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!