Monday, October 24, 2011


So after much anticipation and preparation I didn't race Downeast this weekend. On Friday, after a very long work week I decided to skip Saturday to get caught up on those things that I really like to have done when work hits on Monday morning. And I didn't really end up doing too much, because as it turned out I felt kind of crappy all day, and felt really unenthusiastic about racing on Sunday. It took many years of having bad races to realize that when I don't feel like racing, I'm probably too tired/sick/overtrained to have a good race anyway. You know what I mean? Physical fatigue manifests itself emotionally. Then woke up on Sunday with a headache and a sore throat and decided to listen to my body and stay home. Which was good, because I pretty much felt lousy all day. No race next weekend, but the weekend after that is Northampton, which should be fun. Hoping to stay healthy and get in some good training between now and then!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Casco Bay

After three consecutive weekends of UCI races I went to a regional race up in Portland, ME on Saturday. It was nice to feel that regional race vibe, and ride a course that didn't have to adhere to UCI guidelines. This means - Singletrack! Especially refreshing after the big wide dusty thing that was Providence.

It had rained all week pretty much but ended up being super nice for the weekend. Breezy and cool but sunny, with mud leftover from all the rain. Perfect 'cross, in my opinion. I got in a lap on the course and had a really good warmup. Now, as you know, I've really been focusing on having better starts to my races (I love starts!) so I was determined to get it right. Erm . . . didn't happen. I think I'm thrown off by how I've been starting in too hard a gear, so when I started in a gear I could really accelerate in (for me it was like a 36x19) my upper body was still ready to muscle a big gear, so on the whistle I immediately lifted my front wheel off the ground and almost hit the girl next to me. Crap! There goes the race! Then, I missed my pedal. Now, at UCI race, my day would be done. I mean, I might be able to pass a couple girls here and there, but I would never come close to a podium, or even a top 20. Fortunately this was a 1/2/3/4 race, and it started with a long paved section, followed by a 180 degree turn, more pavement, then some wide stuff before dropping onto singletrack. Big ring, accelerate, pass. I passed all but two girls in the first section of pavement, then one other before the singletrack. That left one girl ahead of me (little 15 year old Ellen Noble), and she was zippy and had a great start. Clawed my way up to her and decided to sit on her wheel a little bit, even though the pace felt a little easy to me (not super easy, it was just a bit of recovery).

Now, there was a big run up on this course. Not super steep, but long, and slippery after the rain. It was followed by some twisty turns, another off camber running section, a few more turns and a fun little singletrack section, then a shorter but equally slippery run up. Right after that you came into the barriers, which were in a super spongy grassy section and directly into a strong headwind. Slooooow. What I'm saying is that it would help to bring your running legs. It would seem that mine forgot to get packed, because even though I was riding strong I was struggling in the runs, and 1st place trotted away from me. I would close the gap down to about 5 seconds during the running-free portion of the course, but it would open back up on that big ol' run up. So I got 2nd.

The lesson is (other than "don't start like an idiot") to not sit in when the pace feels to easy. That's not to say if I'd made a move I would have been able to hold it to the finish, but it would be better than sitting around waiting for her to run away from me. Lesson learned.

Anyway, I drove down to York, ME after the race (after spending about 45 minutes wandering around the Portland Whole Foods with race-brain - not a good idea) whereI met up with Cody for a big camping cookout/potluck/party thing. There were probably 40 people and 20 dogs. Seriously - they all ran around the woods in this big, uncontrolled pack. I only made it until about 9 PM, but fun nonetheless. Then yesterday (sunday) we got out on mountain bikes and took advantage of the wind with a gorgeous sail under sunny skies. Lovely.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Well, duh.

I just had a revelation - how will I ever get good at CX race starts if I don't like them? Love the start. Love. The. Start. It begins today.

Seriously, I only ever started getting better in crits when I stopped saying, "yeah, I don't like crits." So yeah, I love CX starts. The chaos. The pain. Oh yeah.

And I found out on Sunday that I'm a lot faster off the blocks when I'm in a gear I can actually turn over. No more big ring. Why has it taken me 4 years of racing cross to figure that out? I think everyone just watched me muscling a big gear and chuckled to themselves, "haha, we're not going to tell her the secret of not starting in a huge gear." Thanks guys.


Monday, October 10, 2011


I'm writing an immediate race report from the races in Providence this weekend so I can move on. Yeah, it was that bad.

Basically, I really, really sucked. I mean, a lot. Which was kind of disappointing after having such great races in Gloucester. I think that was the kicker - such good races the weekend before, and then to find myself off the back again. Blech. But, as my coach reminded me, it's coming at the end of a hard block of training and racing, and I got a bit of late start on my high intensity training for CX. So, I should be going pretty good by December! . . . Anyway, it was hot and dry and a very roadie friendly course. So while I'm glad I went, I wouldn't go so far as to say that it was fun.

But, as whenever we have this lousy races, I've spent a good deal of time thinking about what I could have done different in the leadup to the race (I mean, going back a week or so, not 3 months), and while I think my prep was pretty good, it's easy to pick out things I can do to make it better. You know, rest, nutrition, just little ways to improve. And, while it's too early in the season to start saying "next season . . ." sometimes it's these lousy races that sharpen my determination in the long run. Must. Get. Redemption. Next year. Providence.

Anyway, Cody skipped about a thousand awesome things to come down to Providence with me and work the pits and put up with my whiny "why do I suck so much?" conversation on the way home. You know, the endless rehashing and justifying. Poor guy. So pretty much he's awesome, and I wish I could have had a decent race to justify it.

Okay, subject closed.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gloucester - keepin' it classy.*

Nearly the first thing I did when we arrived in Gloucester last year was race the Gran Prix of Gloucester, and now we've come back to that point. Full circle, or something . . .

If I were to look exclusively at my placing - 35th and 33rd - I'd think that I was slower than last year. But when I look at the talent of the field I think I'm actually doing better. Certainly there are things that need improvement (like 20 more watts) but by and large I'd say I'm getting faster.

Day 1

I love my team. I've yet to belong to a team that I didn't love, and this group of ladies is no exception. While I was back in the field duking it out for 35th my teammate Andrea Smith was battling with Helen Wyman, the British national champ. That's pretty darn cool. But anyway.

I have this tendency to think I'm doing really well at the start only to find I'm in last place. Day 1 at Gloucester was one of these. Rats. Must. Improve. Starts. I've said it before and I'll say it again - the start is definitely my least favorite part. Not a sprinter. Intensely dislike the feeling of digging myself into such a deep, dark hole in the first 30 seconds of racing. But either I figure it out and get it done, or resign myself to never breaking the top 10. Starts. Will practice. Anyway, Saturday's course was FUN! They built this sweet flyover, and there was some weird sketchy mud leading into it, and those tight off camber turns they put in every year. It was a little hot, in my opinion, and I was pretty parched by the end. Anyway, the big news for my CX racing this year is that I'm totally killing the run ups! I know, right?!?! I've always kind of floundered during the running parts, but this weekend I was PASSING PEOPLE on the gnar Gloucester run up. On the last lap I passed Vicki Thomas, only to have her get back on her bike faster on top of the flyover (d'oh!) and beat me by 10 seconds or so. I ran more this year than I've ever run before. And I trained it, doing track workouts, and plyometrics. And it worked!!! In an effort to not let people think I'd gone over to the dark side and become a "runner" I kept saying that I was just training my run for CX, and as it turned out, I was! Okay, I'll shut up about it, but the truth is I'm really psyched.

Day 2

The course on Sunday was a little less technical, no flyover and it was dry, but super fun, lots of turns, and a beach run/ride that lead to a big ol' set of stairs. Now, I was kind of dreading the stairs, but since it turns out I'm like the Usain Bolt of cyclocross, it actually worked to my advantage.

Anyway, determined as I was to have a good start, I didn't. I lined up on Lyne Bessette's wheel - bad idea? I dunno, but right after the whistle the girl to my right promptly ran into me and then moved into my line. Bitch. But then I popped out of my pedal. Uh, yeah. I'd sprayed some lube on my cleats to keep them from mudding up and then I kept popping out of my pedals. And I think they still mudded up. I just. Can't. Win.

I passed a bunch of girls on the first lap, then gave up a couple places. My legs weren't as snappy as on Saturday (well, no duh), but I had a good race. I kept it together and stayed upright as people fell over all around me in the corners and the sand. One girl passed me at the beginning of the last lap, then fell over on the beach and I darted around her and totally dropped her going up the stairs. I know, I know, I'm awesome (kidding!). Of course then someone else passed me and out-cornered me to such a degree that she opened up 15 seconds in in the last half lap. So starts and cornering. Yes, I will work on these things.

Anyway, big big thanks to all the friends who came out to cheer and tell me I'm awesome! And to Cody for pitting for me and telling me to "go faster", "dig", and "get on that wheel" so many times that I wanted to throw my bike at him.

Oh, and if you missed it on facebook, I made Cyclingnews:

Or at least, part of me did.

*Note on the title:

On day 2 the course had to be re-routed due to a backed up septic system and pools of veryverybad water on course. Then later I heard that some bikes were stolen out of the parking lot? And it just left me with the feeling that Gloucester is like Reno - everyone who visits it thinks that is kind of quaint, somewhat delinquent, a decent place to visit but why the hell would you want to live there anyway? It gave me that warm feeling that I felt towards Reno - that which you'd feel for your slightly unstable second-cousin with a police record on unemployment. Sure, you wouldn't want to lend them your car, or money, but they're family so, like, you've gotta love them a little bit, right?