Saturday, August 25, 2007

A FLAT way to end the season?

Well, I completed my first 3's road race! The good news is that I felt like I belonged in my new category. The bad news is, I have no good results to show for my nearly 70 mile effort today! I can't even report on exciting sprint finishes, or how anyone else did, because I don't know! So before I go into this, I'll report on what I do know about the race.

I believe there were 19 starters...300-319 they said at the start. This was a 3's only race, a rarity in the so-cal scene. However, this race seemed to be mostly nor-cal racers, as I recognized some of them from Kern, and met some from the blogosphere!
Metromint had at least 2, as did VeloBella, and EMC2 had 3 or 4! There were also a few other teams with at least 2 each. I felt mighty lonely all by myself. Right from the start one rider kept playing around at the front. We tried rotating a bit, and as luck would have it (I'm screaming at myself for this one...both times it happened--making newbie getting stuck out in front), the rotating paceline would miraculously end when I pulled through and started to softpedal, no one would pull through. Then I was left out in front. I think I must have had a sign on me that said 'first time cat 3,' and maybe people thought they could make me work without me realizing it? Anyway, I wasn't sure I even had the gas for a 70 mile race, so i did NOT want to be up front, especially when I wasn't even warmed up! So I started to ease up on the pace. I pulled off and slowed, and slowed, and still no one would go around me. Someone actually SAID to me "You have to make this a race!" and I was like "if you want a race then go around me...I'm not pulling this whole peoloton for very long...this is lap 1!" I was rather irate about the whole matter. There were lots of comments like that going back and forth, which is different from the 4s. Anyway, finally someone attacked, and we all sped up and got back into some form of organization. No one seemed to want to organize for very long. There were a lot of half-hearted attacks at the front, but nothing stuck. I mostly sat in, and rotated through as necessary. I was warmed up by the end of lap 1 and settling in. My lower back was feeling a bit sore going into lap 2, but other than that, I felt pretty fresh. The hammer gel flask was awesome...I'll definitely keep that in mind for future long races!

On lap 3 (I THINK it was lap 3...they all ran together at some point), speedy girl attacked right before the feed zone. I'm not sure if she considered it an attack or not, it could be as we were slowing down and preparing for the feed she just kept going...but she got a gap. It got to be pretty large at one point, and we discussed what to do about it. We didn't really do a great job of organizing through the rollers on the backside, and gained some ground but didn't catch. Finally someone went and attacked to try and bridge. I felt strong so I followed. I caught that girl, and the two of us brought speedy girl back. The three of us worked pretty good together for awhile, and we were caught by one other, so the 4 of us kept rotating through and worked hard. However, we started to tire, and again (need to ride smarter, I tell myself) I got stuck out in the front doing too much work. Eventually we slowed and were caught by the chasers. Then we were all together this point about 15 miles to go. Actually some people had been dropped off by this point. I'm guessing we were 12 strong or so. All was going well....on the one little hill on the flat part of the course I felt really strong. I spun up in the big ring and never had to stand. My legs were hanging in there. I powered over the climb strong, and then settled back in. The course was pretty flat in this section, and I was feeling like i was going to be in it at the finish!

When....I hear that familiar sound of a flat tire. Bummer!!!! I kept riding, as the leak was a sort of slow if I was going to will it away or something, but it was not to be. Pretty soon it was fully flat. "Flat" I call out, as I pull off and watch the lead group ride away. Bummer, says the metromint girl next to me. I'm sure I said a few choice words I probably should have kept to myself at that point. Thankfully I had put my CO2 and spare tube in my jersey, so I quickly changed the flat and chased. However, chasing in the last 10 miles of a long RR when you are 1 and they are 10 is just not really very fun or productive. I rode in strong, but very frustrated. I have no idea how I did...I was not realy in the mood to stay for results. I congratulated the girls around that I saw, and told them I had fun riding with them, but that was as much as I know about how the race ended. I don't even know who won!

So...another day, another bike race. I feel good about my race today, even though I'm sure I don't have a good finish to show for it. I rode strong, my fitness felt good, I learned some valuable lessons, I didn't crash or crash anyone else (although I think I did scare someone in the feed zone when someone cut me off and I subsequently did NOT hold my line--sorry!!!!).

Anyway, I think that was my last RR of the I have to wait till next year to redeem myself. But I'll be there, ready to go as always!

It was really great to meet fellow bloggers today! Cyclistrick and Ms. were awesome when I was nervous getting ready. Alicat, it was fun to race with you--maybe you know how things ended up because if I recall you were right in the thick of it all. Aufderbach...hope your race went well..was good to meet you in the port-a-potty line... Hope you all had a good time today!!

Till next time!

Thursday, August 23, 2007


So...I dont think these two photos look very similar at ALL, but it seems the Wile-E-Coyote I saw this morning would beg to differ!

I'm up early, and out for my morning spin. My plan was to do some warm up riding on Mountain Drive, and then meet up with the 8am group ride. I am up on Mountain Drive, when I see what I think is a medium sized dog in the road. There was some morning traffic, so I was happy to see it scurry off to the side of the road when a car came. As I got closer to it, I realized it was a coyote.

I like to see wildlife, so I thought I'd ride slowly past it. I was climbing a little hill, so I wasn't going fast to begin with, and I didn't want to scare it away. I got kind of close to was near a fire hydrant on the opposite side of the road. I was just about directly across from it, when it kind of crouched down and was giving me the evil eye, like it thought I was breakfast or something....when my brain was like, hmmm, dogs and cats do that when they're stalking something. I looked around and there was nothing to stalk except ME! And right about then the thing pounced! It was actually chasing me! I was pretty surprised by this, as usually coyotes are pretty scared of humans... I am embarassed to say I was actually pretty freaked out by this, and even more so by the fact that I was going uphill and could only go so fast! Let's just say I got my hard effort in for the morning! It kept up with me pretty good...was right at my wheel! It finally gave up and trotted back down the road. I rode a little further and then let up. I could still see it staring at me.... The funny part was that I had to then go back down that road, because I didn't have time to go the long way around, and had to get back to town for the group ride! So a couple minutes later I turned around and went back, but because I was now descending, I was going much faster, and didn't even see the thing.

So, do I look like a roadrunner? Hmmm. Not so sure now!


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

the SLO photos!!

Thanks to Steve Weixel (see link on this site), there are now PHOTOS of my race! There are actually HUNDREDS, although I'm only going to post a few here. I'm sure Steve's site will have many more excellent ones from ALL the races!

Going up the 'hill' (not really sure I can call that grade a 'hill' but it was slightly not flat).

I clearly look faster than I am here....

more bike racing...

And more bike racing...from another angle.

My teammate, Ginger, looking fast!

My turn at the front, 2 laps from the finish.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Fast in SLO

Today was the downtown San Luis Obispo criterium. A fast, 4 corner, mostly flat course in downtown SLO. 0.8 mile laps, which meant a LOT of laps in 40 minutes! I was a bit distracted this morning, and I did wonder about my ability to focus for the race. I forgot to eat before leaving, which meant that it was going to have to be a bagel in the car (thanks to my teammate, Ginger) and a latte.

Warmup was uneventful, and I did appreciate the nice decent start time of 10:20, meaning I didn't have to get up in the middle of the night! Although I had been toying with upgrade, this week was too crazy, and I just never got around to it! So alas it was my last race as a 4. The race was a 3/4 race, and my goal was to just ride up near the front where it was fast and safe, and to keep on top of everything as long as I could. I was also doing an experiment and was not planning on wearing any HR monitor or computer of any sort. I just wanted to ride my bike...

We did our warmup lap and lined up at the line. I had 2 teammates in the race. It was a HUGE field (for women, that is). It seemed like there were more than 40 women lined up! Awesome. This was the final race in the Womens Cycling Challenge, and it had drawn a crowd! I had a decent starting position, but needed to use the first couple of laps to gain position. The turns were fast, and I really wanted to be out of traffic so i could take them at speed. There were a couple of teams with more than a few riders (paramount and metromint), and that was interesting, too. Having teammates sure does give an advantage!

The race started fast from lap 1. I settled in, and thankfully my legs were right underneath me, not upset at all at what I was asking. Responding to the attacks was, dare I say, easy! I figured out the wind, and surveyed the riders to find the good wheels to sit on. I nearly got taken out on a corner when someone in front of me started to slide, but I did save my own line with just a small correction and everyone behind me was thankful. I got the "wow that was quite a save" comment by a couple people. The scary moments keep me engaged, and keep me focused. I just wanted to ride harder. The paramount team was just attacking and attacking at the front....the benefit of a whole team! I was keeping things in check and sitting pretty. I could tell it was going to come down to a field sprint, as the field let up a little on the backside, and people started bunching up. I hit the final turn a teeny bit too far back, and thus my sprint was not quite good enough and I came in 7th or 8th overall. The good news was that I WON the cat 4s!

The win was nice, and now that puts me over the 30 points for required upgrade. I guess I will be a 3 for San Ardo. I feel so good about my ability to channel my energy, ride aggressively and safely, corner fast, and am finally fit enough to play around in these races! I love it! Crits are really so much fun!!!!

So thus ends my stint in the newbie racer Cat 4's. 3 victories (1 road race, 2 crits), stage race placements, time trial placements, and tons of new friends. Can't wait for the next installment.

Hopefully Steve Weixel got some good photos...and I'll add them! He and his wife were taking lots of photos, and I'm sure there will be some good ones!

Another fun day at the races. SLO is a great town for a bike race. The race was well-run, results were posted quickly, and everything ran efficiently!

See you at San Ardo...time to apply for my upgrade!


Sunday, August 5, 2007

Sisquoc ramblings

After a couple weeks with no real bike racing to report on, there was finally a race! I kind of think my legs thought the season was over, though, and decided not to show up! At least that's what it felt like....

So I did the women's 4's. I was hoping it would be my last race in the 4's, and I was hoping for a good result. Unfortuantely life sometimes throws punches we don't expect....and the week ended up involving a lot more stress, and a lot more driving (and a lot less riding) than I would have hoped for. I had not ridden MOnday, did a brisk group ride (40ish miles) Tuesday, and then didn't get on the bike at all Wednesday or Thursday, and Friday was so smoky/ashy that all I did was 40 minutes easy, with a couple of sprints in there to remind the old legs what to do.

So Saturday comes around, and off I go to the bike race. It was a womens 1/2/3/4 race, witht he 4s scored separately. I have been riding strong lately, so my goal was to hang with the lead pack as long as I could, and try to get in a break with some other 3's if there were any. That plan was derailed though, when I realized that the numbers were not different for the 3s or 4s or 1/2's, so there was no way of knowing who was who (and since I'm still a 4, I don't know that many of the 3's racers yet)... So the race starts and I sit in and ride. And that lasts for about 1 lap! Ack. The second time around, I just did a stupid move on the first descent into a corner. I was too far back, and I got caught behind one of the many many girls who wants to slow down to turn corners. I was mentally kicking myself, as descending and cornering is one of my favorite things, and I'm pretty confident in my ability to push the envelope with out violating CL rules... Anyway, someone attacked out of the turn, going into the windy flat section, and I was dropped. Sigh. I kept on motoring, and caught on with 2 other girls of a similar fate. They wanted to work together, so we rotated through, and rode hard, and ended up catching back on the leaders when going through the feed zone. That was nice. However, the next time around, I again get shelled. My brain was just not with me today--i was thinking about other things, and was just not riding aggressivly. I had poor positioning and it showed, and I was pretty mad at myself. This lap, there were then 5 of us in our little group. We got organized, and did a pretty good job of working together. On this lap, I finally was feeling strong, and I pulled the whole group up the long climb. My climbing legs finally showed up ( a little late!)... Then it was the final lap. We were all 4s in my group, and I didn't think there were more than 2-3 4s up the road, so this was going to be a race! We pacelined through the windy backside, and then we climbed. I held someone's wheel up the climb this time..time to start chilling and recovering for whatever sprint was going to happen in this little chase group. I was starting to cramp at this point (I think it was from not drinking enough--I didn't have a feeder so I was stuck with the water I could carry), and was really worried, as I've never cramped before in a race!

So...we start to come up to the finish and of course no one wants to be in front. I was nicely tucked in on a good wheel, and I thought she would make a move, I could take her wheel, and then pop around at the finish. But when it got to 150m to go, she wasn't going! Now I know I've got a pretty good sprint, so I decide its now or never, and make the move and go for broke. I jump and get around her easy, and pull away. Looks like I pulled it off. I stand up out of the saddle to crank, and my calf completely cramps up! The bike bobbles, and I feel the intense pain, but I was like, I"m not losing this sprint after all that work! So i will my leg to keep working and I push it over the line, about 6 inches in front of the next girl. Whew! So although I had a completely crappy race, at least I got to work with some nice girls, and get a good workout! I ended up getting 4th (I think...the results took so long that I gave up and went home!). Not the result I was after, but oh well. Some days are like that.

Today, I woke up and went down to Sunday Worlds (our local brisk sunday ride) and rode strong. My legs had come back! And I was able to hang with the guys, and do work, and push, and do just fine! So who knows what was up yesterday....

On a good note, my friend Carissa (who is super strong and almost never races) won the 4s race, and hung with the 1/2/3's the whole race yesterday! So all was not lost. And my teammate Susie also had a great first race as a 3, and finished top 10.

Maybe next weekend in San Luis my legs will show up....we can see!