Monday, March 31, 2008

I thought SoCal was supposed to be warm and sunny?

My San Dimas Race Report
Stage 1: The hill climb. So I am no climber. Last year, I thought I was a climber, but that was just because I didn't know how to ride on the flats. Now I have that figured out....and I've realized climbing is just NOT my strong suit. Not that I mind it or anything....but I'm just not the tiny speedy type! Plus, with my injury last fall, it is still pretty early season for peak in sight yet. So my goal for the TT was to ride steady and hope to be in the mix afterwards. I rode my most consistent TT to date, so I was really happy with it. I wasn't happy that it was only good for 23rd place...but alas, you take what you got, and that's what I got! I should have been happier that the weather was nice.

Stage 2: RR. The 3/4 road race was supposed to be at 8am. The hotel I was staying at was only about a mile from the start/finish, so I just warmed up at the hotel, and rode over. This seemed so cool--to RIDE to a bike race. The only problem was....the start was delayed, and it was extremely COLD! I guess a park gate was locked shut, and they had to open it before the start. So we all froze. I was physically shaking by the time the start actually happened, a good 30 minutes late. It would have taken me a long time to warm up, except that about 1.5 miles in, someone slammed their brakes ahead of me, and I had to do some evasive riding to avoid causing the folks behind more issues, and nearly ran into a lane barrier. After being happy that no one crashed, my heart was in my throat and I was suddenly plenty warmed up! Ack! There went a match... Anyway, soon after, I said to Olivia, who was next to me "I have GOT to get out of this spot, this is terrifying," and with that, she sees a hole I couldn't get to, and is suddenly right up in front, exactly where I wanted to be! Damn, she's good!" Anyway, that was that, and soon I had my position settled again. However, the race would continue to go like that for me. Some of the teams were really organized, and I was just not picking good wheels, and found myself jettisoned around the pack more than I would have liked. I guess I need to work on reacting quicker, but I'm learning, so that is good. On the last time up the climb (there was a KOM climb in the middle-nothing too crazy, actually a pretty good climb for someone like me who can at best consider herself a power climber, and at worst not a climber at all), I got behind a bad wheel and had to use a lot to pop around her, finding myself gapped at the top. I chased back on because there was a really awesome descent, and I love to descend. That was when my "see your life flash before your eyes" moment occured. I was catching up on the descent...spun out, full on chase, and there was a spot where the road turns, and then there is a climb. There were 3 girls on the climb, going rather slow. They were all towards the center line, and I decided to go around them on the right, as there was no room between them and the center line to go left. It should not even have been close...but as I was approaching at high speed, the one girl pops and swerves to the right! I screamed something (have no recollection as to what) and changed my line, narrowly missing her as she realized what was going on and heard her say "oh,sorry!" I couldn't breathe or swallow for a split second...but somehow I kept pedaling and managed to catch back onto the lead group. Yippee! Thank goodness for all those mornings of hammering with the guys. Alas, as soon as I hit the back of the group, someone attacked, and a bunch of girls went. I was too far back to respond quickly and had to dig deep. I found a hole and bounced through the people who did not bridge, and then put my head down and hammered. I caught the lead group (one other girl bridged as well) just as we were in the finishing sprint. I didn't get to pass anyone, but I did finish with the same time as the leaders, in the pack sprint, so I was happy with my effort. I had given it my all, made up for some errors, and worked my a** off. 16th place. hmph!

Alas, when I toed the line for Stage 3 yesterday, it was anything but sunny in SoCal! The raindrops started at the exact moment the race begain, and it rained for the entire crit! I usually love to race crits, but racing with 50 cat 3/4's in the pouring rain was more than I cared to deal with! There were no crashes in the race, which was excellent, even when someone dropped their chain! The problem was that my glasses fogged up completely and I couldnt see a shred. With 2 to go, I decided to sacrifice some position to fix the problem. I had no pocket to throw them in (darn skinsuits), so I went back a bit, got to the right and threw them in the grass. Then I had to work my way back up to the front for the sprint, and never quite got there. Oh well...decisions decisions. I can always second guess myself, but at the time I decided that seeing was better than crashing, but I really did lose position and any hopes of a podium. Anyway, I saw this morning online that I got 14th.

So my results are nothing to write home about. I don't know my final GC yet, but it was 19th after stage 2, so I'm assuming it is about that now, as well. I did have a ton of fun, though, and learned a lot, and got a few more races in the experience bag. I'm chomping at the bit for Garrett Lemire and Sea Otter now!!

Photos coming when I find some!


Monday, March 17, 2008

Finally a Race Report!

LA Circuit Race (is it still a circuit race when it is just on one road with 2 u-turns????)

A few of us girls ventured south for
the LA circuit race. There were actually 7 SB area women in the women's
3/4 race today--a great showing by the locals!

I was feeling quite organized--I even left the house on time (ok, 1
minute later than planned) this morning. However, due to a little time
loss picking up Marian (new cat 3 in the area) I was late getting to
Olivia's. I knew I was in trouble when Olivia called me on our way
there, and there was no salutation to be had, only a terse "where are
you." Oops...we weren't THAT late! Anyway, we did finally leave the SB
area, after our much needed Starbucks stop. In Starbucks, I asked
Olivia if she was nervous, and got "no....(small pause here), well, only
about not getting there in time!" Oops again. On a good note, we
managed to fit 3 people, 3 bikes, 3 trainers, 3 duffel bags o' random
stuff all in one small VW Golf! We were probably the only ones who
actually followed the directions on the race flyer which said "please
prevent global warming and consider carpooling to the race in cars of 3
or more!"

We fit ALL of this into the car? How are we ever going to get it back in there...

Anyway, we did get there, and got out of the car only to be nearly blown
over by the wind! Hmmm. It was going to be a chilly day at the races.
Turned out that the riding direction was exactly perpendicular to the
wind...pure crosswind the WHOLE course. As I was getting readyW3/4 ,
Olivia was following me around like the paparazzi--I felt so famous.

On to the race....the race was about as interesting as one could expect
from a flat road with a U-turn at each end! There were about 30 women
in the 3/4 race. Susan Farber was also racing for Chicken Ranch, and I
had "stealth teammates" Olivia and Marian. As Olivia said...(based on
her inability to fit into the new kits), "she is just too big for the
chicken ranch britches," but can still be a "stealth chicken rancher."
(note--Olivia is a lot smaller than I I'm not sure that this is
quite accurate) And stealth teammate she was! She attacked on lap 2
because "the race was too slow" and I got to see who was strong when
they chased her down. I was happy to block for her, even if she was
wearing the frog colors of Echelon :) . The race really came down to
the final sprint. Marian attacked on the final corner, which was too
early, but managed to string it out a tad. I had a pretty good wheel
going into the sprint, managed to time it better than I have all season,
but I still have some work to do. The wheel I picked didn't quite get
me where I needed to be so I had to do some dancing and managed to get
3rd, still accelerating at the line.

Checking the results...and watching races in the background.

The rest of the Ranchers...
Susan Farber 8th
(stealth racer) Olivia Walling 14th
(stealth racer) Marian Hunting 18th

We stuck around just long enough to hear the race results and pick up
the cycle computer that I managed to win, and then it was back home,
with a nice stop in Malibu for lunch. Good up, San Dimas!

How'd everyone else do this weekend?


Monday, March 10, 2008

Too sad for words.

Two cyclists (one an olympic hopeful) were killed in the Bay area yesterday morning when a law enforcement officer crossed a double yellow line and ran into them. A third is in the hospital. I was in the Bay area yesterday for some work was a beautiful day, the kind of day where being out on the bike is a joy. My thoughts go out to the families and friends of these folks whose lives were cut short while doing something so many of us love to do.

Life is too short.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Cold Case...solved (with forensic analysis)!

Over the past couple of months, people have been offering lots of opinions on my riding style and form on the bike. Now for those of you who know me, know I don't take criticism well, but I've been trying to suck it up and learn from those who have oodles more experience than I do! I've learned so much from my friends about riding and racing, and I really do appreciate it. I really have fun with my cycling buddies, and they keep me on my toes. However, it is not always easy. It has been frustrating over the past couple of months when my form came into question. After watching me race at Mothballs last month (and again in Arizona), the consensus from the gallery was that I was bouncing too much on the seat...speculation was that my seat was too low...and that I was spinning too easy a gear. I also offered that maybe my pedal stroke wasn't good...although I had been working on my pedal stroke, so I wasn't sure about that. I asked a few people about my seat height, and people gave all sorts of opinions, including this classic "it's ok to look funny on the bike if it works for you." Anyway, while all this has been going on, I have been slowly losing confidence in my riding. I did feel myself bouncing more, and just feeling inefficient. When gaps formed on the fastest rides, I couldn't always hang on. People would say "you're stronger than that, you need to ride tougher." (however, when I look at my data from those rides and see those surges into the high 190's...I was just not sure how much tougher I could ride!).

So yesterday morning, preparing for the Saturday AM group ride...I finally decided to play with my seat height. I was kneeling down by the bike, oiling the chain and loosening the seat tube clamp. I go to stand up, and I happened to put my hand on the nose of the seat to boost myself up. Low and behold, the seat flexed a lot more than I expected. I pushed on the middle of it, and it flexed a LOT. I decided that this needed more investigation. So I took the seat off, and then i could clearly feel that there was at least one crack in the plastic was flexing in a VERY bad way. So I am intrigued now, so I cut apart the plastic fake-leather coating, and sure enough, there is a huge crack right across the middle, and the seat is in 3 pieces, held together only by fake leather and the Ti rails (it is a specialized top of the line women's saddle)! Hmmmm.

Anyway, I swapped seats with my TT bike, and went off on my bike ride. This weekend's rides were the strongest I've had in awhile. No more bouncing, no more feeling squishy when I need to put power into the pedals. No getting dropped or even feeling close to it....well, except if you count the flat I got while rolling back into Santa Barbara today.

The embarassing part of this is that I think I've been riding with a broken saddle since I crashed in late November! I am guessing that would be the only impact hard enough to break this saddle the way it cracked. I guess this explains why my masseuse has been complaining about me being asymmetric....and why my bike shorts are all rubbed on the left side but not the right, an issue I never had before. The princess and the pea I most certainly am not!

I'm sure hoping my next set of races finds me in better form! (speaking of which, my race report from Az can be found on my team's blog)

Photos of the seat autopsy forthcoming when I download them...