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.