Saturday, July 2, 2011

2011 Tour of America's Dairyland (TOAD)

This is a long one! A recount of each race I did in the 11 days at TOAD from June 16th - 26th and my first big series with the Pro/1/2 women.
This is probably best read in small bits unless your super bored. Maybe I should have posted each day chapters. Oh well. For the 2 people who might actually read this blog, here it is:

June 16th 2011

Drove up from St. Louis and started early for our 6 hr drive. Arrived in Shorewood, WI @ 3pm for our 5pm race. Weather was a bit cooler (70's) vs. the heat we were getting used to, which was nice. Shorewood was an interesting course with 4 corners and a chicane right after turn 3. Road was littered with potholes and patches from corner 1 to 2 (a mess). We line up, there are 60 women on the line. Definitely my largest race and only my 2nd Pro/1/2/3 race. But, I really wasn’t nervous. I always thought I would be freaked out in the middle of a bunch like that on the line, worried about the start, but strangely I wasn’t. We take off, pretty hot from the start and then MAJOR slow down / yo-yo into the 1st corner. I see a girl drilling it up to the front and jump on her wheel for a free ride. She ends up ON the front though, and I found myself 2nd wheel. Its fine, Im feeling ok and just riding her wheel. But as a single rider, and all of those big teams, Im not about to do a lot of work. She slows and everyone swarms around us. I end up back further than I would like and the yo-yo'ing continues. I get hung up in a bad spot and cant seem to move up as hard as I try. My legs felt great the 1st 25 mins, but then they kind of hit a wall. I realize I need to move up, but I just cant. I get caught behind a near-crash on corner 2 and come to a complete stop. I then have to sprint and TT onto the back of the field, which about blew up my legs. Im on by the chicane, but then they call a big prime through the start/finish and moving up becomes impossible. And then the primes don’t stop! Every time I’m almost recovered, there is another prime! I nearly get dropped a couple of times, but I claw my way back on the back. Its SO hard on the back. But, I manage to finish with the front pack and end up 44 of 60. This is not how I wanted to start off the week, but I tell myself that tomorrow will be a better day and Ill learn from this…and hopefully my legs will have opened up more!

June 17th : Thiensville, WI

Today is a new day! Another beautiful day in Wisconsin! Smaller field today of 46. I dont get the best start at the line, but Im able to move up more easily on this course. Legs feel much better today and I stay in the top 15 – 20 for most of the race. Im feeling pretty good about my performance. The race speed picks up and I dont want to get split off the back so I stay well positioned and out of trouble. There are at least 3-4 crashes and one right next to me that I avoided. I also catch a lip in a corner and my whole bike starts skidding around but I’m able to save it! Whew! Here comes 5 to go. Everyone is vying for position and getting stupid. I need to be sitting top ten going into 5 to go or there is no chance to move up. I try to stay closer to the front, but alas, get myself boxed in and behind the stupidity. I end up 36th of 46. At least I raced a better race until the last 5 laps! I’ll take it and learn from it.

June 18th: Giro d' Grafton

Todays course was pretty interesting. 6 corner fast crit with a greater than 90 degree turn at corner 1, and a pretty strong headwind to a long finish. Overall, I did not stay well positioned today. There was a lot of “swarming” again when the pace slowed. Since my positioning was not great, I got caught yo-yoing again and burning up my legs for nothing. After corner 1, it was also a full-on out of the saddle effort up the false flat. Used a lot of energy today! With 2 to go, Im still not in a great position and there is a crash after corner 2 which I narrowly avoid. Its a full out effort to chase back on and I almost let myself get hung up behind some riders who are getting dropped. Cindi Rees comes around me and says “We have got to go Jamie”. She is right! I jump on her wheel. That girl is strong and she pulls us back onto the back of the field just as we see 1 to go. DAMN. OUCH. I tell myself to make it hurt one more lap. We are on the back now and I try to inch up a little, but its hard to do on the last lap! We finish on the back of the strung out pack, but we are with the pack. 38th of 44. Worse than yesterday, but kept it on 2 wheels and still finished with pack!

June 19th: Waukesha, WI

As advertised: “This course features a fairly flat fast 6 corner criterium being 0.85 miles in length. The turns vary from sharp to gradual. The entire course takes place in the dense urban heart of Waukesha giving the racers a high energy feel.” More specifically, it was a 6 corner crit with a greater than 90 degree turn at corner 1, into a 3-5% hill, right turn to a false flat, sharp off-camber corner 5 (after small downhill), and then a pretty strong headwind to a long finish. After corner 1, the hill really started to wear on some people and some sat up in the middle of it in the last 5 laps. I had to keep my head up and get around people who were starting to drag. My legs were feeling pretty good today and I did a good job of moving around the pack more and staying near the top 15 as much as possible. They had $1000 of primes to give out this race! Damn! It seemed they waited for the last 20 mins of the race to start calling them! The first ½ of the race felt pretty mildly paced, but we made up for it the last ½! The field got strung out and I had to keep my head up to be sure I went around wheels that were starting to die. There was a gnarly headwind finish and I had to work hard a couple of times to get back on after the person in front of me lost their wheel. Basically stayed strung out the entire second half of the race and it was all I could do to hang on and finish with the pack. Not a vast improvement in my result: 32 of 42, but felt more comfortable in the pack today. Its bound to all come together soon! :)

June 20th: Greenbush Road Race

Took the day off today. Want a recovery day and seems like the 60 mile road race day would be the day to do it! Went for a nice spin on the bike path then fed the girls during the race and stretched out and got some sun! Thoroughly enjoyed the rest day!

June 21st: Schlitz Park Crit

Todays crit course was challenging with an 8-9% grade climb for one block, then it leveled off a bit before kicking up again into corner 2. The top of the course was a long and windy false flat into a technical 5 corner decent then to the start/finish with a nice head wind. After taking yesterday off, I guess I needed a better warm up. I had a good position at the start, 2nd row. However, the person in front of me was not able to clip in and I was quickly humping it up the hill towards the back of the group. :( First lap around and one rider completely misses corner 5 (I think she thought it went the other way) and cuts straight through the middle of the group! I have to come to a near stop to get around her (thank god I didn’t t-bone her) and then Im chasing back to the group who has flown down the hill. I get on the back, but after chasing, I just cant hold on to the back of the pack who is charging again up the hill. I get to corner 2 at the top w/ some stragglers, and Cindy comes around me and tells me we need to go. I know I do, I try to get out of the saddle, but my legs just wont respond. I sit back down and try to hang on to a wheel. I catch one, but she is gaping from her wheel. Next time up the hill and I realize I've popped. My race is basically over. Gone. I chase with another rider for 4-5 laps and my legs actually start opening up and feeling better...but its too late now. The other rider pulls herself out of the race and I continue to chase solo. I see a giant bolt of lightening as I go through the start/finish and soon after, I hear the announcer say they are going to postpone the race until the storm blows through. We are only 20 mins into our 60 min race! The group heads to the parking garage on the corner to take cover. The downpour blows through pretty quickly. 30 mins later we are back on the line. I go just in case they mess up the gaps and I have a shot to get in a good chase group. Plus, maybe my legs will feel better??! I get with a group, but the first time up the hill I realize my legs are locked up now and its pointless. A lap later, I pull myself and call it a bad day. Oh well. Legs should be ready for the TT tomorrow!

June 22nd: Ripon, WI Time Trail

Time trails. My favorite!....NOT. I go in with a positive attitude though and we get there with enough time to get in a good warm up. I warm up well and head to the start. Everyone has already told me how hilly the course is. Its a 13.9 mile course with rolling hills and some monster cross winds! Fun! I try to focus on my power and find a steady place to hold, but I since I don’t ever practice TT’s its hard to judge how much I should save for the hills and how hard an effort I should shoot for. At times I felt like I was going too hard and other times I felt like I was going too easy. I don’t think I gauged it very well. The bright side was that it was an interesting course for a TT and it actually went by pretty fast. I end up 36th of 41! Ouch.

Took an "ice bath" in Lake Michigan:

June 23rd: Sheboygan Crit

On my morning spin, I rode from the host house down to the course. On the way back and only a couple miles from the house it started to pour! From then on, it rained hard pretty much ALL day. I mentally prepped for a rain race. At least it was a 4 corner flat course. Boring, but safer. Magically, the rain stopped while we warmed up and it looked like it was going to clear for a while. The course was still wet, but at least it was not actively raining while we raced. The roads even started to dry up during our race. Corner one was a little slick and about 12 mins in, we are going into corner one and I just feel something is about to happen. I back off out of instinct and some girls in front me go sliding. I manage to break and swerve around someones arm. I promptly sprint back to the pack glad to be upright! The race is pretty active and I try to move myself up but the wind makes it difficult to stay up there. Legs felt good today. My avg power was higher than any other day, but I didnt feel like I worked that hard today. The race goes by quickly. No one drives the pace the last 2 laps and we really bunch up across the road. People start yelling and it gets ugly. I sit on the back and just shake my head and make the decision to stay put and stay safe. I know I need to mentally get my head up to the front. I’m the only thing holding me back. Oh well. I sprint the best I can from my position: 33rd of 52. Much bigger field today than I thought! Felt really good about my fitness despite my finish. :)

June 24th: Fond du Lac Crit

Today was another flat 4 corner crit with a strong headwind into the finish. I started the race on the front of the line! Pretty cool. This made it easy to sit top 5-10 wheels in the first couple of laps. It was nice up there! But, I somehow found myself in the back again. WTF? After a girl swerves into corner 1 for no reason at all, making the whole pack swerve and curse Cindy says to ok? I say “Yeah, Ive gotta move up” I did. That got me pissed off enough to just do it already. I sat top 5-15 for the rest of the race. Carrie came to me at one point and said “get on my wheel and stay there, we are moving up”. So I do. That woman can find some holes! What a great lesson in moving around the pack in places I would not have tried! Now, it only lasted less than a lap before I lost it, but I eventually found it again and stayed where I needed to. I went with chases and stayed active. It was great. Unfortunately the pack bunched again on the last lap and I lost a lot of positions. Ended up 28 of 48. My best result yet. Nice to break out of the 30's! :) I definitely raced better today! More and more comfortable in the pack!

June 25th: ISCorp Downer Classic

If you cant tell by the length of this entry, this was my favorite crit!

Downer is truly a classic crit. This course used to be only open to the Pro Men, but has recently been opened to all categories. It is more of a triangle with 3 long sides and the 2nd to last turn leading into a sweeping final right turn. The course is pretty littered with pot holes and cracked pavement, but its all flat and very fast! In fact, it turned out to be the fastest crit we raced so far averaging 25.5 mph and had a final lap average of 27.7! My legs were a little bit tired today, but not horrible. A break went up the road road early in the race and consisted of 5 strong riders representing all but 2 of the prominent teams. I actually had no idea how many people or who was up the road b/c the field was so strung out and at the time, I was in the back part of the pack. I did my normal yo-yoing on the back a little, but also moved up towards the front, mid-pack. I felt comfortable in all parts of the pack today. I quickly realized that I needed to be well positioned on corner 2 b/c it really slowed and then re-accelerated in that corner – its a tricky one...tight and more than 90 degrees. I avoided one crash there and had to chase back on. The back stretch of the course had a head/cross wind, so you really wanted to be ON a wheel! The primes were PLENTYFUL. I think they called it Prima-pa-mooza! They just kept coming! One of my goals was to go for a prime, but it was so fast and SO strung out the entire race that I would have had to been 3rd wheel at some point just to go for one...and I never moved up that far. Nothing too exciting happened. Some strong attempts from Cari Higgins of Peanut Butter and Co. and Kori Seehafer of Team Type 1 to bridge up to the break, but Mello Mushroom (Carrie and Kristen) were not letting any more up the road. So as the race went, the primes kept coming...and getting bigger...$25, $50, $75, $100, $150...then with 3 to go, they call a $300 prime! This is the big one and the sprinters put it all out there...and just as we see 3 to go…another prime bell! $700 prime at 2 to go!? Holy shit. I move up a bit and prepare to hold on for dear life. Those who can sprint and did not go for the $300, are in an all out sprint for this one! Mary Ellen Ash who is there w/o teammates gets it and then basically sits up as we go through corner 1...who would blame her?! Its now the bell lap! Hold on. I'm sitting maybe mid to back third of the pack and I know I need to move up, but now will be a hard time to do so! We are flying...someone is on the front drilling it. However, about ½ way down the back stretch it slows a hair and I see in my peripheral someone attacking up the right is the time, and I know that if I hesitate, it will be gone and Ill be sitting back of the pack for the finish again. I jump on and go to the front with them and we fly into the 2nd to last turn...the previous group gets pushed wide and then we fly into the final corner. I get out of the saddle. Im looking around and Im actually in the mix of the pack sprint! Damn this is fun! I sprint through the front of the field and try to find a good hole. I get around some people and actually manage to finish 15th in the field sprint...20 overall (of 46)! Cool! I get one point! Maybe the only point of the whole series, but Ill take it! :) Great race considering this is day 10! After the race, I sit down and all I want to do is sleep! My throat is sore and my body wants food! (I later find out this is the beginning of my head cold).

June 26th: Madison Capital Crit

Im sneezy this morning and my nose is runny. I think it’s a cold, but I tell myself its just allergies (at least until after the race). My morning spin does not show promise for good legs today. Tired and heavy. :( But, they kinda felt like that yesterday and opened up by race time. The capital crit is literally around the capital building in Madison, WI. What a great city! It was a warmer and sunny day. Good weather. The course has some crappy pavement (whats new). Its flat through the start/finish, has 4 sweeping left-hand corners, has a slight downhill into corner 2, a flat to slight downhill strong headwind section from 2-3, then 3 leads into a 2 block 4-5% grade climb up to corner 4. From the get-go I dont want to race but Im trying to stay positive and tell myself that my legs will open up. From the start they feel like total fatigued, heavy crap'ola! Damn legs, I just needed you one more day! The hill is tough but a couple of times I climb the whole thing out of the saddle and my legs feel pretty good and surprise me. But then the next time up, they might feel like crap again. It was strange. There are a LOT of tired legs in the field today, that is obvious! I tell myself that Im not the only one feeling this way. I’m sitting on the back with others who are struggling as much as me to hang on just a little longer. I look at my computer and 12 mins in my legs still feel like crap...just a little longer I tell myself. Next time I look its 32 mins in. Half over I tell can do this....just a little longer. Next time its 46 mins in...Another mental pep talk...really self, thats only like 10 more mins. You can do this for 10 more mins! Just dont let yourself get yo-yoed on corner 3 and you will be fine. I dig deep a couple of laps and hold on through some primes. Ugh. I see 4 to go...ok. Your fine. Just 4 more laps at this point, its an accomplishment to just finish this last race. I hang on and with one to go, going up the hill, someone drops their chain forcing others to go around them and loose their momentum. Im able to keep my momentum and I power up the hill around them! Cool. I literally go from 2nd or 3rd to last up to 28th out of 43 finishers! Not terribly bad. Ill take it. SO glad this is it. Time to go home and recover my body!

What an amazing experience. I’m a different racer because of this series. I’m so glad to have tried something different, gone out of my comfort zone and really stretch myself. This is how you grow and improve in all aspects of life. I like having to rise to an occasion. I’m looking forward to more racing and Im planning to put in for an upgrade to Cat 2 upon my return home!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pre-season Blah

Its been a long, cold, snowy winter in the Midwest. Ive done lots of trainer rides on the 'road to nowhere', lots of weight room sessions, and some long cold weekend rides. My training has been consistent though and Ive been dedicated. However, in the last month Ive been getting restless. I want to pursue other hobbies and Im feeling training burn out. Cycling is such a competitive sport, its all or nothing. I dont like sucking at something, so I have to be 'all in' if Im going to race. I think the burnout has a lot to do with a lack of races over the winter. They fuel my desire to go out day after day and train hard. I love the rush! Plus, it give me a gauge on my fitness level.

I read some blogs today of some racers I follow and also scanned some of my old blogs as well. I was trying to get pumped back up for training and my upcoming races. Im not sure how, but I forgot how well I did last season. Though I did not have a single big "W" (win), I did manage a large number of podium finishes. I really need to give myself more credit for that.

This will be an interesting year for sure. Im planning to remain a Cat 3 racer until after a big race series in Wisconsin in June where I'll race in the Pro/1/2/3 group. I want to see if I can "hang" at a large regional race like this before moving up to a Cat2. Assuming this goes well, then it will make sense to move up for sure. The 'readiness' to move up is so difficult to judge on a local level in smaller races. Fingers crossed that my fitness is good enough to hang w/ the 'big girls' and that I reach my goals this season!

Im suddenly starting to get excited about being in the race scene again. I love that I get to talk bikes bikes bikes with friends, race my bike, watch some races and recount the whole thing with said friends on the long drive home! :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Catching up

Its been a while since Ive blogged. Since Tour of Lawrence, I haven't had a lot of racing on my calendar. Here are brief summaries of what Ive been up to:

Wildwood Centaur TT
Wildwood, MO

I did the local Wildwood TT and pulled out a 4th place finish (out of 12) in the Women's Open against some of the strongest triathletes in the area! Might I add that the top 3 had TT bikes and all the best aero gear, while I was on my road bike with just my clamp on aero bars and a borrowed TT helmet! Oh, and I was only 10 seconds off of 3rd place!! Ok, Im a little excited. Probably because Ive never been much of a time trialist and because my TT results have been hit and miss this year. Overall, Ive improved dramatically though, and so Im very happy with this result!

Missouri State Championship Races
Time Trail: 7/31/10
Crit: 8/1/10

I debated going up to Chicago to race the Elk Grove races this same weekend, but opted to stay closer and support the MO state races instead. Unfortunately, these races never seem to bring in the crowds and Im not sure why. In the TT, it was me against only two other women. :( Both of which who beat me in the last TT, and was sure to do the same this time. This was one of the longest TT's I have done at 40K (24 miles). Most are more like 15-20K. Some categories only had to do 20K at this though, so there were two turn around points...(this is key information). I head out the busy road (still open to traffic that was usually traveling way too fast) and Im feeling pretty good. Its about 95 degrees though and its super hot. I see the turn around ahead...I see the 20K painted on the road w/ an arrow and think, ok, this is 20K, only 20K back. I think, wow, this came up pretty quick. As Im starting to settle into my rhythm again, I look at my clock and realize the error of my ways. I turned around too soon! CRAP! I look back and there are a line of cars I have to wait for. I turn BACK around and head back out. Im totally pissed at myself. I pass the 20K turnaround again and realize I have a LONG way to go and Ive just lost lots of minutes. My only calming thought was that Amy and Maureen were going to beat me anyway, it was now just going to be by a bigger margin! I settled back into the suffer fest. Having waves of feeling good and feeling like I wanted to sit up and just save my legs for the next day. I finish...over 3 mins behind Amy. Oh well...lesson learned.

The crit was the next afternoon. I get there an hour earlier than planned b/c I was looking a last years schedule. At least it wasnt earlier! Fingers are crossed that we have enough women in the Open category to hold the race. I had resolved to trying to race w/ the Mens Cat 3 group if we didnt get to race. However, we get a total of 6. I despise racing with such a small group. Its just not very fun. But, Im glad we get our race and Im after MOBRA points! There were a couple of women there that had been racing for a while and most of our group kept the race really animated...and as fun as we could given the size of the group. I try and attack, chase some down and make the best of it. My eye is on Emily, because she is the strongest sprinter. Amy attacks with 3 to go and no one chases her!? REALLY strange. I happen to be in a really bad position to try and go without taking the whole group. I try to bridge on the back of the course, but Im quickly reeled in. I focus on the finish. I get in a great position on the last lap and grab Emily's wheel. However, she hits the apex of the hill and just lays it on. She has an amazing jump! She gaps me and I just sprint as hard as I can to hold my position. I hold off the others and finish 3rd. Wish I had been in a better spot to go w/ Amy. She worked her butt off those last 3 laps, so kudos to her, she earned the win!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tour of Lawrence, KS - July 3rd & 4th

What a great weekend in Lawrence, KS!

Saturday was the circuit race through the KC campus. It was an approx 4 mile twisty, hilly loop through the campus and the Cat 3/4 women had to do 3 laps. I was a little surprised that we did not have more laps, and while I did not mind it terribly, I expected this would make for an aggressive race. However, it really wasn't. There was a natural peeling off of some racers over the race on the hills. A girl (Roberta Smith) from Denver was on the front for a lot of the race. I held my position in the top 4 or 5 throughout the race because of all of the corners and hills. I didn't want to get taken by surprise and was on the defensive for an attack...but it never came.

Well, not until the last hill to the finish on the final lap of the race. Going into the last hill, there were probably a few more than 10 of the 30 left together. I saw Roberta pushing the pace and Carol Flinchbaugh (Free State Racing) holding her wheel. I spin up the legs and pull in behind Carol. There is a long windy stretch to the finish once you crest the hill and I figured 3rd wheel is just where I needed to be. However, Carol looses Roberta's wheel and a gap quickly forms that I don't think I can cover without dying before the finish. I stay on Carol and when we get to the top I look back and realize that we have a major gap on the rest of the group! I can't make up the gap to Roberta, so I just sit on Carol's wheel as I can tell she is dying...and at approx 150 meters, I jump and sprint around her to take 2nd! I wonder how it would have played out if I had been on Roberta's wheel??! She did a lot of work, and definitely earned her win! Still, I'm very happy with 2nd!
(teammates: Cat Ebling, me, and Suzanne Woodard)

Sunday was a crit in downtown Lawrence. It was cooler but very humid as rain was in the forecast. Another lucky day for the womens 3/4 was dry! This course was a fairly flat figure eight course. I actually had never raced on a figure 8 crit course before...boy was it FUN! The corners were fast and open enough that you could pedal through them if on the front. Me and my teammate talked to a couple of other racers to set something up together. Now rarely in a womens 3/4 race do you have a plan going in and then actually have that plan come to fruition! But, oh how I love it when a plan comes together (well, mostly)!!! The first lap was hot out of the gate, you could feel the excitement from the other racers. The crowds were awesome and lining the streets. It was a great day for a bike race! Then, first time through the start/finish and they ring the bell for a prime. The field doesn't let up. Aubree (Tulsa Tough) gets the prime in a sprint! The pace continues to stay high...someone tries to take a flier...we pull them back....another...we pull them starts to slow down after we pull them in and I jump for another counter attack w/ Aubree in tow!

(deep in the pain cave!)
We haul it and get a 7 sec, 12 sec, 16 sec gap on the field. We hold around 10-16 sec for most of the race. We were only 12 mins into a 40 min race when we went! Aubree has got some power in those legs! Im turning myself inside out to work with her and hold off the field. Im DEEP into my pain cave and giving it everything. At 4 laps to go I hear Aubree say they are catching us and should we sit up...I say no, and try to push it for a little while longer, but look back and realize its inevitable. There were a couple really strong 3-4 person teams doing a lot of work to bring us back and on top that, they gave the field 2 primes in a row at the end of the race which motivated them as well. I thought we could hold them off... Oh well.

I soft pedal and try to tuck into the pack and "recover" the best I can with only 4 to go! Another prime lap is called at 3 to go! OMG! Hang on Jamie! Aubree has something left and goes for it and gets another prime!! Wow! She gets a gap on the field and I think she might hold it...but she gets reeled back in. With only 2 laps to go, I move myself up and get in a better position. I find a decent position and we fly through the final corner and I give it everything. I hear someone bump and go down and just go for the finish. I can see that Ill be able to reel in 3rd place and get around the wheel in front of me! YES! 3rd! I cant breathe for about 10 mins. We averaged around 23 mph for that race and I later learn that I averaged my highest average HR ever in a race! Damn. No wonder that hurt so bad.

After the race, we celebrate our plan coming together and the fun we had. All of the women comment on what a fun race it was. And it was. It was aggressive, had a good sized field, it was mostly safe (aside from the one crash at the final sprint) and we all had fun beating up on each other! Everyone is all smiles! Another podium finish for me. I'm very happy with those performances! :)

(photo cred to Elizabeth Rangel for the awesome action shots!!)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Webster Groves Crit - June 27th

According to it was only a high of 89 degrees today, but I dont believe it. It felt like we were baking out there. And, to add insult to injury, the nice clouds went away right before our race and we had full sun cooking us!

About 5 mins before we race I find out that they are combining the woman's fields. We were supposed to be Cat 1/2/3 and a separate Cat 4 group. While its nice to have a bigger group, its also generally a little more dangerous because of all of the different experience levels.

From the start Chris guns it right away to try and shake the group up. We are quickly all back together. In the first 3-5 laps there is a lot of action. Lots of attacks and a few counter attacks. Im feeling good at first. I try to get away, but get chased back pretty quickly. Its a strong field!

There is sure a lot of bumping going on though! I think I get leaned into, bumped, and then nearly crashed into at least 5 times!! Geesh! Poor Steph gets pinched into a corner. She leans into my shoulder but isnt able to recover as she slides off my shoulder and goes down on the pavement. Im still not sure how my rear wheel missed it all, but Im SO glad it did!! Steph stays out and goes to the medic tent (mostly just shook up and a really bad case of road rash). Turns out Emily also was involved but is able to get back in. Chris has a mechanical...shifter broken and only has 2 gears!! She is a rock star in my book to continuing the race!

Aside from the primes, the race settles down and there's not a lot of action. I don't go for the primes because Im finding it harder and harder to recover after each effort. The heat has elevated my HR. I keep drinking and dumping cold water on my head, but the relief is only temporary. My head feels like its on fire! I save what I have left for the sprint. I know that Chris and Emily are strong sprinters.

I decided to go early and try to hold them off. Right before the final corner, I see Emily on my outside and she gets to the corner first. Chris goes on my inside. I get through the corner and give it all I have. I realize after a few pedal strokes that Im in too big a gear. I decide that taking a gear off in the middle of my sprint could either save me or kill ends up being the right choice. I know Im not going to catch Chris or Emily at this point, but I rev it up and hold off everyone else! Felt great to sprint that hard! Chris edges out Emily at the line and I end up 3rd. Not bad for my first race after my long vacation!

Im ready for Tour of Lawrence now!! :)
(photo cred to Dennis Fickinger and Paul Pate)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tulsa Tough June 5-6, 2010

Saturday June 5th: Brady Theater District Crit

Back in HOT Tulsa for the 2nd yr in a row and ready to RACE! Ive been training hard this past winter and Tulsa Tough was a race I wanted to do really well in. Its a great weekend of racing, pretty well organized, great payouts and big fields for a Woman's 3/4 race! I was gearing to go.

Its 12:45 and about 95 degrees and we line up with a field of 60 women! Wow! I think this is the largest woman's field I have raced in. Unfortunately Im not able to work my way up as close to the front of the starting line as I had hoped. They start us quickly and I easily move up throughout the first lap. The course is 'L' shaped with 6 corners and while it really isn't a "technical" course, the number of crashes in each race would beg to differ.

Approx 1/2 way into our 45 min race I'm about mid-pack and trying to move up and we round the last corner. We are probably 3 wide through the corner and all of a sudden I see a girl from the inside of the corner sliding out and towards Allison and then me! Sometimes crashes happen in slow motion. This one did not. I dont remember what I thought or exactly how I hit or what hit me. All I remember is feeling the back of my head (helmet thank God) bouncing off the pavement. I wait for anyone else who might hit me and then jump up and quickly assess the damage. I think Im ok. I dont see any bleeding and I'm moving, so things don't seem broken. I pick up my lens from my sunglasses and pop it back in. I see Carrie running down the sidewalk to assist. She gets my chain back on and looks over my bike. I try to catch my breath and get my head on straight. I head back to the pit for my free lap. About 10 of us try to merge w/ the group on the next lap which requires a lot of work to chase back on since I wasn't able to clip in as quickly as normal...a bit frazzled... Im back and and work on settling in a bit and catching my breath.

There is a prime lap which I think is only for the group and not the person off the front. Apparently she wasn't off the front until after the prime was called. I guess I wasn't all with it b/c I sprint for the prime which she clearly had. Oh well. I end up bridging up to her, but the group is close behind. Turns out that was going to be my only sprint in the race. After the first crash I tell myself I need to move up to the top 5-10 riders. With laps to go Im approx 8th wheel and on the tightest corner of the course, someone in front of me touches wheels and goes down RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME! I yell "Again?!" and roll over her wheel, grab my breaks and sort of step over my bars to catch myself before gently falling over w/ my bike - AGAIN. No more free laps now.

I rush to try and put my chain on so I can at least finish the race but I can't get it back on. Some spectators try to help and its just really jammed in my front derailleur. I yell "F*#@&" about a zillion times knowing that my race is over. The girl who went down in front of me just sort of stands there looking at me. Im not sure if she was scared or what. I feel bad I didn't have the fame of mind to ask if she was ok. All I can think about is the fact that this was my "A" race and Im not even going to finish!! I limp down to the start/finish stretch in time to watch Cindy and Aubree duke it out in the sprint! OH how I should have been right there w/ them!! Cindy takes the win, but if Aubree had another 50 meters, she would have had was close!

I calm down and gain some perspective and realize that if I were to crash again, Id want it to go the same way. Nothing broken or majorly damaged!! I was just thinking a few weeks ago that Im not sure how I have managed in 2.5 yrs of road bike racing not to go down in a race. I knew my time was coming... Ill heal, my bike is basically fine.

I start focusing on tomorrows race!

Sunday June 6th: Riverside Crit (Cry baby hill)

I wake up pretty sore from Saturdays tumbles. But, my headache has gone away, so Im grateful for that! I decide to race and Teresa and I ride to the race from the hotel. There is a great riverfront trail and we do a long warm-up to help loosen everything up. My tailbone is pretty sore! The weather is great this morning. There is more wind, but is probably only in the low 80's, which is a welcome relief!

I line up early to get a good starting position. The group is smaller today maybe between 30-40 riders. I establish myself in the front of the group early into the race and have good positioning. I realize quickly which riders are good climbers and which can corner well. You could get screwed unless you got on the right wheels in the right places. The really sharp final corner would really gap off riders and you could end up having to work really hard in the finishing stretch just to get back to a wheel.

As I crest the hill over and over I feel something very familiar...Ive done this before! Not just last year, but my coach has had me doing some very similar hill repeats over past weeks and I'm feeling really strong on the hill! Sometimes I actually don't feel like I'm going to die when I get up to the top! My gearing is good and Im keeping pace w/ the front of the pack which has formed a split in the field.

During the race, at the top of the hill, the official rings the bell for the KOM prime! I knew where I needed to be positioned to get it. I stay on the right wheels and let someone else lead up the hill and then on the little "kicker" after the big climb (where everyone died each lap)I kick it into gear and attack her and get the prime! Wow! cool! I get a nice gap on the field and find a strong pace and lead off the front until the next time up the hill where the group catches back on. I get back in and recover. There were some other primes, but I focus on the finish instead of expending more energy on primes. 3 to go and I end up on the front. I take it easy and slide back a bit going up the hill so I can get off the front. I find a good position and stick it for the next two laps. On one to go, I decide to try and attack on the small hill after the climb. Its a little early, but I think I can hold them off. OOPS, I was wrong. Right before the downhill, Im caught by a group of 4 and they fly past me down the hill and get a big gap on me after the final corner. I sprint so I dont loose anymore positions, but I know Im sprinting for 5th. Oh well, lesson learned! It was still a good race, I felt strong and I finished MUCH better than last year! I also feel like I made up for my lost Saturday.

Time to head home and recover this aching body! Man I love my chiropractor! :)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tour of St. Louis - April 24th - 25th

Weather report was 50/50 for rain this morning. It was actively raining on the way to the race, but stopped by the time I got there. I think we had about 11 women in our race. Here are the highlights: I tried to stay well positioned and not do too much work chasing every attack. Then the call for a $50 prime! Thats pretty good money! I jumped REALLY early and got a large gap on the field and took the prime! I was caught less than a lap later though. Then, I got in a 2 person break with Cindy Reese when she attacked. We held off the group for almost a whole lap. Came down to a group sprint where I took 4th...some strong sprinters in this group! Good race overall, and still in the money! :)

Arrive at the time trial and the clouds and wind are plentiful. Its approx 4/4:30pm when I go out for the TT. I hear there is a brutal head wind on the way out, but an awesome tail wind most of the way back! Cindy is kind enough to lend me her TT helmet and shoe covers. It was the first time I even put a TT helmet on my head! Slick! Man, I gotta get a TT helmet, that thing was cool! (total bike nerd, I know) So Im feeling fast as I head out into the head wind. I try to focus on not breaking my form and staying set in my aero bars. The last thing Cindy tells me is "dont wipe your snot, just let it drip!" HA! Really! Well, it makes sense, the more you break form, the more you loose time. I take her advice, but its pretty gross! I push hard, and the 30+ mph wind gusts are demoralizing as I slow to 16 mph at one point. My cadence is slowing and Im forced to break form so I can shift gears at various points. I turn around and get to the tail wind section! Woo Hoo! WOW! I get in the biggest gear I have and just crank it! I look down at my computer at one point and Im going 30 mph! As Kate will feel like a rockstar! She was right! Until...I get to the last 500 meters or so when I have a direct cross wind from my left side. Im leading 45 degrees into the wind just to avoid getting blown over, my wheels are trying to wash out beneath me, I have a death grip on my aero bars as I hold on for dear life, and I push the biggest gear I can! OUCH! I end up in 5th place and only 30 sec behind someone I was 2.5 mins behind just last weekend! Very happy w/ these results! I think I did the best I could in the weather conditions given.

As I was finishing the last mile or so, I hear a noise, but think its just the wind. After finishing I realize its the tornado sirens!! I get back to the car and Aubree points out the funnel clouds. Scary! We load up asap and I rearrange my whole car so I can get my bike inside. SO glad I did that. We try to rush out but should have stayed where we were. All hell breaks loose. It dumping so much rain I cant see and the is instantly a ton of standing water on the road. We drive through some small hail and I call Aubree and Adam who are following me to tell them Ill be stopping at the gas station up the road to wait this out. Even more scary, there are still folks out on the course! A woman I know gets hailed on, a guy runs into the concrete bathroom structure to seek shelter, the Big Shark van drives out the pick up people who are out there! Im SOOOOO glad to have finished when I did. What a great bunch of volunteers and what an unforgettable race!

Weather report later that day!
Posted on April 24, 2010 at 10:24 PM
Updated today at 11:57 AM
KMOV -- Clean-up crews have a lot of work ahead around the St. Louis region.
Strong storms pounded the area on Saturday with hail, damaging winds and heavy rains, leaving many homes and businesses damaged.

Des Peres was one of the more heaviliy hit areas, where many reports say a tornado touched down. Ballas Road stayed blocked off into Saturday night. Three houses on that road suffered extensive damage from the storm.

Next up the Sunday crit. Again, more rain on the way to the race, but it stopped for the race! Highlights: My teammate Allison attacked and got in a 3 person break w/ Mesa and Dogfish. Me and the other Mesa teammate (Chris) held off the group to give our women the advantage and try to help the break stay away. They did stay away and Allison ended up 3rd and me 6th with Aubree getting me at the line for a 2nd day in a row! Great tactical race!