Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Nor'easter - from High to Low

I showed Cody this picture and all he could do was make fun of my Alfalfa hair . . .

Ahhh, Nor'easter Cross. What can I possibly have to say about my first DFL at a UCI race? I know, I'm as surprised as the next person to realize that I've never come in last at a UCI race before! But that streak is, alas, over.

I think the cosmos were trying to warn me not to go - I'd felt wiped out the whole week, not really training at all, then, at 10 the night before the girl I was going to carpool with texted me that she was bailing. Not to be deterred, I got up nice and early on race day (did I mention it's a 4 hour drive to Burlington, VT?) to take a shower, and when I was toweling off my hair I heard a crunch and my neck got all out of whack. Again, I persevered, loading up the car, eating breakfast, etc. The drive up wasn't too bad, all in all. Got out for a couple laps on course and, erm, it was really muddy. I mean, look at the pictures on Cyclingnews or wherever, it was muddy. And it was the kind of mud that is really, really hard to ride through. You keep turning the pedals but you're pretty much not moving. And there were two long sandpits. Of the running variety. I mean, it was a fun course and all, but at this point my perspective has been distorted by what a dreadful race I had. Anyway, got on my trainer for a little warm up, and when I climbed down to get ready to race my head started throbbing. Like, instant onset headache. At this point I'm thinking, "God damnit, I drove 4 hours to get up here and I'm going to race and finish in the money!" Which, props to Adam Myerson, the Verge series, and the race promotor, was equal for the men and women for the 15 places it ran in the women's race.

Last row call up, of course. Did I mention that Helen Wyman was there? Yeah, the British national champion. Yeah. She won. But I digress. The whistle blows and I'm not in a big enough gear but I figured it was going to all bog down in the first turn so I didn't need to panic. Then I find myself in last place going into the first turn. OK, I can move up, look at all those people right there? I passed one girl, got on my teammate's wheel, and hoped for opportunities to move up. Then . . . it just kind of fell apart. I was going as hard as I could but it just wasn't happening. My head felt like it was going to explode, my stomach was exceedingly unhappy with me, and I just wasn't having much fun. With one lap to go the sole person I'd passed at the beginning passed me back, and that was that. During that last lap my train of thinking was along the lines of, "I should really just downgrade, I'd have more fun racing with the amateurs, I suck at this." I know, bad thoughts, but the mental game can be the hardest part when you're rolling in DFL. I suppose the good news is that I actually finished, and didn't get lapped by Helen. In retrospect, perhaps it would have been better if I'd pulled out on lap one, given the 4 hours of misery that were to follow.

I felt like I was about to pass out after I finished, so I immediately rode over to the bike wash to get cleaned up and GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE. I didn't cool down (I told myself that my entire last lap had been a cool down. ha. haha. yeah.), but I hung out with my teammates for a few minutes while they did. I had some recovery drink. Then I hit the road. I talked to my dad on the phone whilst meandering my way through Burlington and probably running over someone's cat/child/foot in my somewhat distracted and unhappy state. Once rolling I started feeling really, really lousy. Head throbbing, stomach seriously unhappy with the state of affairs. And I had 4. Hours. To. Go. I'm not really sure how I made it home. It involved occasional stops for light napping and puking out the car door. It involved a whole lot of silence because every little sound hurt oh, so much. Somehow I made it home by 10, crawled into bed, covered in mud, and failure, and probably vomit. But oh! The joy of stillness and quiet.

Anyway, needless to say I should have listened to the signs and stayed home, and most of my Sunday and Monday involved continued recovery from whatever it is I did to myself on Saturday. I even called in sick yesterday, the first time I've done that since I started my job in January. I'll get out on my bike today and hopefully be able to salvage a little something for the Grand Prix of Gloucester this weekend. I love this race, let's hope it loves me back more than the Nor'easter did.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Northern Kingdom

I wanna go back!!!

One week ago today I was camping outside of East Burke, VT. I'd wake up that day, drink good coffee and eat oatmeal, and go ride brand new (to me) singletrack for 3 hours with Cody and Riley. We'd get back to camp and eat whole wheat pasta with our homemade pesto, about a pound of bacon, and good romano cheese. And drink beer.

(Today I woke up at 4, came to work, and am currently drinking bad coffee - there's something about the Turbo Shots that Dunkin' Donuts put in their coffee that make me feel all hella cracked out. I mean, more than normal espresso. 'S weird. I currently find myself grooving to a La Bouche song at 5:30 AM, inspite of my better judgement.)

Anyway, needless to say it was a totally fantastic vacation - complete with sitting around a fire drinking beer and making s'mores. I think we spent about 12 hours riding ripping trails while we were there. My legs still hurt. A couple friends from Gloucester came up to camp and ride with us. One of them compiled some pretty fun videos from her helmet cam. Mostly there's just some shots of my butt, but you can see Cody getting rad over a couple jumps.




On Thursday me and Cody spent almost 4 hours riding in a downpour. It actually was one of the funnest days, trail-wise. It was slippery with all the wet roots, but god those trails are fun.

New Christmas card photo???

After that picture was taken we went out and split a medium pepperoni pizza, an order of mozzerella sticks, and an order of french fries. Yeah. It was a lot of cheese. But it takes a lot of cheese to stay warm whilst camping in Northern Vermont in September. And with 3+ hours of hard riding each day I think Iate like, 10K calories a day and came back a pound or two down from when we'd left. Hey, it's race season, I gotta keep tabs on these things.

Anyway, the downside of taking a few days off work to go play is that I'm super busy and utterly vacation-hungover this week. Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to heading BACK up to Burlington, VT this weekend for the Nor'Easter UCI cyclocross race. Two words for you: Euro Pros. Yeah, Crossresults has my ranked LAST on race predictor. Sad face. But I guess I can only do bettter than that, right???

Dude, Reno, what the hell? Why can't you get in the news for something not terrible? Seriously, the economy? Suicide rates? Mass involuntary aeronautical vehicular manslaughter? (Not that Gloucester is much better.) I tell this story a lot, but back in 2002 a dude crashed his plane out at the Air Races, and, well, died. I saw his picture in the paper and he was this guy who I'd waited on at The Diner out in Golden Valley (that's in Reno, for you non-Reno-ites). Anyway, he had been a jerk and had tipped me like, 51 cents, so I remembered his face. Then, well, you know the story. Life's weird, huh?

On a lighter note - did anyone watch the Pats game on Sunday? Did you see Wilfork's interception? Look it up on Youtube. It's priceless.

This digression brought to you by Dunkin' Donuts Turbo Shots.

Monday, September 12, 2011


I think . . . yes, I do believe it is - a race report!


Yesterday I did my first cyclocross race of 2011 (it was, in fact, only my 6th race of the year. period.). Cody earned Awesome Boyfriend points by getting up super early after an extremely late night (more on that later) to drive me out to the Rod 'n' Gun Club in Maynard, MA.
Yada yada yada - driving, arriving, registration.

I got to meet a few more of my awesome and exceedingly speedy teammates, then I headed out to check out the course. It was super fun, with a couple little ups, a long decent, a longish but not overly difficult run-up, a bit of sand, one set of barriers, and some fun loopty turns on a grassy slope. And some fun singletrack through the woods! After a couple tire pressure adjustments and a good warm-up I was ready to go!

There were 76 women racing (compare that to the 30 women I counted in the results from CCCX - hells yeah New England!) - 20 or so in the Elites, a bunch of 3/4s and masters. And we were all on this little 2 km course at the same time, with 20 or so juniors. Cluster. I don't have a better suggestion, and I've put on enough races to know that if you want it different then put on a race and see how hard it is, then you'll quit the bitching. But by lap 3 (for me) there was some serious traffic. Not a big deal as far as my race went (realistically) but I feel bad for the little guys and girls who had to move over for people 3x their size going by at mach 10.

But onto my race . . .

I had an OK start, but made some good passes and ended up sitting in about 9th about halfway through the first lap!!! I could see my teammate, the uber-fast and nice Christina Tamilio up a little ways from me, and I was sitting on Allison Snooks' wheel. Feeling good and maybe, a little cocky, I passed her on the big-ring descent. That may have been a mistake, which I realized as she passed me back before too long and when I came through the finish and saw 4 to go. 4? 4?!?! I was not riding at a 4 laps to go pace. More a last lap kind of kill-myself pace. So I cracked a little, lost Allison's wheel (we'd long since lost sight of Christina) and fell off the pace. Before too long teammate Nancy came by. I tried to stick with her but it was not to be, apparently. Did battle with some NEBC girls, and had kind of found a good rhythm. Then. I dropped my chain. I had gotten a little sloppy with my shifting and didn't downshift before entering the single track. Mistake. Anyway, I got it kind of jammed up and had to get off my bike and pull it out. Got passed by another NEBC girl and caught by Anna Milkowski. At that point I think we had 2 to go, and while I didn't catch anyone, I didn't get caught by anyone else. I rolled in for 14th, with teammates in 3rd, 5th, and 10th.

Weeeeee! Cyclocross is sooooo fun! And I had a REALLY GOOD RACE for 2 laps. Then it fell apart, but if I can just hold things together and not go all in on the first lap I think I can scrape together a couple top 10's this year! And my bike handling felt really good, same with my CX skills. Yay! Come on, UCI point! And my team is awesome, and our director/coach said I can use his bike as a pit bike all season long! It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't been there how one can be totally psyched by 10 minutes of feeling like a fast, competant bike racer, even if your result is only mediocre. For the mere mortal among us, incremental improvement is still improvement, and still reason to feel excited and encouraged.

Moving on, because really, anything that's not cyclocross is pretty much an afterthought at this point. On Saturday we went to a lovely beach wedding and wore fancy dress and danced with lovely friends and family. The wedding was early and I was in bed by 9:30, but Cody went out with his bro's and didn't get back until 2 AM, then got up at 6:30 to drive me to my race and play bike mechanic/cheerleader/chauffeur duty. Here's my "See? Sometimes I wear something other than workout clothes" picture.

Now getting ready for 5 days of camping and 168 miles of singletrack up at Kingdom Trails in Northern VT. And no, it didn't get washed away.