Monday, October 29, 2007

USGP#1&2: Louisville, KY, October 27-28, 2007

This was the big weekend of truth. All of our point chasing and training thus far was for this weekend, the first U.S. Grand Prix weekend of races. The USGP is essentially the national series for cyclocross and this was the first of three weekends throughout the season that Wendy and I will travel to test ourselves against the best of the best! Our focus and goal this year is to make the U.S.A. Cycling Cyclocross team for worlds in Italy in January. It is good to have a dream to chase, but now I believe this dream is truly within our reach.

RACE DAY#1: Saturday, October 27th
It is always hard to travel to the east coast with the 3 hour time change, but we managed to muster up some energy and get up early enough to spin out our legs in the a.m. Race time was 1:45. The weather was crisp, but nice and the fall colors were pretty spectacular. It was hard to not be happy. We got a late start getting to the venue. Somehow time got away from us, but we registered and were able to get on the course for 45 minutes prior to our race. A perfect warm up. The course was fun with some mud sections, lots of sand and plenty of twisty turns and straightaways.
The call ups were quick, with Wendy on the front line as #7. I was back a bit at #12, but was still in the second row. A nice change from last year. We were getting wise to the game. The gun went off and the pace was plenty rich and the field did not take long to separate. Katie Compton out front, the Canadian trio followed and Georgia Gould chased them down. When she came by me, she was flying. I can't really recall exactly what happened the entire race, but I was riding with Rachael Lloyd and Kerry Barnholt for a while. Rachael got away and I rode most of the race with Kerry, trying to chase her down. Well, I couldn't do it, but I did finish in 8th place. My best finish at a USGP ever. Wendy was just 20 seconds back in 9th place. 2 top 10 finishes. We were pretty psyched!

Getting 'er done on Saturday.

That would be me in front of Georgia Gould on the 'green monster'. A brief moment of glory. She blew by me and I never saw her again. Oh well.

RACE DAY #2: Sunday, October 28th
Another beautiful day in Louisville. We started our morning with a nice sunny spin through the park we were staying near. I could tell it was going to a good day. We arrived earlier and the course was open again prior to our race. They changed it a bit, making less out and back straight aways and more twisty turns and sand. Yahoo. Love that sand! I had another good start, lining up behind Wendy Simms again. Wendy was in the front row, so I quickly worked my way up to her wheel. Again, Katie was off the front and we were much closer to the chase group for a while. Kerry Barnholt, Wendy and I made a nice little 3 pack and raced most of the race together, changing leaders only occasionally. On the second to last lap, I got fouled up in the sand pits riding too close to Kerry and had to run and then lost Wendy and her. I chased back on, but that was pretty much it. With a lap to go, there wasn't much fight left. They were both much quicker on the run ups and on the last one, I lost some time flubbing up getting back into my pedals and they beat me up the 'green monster', the awesome over under we had both days. By the time we got down from that, the race was pretty much decided. I chased hard, but Kerry got both of us by a few seconds and Wendy finished 7th, 3 seconds ahead of me in 8th. Again, great finishes and nothing to complain about. We are both right where we need to be!

The River City Duo on the chase...

The "green monster" from the side.

RACE AFTERTHOUGHTS: I really love racing my bike. It was a fun, social weekend with great racing and it is exciting to know we are in position to accomplish our goals. This was just the start. There is a lot of racing left this season, but the time seems to be just flying by. I guess traveling almost every weekend will do that. Off to Boulder next weekend. Stay tuned.

After a weekend of great racing...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Mid-week respite: October 24-25, 2007

The weather had been beautiful this week. Monday and Tuesday were gorgeous and then Wednesday wasn't so bad. After our team group ride/workout, it started to rain, but I drove east anyways. I was going to spend a night at the cabin and enjoy the fall colors and pick up some apples at the orchards. It was pretty spectacular. A much needed getaway to my favorite place on earth before I leave for Kentucky tomorrow. Check out why I feel so much better...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Cross Crusade #3: Ranier H.S., October 21, 2007

Back to riding in the mud, just like cross is supposed to be. I can't lie, however. I was happy to have it not rain and the mud was so thick. like peanut butter, that it did not even splash up on you. It was slippery in places, but what a fun course. I was a bit disappointed that there were no barriers, but survived and was able to ride the entire course without getting off my bike, except occasionally on the back side small hill when traffic did not cooperate. I had a great start off the gun, leading out on the uphill start and onto the 'singletrack'. On the backside, Bridgette powered by me, so I sat on her and then passed her later up the steep slick uphill. Not too many seconds later, Wendy and Emily came up on me and we fought through the mud on the backside and then all of a sudden, Emily was laying in the trail on the slick uphill left hand corner. I opted to not run her over and dismounted and ran up, tried to get back on for the hill, but w/o momentum, it was impossible. Away rode Wendy, and I really didn't even bother to chase. I rode a strong race and had a substantial gap on third place, so had fun, rode cautiously and did not crash. Still trying to let the ribs heal from Alpenrose. Another fun day riding bikes in the mud. And a great weather forecast for the week. Sunshine and 70's. Are we really in Portland???

Monday, October 15, 2007

OHIO UCI CYCLOCROSS: October 13-14, 2007

It seems this year has become a 'race for UCI points' for my teammate Wendy and I. Both of us learned the hard lesson last year that without them, you are doomed to a back row start. So, off we go. Why Ohio, you ask? Well, this weekend there were 2 options: Gloucester, MA or Cincinnati, OH. Who would choose Ohio? That is exactly why we did. Well, we couldn't have been more wrong. As it turns out, our races were more competitive that Gloucester. And the U.S. National Champion and silver medal World Champion just happened to choose Ohio too. I guess we were all racing for 2nd. The fields were small, but Melissa Thomas from Maxxis was there and Sunday, Kelli Emmett showed up. Neither of them are slow. It was going to be a good weekend of racing.

RACE #1: Saturday: Java Johnny's - Lionhearts 'Cross, Middletown, OH
Wendy and I arrived early enough to track down fellow Portlander and amazing mechanic, Adam McGrath, to have him help adjust our shifting, ride the course and get a good warm up in. It was a twisty turny course that used every inch of the park. In fact, while racing, I would forget where I was and what was coming next. We only had 13 women start the race, but it didn't mean it was slow. With Katie Compton there, it is never slow. She left us in the dust and Melissa Thomas, Wendy and I battled it out for second. It was anyones race until I decided to fall in one of the tight corners. Away rode Melissa and Wendy. Although Wendy did her best to let me chase back on, I was unable. Unfortunately, Melissa beat Wendy through the sand on the last lap and was able to gap her just enough to hold Wendy off for the finish. Wendy got 3rd, I got 4th. We did stay for the mens race to cheer on Barry Wicks and also Michael Gallagher, who were were happy to run into at the venue. Cross is crazy that way!

Trying to keep up on Saturday!

I wasn't going to say 'no' to a free massage! They tracked me down to give it to me too.
They sure know how to treat the athletes in Ohio.

Podium Day 1: Melissa Thomas, Katie Compton & Wendy

RACE #2: Sunday: Bio Wheels/United Dairy Farmers Cyclo-Cross, Cincinnati, OH
Another beautiful day in Ohio! A much different venue and course. I was out warming up and up rides Kelli Emmett to say "hi", so I rode with her for a lap. I forgot she was going to be here. It was going to be another fast day! And sure enough it was. The start was crazy with everyone fighting for the wheel behind Katie, but finally a group formed and the 5 of us, meaning Katie, Melissa, Kelli, Wendy and I dropped the rest of the pack. The first lap we all kind of stayed together. Melissa dropped off at some point and then there were 4. The sand pits came and Kelli and Wendy had a bit of a goof up and then it was 2 I stayed on Katies wheel for another lap or so until she decided enough was enough. Off she went. Then with about a lap and a half to go, I heard Kelli approaching. On the back side ascent, she rubbed my back wheel and I stood up to chase and the wheel had no air. Not sure what happened, but all I could think was, "do I ride on my rim? my new expensive wheel set? am I breaking them? How far is the damn pit???" Well, probably a bit less than a 1/4 of a lap and I was at the pit. Wendy had flown by me and I finally was able to change bikes and finish the last lap. I chased, hoping to fight back for 3rd, but i had lost too much time and there was no way. I would have to settle for 4th. I was able to hold off Melissa, but Kelli and Wendy were gone. It was frustrating, b/c I was having such a great race. Sure, it's not fair, but that is racing. I hope I have gotten all of my bad luck out of the way for the year!

Well, I don't like champagne anyhow... Podium Day 2: Kelli Emmett, Katie & Wendy

AFTERTHOUGHTS: This was a super fun weekend. It was great seeing Melissa and Kelli and hanging out with Katie a bit. I don't think I will have the opportunity to ride on Katie's wheel like that again. It was fun to hear stories and learned a lot by listening. It was a great race and it was so nice to have the promoters and local competitors thank us for coming. And, after the first race, they tracked me down to give me a free massage. Now that doesn't happen most places we go.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Cross Crusade #1: Alpenrose, October 7, 2007

Although the season seemed to be shaping up as a muddy one, the rain held off and we were granted a dry, nice weather cross race! It seemed to have brought EVERYONE out to race cross with record attendance! It was amazing! 162 women were at the starting line an 27 A women. Definitely a record. In fact, rolling up 10 minutes prior to the start proved to be way too late. But I thought lining up on the second row could only help me in the future, right? And I always have to pee one last time.
My race started at 1:10. I rode my bike there from home, so I was still kind of warmed up. The news that Kristi Berg came down from Seattle would make the race more interesting. One more strong female in the mix. Well, the gun went off and being in that second row did prove to make it a very slow start, but eventually, over half way through the first lap, I found myself out front and made my way through the velodrome first to claim the 'prime' which was a bottle of wine. Yahoo! It was a great race and I was having fun. But the fun ended on a sharp left corner where the pavement turned to gravel and my tires decided not to hold and down I went. HARD! Both wheels washed out from under me and I was laying on the ground. It took me a while to come to my senses, but I got up, checked myself over and saw no tears in the skinsuit. My chain came off and my shifter and brake was all jacked up, but I think I was going to survive. I knew I was hurting, but not enough to quit. I got back on my bike and started to chase back. A quick switch of bikes in the bit, I started to catch up to people I recognized and gradually worked my way back to third. And that is as far forward as I could go. I would take it, b/c after the race I realized that I was hurting. My handlebars must have gone into my ribs, because it hurt to breathe and my lefthand pinky was bloody and I did a job to my left forearm through the longsleeves. Thank goodness I left sleeves on! I was too sore to really do anything, so I put my bike on the trainer by the Tahoe to cool down and started cheering for Tim. Tim had a great race, but also had been plagued with a flat tire during the first lap. To the pits for him, but it didn't seem to slow him down too much. He ended up 9th in the Mens Masters A's.
Then it was on to Crosstoberfest! A post race party at the Wilder residence! Anita made amazing food and we enjoyed our brats, beer and brezeln!

Super fast! Super fun!

Tim charging hard and looking good!