Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in bad pictures

I am not a good photographer. I also forget to bring my camara/take pictures when it would be cool to have pictures of things. So here's an incomplete recap of 2011 in bad photos.

The winter totally sucked. This was probably the only time I smiled while surrounded by snow. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but this was the first big snow so my soul hadn't totally been crushed by 2 months of unending ice.
When I went out west and it was hella warm.
We went down to Cape Cod in March to check out the trails around Otis AFB. It was so totally rad, and the first time we'd been on MTBs since early December.
Riley + Chickens. It's really just here for cute value. 2011 was a cute year. 9 friends of mine had babies in 2011. See? Cute. Just like my doggie.
Claymore f'in Challenge! The next day I "hit" the big practice drop up here at Highlands. I totally didn't crash (I totally almost did).
LadiesFirst racing!!!
Wedding in September. We're so good looking, you know, if viewed from a distance.
Kingdom Trails in Vermont! 5 days of singletrack magic.
Cross. This was in NoHo. I loved this race.
Thanksgiving Day polar bear swim. I just took pictures. The water was insanely cold. Screw that.

Obviously there are a lot of things here that I don't have pictures of. I couldn't find any pictures from my parents visit, or my visit to see my parents, or our trip to NY to see Eddie and the MTB world cup. Or the running I did. Or any of the awesome little rides we did every weekend we could. Or the sailing we did. But you get the picture. It was a pretty cool year, all in all.

Happy New Year! Here's to 2012 living up to it's promises of awesome.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ice Weasels

Wow, where'd the season go? Hard to belive that it's already mid-December. In past years nationals would have been this weekend. Weird. I'm having a hard time believing it's almost Christmas, too. I think that has to do with the amazingly warm and dry weather we've had this fall - it's been late-October-like for 2 months now.

Anyway, I met my end-of-season goal on Saturday to have two consecutive good races, although I went into the race intent on having fun and ending the season positively even if I was getting lapped by cat 4s. The course was super fun, twisting back on itself a lot so it was kind of hard to tell where people were. There were some fun tight turns, a blazing fast set of barrier surrounded by tons of rowdy spectators, a fun up-and-down section on the back of the course with a little run up, and a fly-over. The only other fly-over I've done was at Gloucester, and that one had a nice set of stairs leading up to it and a pretty long flat section on the top to remount. At Ice Weasels it was a ramp up, covered in that fake-grass-carpet stuff, with a boards nailed down every 16 inches or so - wicked slippery - and then a pretty short remount area and a quick drop into some rutted mud. Fun, but I was pretty cautious on the way up after I slipped and almost fell down it when I was preriding.

It wouldn't be 2011 without me having a lousy start, which in this case could best be described as "apathetic". So there was some traffic to wade through on the first lap. I passed a lot of people, then got in a group of 3. I was corner really well (wee!) so when I was sitting anywhere other than 1st wheel I would get frustrated in the corners by how slow I was forced to go. But my acceleration wasn't fantastic, so passing was a little tricky. I passed at one point before a technical section and had a little gap, but then I was going to slow up the fly-over and actually got passed back at the top. OK, that's all right, passed again before the technical up-and-down-run-up section, and the girl behind me bobbled something and I got a pretty good gap. At this point I had probably 3 to go, and I was feeling kind of tired. I was pretty stupid before my race about what I ate. Basically I didn't eat enough. I had my oats and coffee at breakfast, but for some unfathomable reason I didn't bother bringing much food with me. I had a yogurt, a container of raisins (???) and a Gu shot. Right? What was I thinking? So I had eaten my yogurt about 3 hours before my race, then snacked on raisins, then totally forgot to eat my Gu shot after my unimpressive warm-up. So I think I was running out of fuel at that point in the race. The good: I kept it together, rode within myself, rode well technically, and kept the gap I had on the 2 girls I'd been riding with. The bad: I didn't catch anyone else. But I finished pretty strong, despite getting hung up in some lapped cat 4s.

The rad: before the women's race my teammate raced with the 3/4 men and schooled every last one of them. Then she won our race.

It was, in fact, a terrific end to the season. That race pretty much embodied all the awesome things about 'cross - great course, great crowd, beer tokens, and a pedal-powered apple press, to name a few. I'm not particularly burned out on racing, but I am a little tired of being slow, so I'm excited to get back into it after great season of training under my belt. I just wish I didn't have to wait so long!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

2011 Season Wrap-Up

I don't know what's wrong with me in this picture. The photographer told us to look excited. I look like I'm dislocating my jaw to swallow a large rat whole. But I guess that's exciting.

I am again surprised at how quickly 'cross season has come and gone. I spend all year looking forward to it only to have it go so fast that it's hard to stop and really enjoy it. Don't get me wrong, it had a blast, but I wish I had a little more time with it. But that's what next year is for, right?

2011 Stats:

Races: 15

Podium finishes: 1

Last place finishes: 2

DNF's: 1

UCI points: 0

Ugh, that looks terrible when you write it out. It just goes to show that statistics can be misleading. Here's the good stuff:

1. Raced with a fantastic team.

2. Met a ton of great people.

3. Learned the ins and outs of New England cyclocross (some of them, anyway) and travelled a ton.

4. Spent all week every week being totally excited for the upcoming races.

5. Started my first race of the season at Quad Cross saying "jeez, I really need to learn to corner better." By the last race of the season I was dropping people in the corners.

6. Improved my starts (sorta).

7. Ended the season with two consecutive good race weekends!

8. Not remotely burned out, totally psyched on getting way faster for next year, and motivated enough to be excited to start training again January 1st.

So basically, a good season. I've got a couple weeks off the bike here and then I'm going to start training to do some road races this spring. Psyched to train. Psyched to race road. I'm already planning my 2012 'cross season, which is just crazy talk in December of 2011, but I'm an addict, it's hard to help.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bell Lap

I have a new season goal - two consecutive positive race weekends. And I only have one chance left here to get it right.

I had a great time racing the second-to-last NEPCX race down in Warwick on Saturday. Not the best legs, but an overall decent race that I'm feeling good about. The last race of my season is this Saturday and I am absolutely determined to make it a good one and to finish my 2011 cross season off strong.

The course in Warwick was super fun. We were right down by the water (it was COLD by the water!) on Narragansett Bay, which you can kind of see in the picture up there. The course started with a paved climb, had a bunch of woodsy rooty fast stuff, some fun sandy corners, a nice flat set of barriers, a steep little kicker climb, and a sadistic beach run, not in that order. I had a super slow first lap and couldn't hang on with the group that included most of the people I'm usually racing against, but when we got into the rooty stuff and loose corners my bike handling and the fact that I wasn't following wheels and getting bogged down helped me catch the group as it started to fragment. I caught a number of people, and was right on one girl's wheel going by the pit when someone from the LadiesFirst camp suggested that I "pass that girl now!" me: "OK". I powered around her, but then took a stupid line into a tight turn and had to scrub a ton of speed and was super over-geared coming out of it and she passed me back. I was totally gassed and the next section was pavement into a headwind so really no good way to recover and I couldn't hold her wheel. I never caught back up but I was able to rally enough to not get caught by anyone else, so I didn't feel too bad about it. In retrospect I shouldn't have passed her right before a big headwind stretch, and instead waited for some technical section that I felt strong on. That's racing.

The super rad news of the weekend is that my uber-teammate Andrea Smith won both days. On Saturday it was a fantastic team effort (of which my only contribution was the post-race high five) that culminated in her outsprinting Laura Van Gilder - no small feat. And from what I've read of Sunday's race she just outrode everyone else, including LVG.

Anyway, the only part of me that is happy that my season is ending after this Saturday is the one that cares about paying bills in a timely fashion. Otherwise I'm super psyched on racing, and would be happy to keep going for a couple more months. I'm holding off on post-season analysis and next seasons plans until we're actually in the post-season. I'm actually really excited for some 5 hour rides in the cold this winter, which I find slightly disturbing. But more on that after next weekend!

Anyway, while I didn't race on Sunday I did have a fantastic day helping Cody take down a tree for some friends up in Maine, followed by a MTB ride on some trails I'd never ridden up in Exeter, NH. It's kind of funny, but out west you'd never wake up in one state, do some work in another, and finish your day with a bike ride in a third unless you owned your own plane. Oh New England, you amuse me.