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!!