Monday, December 21, 2009


Okay, my goings-on of late are going to require a separate blog post, so this one is just about nationals!

Last weekend I raced my first ever Elite national championships (of any kind). This one of course was cyclocross up in Bend, OR. As you may (or may not) recall, I travelled to Portland for the last round of the USGP, had a jolly good time, then rented a car and drove to Bend. Bend greeted me with sub zero temperatures and a lot of snow. I rode the trainer, ran on snow covered trails, and spent a lot of time that week with my feet up. Ahh . . . the good life. Teammate Beth arrived on Wednesday and we relocated to our host housing for the week. On Thursday I had to go out to the race venue to "work" at the booth my employer (now former, but that's another blog post) had set up. The big news of that day, aside from the slip'n'slide snowy course, was chatting up Kristen Armstrong and Katie Compton, both of whom stopped by the booth within a half hour of eachother.

Anyway, my race wasn't until Sunday, so I had quite a bit of time to kill in the meantime. I had fun cheering for Beth on Friday when she raced the 30-34 race, and I ate frites and hot chocolate to stay warm (and subsequently arrived home a bit more well padded then when I left). On Friday night I was getting ready to go out to dinner at the Bend Brewing Co. with Beth, when I reached in my bathroom bag and jammed my left middle finger into my shiny sharp new razor. I pulled my hand out and was horrified to see that a good chunk of finger tip had been lost in the process. After much elevation, pressure, and raiding of the house's Man Bathroom (the guy we were staying with is a flight nurse), the bleeding stopped, and Beth utilized her Air Force buddy first aid to help me patch it up.

I finally got on the course the next day and the relative warmth of the day had softened things out quite nicely. I have to say, I think the course they set up for nationals was super fun! The changing conditions changed the technical aspects of the course as the week wore on. After a couple laps I'd determined that I would be fine racing with my mangled finger as long as I A) didn't have to shift into my big ring (or could do so by reaching over with my right hand) and B) didn't have to use my front brake, which was really easy to avoid during my pre-ride.

Things froze up overnight, so when we arrived on Sunday morning the slop from Saturday had turned into frozen ruts, and the deep puddles were sheets of ice. There were a couple of races before ours, however, and many parts of the course softened up.

What is it like to line up 98th out of 100 women? Ummm . . . discouraging? Not really, because after such a lousy call up all I could hope to do is improve my position. I had two goals for this race: 1) to not be last onto the dirt, and 2) not finish last. I wanted to take a few chances, and ride aggressively.

The start was fast, but I made some passes and achieved goal #1. Instantly everything bottle necked and we were off our bikes, trying to run up the first little turn and get rolling again. As we remounted I got on a wheel, but girls started passing me right away. It took me about half a lap (at which point I think I was 3rd from last) to realize I was going to have to make some kamikaze passes and be a bitch if I wanted this race to happen for me. So I did! When you're taking the inside line on an icy turn to get around someone, even if you go into it just a little ahead of them, they'll have to slow down and let you by. Sure, it's not very polite, but it's a bike race, right? Gee, did I just figure that out? Anyway, I worked my way up to Beth, who had a somewhat better call up than me. I'd just passed a couple people when, on an off camber grassy hill, I came in a little too hot (taking chances, right?) and my tires slid out from under me before I had time to realize what was happening. I hit hard, wacking my head, shoulder and hip, but got up fast, wondering if I'd concussed myself (I hadn't). I glanced behind me as I was slip-sliding my way up the slope to remount my bike, and saw Beth also running with her bike, and another girl picking herself up from the course tape. Uh oh, did I cause all this carnage? Later Beth would tell me that we perfectly executed the rare and difficult synchronized teammate crash sequence. If anyone has a video or photo of this, I must have it. It must have been a thing of beauty. Anyway, after that I rode a bit more conservatively. My goal for the race was to get up to former Bella Shannon Holden, who finished about 45 seconds ahead of me at both Portland USGPs. I caught her, actually passed her at one point, but she passed me again and finished the race about 10 seconds up from me. I only gave away one more place - on our final lap about 40 of us were lapped by the top women. Katie Compton lapped me in the pits, Meredith Miller lapped me before the barriers, and Amy Dombroski lapped me just after the barriers. I moved way over and slowed down so Amy could go by, and a girl who'd been sitting 5-10 seconds behind me went past! I had slowed down before a slippery little "S" turn so I wouldn't accidentally take out a podium contender, and when this girl went by she totally almost did so when Amy caught up to her in the turns. I was a little irritated, but still felt that I'd done the right thing, even though it cost me 68th place. ;)

In retrospect I'm really happy with my cyclocross season. I set out to have fun and become a better cyclocross racer, and I truly feel I accomplished both of those goals. At the end of the season I was left feeling that with another year or two of hard work I can make contact with some smokin' fast girls. (Top 30 at nationals? That's a good goal.) Anyway, Bend was awesome, and I have every intention of going back next year!

Monday, December 7, 2009


I'm onto host house numero dos. This one is full of three teenagers, so not as restful as the first (more on this later) but warm and cozy and there's a hot tub in the backyard.

Bend is freezing (-10F right now) and snowy. We drove by the course last night and it's under about a foot of snow. I heard the inside scoop is that they're going to shovel all the snow off of it. This is probably for the best. Left alone it will probably melt and the course will turn to soup, then progress to frozen ruts, or we'll be sliding around on rutted ice. Either way I'm just as happy to see it go. But I'm a wimp like that. :)

Sooo, the Stanley Cup! Both days ended up about the same for me. It starts with well, a lousy start. I always feel like I'm doing pretty good until I look behind me and see no one there. Where'd everyone go? Oh, they're in front of me. Crap. Something to work on. I think I just need to start throwing elbows or something. Anyway, on Saturday that lousy start was followed by a big crash in front of me, so any hope of catching on with a faster group was gone. I ran around the crash and past the muddy section, jumped back on my bike, and then all the crashed riders rode past me. I need to get faster at the remount. Seriously. The course that day was mostly dry (dry? In Portland?) with a couple of rutted sections and a couple of slimy turns. Lots of roots sticking up to flat on, too. I avoided the flats, but as it turned out I rode alone for most of the day. I beat a couple of girls, but didn't even come close to cracking the top 30. C'est la vie. Next time. On Sunday it was about the same at the start, but no crash. The course had dried out a bit, but they'd added a couple more technical areas on the moto track area, as well as some "nice" mud pits. This time I ended up having a couple of girls to race against. I'd pass this one girl, get a gap, then she and her teammate caught me, her teammate flatted right before the pits, some other girl caught me and the 3 of us were riding together. With about half a lap to go I made a pretty cool pass on this off camber uphill turn. I took the inside line and just started hammering. I got a gap on the other two which I was able to sustain and even grow a bit until the finish. So yay! I won the "sprint" for 31st. Whoop tee doo. Really thought, it was fun having girls to race against, and I was happy I rode smart and hard and didn't settle for 35th. And for almost the entire race there were 5-7 girls ahead of me who I could see and, had I just a wee bit more power and speed, I think I could have hung with them.

I've raced in Portland twice before. The first time as a 3/4, and then two years ago with the Elite class. Honestly I don't think my finish is a whole lot better than it was 2 years ago, but I know I'm riding better, stronger, smoother. I know my technical cross skills have come a long way. So maybe by this time next year I'll have an extra watt or two per kilo and I can hang with some of my totally rockin' teammates. :)

Now I just need to get up the crazy enough to go ride in this cold, cold icy town.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I like this photo, even though it's kind of out of focus, because I'm smiling.

I've been planning my 2010 schedule and formulating my goals for the upcoming year. My schedule's posted on this blog - starting a little early and trying to use my cyclocross fitness to get some results and that ever elusive upgrade. Then taking it easy in April and May with just a few select races (some new ones! I love riding new-to-me roads) and then hitting it pretty hard again in June and July. My goals are as follows:

1. Get my *$&#*@*$ cat 2 upgrade!!! (why did Blogger highlight that as a link? What do you suppose it links to?)
2. Ride a sub-hour 40k time trial at Districts (should be cake - I shaved 3:30 off my time from 2008. Another minute? no problemlo.)
3. Race, and don't get time cut from, Cascade Classic, which I can't do without first acheiving goal #1.

My off season goal is to reach my race weight of 130. Just an arbitrary number, but it's proved elusive thus far. My "happy" weight is 140 lbs - can't believe I'm advertising that on the internet. Seriously, though, I'm 5'9" and pretty muscular. I eat anything I want to (really, I just ate 1.5 cannoli's that were in the coffee room) and this is the weight I hover at (sometimes a bit above). I'm comfortable with my appearance and my size, but I really believe that I'll be more competitive if I'm leaner. If I start getting down to that weight and my recovery or performance suffers then I'll have learned my lesson and start eating cannolis for breakfast again. For now, I probably shouldn't go eat that last cannoli. It is possible, of course, that I just really like saying the word "cannoli".

So my apologies of the next several blog posts fixate on food and weight and the like - it's for my own good.

Monday, November 30, 2009

From high to low, and season goals

Ugh, my back and neck kill right now. Not sure if that's a result of my bike landing on my head after a spectacular cartwheel down a hill, or if it's from all the damn driving. Either way, it's a good reminder that what goes up, must come down. Haha, get it? Like my bike coming down on my head? Sigh . . .

Yesterday I went down to the NCNCA district championship cyclocross race with miss 3 time olympian, Katerina Nash. She's a Truckee local, so picking her up was on my way. Sadly, despite 4 hours in a car together, I wasn't able to absorb her speed by osmosis. Still a fun time, and I say with no small amount of personal pride that she crushed it (undoubtedly due to the comfort of my car and my great skill as a driver). My race on the other hand was just pitiful. I had a decent start, managed to not get crashed in the first two turns (come on ladies, keep the rubber side down!). The first two laps were good, then I just kind of faded. I was racing right where I thought I should be relative to the other girls in my category, but then I just went backwards. Ugh. My third lap was kind of a disaster. After slowing down A LOT I had my aforementioned acrobatic crash (Katerina crashed there too, and almost the entire men's A field!). I ended up getting caught by 4 girls who I'd already passed and dropped, and a couple more who were way back, and a couple of women's B's, and a couple of 35+ ladies. I couldn't really respond, couldn't try to follow, just survived the rest of the race. I knew going into it that I wasn't feeling superb, almost a little under the weather, vacation hangover, so I'm not super bummed. I know where I should be, and can be, sometimes things just fall apart. This week calls for lots of rest, and sleep, and recovery, and good food, so I'm ready to rock and roll by next Saturday in Portland. It looks like it's going to be wet!

I'm also trying to think up goals for next year, and to get a rough draft of my season calendar. It's tricky, you know? The most obvious and obnoxious goal is to GET MY FREAKIN' CAT 2 UPGRADE ALREADY!!! But I feel like that's a given. I'm thinking I want to race the Cascade Classic and not get time cut. I want to do a sub-hour District TT (40k). I'm thinking maybe top 10 at Nevada City? Or is that waaaay too ambitious? Unattainable? Sigh . . . I don't know. And should I include cyclocross in my season goals? Cyclocross seems like a whole different season, so I'm thinking no. I feel like any decisions and commitments I make now are going to affect me for the next 12 months, so I want to make them worth while!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Marian Pretzel

I think the biggest omission I've made in my training is not giving adequate time to core and flexibility. Early in the season last year I did some pretty focused strength training, but as intensity increased that kind of fell off the radar. Flexibility is something I always struggle with - not enough time, it's too cold/messy in the house, just ate, etc. Lots of excuses.
In October I started up the strength training again. No legs, just core and upper body. Cyclocross provides more than enough heavy lifting for the legs, but I'll add some lower body work after nationals. I attribute a portion of my recent gains in form to having a stronger core. I can feel it, and I can see it. I loathe the idea of going to the gym, but when I'm actually there I kind of like it. I'm a total meat head.
I'm still struggling with the flexibility, however. I'll have a week or two where I'll do yoga ("practice" yoga? nah, I just do it) almost every day, then I'll get busy/lazy and stop. I don't necessarily feel like adding flexibility makes me faster, in the sense that I'm still putting out the same amount of power, but it makes my body feel better overall, which can only help. I'm always promising myself that I'll go to yoga class (I have a gym membership, so they're free if I attend the classes there, although they're only so-so) but again, lazy/busy. Also, going to a class is WAY outside my comfort zone. All the more reason to go. On Monday of this week I went to a class at a nice yoga studio called Yoga Loka (the one in Reno . . . there seem to be lots of these scattered about). I got fully schooled. I am still sore, 2 days later. Seriously, I haven't done a backbend in at least 10 years, and somehow I managed to get into one. Holy crap that 90 minutes was harder than my last 4 cyclocross races put together. It probably didn't help that I'd lifted weights that morning, so my arms were a little rubbery. My muscles were literally shaking in downward dog. Wow. And balancing poses? Resting on my lower arms with my legs balanced on my elbows? I have bruises on my elbows where they were resting on my mat! And I couldn't even get the weight off my feet! Golly. But like most (not all) things that I struggle with, I want to do it again. Awesome core workout, awesome for flexibility, good for my head. Sold.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Two more down, three to go.

The Head Tilt - verification of mighty suffering.
Get off your brakes!

Last weekend I got in another two good days of 'cross racing. Saturday at our local series, and Sunday in Sacramento.

The local race was a new venue and one of the funnest courses I've ever ridden. It was a lot of grass, a nice sand pit, some fun decending and off camber turns, fast barriers, and 2 sets of stairs to run up. It was mostly all up on the way out, and down on the way back. I love courses like that, where you can just flog yourself to the point of "I'm-going-to-die", recover, and then do it again. My legs felt so-so, but as per usual at these Reno races there weren't to many ladies present so I was able to get the W. I won beer and money, which is good because otherwise I would've been hard up to come up with gas money to get down to Sacramento the next day!

I'm currently sitting 2nd in the Sacramento CX women's A series standing, so I wanted to have another good result there and keep it that way. The course was okay, flat grass, one set of barriers, ho hum. Not very interesting, but good for training the power with all those constant accelerations out of the turns. We race with the jr. men, and I made the bad mistake of starting behind one of them. The kid looked fit, but he had the slowest start of almost anyone there. I had to make some kamakaze passes and dig deep, but I managed to bridge up to the leaders! Wow, that pretty much shocked me right there. There were 4 of us in the lead group - myself, Emily (from last weekend), Joan Gregg (who has never failed to totally whoop me), and Linda Elgart, who was riding super strong. I was tired from the day before, and mostly sucked wheel. I took a couple of pulls, suffered, got gapped off a couple times, caught back on, suffered. On the last lap I got gapped off and couldn't get back on, so I pulled off another 3rd place. The podium was identical to the first Sacramento series race of the year, but instead of getting dropped by Emily and Joan, I hung with them! Woot woot! Hells yeah, I actually AM getting stronger! The training my coach has had me doing is really going to have me peaking for nationals! Not that I ever doubted it, but it's totally radical to be able to see some substantial improvement.

Next up is the NCNCA district race in Golden Gate Park this weekend, and then I begin my northern odessey to the land of mud and cowbells (aka Portland, followed by Bend). There are over 80 women registered for nationals!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Need a Lucky Penny

Ever since, oh, August I've had some rather terrible luck at the races. OK, OK, I don't actually believe in luck or karma or divine intervention, but this is getting ridiculous. I've gotten flats at 5 races since then. It doesn't sound like a lot, but when you consider the time and energy and financial resources that have gone into them it's a metric shit ton. Seriously. And on Sunday an ill-timed flat with 2 to go cost me a win.
I ended up skipping the BASP race (tired, broke, lazy) and just heading to Folsom. Not nearly as big a turn out, but one girl there totally smoked me at the first Sacramento CX race, so I figured it would be a good test. She had raced the night before, so I'm sure she was pretty beat, but I got a big gap and it kept grown. You know what was utterly and totally amazing? I was fastest on the run-up, and through the barriers! I suck at running, and am usually just in survival mode, so this was a big deal, and it helped grow my lead and confidence. Until . . . I learned what happens when you forget to unclip before a barrier. No endo, but a nice slide. That kind of killed my lead, but with 2 1/2 to go I dug deep and increased my gap again. And then . . . I pinch flatted my tubular. Again.
Okay, let's see here - isn't the whole POINT of a tubular that you can run low tire pressure and not flat? Well I may not be a feather weight, but I'm not a porker either. And now that's TWICE that I've pinch flatted my tubular while running about 30 psi. WTF?! I'm over it. Selling the carbon wheels, this is ridiculous. Obviously I'm just not finesse enough to run tubulars. That's fine. Hmph.
I wasn't too far from where my wheels where, but by the time I ran/gingerly rode over there I'd been passed. Swell. Got a fast wheel change from my pops and started chasing, but with 2 to go I couldn't get it back. 2nd. Not bad. Won a little cash and a tube of women's specific Hoo Haa Chamois Cream. Sick.
So there is good news out of this - my fitness is great! I know my closest competitor was tired from the race the night before, but I think if she'd been fresh I could have hung with her. Maybe not necessarily dropped her the way I did, but not get so totally smoked by her as I did earlier in the season. This is excellent, excellent news. This weekend brings a double header - Sagebrush CX on Saturday followed by Sacramento CX on Sunday. And a good chance to test my legs against awesome competition! This time I'll be tired and she'll be fresh, so it'll be a challenge indeed.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Decisions decisions

I'm lagging in the news update blogging department. Where to begin?

Well, going back two weeks (has it been that long) and our Santa Cruz trip! While it mostly revolved around my cyclocross races (more on that later) good times were had by all. Cody got to hang out and drink beer, he even raced the costume 'cross race! and we hung out at the ocean.

The racing was rad, though my performance was just so so. I always spend the whole race recovering from my meek little starts. And to be perfectly honest I don't have the fitness to recover well from bad starts. I can get around a few people, but by then the people I want to be racing with are long gone. I need to either a) start more aggressively, or b) be so freakin' fast that I can catch and pass the leaders even after a bad start. Right, well, it seems that option B is unlikely to happen anytime in the near future, so I'm just going to have to be more of a bitch at the start of a race. Anyway, the courses were awesome and it was a total blast, I just wish I could be a weee bit faster. I feel like I'm approaching the next level of speed and fitness, it's just slightly outside my reach. But feeling that it's so close, so attainable, is good motivation to keep working on it. At any rate my mounts/dismounts/barriers have improved dramatically. So one step at a time, right? Haha, get it?

Moving on!

Last weekend I skipped the local 'cross race (sad, I know) and went down to Berkeley for a meeting and ride with my new road team, Touchstone Climbing. It's gonna be a great year for us, I think! Hoping I can get my shizit together for the upgrade, this perpetual state of 3ness is getting a little tired.

And now . . . ? It's been a good week of training. I had a gnar ride yesterday (see previous blog post), then tried to ride in the Outlaw 'cross race this morning. Bad idea - my legs were totally thrashed from my intervals yesterday, and my run the day before. Ouch! Did one fast lap then just cruised around and worked on my cornering for a few more, then called it a day. I've always had a hard time convincing myself to suffer at 8 AM on a Thursday. So now I'm debating on what to do with my weekend. I have a little bit of a scratchy throat, and have been feeling just a touch under the weather this week, so I'm feeling really cautious about subjecting myself to anything that's going to make it worse. On the other hand, the BASP night race is on Saturday! Fun fun! And on Sunday I'm debating on if I should do a big long road group ride with my new team (fun! But not necessarily the best training for 'cross) or if I should head to Folsom and race 'cross again. Or, the really lazy option - stay home on Saturday and go race in Folsom on Sunday. Jeez, aren't my weekend plans enthralling?

Seriously, though, it's hard listening to everyone talk about base miles while I'm still in cyclocross mode. It makes me want to drop everything and start training for road season. But I won't! I'm having a blast racing 'cross and I'm not calling it a season until I get that top 30 at nationals. My road season will just have to start a little late.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Training Like it's My Job

I went for a hard ride today. "Hard as you can go" intervals and lots of saddle time. The weather was gorgeous (a little too gorgeous for November, really). I live on top of a pretty brutal hill (brutal at the end of a long hard ride, at any rate) and it was one of those spectacular rides where I almost wanted to get off and walk the last 100 yards. I get off the bike and immediately want to consume my body weight in food. After chicken and dumplings soup (thanks Mom) and chocolate milk I take a hot shower, totally dull with fatigue and contentment. The only thing to spoil it? Dragging myself off to the office afterwards. Like, the real office, not the "I-wish-my-job-was-racing-bikes-and-the-great-outdoors-was-my-office" office.

Someday . . .

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New Resolve

I had a really nice ride last night - just zone 1 stuff, cruising on the cross bike, nice. And it was like, 36 degrees out by the time I finished (2.2 degrees celsius for you euro types). Weird, huh? It was cold out, and I actually liked it. What the hell is wrong with me?
Well, whatever it is, if it can stick around for the next 6 months I'll be stoked, 'cause it's only getting colder from here on out. So I'm resolving to spend as few days on the trainer this year as possible. Unless there's like, 4 feet of snow or an ice storm, I'm going to stick it out. I need some heated insoles . . .
This weekend we're heading down to Santa Cruz for some Halloween cyclocross, beach camping, mountain biking, and relaxin'. My boyfriend is apparently the only person in the world who doesn't thing that Santa Cruz is like, Camelot, so try as I might to get him pumped on going on a mini vacation with me he's just not giving me that stoked-to-be-pumped response I've been looking for. Well pfffft! Fine, I'll DRAG him down to horrible, miserable, sunny Santa Cruz and FORCE him to camp at the beach, an BELITTLE him into riding his bike on totally wonderful UCSC singletrack - poor guy's got a rough life.
But now I'm getting ready to go ride my MTB with Miss 2nd in the Nation, Carla-Swart-beating Lizzy f'in English. I don't think she'll hurt me to bad . . . but part of me hopes she does.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Turns out . . .

. . . it's an infected blister. The heel, I mean. The spider bite's still a spider bite. So even though it hurts like a sonofabitch (kept me awake for most of the night, whimpering like a total nancy and feeling sorry for myself) I can do whatever I want and not worry about furthering an injury. And I got some antibiotics. Oh yeah, did I mention I went to the doctor? Good thing they didn't have to lance it or I'd be eating plain rice for the next 2 weeks. Yeah public option!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dr. Marian

Been getting heavily involved in self-diagnosis these last couple days. First of all, there's something wrong with my left heel. After much Googling of symptoms I've decided that I have calcaneal bursitis - inflammation of the bursa that covers the area where the achilles tendon attaches to the calcaneous. It fits - redness, swelling, PAIN. I wore these old running shoes last week when I was up at Northstar marking the XC course for nationals, and they caused a pretty mean blister. Changed shoes for the next couple days - lots of running around, followed by going for a run on Tuesday. Woke up in the middle of the night last Thursday feeling sort of . . . ouchie. WTF? Thought maybe there was an infection or something with the blister, but it's not ooozie or anything, just painful. Like, when I accidentally kick it with my other foot I want to sit down and cry. Ice and Ibuprophen, don't let me down! It doesn't hurt when I ride, thank goodness, but running and, erm, walking (with shoes that cover my heel) hurts. I may be racing 'cross in my birkenstocks at this rate. Grrreat.

Next - the mean-ass spider bite I got on my . . . ass. Okay, no, it's on my upper, outer, right thigh. But it sucks. Also decended on my on Thursday night. Have determined that it is not from a Brown Recluse, or any other spider that delivers necrotizing venom, thank you jeee-sus! I've come to this rather relieving determination because of the lack of "pus", and "white ring, surrounded by red, around the bite zone, giving it a characteristic bulls-eye target appearance." Okay, that's not actually the quote, I'm paraphrasing. But no pus and no white ring. But I have a big swollen painful-itchy red area on my leg, and you can see it bulging out in my spandex. Grrrrrreat. And this one hurts too! I grabbed my hoodie this morning and the zipper whacked my leg right on my big puffy-ass bump. More sitting, more crying about it. If it doesn't go away in 7-10 days (business?) I'll have to bite the bullet and amputate my own leg. Orrrr . . . go to the doctor. In the meantime, more Ice, more Vitamin I.

Umm . . . what have I done to deserve two gimpy legs in one week? Stupid spiders, that's what I get for not killing them. Stupid nationals, that's what I get for volunteering and running my freakin' tail off for 5 days getting shit done.

So, I know Googling symptoms is a Bad Idea, but when you've got no health insurance and no credit card your options are seriously limited. Jeez, it's amazing I've survived as long as I have.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wonderful Weekend

Hooray for a weekend to myself! No racing, no race promotion, no exams to study for, nowhere to travel to . . . bliss.

I'm thinking a fun ride on the cross bike, a walk with the dog, maybe a nap later. Perfect.

Saw the new team roster for the 2010 Touchstone team. And, while there's still some serious talent, a lot of the girls on the 1/2 team were cat 3's this last year who I raced with, but had somewhat better results (obviously, or they'd still be cat 3's like me). So that's cause for a little more confidence.

Okay, I've gotta go . . . lay in bed some more.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Big News

I am on a new road team for the 2010 season! Don't get me wrong - I freakin' love racing for Velo Bella, and will continue to do so for cyclocross. But on the road . . . I want to get my upgrade and race with a big fast team.

And the winner is . . . Touchstone Climbing! My coach suggested I talk to them, which is good because I would have been way too intimidated to do it myself. So . . . yay!

These ladies are fast, so I'm gonna have to step it up!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Podium Dog

What the hell am I doing? Is someone throwing something at me? Ummm . . . ???
Yay for my first podium of the CX season! From Sunday's Sacramento CX race.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lotsa Racings

Whew, where to begin?! I have 4 'cross races under my belt thus far and haven't written a single report. Slacker. My lack of report-writing motivation probably comes from having some less than stellar results, but I ended this last weekend on a good note so I'm ready to rationalize and philosophize away those lousy races.

First! I raced the Folsom Cyclebration CX race at Negro Bar waaaay back on the 12th of Sept. I was actually having a pretty stellar race until, with one lap to go, I had some really ill-timed breathing issue (that I've never experienced before) and pretty much just limped the whole last lap. Effectively dropping from 2nd to 4th (AKA DFL). So, while I was happy with my legs and my fitness, it didn't really pan out for me.

Next up! Cross Vegas! AKA "Why, oh why, did I sign up for this stupid !*#&ing race?!" Basically, I went down to Vegas to work at Interbike for my long-time employer, Sinclair Imports. While I've worked here for 4 years, this was my first trip with the company to work the event. And work I did! On my feet about 12+ hrs a day for 5 days. Sooo, 3 days into that was the race, and boy oh boy did I suffer. Actually, I only suffered for about two laps, then the dispair and the intense desire to QUIT led me to just back it off and have fun. And have fun I did! On the run-up people kept saying, "You're not going hard enough if you're smiling!!!" But it's better to be slow and have fun then to be slightly less slow and be hating life. My goal for that race is one that I'm going to carry with me to the USGP in Portland and also Nationals - finish in the 20's - 20th-29th. I utterly failed at Cross Vegas, finishing 34th, but I know that is an attainable goal for me, and I'm going to pursue the next two months of racing with that as the focus.

Finally, after a long week in Vegas, I got home late on Friday night. Saturday morning? Local CX race - 1st of the Sagebrush Series, of which I am the 2x reigning Women's A champion (to be fair, I think there were a couple of races in which I was the only women's A, but it sounds cool anyway, dontcha think?). My legs hurt in a wrong way after my Vegas trip, but I had a good start and was built a substantial lead in the first couple laps over the 2nd place girl. And then. Let's just say, I got lots of flats. And I happened to get these flats about as far from the pits as one can get. Loooong run. Two of them, actually. DNF in the Women's A's race (because by the time I got back to the pits and changed my tube because my extra wheels were still on the way back from Vegas there was only a lap left). Then I jumped in with the men's A's, repeated my flat-on-the-far-side-of-the-course-gosh-this-is-a-long-run routine, and was DFL. But at least I was able to borrow someone's wheel and get rolling again before the bell lap. Oh yeah, did I mention it was like, 100 degrees outside? It was.

After this race I went home, slept for about an hour (I'm STILL recovering from my total sleep deprivation in Vegas) then loaded up the car to drive to California for the first of the Sacramento CX races on Sunday. When I started my warm-up all I could think about was how totally lousy I felt. Just tired, mostly, and sore legs from all the damn running the day before. Ready . . . go! I got the hole shot, which always makes me happy. Then led for most of the first lap. Passed by two girls, let them go. Rode around for the rest of the race with two others. Did my share of the work, until about 1 1/2 laps to go, then I shamelessly sucked wheel. With about 1/4 lap to go I could see the girl in the front was hurting, so I put in a big attack and held it to the line for 3rd. Hooray for a podium after a series of crappy races! And won my race entry back.

Okay, I think that brings us to now.

I like this picture. This section of the Sagebrush course was a run up last year because there were barriers at the bottom. This year there were no barriers, so it was waaay fun to ride it. But you see all those big strong guys running up it? And you see me, still on my bike? And you see the look that one dude is giving me? Classic. Actually, I think he told me, "nice work" when I passed him right there.

Oh yeah! Couple of equipment shout-outs: The new Ellsworth is SICK! And pictured above. And the interim pink Ellsworth jersey is highly visible. Also, after my series of flat tires riding my Hutchinsons on Saturday, I threw on some Challenge Griffo XS semi-slick clinchers for the race on Sunday and they were rockin' on that course, and I had nooooo flats whatsoever. Hmm . . what else? I think that's it . . . for now.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Good Times and Season Recap

Jeez, why so serious?
Bringing the hurt.

Well, after a pretty lame month of August I finally got myself to some races! Sadly, the blood offerings I made to the goathead gods haven't done the trick, and I still managed to flat at the Winters road race. Smarter this time, however, I brought a tube and a pump, so I fixed it and finished my race. DFL, but better than DNF. Along the way I rode and chatted with Ruth Winder, who also flatted, and it was nice to have someone to ride with. Turns out a little help goes a long way, too, because the next day, at Vacaville, she and I worked together a bit, tried to get away, and when that didn't work she tried to give me a lead-out. Unfortunately my body/brain seem to shut down when I see 200m to go and I was no where to be found. She, on the other hand, won the race when she didn't see me coming around her, so it all worked out. I also won a bottle of Cycles Gladiator win for being the Most Aggressive rider. Seriously, I attacked on lap one, lap two, lap . . . I attacked a lot. I spent a lot of time off the front, but it was a bit to windy to really make anything stick. I made it a hard race from the get-go, and whittled down the field so that when I lost the sprint, I still came in 11th. Gotta figure out the sprinting thing . . . next season. But the whole point of this is, I had a really fun end to the season. I don't feel like I lost any fitness with my whole "11-stitches-in-my-knee-gotta-take-it-easy" week.

Which, following a minor infection, antibiotics, and dissolvable stitches that wouldn't dissolve, is healing up quite nicely thank you very much. I have a large semi-permanent bump on the front of my knee that makes kneeling yoga poses really painful, and I can't do girly push ups anymore, but as long as I can push the pedals I'm happy.
Soooo . . . how to wrap up the 2009 road season in a nice little package with a cute little bow? I had some good races, some bad races, and a whole lot of good races with unsatisfying endings. I had some one truly great race, courtesy of an even greater teammate. I've trained harder, and more, and with greater focus this year than ever before. Actually, I don't think I ever really "trained" before this year. I rode my bike, sometimes hard, but nothing about it was really training. And I still love it! After completing my hard intervals I feel like I've just won a race. Which leads me to what I really am happy that I learned this year: my true competition is myself. Some people will be faster than me, but sometimes they'll be slower. Some people have more natural talent, more time to train, more support, and some people have less. Ultimately it's a race to see how hard I can push myself, how smart I can be, how resilient I am. If I win a race along the way, so much the better, but even if I'm stuck as a mid-pack cat 3 for the rest of my life, I'll still keep pushing. I don't think I will be, I certainly hope I won't! In some ways having a rough last month has been good for me (hooray for the silver lining!). I seriously struggled with my motivation, my optimism, and my desire, but I've come out of it stronger, more dedicated, and more committed to enjoying every minute I spend on my bike. The more painful the funner. Which is good! Since cyclocross is freakin' painful.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I know, I know.

I need to blog one of these days, I know, I'm boring. I'm also a hypocrite, because I give other people a hard time about not updating their blogs, and here I am not updating my blog. But I have a great (uhh, matter of opinion, I guess) road season recap post coming up after this weekend, so have faith.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Try try again.

Don't worry, I'm through with the whiny negativity routine. Moving on to optimism, or something that at least resembles it.

Patterson Pass was, um, well, kinda lousy. Led out the climb (bad idea, same thing I did at the hill climb at Kern, tho you can reference my race report for evidence that I didn't really admit it to myself at the time the actual reason why I sucked so hard) cracked just before the top, just about caught back up, then I flatted. Damn. So, to do well in a road race one needs to do the following: 1. Train lots, but not too much, 2. Don't flat, or have any other mechanical mishap, 3. Not go into it with your head up your ass (as in leading up the climb, into a head wind). Next race I'm going to triple check that my head is where it belongs, and the "on" switch is engaged.

And hope for no flats.

(Pre-Dunnigan mental checklist will go something like this - "Head out of ass? Check. Brain fully engaged? Uhhh . . . oh! I mean, "check". )

So, having a day of lousy luck (if you count stupid racing as bad luck, and I do) can really call into question motivation (which, as previously addressed, has recently been occasionally absent) and purpose, and self-confidence. Well, the self-confidence department is still kind of lacking. The only thing that's going to fix that is a good result, or an extra glass of wine (unfortunately not an option pre-race). What do I do when I struggle with these things? Well, it seems when I feel like no matter what I do I'll never be a good road racer I think about how freaking awesome cyclocross is. And . . . I start plotting. For instance, I'm seriously seriously thinking about flying to Kentucky for the USGP Derby Cup races. Yes. Kentucky. Additionally I'm already planning on flying to Portland for the USGP, and driving to Bend for Nationals. And I'll most likely be working at Interbike so I'll hopefully (if my boss let's me get away from the almost-naked-ladies-dancing-on-poles that is the Sinclair Party) be racing Cross Vegas again. WTF? It's like I'm a pro cyclocross racer or something. Hm. I know, it's a lot way to travel to come in 3rd from last, but god damnit, it sounds like fun.

Oh yeah, and I'm going to get my road upgrade. Umm . . . right . . .

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Anticipation . . . and stuff.

Racing this weekend! It's been awhile - 6 weeks? Golly. After 3 1/2 months of racing every god damn weekend 6 weeks feels like a long time.

This week's been tough on motivation. I had an amazing hard ride on Saturday, sort of lazy Sunday, took Monday off, then on Tuesday woke up to find that my motivation had sort of evaporated. What gives? Perfect lousy timing. I've faked my way through the last two days of training, sort of resenting the whole thing for some reason. Today it's kinda cold (75 degrees is practically arctic for Reno in August) and it's supposed to rain later and I'm thinking I'll just ride my rollers and watch stupid movies. Trying to figure this out, get a handle on my negativity before it really fucks me over. Oh dear, did I just swear on my cycling blog? Ah well, it's the new Negative Nancy Me, get used to it. (My boyfriend's brother's wife [who I confess that I think of as my sister-in-law, despite the lack of marital ties between myself and that family] is named Nancy, and it annoys the crap out of her when someone calls someone else a Nancy.)

Okay, so I've figured out my problem. I have a number of races in the next couple weeks, and I'd really like to get some good results. Like, win. Because I want my upgrade soooo bad. And if I get my upgrade this month I can throw myself headlong into a wild and crazy season of cyclocross. If I don't get it I'll feel like I have to prepare for a solid early start to the road season so I can get some results before the points I have dry up. And my head's not in the road game, my brain's already gone over to cyclocross mode. So . . . what? I'm putting all this pressure on myself to do well at something that I have very little enthusiasm for right now. Top that off with being out of the game for the last month and a half and my confidence is way low and I'm mostly feeling lots of nervousness and dread. I write that and sounds stupid - my training has been very good for the last month, I'm fresh from not racing . . . yada yada yada.

Long story short . . . ? I need to get my fucking head on straight, plaster a truly sincere smile on my face, and go kick some ass with enthusiasm. Um, hooray?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I suck at this blogging thing.

Well, to be fair, it's a blog about bike racing, and I haven't been doing any of that lately. Training, yes, dreaming, yes, obsessively following . . . yes. But no actual racing for me. Am I totally itching for some bike racing? Naturally. Especially . . . cyclocross.

What is it about skinsuits, lousy weather, running over stupid barriers, cowbells . . . . sorry, I spaced out there, day dreaming. Shivers. Yum.

So I have this awesome deal with myself: If I kick ass on my road bike in August and get the last of my upgrade points I'll get to race a full season of cyclocross. Good incentive, no? Don't get me wrong, I luuurve me some road racing, but I'm ready for some variety. I'm hoping to make it to Portland for the USGP, then zip over to Bend for nationals! I know, it's still like, 4 months away, but a girl can dream, right?

Okay, I've gotta stop thinking about it. Gotta keep my head in the road racing game.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Must be fate.

I resisted buying a new cyclocross bike. The order closed, and I was in the clear. Then, they reopened the order. I'm taking it as a sign that I need to race a little bit of cyclocrosss this year. Not a ton, just enough to justify buying a new bike. Damn that's a sexy bike.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

No f'in way.

Dude, I fully saw a bike yesterday that looked like this:

Okay, I realize my photo shopping leaves a little to be desired, but you get the picture, right? And it wasn't even stolen! I mean, it might have been, but the dude riding it was some old white dude in spandex accompanied by his wife. 'Course, old white guys steal lots of stuff (right Bernie Madoff?), so I think I might need to revise my profile of potential bike thieves.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Implement of Torture

My new powertap! Umm . . . can you say 'demoralizing?' I can. But I'm sure it'll help me train . . . or something like that. Jeez.

In actuality I'm incredibly stoked on it, just a little embarassed to admit HOW stoked. Intervals tomorrow are going to hurt something good.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Time to update the ol' blog, I guess.

Truth is there's not much going on. Actually, scratch that, there's plenty of great stuff going on, I just never take any pictures, and words tend to fail me.

Let's see . . . where to begin?

I'm back training now. Trying to get some super-duper fitness before August, when I have a bunch of Cal Cup races planned. Trying to slim down, which is a lot easier to do when I'm not worried about being properly fueled for an upcoming race. Enjoying the summer and the lack of obligations. Oh sure, there's work, but beyond that it's just me and my bike (and Cody, and the dog, I suppose). But it's awfully nice, I'll tell ya what.

4th of July weekend was pretty rad. I had a good ride up at Donner with my daddio on Friday, an epic 4 hrs on the Tahoe Rim Trail and Flume Trail on Saturday followed by our very own backyard bbq. We played Stump and drank mojitos (well, I didn't drink mojitos, but everyone else did). Stump is one of those things (it's a game involving a very large hammer, a tree stump, and some big nails) that I really have to provide photos of to do it justice. Sadly, the camara remained untouched for the entirety of the evening. We climbed on our roof and watched the fireworks over in Sparks. It was cool, I guess.

On Sunday I took Cody to my hometown of Quincy. Why? Good question. I guess because he'd never been, and there were some friends of mine in town. We went out to breakfast, then I took Cody on a tour of my former hood by bicycle. It went something like this, "Here's the high school where I spent 4 years of my life dreading each day. This is the cemetary where we'd run spring drills when I was on the cross country running team when I was 14. Here's the woods where we'd go party when I was 16 and 17. I'd come smoke cigarettes here. Oh yes, and here. And here." Haha, it sounds dark and unhealthy, I know, but it's not really that bad. And in the infinite wisdom I've gained in 26 years (on Friday!) I see the error of my teenage ways. Ha, right. Anyway, we rode out towards Bucks Lake after touring the town, and I promptly dropped Cody, who's never smoked (tobacco) in his life, on the climb. So there. Then we went to Spanish Falls and swam in Spanish Creek and jumped off of big rocks. It was perfect. Quincy has a couple of things to recommend it in the summer, but so help me I will never, ever, ever live there again. haha, never say never, I know, I know.

Blah, that was a stupid story. Anyway, on to more pertinent stories. First of all, I ordered a Powertap hub yesterday! Woo hoo! I'm so freakin' stoked! And even more exciting then a Powertap? On Friday me and Cody are going to Wild Island Waterslides! All freakin' day, baby. That's right, I took work off to go play in chlorinated water and run across hot cement. Dude, stoked. Hella. I WILL take pictures, 'cause it's going to be epic.

Friday, June 26, 2009

More Nevada City Pics

I know, I know, posting endless photos of myself seems both vain and uninteresting. But it's my blog, and no one's forcing you to read it (and if they are I am supremely sorry).
And yes, I listened to Michael Jackson last night. I dare you to not love Dirty Diana. Triple dog dare ya.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Nevada City Classic

I like this picture because I'm hanging with fast girls. Slowly falling off the back!

Happy after the suffering is over.


This morning I'm so freakin' sore I didn't even want to get out of bed. Oddly enough it's not from racing Nevada City, but from cross training yesterday, as this is my official Week Off the Bike, per coach's orders. Actually I just got called out on Twitter for running during my rest week - I thought that was okay!!! But I guess I won't be running either. Jeez, what am I going to do with myself for the rest of the week?!
So anyway, back to Nevada City. This weekend was the culmination of 3 1/2 months of racing, with only one non-race weekend in the mix. Needless to say it was starting to wear on me. Prior to the Nevada City race I'd planned on racing the Tour de Nez - Nevada City is on Sunday, TdN Thurs-Sat. Well, I raced on Thursday, up against Tibco, SugarCRM, Touchstone, VAC, Metromint . . . and I got dropped about 15 minutes in. Decided to just take it easy, not race on Friday and Saturday, and if I decided to race Nevada City just do it as a no-pressure fun thing. Right, fun. Wee.
Seriously, tho, I did have fun, in a sticks-in-my-eyes sort of way. I was hanging pretty well for the first couple laps, caught back up to a pretty fast group, and true to form, immediately went to the front of the group and gunned it. Well, those fast girls in my group decided that was a good time to attack, so off the back I came, along with another girl who I know to be a cat 3 like me. We rode together for a while, then she dropped me. I was pretty hurting for the last couple laps, and one girl caught me with 1 to go. That motivated me to pick up the pace, but she pipped me at the line. Bummer. So I came in mid-pack, and I'm pretty sure I was the 3rd cat 3.
Anyway, it was lotsa fun, good crowd, tons of people out there who seemed to know my name cheering for me! That's always fun. Hernando was there every lap in his Vanderkitten jersey offering words of advice and that I actually always find remarkably encouraging.
We stuck around and watched the Lance-Circus, which was actually pretty cool. I heard that they had 30,000 spectators in Nevada City that day! And also that the town ran out of beer.

Monday, June 15, 2009

De Fault

So, I dunno if you remember, but there was a Simpsons episode called something like "Homer in Space" where he becomes a NASA astronaut. Remember? Well, it's between him and Barnie, and Barnie stops drinking and is selected to be an astronaut over Homer, and they're celebrating with a champaigne toast. Barnie takes a drink and says "It . . . begins!" and starts chugging the champaigne and going all drunk-crazy. One of the NASA guys says, "That was non-alcoholic champaigne! Well Homer, I guess this mean's you're it by default." Homer says, "Woo hoo! De Fault! The two sweetest words in the English language!" It's pretty much hilarious.

Why do I bring this up? Well, yesterday I got 3rd in the Elite women at the NCNCA District Time Trial! Yeah, 3rd . . . out of 3. So I got to stand on the podium, by default! Woo hoo! I took full advantage of this, my first opportunity to stand on a podium with the likes of Alison Starnes (2nd) and Molly Van Houweling (1st, of course). The first, but hopefully not last time! And it wasn't as though I totally sucked out there, I am actually really happy with my ride. My goal, that I set for myself waaaaay back in November, was to complete the 40k in under 1:01. And . . . I did! I completed it in 1:00:56:90. So just barely made the cut, but good enough! Alison was a little over 2 minutes ahead of me in the 58 min. range, while Molly turned in a screaming 55:06. Sheesh. My goal for next year is to break an hour, I know I can do it! For now I'm happy with my default podium, and knowing that I put in a killer effort and have made tremendous progress from last year (last yrs. time was 1:04:32). I wanted to post my podium pic, but can't find it online, so maybe later.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Watching the results up at Mt. Hood, Philly, at Nature Valley this week, and I want to be racing there so bad. I have a dozen reasons why, after 4 years of racing (with varying degrees of commitment and success), I'm still a mediocre cat 3. There's nothing wrong with being a cat 3, I'm just not satisfied with it. I want more.

So I'm thinking of cutting back the school load. That's really a euphemism for "dropping out of school," except you can't accuse me of dropping out because I'm going to be taking 1 class! Just for that very reason. I want to race my bike, with a greater degree of commitment and success. This time next year I want to be in Minnesota for Nature Valley.

I'm taking the month of July off from racing. Get 4 weeks of super focused training, a good mental break, then going at it full-bore in August, September, then take another break. Get some results, get my upgrade, get a little momentum going into next year! Up my training load, and be ready to race with the big girls, finally.

I have the blessing of Cody to do whatever makes me happy. He'll be graduating next spring, and the . . . who knows! I'll tag along where work takes him (we have a tacit agreement to not live in the midwest, south of Virginia on the east coast, Reno, and most places in california - the latter is his request, personally I love Cali and would pack my bags for Santa Cruz tomorrow if he'd consent).

So I'm committing to, erm, dropping out of school? Yeah, it sounds bad, but you only live once, I'm not getting any younger, carpe diem, blah blah blah. And if I fail spectacularly, at least I tried.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Flogging Myself Like a Rented Mule?

Yes, that's probably my favorite Phil Ligget-ism. And a good description of the Dunlap TT this weekend, and, well, any TT pretty much ever. I got 2nd! So a good ride, and one of only 2 of us in the 3/4s to go under 48 minutes, which was my goal, so I'm happy. Think I could have been faster, made a couple of stupid mistakes in the corners, got a little stitch in my side at one point, room for improvement. Still a good race. Here's a picture.

Hmm . . . I almost look like I know what I'm doing!

Won $22, almost covered my race entry, didn't come close to covering my gas money! Sigh . . . I love TTing, I think I'm pretty good at it (relative to the rest of my skill-set) but it lacks the excitement of finishing 2nd in a road race or a crit. Sometimes I feel like I don't want to be good at the TT, 'cause then I feel like I should be a triathlete. haha, that's a stupid thing to think, and don't worry, it will never happen. (Never say never? ha! You haven't seen me swim! It's hilarious! If only there were a triathlon where you were forced to doggy paddle, and the run was some crazy down-hill trial free run, then I might be down.)

Anyway, enough of the tangent, the Dunlap TT was fun, can't wait to do it again, only for longer, and in a much more competitive category, this weekend! Ah districts, how I love thee.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Fresh Out of Ideas

Fresh? I should say "Long out of ideas" - that's a little more accurate. Whatever.

No race results, or excitingness to speak of. Three more weekends of racing and then I'm taking a break! For rizzle. God. Sorry, I'm bored. I need a new job, one where I get to move around and interact and stuff. This desk job stuff is boring.
  • Note to self: must stop sucking at racing crits. Like, seriously, get with it, ya know?

Sadly, with only 4 or so more races (until August, when I'm picking things back up for MTB season) I have few opportunities to vindicate myself on that note. Two weekends of time trials followed by the Pro1/2/3 Tour de Nez and then the Pro1/2/3 Nevada City races. Crap. Like I'm really going to be able to pull off a result at those! Let's see, against Tibco, Vanderkitten, etc, at TDN? Sure, I'll just attack on the hill. Right. And whilst I adore the time trials and expect to do fairly well at them, even if I set a new course record at Districts I don't get any upgrade points. So, yes, I'm going to get a big "3" tattooed on my forehead as that is the category I am destined to race for ever and ever and ever.

Seriously? I'm not bummed or anything, or feeling discouraged, or any of that stuff, I'm just bored out of my mind and ruminating on this stuff. It's been a good season, I'm happy with many of my results, my training, my life. I just want to be faster, like, now. These things take time, yes yes, I know, but when trapped alone with my bemused wanderings it's easy to feel dissatisfied.

In other news, it's been raining a TON here and I LOVE it! It never rains in the desert, and it is amazing when it does. Oh the smells! It's impossible to describe the smell of wet desert, sagebrush, rabbit brush, willows, other stuff . . . so nice.

Yawn . . . I need a nap.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Why, oh why.

So . . . raced the Auburn crit this weekend, it was a combined 35+ and 3/4 field. I attacked on the hill on lap #1, formed a break, attacked the break, won a prime, rode in the break. My plan was to attack with a lap and a half to go. I felt like I was the strongest rider, I mighta coulda pulled it off. Unfortunately, going in with just over 2 laps to go, a rider went down pretty hard in the sharp left hand corner at the bottom of the ripping decent. I was behind her, got gapped off, had to unclip and come to a stop. Lame. The picture above is of me chasing, but with 2 to go I ran out of real estate, and came in 6th overall, 4th out of the cat 3/4s. Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda.
Lame. So very lame.

So, let's be very clear that I'm an agnostic, definitely don't believe in any sort of divine being or spiritual stuff that would fall in line with any religion. That said, why does god want me to be a cat 3 for the rest of my life? Why, oh why? Is it something I did in a former life? Is it the gummy worms I sneak out of the bulk bin at Raleys? Is it because I'm living in sin?

Anyway, the Auburn crit was a great event, gonna go back next year, good primes, prizes, yada yada yada.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Clawing my way back into the land of the living.

Oh yeah, so I totally poached this photo from my teammate off of Facebook. It's cute.

So, I wrote up a long verbose race report for my coach, and I'd considered just copying and pasting it here, but who wants to read about my truly weak performance this weekend? Instead I prefer to publish the lighter moments at Kern, the thoughts that had me chuckling even as I struggled against getting dropped in 114 degree heat outside of nobody's favorite city, Bakersfield.
  • To begin with, I rocked the TT. Let's just leave it at that.
  • As I bonked, cracked, cramped, and limped my way up the hill climb I thought, "oh, so this is what dying feels like." As I was dying in the RR the next day I kept laughing to myself about how this is what dying feels like, I think I might have been a little delirious.
  • A certain princess suggested that the reason I've failed to secure my cat 2 upgrade is because of my inability to avoid getting rookie marks if I so much as look at a bike.
  • Thanks to Monica I will now ask myself "Marian, are you getting shot at?" whenever I have a bad race, and feel a little better about myself.
  • Heather Pryor, the girl who totally kicked my ass all weekend, is afraid of mountain biking, so I teased her a lot during the road race until she dropped me. It was very fun. I had people tell me, "I'm following your line on the decents!" because I kept telling them how much I'd rather be up in Tahoe riding knobbie tires instead.
  • SueNami spit chewed up watermelon on me as I lay in the dirt at the top of the hill climb. That made me laugh, I don't think anyone's ever spit chewed up watermelon on me before. It was awesome.
  • It's totally worth 14 hours in a hot car to hang out with my teammates for a weekend.
  • A girl I've been racing against a lot this spring told me on the start line of the road race, "We were talking about how there are two types of bike racers: the kind that sit in and wait for the finish and worry a lot about their results, and the kind who, results be damned, get up there and make stuff happen. You're the second type." So I'm kind of paraphrasing there, but you get the point. I'm stoked to be the second type, and some day I'll have the fitness to back up the crazy things I do.
  • Hernando and Sabine insisted on buying me dinner both nights, I think it's because I told them that I slept in my car at collegiate nationals. A move that Michael classified as "totally unacceptable." Come on! What? :)

Okay, that's all I've got. I'm still exhausted, sunburned, and desperately in need of doing a load of laundry. I've somehow volunteered to organize the Tour de Nez century ride, that will take place on the day I'm racing Nevada City. Huh? How're you going to work that one, Mare? Sigh . . . time will tell.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


This is Colorado, right? So where are all the big mountains?
Oh, there they are.My sweet, gas guzzling ride. Doubles as transport and lodging.
D2 Women's Crit in downtown Fort Collins.
The lovely and talented Marian Hunting of Women's Cycling Magazine! My lifesaver.
Pre Road Race self portrait. Hiding from the wind.
Post Road Race self portrait. Happy, exhausted, and still hiding from the wind.

Sooo . . . here's the road race report I typed up on Friday night:
Got in to Denver last night around 10, got my rental car (my fancy Jeep Laredo), drove to Fort Collins. Road construction, the drive took forever. Got to bed around 12, bed being my sleeping bag in the back of aforementioned Jeep in the Hilton parking lot. Slept for, oh, 4 hours? Got up at the crack of dawn, loaded up on granola and 7-11 coffee (ick). Went into the Hilton to use the bathroom and saw the amazing breakfast buffet that I totally could have poached and I'm totally going to tomorrow. Yum.

Okay, so, down to business! It's windy as f*&k here! We had a group of about 60, racing for 50 miles, some rollers, no super huge climbs, lots of f'in wind. As we hit one of the larger climbs (about 10 miles into the race) things started to come apart. A group of 9 got off the front, and I found myself climbing well and passing lots of people. After all the major climbs had passed (18 miles into the race) I found myself in a group of 9 chasing the lead group of 9. The WCCC was very well represented! There were 3 davis girls, 2 santa barbara girls, and myself, as well as a couple of CU girls. We worked together, got about a 3 minute gap on the field behind us, and kept trying to chase down the leaders, but no go. As we neared the end (around mile 44) there were a couple of climbs before the big decent to the finish. I was starting to feel pretty cooked, so as we started to go up the first one I decided to just stick to my own pace rather than try to follow a wheel and blow up. That was definitely a good call, because the last climb we went up was sooo freaking steep! And then it leveled out a little bit but you were riding into a gnarly headwind, so it was almost worse! I was riding with a girl from CU, and, well, long story short, she outsprinted me into a gnarly ass headwind. So I got 17th! I'm very happy with my result, especially considering that I don't think any of the other girls had done it on so little sleep or such questionable accomodations (or lousy coffee, for that matter).
So! I think I'm going to go take a nap in my car now. Try to get a good dinner, stretch, and recover for tomorrow. I'm trying to convince Jenna from CPSLO to let me give her a leadout, because I think she could win the field sprint if properly set up, and she's awesome, so she deserves it. Oh yeah! I got a call up! Thanks to our boys killing it at mtb nationals last year, UNR was on the call up list, like, 9th!!!

The crit the next day was fun! 60 minutes of pain, no doubt, but enjoyable, at least until the crashes started. Then it was just scary and hard, yet fun in that sick, twisted way. Not a whole lot to say about it, except that I managed to avoid the yucky crash on the 2nd to last lap, had lousy positioning going into the sprint, and finished 29th. I got spooked by the crash and wasn't aggressive enough about positioning myself at the end. Bummer. But I'll be back next year (probably) and I'll be ready! Oh yes, and I ended up 22nd in overall omnium (stoked about that) and based on my results alone UNR was ranked 24th out of 36! Haha.
Today calls for some dirt therapy, I do believe. Just one more final to take on Wednesday, then I'm free! Or, at least until summer classes start in June.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Yawn . . .

Ugh, is tomorrow really Monday? Really? Really Monday? Damn. So, I have, erm, something like 72 hours to study for my exams, ride my bike a little bit, pack, somehow make a little bit more money, hopefully sleep . . . all before I head to nationals in Colorado! Crap. But once I'm on that plane I'll be able to relax a little bit. Actually, scratch that - after the road race on Friday I'll be able to relax.

Seriously, I'm starting to psych myself out a little bit. And, as I've said before, I think my brain is as big an impediment to my success as anything else is. So I also need to work into my schedule a little bit of time for some positive visualization. (did I really just say positive visualization? I know, it's true, but I sound so much like my mom . . . scary) So . . . positive thinking! Here goes:

  • I'm not going to get dropped on the first climb.

  • Or the second.

  • Or the third.

  • I've got a big advantage over a lot of these people because I live and train at the same altitude (approximately) that the race is held. Take that, sea level dwellers.

  • I've been working sooo hard this year, I belong here (there) with these hella fast people.

  • It's fun!

Was that believable? Okay, good.

So, it was super nice to not travel this weekend. Super nice. Got in a couple of awesome days of riding, even though the weather was kinda crappy. Climbed Geiger grade yesterday and dropped down to Virginia City, where I met up with my mom (who was 20 minutes late - I almost froze to death waiting for her) and did touristy stuff and went to a little chili cook off thingy. I bought Cody a very inappropriate Mustang Ranch shot glass. Today we went for a totally wonderful MTB ride on some of my favorite trails in Reno. It was amazing. A little damp, and a lot windy, but gorgeous. I'm sooo looking forward to racing in the dirt come August.

Uhhh . . . that's all I've got. If I make it back from Colorado I'll post again.*

*I'm told that Fort Collins is extremely conservative, so I figure with all my pinko literature that I plan on passing out there's a good chance I'll be lynched or something.**

**Just joking, kind of.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hives, and not the kind with honey bees.

Sooo . . . UCD weekend = fail. I had the worst allergies of my life - difficulty breathing, hives everywhere, sneezing, puffy itchy eyes. Ick. I pulled out after one lap. Looking at the photos from the finish of the women's A race I saw people in the lead group who I know I can hang with. Damnit. Next time. The crit was fun, but I got all stupid at the end and finished near the back. But I put in a good attack! If someone had tried to bridge instead of just dragging the whole pack up to me I think we coulda made something stick. But oh well, that's bike racing.

Now I have a cold, which is incredibly annoying. I'm skipping the Boca twilight race tonight because of it. Weak. Oh well, I'll get some dirt therapy with Cody and my doggie, and it'll be nice.

Bought my plane ticket for CO! I can't believe I'm going to road nationals. Hope I don't get too seriously spanked. But even if I do, I'm sure it'll be a great racing experience. Nice and hard. Love those hard races.

Must stay focused on school for the next week and a half! Then I'll be free! For a month or so, anyway, until my stupid summer class starts. Focus focus focus. But I just want to ride my bike!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Ugh, another race? So soon?

I'm tired. If I didn't have to go to this race to qualify for collegiate nationals I would just stay home. Sheesh. I've got a little sore throat, whole body is exhausted, and this'll be my 2nd day off the bike. Did my hill intervals up Mt. Rose on Wedneday - just enough to get me almost to the top. It was nice, but I think it totally wiped me out. Crap. So, no high expectations this weekend, okay? It's hard coming down after a win like last weekend, but I guess that's reality. There'll be more good race weekends, but I assure you, this will not be one of them. Let me just survive. And my reward will be a weekend with no travel and no racing next weekend! And then an incredibly stressful, expensive, and not ideal weekend of travel to Fort Collins for collegiate nats. Oh well, it'll be good racing. Okay, gotta pack, again . . .

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mojitos = motivation

Oh my, what a rad weekend. Hanging out at the Velo Bella booth, getting to see all the teammates, getting in some good racing, drinking some adult beverages, and coming home with sore legs and a good sunburn. Quality.

Ah, so, where to begin? Well, on Friday I raced the Cat 3 Circuit Race (this is Sea Otter we're talking about, for those missing the backstory) with my awesome teammate SueNami. All I can say is if she hadn't been in the break with me I know the race wouldn't have ended with me on top of the podium. It was really a perfect example of awesomely executed team strategy (although Sue was the one with the strategy, I was the one gasping for air and trying to do what I know I needed to!). Two bellas in a break of 4. I tried to rest, but needed some reminders to save my energy. With 3 laps to go I thought I was going to get dropped going up the climb (that climb is hard = understatement), but the thought of having a teammate there riding for me kept me digging deep and hanging with it. On the last lap I stuck out my elbows and got on Sue's wheel. Nobody was doing much, so with, oh, 500 meters to go she started her lead out, pulling off and saying "go!" I thought, "holy crap this is a long way to go!" but I put my head down and went for it. Long story short - I stayed away for 1st! Sue came in 3rd! Excellent race for the Bellas. So freaking stoked on that race!

Next day was the road race. I was pretty tired. There were 2 or 3 girls who hadn't raced the day before, too. No one really seemed too interested in going fast or doing anything interesting (like taking a pull, maybe just one? please?) so on the 2nd lap I decided to attack at the base of the big climb. I got a little gap and pretty much died. A couple of girls came up behind me and I made it over the top with them. There were now 6 of us. Same story, no one really felt like working or doing anything much at all. There were 3 of us pulling through, and we were the three who had been in the break the day before. On the 3rd lap we all hit the gas pretty hard on the big climb and managed to drop one of the girls. So, down to 5 of us - 1 of whom hadn't raced the day before, one who hadn't been in the break, and three of us who'd been on the podium. Same story, same 3 people doing 90% of the work. I was starting to get pretty tired, legs were hurting, motivation was suffering. Finally we finished our 5th lap and started up the climb. The girl who hadn't raced on Friday went to the front and started driving the pace. Ouch. I hung on, amazed that I wasn't getting dropped. I think I can honestly say that was the most painful climb I've ever done. My legs were soooo loaded up, and I was suffering the way I would on a short little punchy climb, only it went on, and on, and on. Finally I thought "I can't do this anymore!" I was looking for 1K to go sign, but didn't see one. I let a little gap open up between myself and 4th place, and then I saw it - 200m to go! Crap!!! I dug deep and got back on her wheel, but then she started accelerating towards the finish and I got popped. So a little disappointed - I think I could have done better, I just let my brain get in the way of my legs. Not next time, tho. So a 1st and a 5th - two podiums! Not bad, not bad. And getting ever closer to that upgrade!
There's a great picture here: of me on the podium in my Carhartts holding a mojito. Classic.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mmmmm . . . cookies . . .

Finally feeling almost recovered from Copperopolis, and not a moment too soon, since the Sea Otter Circuit Race is tomorrow! I did this race 3 years ago, also as a 3, since I seem destined to be a cat 3 for, like, ever. It's a fun race. That climb is hard. Decending the corkscrew is scary, but wicked fun and fast. (On a side note, I mentioned that something was "wicked gnar" during the race at Copperopolis and one of the girls in the break with me asked me if I was from Boston. ha!)
So, pretty much just been eating lots of cookies and Nutella this week, trying to get recovered from last weekend. I baked cookies for the ladies at the Velo Bella booth, but they were delicious, so I had to make several batches. I was going to make some vegan peanut butter cookies for my favorite eschewer of animal products, but sadly, Cody took the peanut butter with him when he headed down to Monterey a day ahead of me.
Now all I have left to do is not fail my Genetics exam, pack up my car, and get the hell out of Reno. Oh, great, is that all?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ouch ouch ouch.

Yes, "ouch ouch ouch" was the sound emitted from both my rear and my legs, for about 4 hours on Saturday. Copperopolis. Man that's a great race. Yeah, sick, but what can I say? It's gorgeous out there, the weather was perfect, and I was climbing with the leaders. I'll summarize.
On the first climb things got hard, but I was able to stay in the top 3, even through the steep stuff. We crested the climb and I looked back to see that we were down to a break of 5 (out of 21! not bad for a 3's race!). We worked together to stay away, and were successful. We stayed together for the rest of the first lap and most of the 2nd. On the little climb before the big decent 2 of my break-mates started going pretty hard and gapped me off, but I had an equal gap on the other 2 girls. I could see the 2 ahead of me and did my best to catch, but they were pretty strong and working together. I considered waiting for the other 2, but figured my chances of securing 3rd were better on my own. I'm not sure if that was the right thing to do, but I was able to stay away from them for most of the 3rd lap. It was a struggle, with a pretty strong headwind up in the flat stuff. I stayed fueled and tried to ride strong and steady. Unfortunately, at the top of the climb before the big decent and the finish (yay!) I was caught by one of the girls behind me. She'd put in a good effort on that climb and caught me. Must've been pure MTB racing instinct, but I jumped ahead of her for the sketchy long decent. We traded back and forth a little bit until just before the 100m to go sign, then she jumped from behind me. I got on her wheel, but just as we started sprinting up the hill we were caught by a pack of dudes (I dunno, maybe cat 5's?). One of them fully ran into the back of me and I was almost run off the road. Weak. I lost the girl's wheel as the guys came around me and got BETWEEN me and her, making it totally impossible for me to even try to outsprint her. So I gave up 3rd with 50 feet to go. Those guys were total jerks, too. But I'm pretty much thrilled with how I was riding, and climbing, and generally making it through all 3 laps of that brutal race. Feeling super pumped for Sea Slaughter, and like my fitness is really coming around and I'm finding myself one of the stronger riders in the 3s, and getting some upgrade points finally!
I have lots more to say about life and racing and stuff, but I think it's time to get some work done and maybe start thinking about the 2 exams I have to (hopefully) pass before I leave for Laguna Seca on Thursday. Hooray!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

You know you've been in school too long . . .

. . . when you find it easiest to describe your life with bullet points. That said, here's some updates.

  • The UCB race goes up the McEwan climb outside of Crockett. This is the third year I've gone to that race (not consecutive), and I'm not sure what keeps bringing me back. It's the Hardest Climb Ever. No shit.
  • My cell phone fell out of my pocket whilst doing sprint intervals yesterday. I finished my interval and turned back to retreive it, but alas, it had already been run over by a car. Managed to salvage my SIM card, tho.
  • Cody stepped on my sunglasses while moving a refridgerator on Sunday (long story). He made it up to me by buying me new ones. They just got here, and they're hot. Check it out:
  • I'm officially ditching my chemistry final to go to collegiate nationals. Long story short, I'm going to get a C (at best) in that class even if I go to the final, which means I'll be retaking it either way, so I might as well totally fail the class and go have some fun. And by fun I mean mid-pack (at best) sufferfest (which is my usual definition of fun, anyhow). Fort Lewis look out, UNR is bringing the hurt. ha. haha (nervous laugh). Just kidding Fort Lewis, please don't hurt me.
  • The weather in Reno sucks right now. Chilly and windy (like, 40 mph gusts, no fun) and blowing all the petals from the newly bloomed flowers. Suck. So now I'm going to go do hill intervals.

Post Script . . . two other things I wanted to mention in this post, because I don't think they'll be very relevant by the time I get around to another:

  1. I think I may have finally figured out my sprint. Sheesh, took long enough.
  2. When I was climbing up McEwan (I think the 3rd or 4th time, but mighta been the first or second) on Saturday during the road race, I was so freaking cooked that my face was numb. Seriously, what's up with that?

Okay, that's it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Wow, I was just looking at this picture (above) - my inside foot is so close to the ground. Scary.
So, I could write a long race report on this weekends road race and crit, but it'll read like so many of my race reports that it seems scarcely worth it. That's not to say it wasn't a good race, but I'd rather touch on some more notable stuff.
This was my first race that I coordinated/promoted (whatever). Definitely a lot of work (sheesh, I still have to do results) but very rewarding when people had fun and made it back safely. It was great having some new (and old!) riders on our team racing well, and it was nice seeing friends from around the WCCC come up to race in Reno. In particular it was amazing to have community members, as well as our UNR team members and alumni, coming out to volunteer their time and make the whole thing possible. I didn't have any spectacular results, despite taking the preceeding week pretty easy. But . . . I'm okay with that. Let me see if I can explain this whole new bicycle racing philosophy I've been working on for the last month or so. I think I'm going to have to start at the beginning.
My first year racing was filled with some amazing results and amazing progress (I was the WCCC XC Conference Champion!). I think the first year racing the progress just kind of happens on it's own - the learning curve is so steep. Just by getting out on my bike I got faster. The next 3 years brought some mixed results. I never really found my groove, switching between road, MTB, taking up cyclocross, and never really putting in any kind of focused training. I figured, hell, the first year I was just riding, it should work for me again! But it really didn't. I should say, I kept improving, but very, very slowly, and that was discouraging. Somewhere in there I got my pro XC upgrade (probably a mistake, as now I'm never too enthusiastic about racing my MTB against the "big girls", many of whom are actually quite small). I've seen girls who I used to LAP get so much faster than me! They're cat 2's (or 1's) racing for some big team. What gives? Well, obviously they've been working hard, and they've earned these things. My goal, especially last year, was to get my cat 2 road license - unsuccessful, but that shouldn't have come as any surprise, 'cause I wasn't doing my homework.
So this year I got a plan. I got a coach (who I love! Lisa Hunt, director of VAC, coach for Whole Athlete), I set some goals, and I've stuck to it. I've missed work outs only if I'm sick, or seriously fatigued. I've gotten out on my bike in the dark, when it's 19 degrees outside, to do hill intervals up Geiger Grade, I've spent way too many hours on the trainer, and on more than one occasion gone to work or school with total disregard for my odor and appearance following a hard training ride. Haha, probably look/smell the same as I usually do. And now, has it paid off? Absolutely. My first race of the season I won (5 points out of 25 towards my upgrade! but that's beside the point). During our team training camp I was able to (almost) hang with the Suenami climber extraordinare. My results for the last several weeks haven't really reflected the work I've been putting in, but they will in time. And you know what? Even if they don't, I'm happy. I love getting out and training hard. I love hard races, even if I come in last. I won't be disappointed with my result as long as I know I've done everything I can to be strong. I can hardly control everyone else, so I'll have to settle with controlling myself. So truly, I suppose, it is about the journey. I know if I keep doing this I will get where I want to go, but that's not what it's about. I'm happy doing this because nothing else I've found under the sun makes me feel as good as riding my bike. Which may mean that I just need to find other hobbies, but whatever. Then I wouldn't have enough time to ride.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Come back, Vacation, come back!

Soooo, last week was spring break. Made it really hard to get back in the swing of things on Monday. Really. Hard. But it's crunch week so there was really no time to dick around and be lazy. This coming weekend is the UNR collegiate race and I seem to have found myself the race coordinator. Good experience to know how to put on a race, but definitely taking up a significant amount of my time. That anatomy and physiology exam tomorrow night is just gonna have to take a back seat. Ouch.

So last week Cody's bro and a couple of their friends (also bros) came out to visit us. Flew allll the way from NH. We took them down to Auburn for some camping, biking, and drinking. It was totally awesome. And I'll tell ya what, these boys know how to cook. I don't think I touched the kitchen the whole time they were here. It was great. And good food too, much better cooks than myself. The last of them left this morning. Kinda sad, but at the same time my sleep has definitely suffered for it. But here's some photo highlights:


Riley shredding sweet singletrack.

Requisite self protrait.


More craziness. Surprisingly, the flavor of rum was quite easy to get out of my bottle.

So then I went down to Sacramento on Saturday to race the Land Park Crit. Teammate Katie was there, totally kicking ass. I had a surprisingly good race. Much better than Menlo. I felt fit and confident and comfortable. Nice. Lousy to nonexistent sprint at the end, but one thing at a time.

Okay, off to do more race prep. God damn this race promotion is a lot of work. Wish my personal chefs were still here . . .