came at the first serious hill got my blood flowing and my head in the game. There were a few digs here and there, but the climbers were content to wait for the loooong steeeep hill about 15 miles in. I saw it coming and I quailed. I gave it all I had, but I'm just not fast enough uphill right now. I was off the back.

I picked up a couple other girls and organized a rotating paceline and we got some speed going. We worked really well together. We picked up some more girls . . . and the organization fell apart. One or two women either wouldn't work or wouldn't pull off and we slowed down and I was pissed off so I thought 'fine, LET her pull.' Which was stupid because we all lost time. With organization we could have caught more racers and finished minutes sooner which would have moved us all up on the General Classification.

I was able to stay with the attacks up the final hills and finished with a small group -- crossed the line last of that group since my legs continue to refuse to sprint. It was a gorgeous day, and good, hard ride -- but not the race I wanted.

My crit on Sunday was the first crit to go off at 8 am. I was up at 6 and at the course by 7. I rode the course over and over, getting the feel of all the corners -- they'd changed the course this year. But I was cranky and tired and sore and frankly, I didn't want to race. But I lined up and halfway through the first lap, I was loving it. There's a steep-ish power hill leading up to the start/finish line and OF COURSE I got dropped there on the first lap. So frustrating! I chased for another lap, then spent the rest of the race catching and dropping other girls. My HED stinger wheels just carved through the corners and that gave me a huge advantage. It was like cyclocross -- bridge up, break her spirit, ride away. Except at 25 minutes it wasn't nearly long enough. I was really starting to feel good when they rang the bell for the last lap. I caught one more woman and we traded pulls. She attacked me on the false flat before the final corner, but I grabbed her wheel and rode up the final hill behind her. I came around her with a burst of speed -- too soon! She matched it, we fought, and I lost at the line. 16th of 30. 23rd on the GC.

So many good things this weekend -- I watched my teammates labor, some of them winning great victories, some turning themselves inside out showing amazing courage, some marked and hobbled by the field. All in all, a success for xXx.

Next year - next year we need more women at this race! And next year I will make it to the top of that climb WITH the field. Yes I will.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

This morning's ride: Energy - A; Legs - B+; breathing - C; seated climbing - C; concentration - D; standing climbing - F; sprinting - F; chasing down and dropping the hairy legged guy with SPDs - A+.

Pain was very distracting in general and occasionally excruciating - but once my competitiveness kicked in, it receded. Should be able to race.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bruised ribs are incrementally less painful each day. PHEW! They hurt so much Sunday night, I was really worried I had a fracture. But I am now hopeful that I will feel good enough to race this weekend -- not only am I looking forward to it, I had to pre-register for Joe Martin Stage Race and I don't want to lose the $100 if I don't have to. I may even sleep lying down tonight!

That's me with the ice pack, celebrating Gina's victory. (photo by Luke Seaman)

Monday, May 3, 2010

I drove the three and a half hours to Baraboo, Wisconsin on Saturday for the Circuit of Sauk road race. This was a last minute decision -- its a long drive for a race only 30 miles long. But its hilly, so I thought it would be good training for Joe Martin stage race next weekend. And Jackie was out of town, so I went.

And when I got there, realized I'd forgotten to bring a jersey. I ended up racing in my orange base layer and xXx arm warmers from a few seasons ago. Snappy! Without pockets, I had gels stuck in the tops of the arm warmers. Heh.

Circuit of Sauk has a serious hill - its loooong and steep and it breaks up the pack. I was off the back halfway up that hill. I spent the rest of that lap alone, battling the wind, catching and dropping a stray racer. The next time up the hill I passed two more, one of whom stuck with me and we worked together and picked up two more racers.

After the long descent with the treacherous crosswinds, we were down to three. I waited too long to attack - my legs had no sprint in them - so I came in 13th right after 11 and 12.

Afterwards I rode the course two more times with the Flatlandia girls - great training in beautiful scenery!


Sunday, I planned to race the women's 3/4 and the women's open at Vernon Hills. I'm not a great crit racer, but its fun and good practice. The 3/4 was really fast and there were a ton of attacks. I put in a few myself, but nothing got off the front.

I found myself near the back at the beginning of the last lap, so I started to move up the outside - better to take some wind and improve your position. The last lap of a crit is always aggressive and occasionally sketchy - a Team Kenda rider went down and took out my teammate Courtney right in front of me. I had no where to go but on top of them.

I hate crashing, but its part of the sport. I got off easiest - bruised ribs [that are WAY more painful than they are serious], and my bike seems mostly OK. Not sure how this will affect Joe Martin next weekend. I'll see how I feel in a few days.

On the good side, my teammate Gina Romero WON! And Heidi came in fourth. A great showing for xXx!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Just looked up the official rules on upgrading, and learned I have 4 upgrade points! I thought I'd only get 1 for Leland. 21 more to go.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Photo - Gavin Gould

Leland - Kermesse was on Saturday. Not only was the course a total soul-crusher [this is a good thing], Flatlandia really outdid themselves putting it on. Thanks, guys!

The women's fields were combined, but scored separately. We started with 34 racers - 11 in the 1,2,3 field. Flatlandia took early initiative, running a rotating paceline into the 25 mph crosswinds. I sat close behind. There were a number of super strong women in this race, so I wasn't at all sure how things would play out.

The course has three sections of gravel roads - long and treacherous with at most a single narrow strip you could ride safely, and that was rutted and unpredictable. I made sure I was near the front going in - smart move as Pony Shop's Jessica Hill [the 2009 cyclocross champ] hit it HARD - we flew down the dirt, inches apart, at 29 mph. When we emerged onto the pavement, four of us had a gap - Jessica, Kristen from Flatlandia, Janette from Cuttin' Crew and me. I WAS IN THE BREAK!

Photo - Gavin Gould

We organized ourselves quickly - with the crazy strong winds we had to cooperate to make this break stick, even with Kristen's teammates blocking the rest of the pack. For two laps, we rotated on the pavement and took care of each other on the gravel. As we began our fourth lap, we realized Jessica was gone - the big attacks on the first lap finally took their toll.

I wasn't in much better shape on that fourth lap, truth be told. And I really missed the rest a fourth person pulling through gives you. My legs had no snap left. I did my best not to let my fatigue show, but after a while, it was clear I was not a threat.

But my endorphins were having a party in my brain and I was filled with sentimental appreciation for my breakmates. I laughed at myself, but then Kristen said it out loud -'I love you guys! I want to give you both a big hug as soon as we cross the finish line!' Janette agreed - 'but until then, we're enemies!'

We rode into the finishing stretch three abreast. Janette jumped, Kristen was on her, I grabbed Kristen's wheel and stood up to sprint . . . and my legs said 'OH HEEEELL NO!' I sat back down and rode in third - my first podium as a cat 3! AND my first upgrade point. AND payout!

It was a super hard and super fun race. Thanks again, Flatlandia!

Photo - Steve Hansen

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I've been organizing a training camp for my team's Women's Development Program. When I first joined xXx five years ago, the camp I attended in San Luis Obispo made such an impression on me - I learned SO much and just totally fell in love with the rigor of training for bike racing. I wanted to give this to the women on the team that couldn't come to SLO because of time and money constraints.

A number of the women on the team that I envisioned taking part in the camp can't attend for various reasons, but we still had so many sign up that we have to rent a second cabin. A lot of new faces just getting started - as wet behind the ears as I was at my first camp. I'm excited!


Planning to race Leland-Kermesse on Saturday. 100k road race - flat and windy with long stretches of gravely dirt roads. I'm really looking forward to it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I did my fifth, sixth and seventh races this season over the weekend. Saturday was the 'Hell of Downstate', Hillsboro-Roubaix. The women's 123 race was 59 miles of narrow, bumpy, gravelly, twisty roads. We started with 47 racers - a handful intent on getting a free ticket to the prestigious Nature Valley race later this year.

Last year, I stuck with the pack for about 7 minutes - I was shelled ignominiously on the first hill. I made up some ground and had a good race overall, but not the race I wanted.

This year, I stuck with the pack for almost an hour. My pack skills still need work - I ended up sitting on the back where it's way too easy to get bounced right off. The second time that happened it stuck.

My teammate Heidi was gapped along with me, so we TTed together as the group got farther and farther away. We finished the first lap together, but were separated on the descent onto the bricks. I sighted another shelled racer in the distance and worked to catch. When I got her, we worked together and picked up two more women - one of whom we dropped quickly. I organized a rotating paceline and three of us caught up to a group of five - including Leah from Flatlandia and Kathy from Project 5, two racers I can't touch in a 30 minute crit. So now we had eight rotating through - until three, including Kathy, just disappeared off the back.

The five of us remaining worked together well. Until I realized one woman wasn't pulling through. When I gestured, she told me she was struggling just to stick with us and didn't have the energy. Well, this is a RACE - no one gets a free ride to the finish line. 'Everyone works' I said, and we stopped rotating. The girl on the front slowed down and we all rode silently for a couple minutes until the racer on the back recovered and rode up to the front. We all cooperated after that.

The feed hill was deserted when we got there. We went up together - I felt good and moved to the front easily. I pulled through the flat section and started up the second hill. Two of the women started pushing the pace and I countered. I got a little gap! I pushed HARD through the false flats at the top and then bombed the descent onto the bricks, opening up my lead. Then the interminable blocks of bricks - I didn't let up. I glanced back a few times and couldn't see anyone close. Onto the finishing stretch, I forced my legs to keep working. I stood up for the last 200 meters - and crossed the line 10 seconds ahead of the first chaser! I 'won' my group!

And finished 32nd overall.

All in all, a super fun, hard race. Next year - pack finish!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Haven't posted since cross season ended - sorry. I'm on my way to training camp tomorrow. Eight days in lovely San Luis Obispo, California, riding and riding and riding. We look forward to this all year long.

I'm really starting to get excited.