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: http://www.flickr.com/photos/visceralpleasures/3462884445/ 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: http://tinyurl.com/dxwvr2
  • 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.