Apr 25, 2010

Cherry Blossom Stage Race - Stage 4 - CRIT!

Stage 4 - Crit
Sunday April 25th, noon
Last stage - 25 minutes on a 1k course

I am not very good at crits. Why? I am the worlds most scared Sorella. I think I should win the scaredy cat prize. I never like riding close to racers I don't know, I don't trust the pack, I don't trust the corners... so what do I do? Drop off the back.

And that's what I did. Let's also mention again that this was stage 4, and my legs were cooked in the TT. I lasted about 10 minutes in the crit before me and 5 others that were with me got pulled. So I wasn't last, and I wasn't alone, at least a group of us got pulled... and really, I was ready to be done. I want to give a crit a descent go one day when it's not part of a stage race, and I need a series of clinics before hand:
Peleton riding.

I am really happy with the weekend overall, and I am extra happy with my stage 1 and stage 3... those were my strengths.

I am ready to do it all again, and do it better next time.

Cherry Blossom Stage Race - Stage 3 - TT

TT = Time Trial
Stage 3 = Vengeance

10 miles, 8:01 AM, Sunday April 25th, 2010

OK, so it's only 10 miles, and it's only the time trial, but I wanted to race my face off. I was still mad about not being able to descend yesterday, so I gave that TT my all. I was third out of the gate at 8:01, and I decided I had several goals:
1 - Gun it.
2 - Pass the two women in front of me and therefore finish first
3 - Get a better time than Katy (not sure why I was competitive about that one)

I think I just wanted to prove to myself that I was strong, and that my biggest set backs are strategy. I know how to ride a goddamn bike, and I know how to ride hard.

So off I went, passing the first two racers in about the first two miles, so then since I had no one to chase, my carrot was holding my lead so I could finish first. I could then pretend I won the stage, even though it doesn't work like that.

And win I did, first over the line I yelled to the refs: "I won the race!" as I flew over the finish line. I'm not sure they found it funny, but I needed a small piece of redemption.

I did well, 26th out of 36, and 41 seconds faster than Katy, not that I'm counting :)

Apr 24, 2010

More Party Tricks - Cherry Blossom Stage Race - Stage 2

Cherry Blossom Stage Race – Stage 2 = 27 miles, 5 laps
Saturday April 24, 2010

The race of party tricks I hadn’t practiced.

“It’s like 6 Tabors” said Elise at the start line. It was more like 10 tabors with other Peletons passing you constantly in a 30 mile an hour head/cross/tail/side wind.

The party trick I hadn’t practiced for today’s stage, was what do you do on a 25mph descent with 30 mile an hour cross winds causing your front wheel to fish tail violently in front of you? OK, I am being dramatic, but I did get my first ever “speed wobbles” in a race today, and it freaked me the fuck out. It was early on in the race, on the first descent, and my handlebars just started fishtailing under my hands and I saw my body flying through the air flash before my eyes. It was not easing and I started to become convinced I was destined for a heap in the road. I was at the back of the pack, so the follow cars were still behind me, so my only consolation was that a car would be there to alert the medics.

What would any racer do in this situation? Apparently you yell out loud to yourself. Yes, it’s true, now knowing what to do instinctually I yelled: “STEADY! STEADY! RELAX! RELAX! I bent my elbows and slowly tried to slow down, and a few seconds later I was holding a line again. At this point however the race was pretty much over for me, as I was totally freaked out. I slowed way down, and realized I had no idea how to ride this Cervelo in the harsh side wind.

I rode solo and hammered up all the hills, and rode the brakes all the way down the descents. I couldn’t even work hard enough to be out of breath or tired, as I felt so good on the climbs and was literally crawling down the descents. I went through all the feelings of wanting to cry, yell, hammer, drop out, pull over, let go of my fears and gun it. But mostly I just rode pissed.

Sarah came up behind me and yelled “Zan”, and I was so angry at that moment I didn’t say anything or even look to see who it was. She yelled again “Zan”, and I think I just said “Yeah”… as in yeah it’s me, fuck this wind, fuck this race, fuck my fear being the only thing holding me back because I feel strong and fresh and ready to race…. and right now I am not even racing like I should be.

I had to do all kinds of positive self talk: “At least I feel super strong, my nutrition plan was great, my legs feel great, my breathing is great, if it weren’t for the 30mph cross winds I’d still be in this game for real." But I am in this game for real, and I finished with the goal of just using this stage as practice for riding in the horrible wind, since we did the same loop 5 times. It didn’t really get easier, but whatever, I finished.

I seriously could race 100 miles tomorrow…I want redemption. But I am blessed with this amazing strength, determination and the best team ever. There will be many teammates and coaches to step up and give me tips for descending in the wind, and for this amazing community I am thankful.

Stage 3 is not 100 miles, like I wish it were, I have an 8:01 start time for a 10 mile time trial. Time to just gun it and see what happens.

Cherry Blossom Stage Race - Stage 1

Cherry Blossom Stage Race 2010 – Stage ONE – Friday April 23rd.

38 miles total, two 19 mile loops in The Dalles, Oregon.

I went into this race with a new strategy: A Cervelo.

Having raced Cherry Blossom last year, I knew a little bit more about what I was getting in to, and had a clear goal of doing better than last year, and staying with some of my teammates. I did all the right planning, eating, sleeping, prepping, training, etc., and came in with my teammate Jen’s attitude of “OWN IT!” and Katy’s and my new quote “DUST EM!”.

I wanted to stay with Katy, but I found myself at the back of the pack pretty early on, even though I started in the middle. I got squeezed left and just didn’t feel ready to be in the middle of this somewhat large field, maybe 50 Cat 4 women. There weren’t really any surges for the first 9 miles, so I was not experiencing any yo-yo-ing, which usually kicks me off the back.

I am very specific about not trying anything new for a race, and I thought I had everything dialed in. Apparently I hadn’t tested out my Garmin water bottle in the carbon bottle cage on the Cervelo on a bumpy road at 25mph. I’ve ridden that Cervelo plenty now, and carried that exact water bottle every time… but apparently the road we were racing on today was determined to get that bottle bouncing right out of the bottle cage. I heard it a few miles in, and couldn’t figure out what the noise was until I looked down and saw my water bottle teetering on the edge of jumping ship, and I shoved it back down. I hoped that was it, but a mile later I was shoving again, and a mile later, again.

So, you can probably guess that this slowed me down a bit, and you can also probably guess that at mile 8 when I was happily going 25mph the bottle jumped ship and landed right under my back wheel. I rolled right over it like a speed bump, and stayed totally steady. Having never ridden over a water bottle before, I was glad that was a party trick I didn’t need to practice, and I managed to continue on. I caught back up with the pack, but I was down the water bottle Tyler Farrar gave me, and the one that contained my only electrolyte drink: Heed and Maltodextrin = GONE at mile 8.

At this point a few people were falling off the back, and by mile 9 I had officially been dropped off the main pack, but I was not in last place. I passed Carolyn pretty easily, so I knew I needed to group up with some other folks ahead of me. I saw Sorella Christine had also been dropped and caught up to her before the climb. We climbed together and caught Poplillies Kelly at the top and told her to grab on. Turns out she was a perfect match and the three of us worked together quite well.

I was definitely pushing my normal race pace, and we were regularly going 22-25 mph. There was headwind and cross wind in a couple places, but nothing like last year. Once we crested the climb and started the main descent, Kelly led us down with her mad descending skills and I dropped back a bit out of fear of going that fast. I was still pretty new to the Cervelo, and I kept thinking I was going to blow a tire and fly off my bike and into the pavement. Nothing like a little self inflicted fear to get you to loose some ground. At the bottom of the descent the other two were about 400m ahead of me, and I knew I needed to catch back on as we still had another lap to go. It took a couple k and all I had, but I caught back up by the start of lap 2.

Again we worked together, except my pulling days were over, and I sat and drafted while barely hanging on to their wheels for the second lap. I knew they were faster on the descent, so we parted ways there, and I gave myself a little talking to and took the hill more confidently the second time around. I pushed myself the last couple of k to the finish, but I knew the folks behind me were really far behind me, so I didn’t really need to sprint for the line as Christine and Kelly had already crossed it ahead of me.

I finished solid with lots of Sorellas at the line to cheer me through, and felt really damn good about my fastest 38 mile race ever. Total race time was 2 hrs, and given the climbs, that is not bad in my books.

Now we are back at the Rowena house, a veritable palace with the most amazing views right off the deck. I soaked my legs in the freezing ass Columbia River, ate a solid dinner and rolled my I.T. bands on the roller. My feet are up, my body is tired and brain is happy and excited for Stage 2. I can tell already that this race is going to be too short, and that I would rather race for 3 weeks straight… Tour de France anyone? Anyone?

Apr 21, 2010

PIR Monday nights... it's on.

Early this year, the PIR Monday night race series has started. Seeing as I am racing Cherry Blossom this weekend, I decided to go out to PIR and just ride the track but not race. I didn't want to spoil my legs, or risk a crash, but I did want to be there for opening night, and support whomever else was racing.

Turns out only 9 novice women signed up to race, and 5 open women. We had Sorellas in both fields :) I did 3 warm up laps with some guy, then Nissy and I decided to mentor the Novices and ride next to them and give them tips. This was the best idea for sure, as it gave Nissy and I a chance to ride a nice 20mph clip, and stay far enough away from the paceline to feel secure that if they went down we wouldn't.

The highlight for me was that it was EASY to push a 20mph pace without a pace line... I was able to ride smooth, breathe fine, talk easily and just clip along like it was no big deal. 20mph alone into a headwind finally felt pedestrian.

Yes, you heard it: PEDESTRIAN! WOHOO!!!! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? The asthmatic can finally clip along easily at 20mph alone and still talk/coach/give tips/hold my own line. It was seriously better than actually being registered in the race, because I was out there racing next to them and thinking to myself if I was racing I'd be OWNING this race :)

And with that, I am taking some ownership to Cherry Blossom this weekend... the race I was SO AFRAID of last year.. and this year I am feeling thrilled about. Me and my new Cervelo have some catching up to do... catching up with the fast ladies that is.

Quote for this weekend:
"Dust Em!"

Race Number 2 of 2010

They call it a piece of cake.

Actually you can win a whole cake.
I didn't think it was a piece of cake, nor did I win a whole cake, but I did finish, and I finished strong with a strong leg sprint.

It was still winter... who races in March? February? Anyway, it was wet, and cold, and asthmatic. I got dropped from the main pack pretty fast since I couldn't breathe, and we got there so late I hardly had a warm up... but we made it, and we raced.

I caught Carolyn and we worked together the whole race, taking turns and passing others. We picked up a few, dropped a few, picked up a couple, dropped one, and pretty much just kept going. There was nothing too technical about it, some odd tracks, some carpet soaked into the grooves of the tracks, but we all stayed upright. Wheezing away I pushed what I could, and by the end of it I was warmed up.. it takes me a while.

I sprinted for the finish.. you know, just to practice, and to fight for my near to last spot :) I felt proud to "win my sprint" as I call it, which basically meant I was something like 4th or 5th from last, but beat the two or three ladies I was riding with. It's the small things... getting ready for the big things when the weather gets better and I can actually breathe.