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.