Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Catamount GP

Whoa, what a weekend.  Yesterday I was just too knackered and scattered to put down my thoughts, but I think with the added rest and a chance to reflect I'll be able to do it justice.

It began with a cheerful drive north with two of my lovely teammates, albeit arriving way past my bedtime.  We were able to sleep in a little the next day, however, so it wasn't too bad.  On Saturday morning I was able to go through my super-relaxing routine of toast and tea, followed by some more substantial breakfast.  It was rainy but the sky cleared as we drove out to Catamount in time to catch most of the women's 3/4 race.

A couple hours before the Elite Women's race I got out on the course for a lap.  Ouch.  I knew there would be climbing, but ouch.  The nice thing was the climbing was in two big chunks, which were followed by fun, fast descents.  There were two lung-busting sets of steps, and some nice fast barriers.  Despite the rain the night before the course was dry and dusty.  I felt good about my warm up, good about the course, and sort of bummed about my last row call up, but it was a position I could only improve upon.

My start was . . . uneven.  I got going all right, passed some people, and then seized up.  I suspect it's more mental than anything else, but as we hit the first grinding climb I found myself going backwards fast.  My legs came around, however, and I was able to pass some pretty big chunks of people within the first lap and a half.  Suddenly I heard people yelling at me, "10th place is right there!"  I dug, joined a group of 2-3 at one point who were fighting for 8th place.  In the end I ended up 10th, despite almost face planting the final time through the barriers.

I had a hard time believing it until I saw it printed in the results.  My first UCI top 10!  My first UCI point!  And the funny thing was, it wasn't any harder than being at the back was last year.  In the (paraphrased?) words of Greg LeMond, "It never hurts less, you just go faster."

The usual post-race recovery eating, spinning and rehashing commenced, followed by dinner at the condo and an early bedtime.  The next day we were up a bit earlier.  It was cold out!  37F isn't really that cold I suppose, except when you're coming off of a hot summer and haven't had time to adjust to the chill.  Again I arrived early enough to cheer for the 3/4 women.  When we got out on course it initially seemed like it might be easier than Saturday, as we really only had one sustained climb.  At race pace, however, the dirt mound you had to ride/run over, the BMX jump you had to ride up, and the incessant accelerations ended up being equally tough.

I had a 2nd row call up, and I positioned myself squarely behind Crystal Anthony, Saturday's winner and former LadiesFirst teammate.  And I had the Start Of My Life.  By the time we hit the first turn I was 4th wheel, behind Crystal, Sally Annis, and Mo.  I wish I could say that I held that position, but I wasn't aggressive enough in the turns, and I ended up having to do the same game of catch-up that I had the day before.  Between a couple strong ladies who hadn't raced on Saturday and not having the legs I had the day before, I only managed 15th.  In the money!  (Because, you know, women's cycling is all about the money....)

Anyway, I'm looking forward to putting more pieces of the puzzle down in the coming weeks.  If I'm successful it's because I have amazing support from my team, coach, our awesome race mechanic, and of course my friends and family, many of whom have no idea what a UCI point is but still get excited when I tell them I got one.


With my race wheels on my bike was ridiculously light.  Every time I had to lift it I wanted to smile.  That's never happened before!

Below you can see evidence of my fantastic start!

Sufferface.  This was nearing the top of the climb.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Green Mountains of Awesomeness

I can't even begin to write a race report right now.  I'm incredibly scattered and excited and my thoughts are going a million directions.  I'll have to save it for another day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How Not to Race Cyclocross - Quad

After being sort-of sick last week, missing some workouts, and really hoping I wasn't going to get gnarly-sick for Green Mountain weekend, I wasn't even sure I was going to go race the season opener, Quad Cross, on Sunday.  I wasn't sure the night before, telling myself "If I wake up and I feel lousy I won't go."

Then when I woke up and felt pretty OK, telling myself, "I'll head down there and if I feel lousy I won't ride."

Then "I'll start my warm up and if I feel bad I won't race."

Finally, "I'll start the race and if I feel bad I won't finish."

No pressure.  Stay healthy.  It's too early in the season to get laid out with some stupid cold.

As it turned out I felt pretty good the whole time, maybe a little sluggish after the unplanned time off during the preceding week, but not a hacking, snotty mess as I'd feared.

How Not to Race Cross

#1:  I had the start of my life.  I was third wheel behind Mo and Ellen Noble.  And what did I do?   I panicked.  "Oh shit, I shouldn't be here, I'm going to slow someone down and ruin their race and I should just let them go by me."  Seriously.  A split second of meekness immediately followed by, "D'oh!  The whole damn field just passed me!  Move up!  Move up!"  Yeah....  I'm now working on "visualizing riding at the front."  Seriously, that was just ridiculous.  That

Anyway, I made some good passes and caught up to my teammate and was pretty happy to be on her wheel.  On the fast fireroad descent I was sitting near the back of the saddle powering in my big ring when, after hitting a bump, the nose of my saddle was pointing skyward.  Yes, my seat clamp was torqued to spec, it still slipped.  This was not my error, but it brings us to-

#2:  I had a pit bike, but it wasn't in the pit.  Sigh...  In all the happy NECX reunion gibber gabber I was like, "oh, pit bike?  It's fine right where it is."  On my car.  As I rode by the pit with my saddle in a most uncomfortable position I hollered at my teammate who had raced earlier, "CAN YOU GET MY PIT BIKE OFF MY CAR FOR ME?!"  What a doll, she not only had to run back to the parking area, but had to figure out which car was mine.  And she made it back with my bike within half lap so I could get it the next time through the pit.  Gold star.

Armed with my wonderfully flat-saddled bike, I started trying to make up the time I'd lost.  Unfortuantely . . .

#3:  I didn't check the tire pressure in my pit bike.  Right?  Right?  I think I had 20 PSI in there.  In clinchers.  For those not in the know, that's not enough.  Not only was I hitting the rim over ever root, I washed out in two corners.  I actually thought I had a flat, my tires were so soft.  Fortunately, the next time I went through the pit they had my A bike for me.  With the saddle leveled out, bless them.  I think I said something like, "Cool, 'cause I have a flat. Fun day!"  I was informed the next time through that I didn't have a flat, I'm just a bonehead.


With much encouragement from the ECV/Seaside/LadiesFirst crews, I worked my way back up to the spot behind my teammate, albeit 30 seconds back or so.

#4:  On the last lap, I pinch flatted.  Pretty darn far from the pits.  I was trying to maintain my position and I got sloppy over the roots.  I had to run/ride super slow around to the pit, get a wheel, and finish in not-quite-last (which is pretty remarkable given how slowly I was riding/running).

C'est la course.

The good news?  I am so jazzed on racing cyclocross.  I'm fit, and lean, and so totally in love with NECX.  It's going to be a fantastic season.

Here's a picture of my awesome start:!i=2078246864&k=tj5v6DV

And here's one of my saddle-nose pointing heavenward:!i=2078248358&k=R7cMJbm

And here's one of my dog telling me that flexibility is overrated.

Why is my yoga mat always so gritty?