Thursday, November 29, 2007

UCI points the cold way: Jingle Cross Rock, Iowa City, IA, November 24-25, 2007

What a perfect excuse for me to go home for Thanksgiving. I flew in on Thanksgiving day and had dinner with the family along with some wicked games of Boggle.
The Pflueger kids (Nik, Cathy, Lance, me, Paul)

My nephew Musa & I.

Friday, after a chilly ride, we headed south on Friday and picked up Wendy in Cedar Rapids for a weekend of racing fun. Mom, Dad, Abi and Alec joined us as our support crew/cheering squad. And it was a weekend of fun, despite the sometimes chilly temperatures.

Jingle Cross Rock #1: Saturday, 11/24
Wendy and I woke up early and headed out in the 30 degree weather for a quick spin to get our legs back. It has been crazy, but wherever we travel to, we seem to be staying right next to some cool path. We found one right behind our hotel in Coralville, IA and it was a perfect morning spin. Scenic, cold, slightly hilly, cold, paved, cold, did I mention cold??? OK, so it was cold, but it was sunny and that at least helped.
Our path.

The race venue was the county fairgrounds. It was 6 miles from the hotel and one turn. Even we could not get lost. And the course was a blast. Although some may think Iowa is flat, they found a hill and did a great job of putting it in the course. One brutal run up and a long switch back climb. I must say, this course had more hills than any of our normal courses at home.
The start should have been fairly mellow with only 17 girls. Wendy and I were first and second call up. The gun went off, I struggled a little to get my pedal clipped and then a girl rode right into me. Down on the ground I went so fast and the whole pack rode away. I got up, my helmet totally askew and chain off as I remounted. Back off to fix it and getting further and further behind. It had to be 30 seconds before I was up and running. I didn't panic and by the end of the first lap, I was in second. I didn't bother to chase Wendy down, because I knew if I got close, she would put the hurt on me, so there I stayed, relaxed and enjoying the no pressure race. I actually thought I should have been working harder.
Over the river and through the barns...
Podium day 1. Wendy in the middle!

At the start, Day 2.

Jingle Cross Rock #2: Sunday, 11/25

Another cold morning, but not as cold, and another day of racing at the fairgrounds. The course was pretty much reversed of the day before with some minor changes, but they certainly didn't make it easier. The start went much better and I found myself out front. And there I stayed for the entire race. Wendy was on my tail for the first lap and on the second run up, I finally got an edge and dropped her and then started working on my gap and kept it. I even stooped down for a $5 on the run up on the 3rd or 4th lap. The crowd went crazy. So, I was all smiles when I crossed the finish line, having won my 1st UCI race! It was sweet. But after the glory was over, it was time to pack up and get back to Minnesota.
The grinch showed up on day 2.
Riding the side hill.
The decent on the one hill in Iowa.
Wendy & I.Finally!!! I get to stand on the top step!
My biggest fans, Abi & Alec.
Post race fun!
I guess fun is debatable. Riding in 20 degree weather proved painful with out sun on the path we rode. We survived, but the fun factor really went down. Wendy in front of the HUGE ski hill I grew up skiing at.

Wendy had to leave Monday p.m., so we went to dinner with my sister and I took her to the airport and spent two more days with my family and riding in damn cold weather. Good KC training, I figure. I was able to spend some time with my childhood friend, Liz, and her daughters and also made a trip to to see my grandma, since Thanksgiving was too short. What a great way to combine sandbagging a UCI race and getting points with quality family time!
My 'Oma' and me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

And we thought the race was over....

I usually don't just 'blog', but I think this merits some attention. It is Tuesday, 11/20 and I am STILL traveling home. It is just absurd the luck Wendy and I have had thus far. We actually go to the Phili airport on time, all was good, we were on the plane and then there was a huge 'clunk'. Come to find out, they broke some tow thing. A quick fix, supposedly. But 4 hours later and we were finally re-boarding the plane and there were only 10 of us left. There was only one seat left on a flight out, connecting in SLC, so Wendy and I stuck together and were going to hope we would make our connection. We did have a VERY long layover in JFK and things were supposedly delayed. Well, by the time we left, we knew we were going to miss our flight. Another guy there had found out that they listed us as a weather delay, so our pilot got pissed and made them change it to a 'mechanical' so we could at least get a hotel for the night. Well, a very nice young man tried to help us, but I had a doctors appt. I didn't want to miss in Portland at 12:30, so the flight the next day out of JFK wouldn't work, b/c it got in at 1. We finally got booked (or so we thought) on a bit earlier flight out of Laguardia, but I had to pay the taxi to get there. Small price to pay to get back. And of course when we get there, we don't have seats like we were told the night before. She sends us through with standby tickets and tells us to go to the gate. Well, Hector wasn't so kind at first, but he warmed up to us and would see us again and again. He gives us seats on the overbooked flight. We are grateful. So, we are on the plane, on the runway, next to take off. The pilot powers up and then we come to a stop. Some light came on. Another 'quick fix' and we would be back on our way. Well, they finally deplaned us all and by now, we had already missed our connection in Cincinnati. Could this really be happening???
Back to the drawing board. Hector was sick of us, so we got turned over to another nice woman who took pity on us since we were not on our second delta flight with a mechanical, we slept (for maybe 4 hours) in our clothes the night before and we had just about had it. I finally accepted that I was going to miss my appointment. Now I just wanted to get home. It wasn't looking good. Everything seemed to be booked. Silly stupid. Well, finally we got on a flight to Atlanta, 2 hours out of the way, in order to get booked to Portland. And here we sit. Our final leg of this journey departs at 4:57 and we are in first class (not even close to making up for this fiasco). Will we get home??? I am sure eventually, but we are not psyched about turning around and leaving again! I get one day at home and then off to Minnesota and Iowa. The adventure continues...

tired & wanting to be home...

yep, slept in my clothes last night and didn't shower...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

USGP#3&4: Trenton, NJ, November 17-18, 2007

Traveling to the east coast again, I learned a valuable lesson. Always pack your bike shoes in your bike box, because then if your luggage doesn't come, you can still ride your bike. This is how my trip started and after a few tears of frustration at the airport, we moved to plan B. We went to the bike shop that was hosting the pre-party and I bought shoes and Wendy would share her skinsuits and extra clothes and it would all be good. Not ideal, but fine. Luckily, the luggage showed up. Just a mere disruption of my sleep at 2 a.m. when the luggage service finally arrived. I have never been so happy to wake up at 2 a.m.

RACE DAY #1: Saturday, 11/17
It was cold and breezy, but dry. We got up and took a short spin on the neighborhood "tow path". It was next to the canal and apparently donkeys used to 'tow' barges on this path. It was lined with gorgeous fall colors and definitely made our morning.
We made our way to Mercer County park to find the course had some mud on it, but nothing to brag about. It was a flat, fast course and to quote Wendy, "it was boring." Wendy and I both had second line call ups this week and luckily good people lined up in front of us, b/c they called them back from the start. Wendy had a great start, but I had a little difficulty getting going, but got around and up to the lead pack. The first lap was super slow, considering and eventually the pack started breaking up. Not sure exactly when, but eventually I found myself going through the sand pit with Kelly B. and Amy D. I worked the rest of the race to shake them and finally did, finishing in 6th place, my best finish ever. I was psyched!
Post race we took a little cool down ride and normally I wouldn't mention this, but we were riding and suddenly Wendy shouts, "LOOK, let's go ride over by those animals" and away she darted through the field. We thought they were big gophers, only to find out later we were chasing down groundhogs. They were pretty funny.

Race Day #2: Sunday 11/18
40 degrees and rainy. Perfect cross weather. i thought I would have such an advantage being accustomed to this crap and I wasn't scared of the mud. I had a pretty decent start and got on the main group until some point on the back side when people started going down. I managed fine. The fist time on the side hill, I found myself sliding more than I would have cared to, but no worries. A lot of people were struggling. It was on the back side when I slipped and dismounted my bike to save myself and got my leg wrapped up in the tape that I slipped a few places. I had some shifting issues and was struggling to get into the big chain ring after all the sand. Finally with a little over a lap to go, I did a bike change and what a difference. Wendy and I were making some time up, but didn't have enough time to catch the next couple in front of us. I sprinted to the line to try to get Kelli, but was shy of a second and finished in 11th, with Wendy 12th. Not a great day for the River City gals, but we will take revenge in Portland.

forgot to take pics at the venue, but our a.m. rides were scenic

muddy, wet, cold monday a.m.

Wendy smiling in the snow Monday a.m.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Good times in Oregon for the weekend: CC#6 & SSCXWC at Estacada Timber Park: November 10-11, 2007

It was great to be home for the weekend, but somehow the whole weekend got consumed by racing and fun on our bikes. Not only was it the weekend of one of my favorite Cross Crusade races, but it was also the first ever Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships! And Pam Frick Schwartz came down from Seattle for the weekend with Kirin. A busy weekend for sure. Plus we hosted a few Bend friends who also had to race both days.

Single Speed Time Trial: Saturday, November 10th
In the true spirit of single speed racing, there was a time trial qualifying race for the big event on Sunday. We kind of came and went and avoided the craziness that followed, but I was first off at 12:03 p.m. and my number was zero! I raced in a white t-shirt and Wendy gave me some tattoos ala sharpie prior to the race. It was a fun course, and I zipped around it and qualified in 2nd place. Wendy got me by 5 seconds. Fun, fun. Tim also qualified and the guys was a bit more difficult. All the women made it, but they cut the guys and even on his mountain bike, he made it to the finals.

CC#6 & SSCXWC: Sunday, November 11th
I was definitely NOT my usual self when I woke up on Sunday. Without going into details, I would not have survived the day without advil. I think Tim was even wondering what was wrong when I was curled over in pain due to cramps. Yep, the female kind. (Sorry to those of you that think this is TMI, but it is my blog, right?) But riding actually felt better, b/c that was enough pain to take the other pain away. The women's race was a lot of fun and fast. I may have had a bit too much air in my tubulars (you were right, Wendy), but despite that, I had a clean race and finished in my usual spot. 2nd. It was fine. After the race, back to the car to get in a new set of clothes and get the borrowed single speed bike ready to go. I didn't change the rear tire and I knew this was going to be a problem, but I really didn't care too much. I was not going to win, b/c there was NO tattoo going on this body. So, I changed, got ready, brought Tim's bike to the start, since he would have a quick turn around, but kind of neglected to refuel. I did have one bar, but it was busy and I really wasn't hungry. I would pay for this later.
The SS race was fun. We lined up and then they turned us around to start in the opposite direction. It didn't affect my start too much and Kendra led me out and took the lead early on. I didn't take the tequila short cut, so was immediately chasing. By the beginning of the second lap I had passed the short cutters and was leading the race with Wendy and Emily right there too. We had a blast. Rode together most of the race not knowing really when it was going to end. At about 45 minutes into it at the barriers on what turned out to be the last lap, unbeknown st to me, I was barely moving over them. I was literally out of fuel and knowing, or thinking we had 2 to go, I knew I had to conserve a little. So even after leading for quite a bit of the race, I watched Wendy and then Emily pull away. At one point I thought Emily was going to be wearing the gold lame' bikini, but Wendy took the victory. I really thought we had a lap, so when I got up the hill and saw it was over, it was bittersweet. I was glad to be done, but didn't have any more time to chase back on. I did make 2 bucks though, on the run ups. Yahoo. Cash is always nice. :)

Leading out the womens race.

Getting "BIG" air in SS race.

Having fun.

Monday, November 5, 2007

UCI points the hard way: Boulder, CO, November 4-5, 2007

I live at sea level. Why would I want to go race at altitude against the fastest women in the country? Well, Boulder, CO sure beats flying back to the east coast and I am sure it made me faster! Wendy and I were on the road again. Seems like we just got back from Kentucky. Oh that's right, we did. But off to Boulder we went for the Redline Cup and Boulder Cup.

Saturday, November 4th: REDLINE CUP, Boulder Reservoir
We were actually fortunate, or unfortunate, to had ridden the course the previous evening. We knew what was in store for us. It was a rough course with lots of sand and some loose corners. And the biggest obstacle: goatheads! I learned that these are 2 pronged sticky things with a shape like a goats head, hence the name. But heck, our tubulars had sealant in them, right? Race time was 1:25 and both Wendy and I had front row call ups. Mine of course the second to last one, thus positioning me on the wrong side of where I wanted to be, which unfortunately turned out poorly. The gun went off and somehow as we funneled to the one good path through the thick gravel, I was not where I needed to be. I was patient, but in the meantime, the front rode away and I was not there. Not that I could have been in the state of oxygen deprivation I found myself in, but it was a rough start. I pushed through it hoping I had enough to work back up, but on the second lap, I 'superman-ed' on one of the loose corners. Yep, full on belly slide off the bike landing mostly on my right hip. My drive side hit the ground hard, but I really don't remember exactly how it happened, as with most crashes I've had. Two riders came up on me and Megan yelled for me to get back on my bike. That jolted me back into action and I was back in the race. At that point I relaxed a lot, tried to normalize my breathing and just chased back in. I got as far up as 8th, but that is where my glory ended. In the meantime, Wendy had a great race and found the last spot on the podium in 5th.

Suffer face on Saturday

Sunday, November 5th: BOULDER CUP, Southern Hills Middle School
This course brought back memories, but not very good ones for me. I remember suffering on it the year before when it was a USGP course, but it was a fun fast course and I psyched myself up for the suffering. At least the start was paved and no surprises. The only surprise was the fact that there was no gun or whistle, but the UCI official semi-whistling, semi-shouting to start us. And the fun had begun. Out the gate I was in good position, feeling much better about the race. Could I breathe better? NO, but I was not going to think about that. Katie of course led the pack and disappeared, but I was in good position with Wendy and Kerry B and we had a group slightly behind us. Well, until we went through the second sand pit on the first lap. Not sure how it happened, but I found myself off and running half way through it and watching Wendy and Kerry ride away. Big chase efforts at altitude are really rough. I didn't have it, so as the group behind us pedaled by me, I had my work cut out for me. I ended up racing with Barbara Howe for a few laps, her on my wheel until I finally shook her, as our wonderful host Tony told me to do loudly on the megaphone and I suffered through the run up and barriers. Although not my best race, I finished strong in 8th place, while Wendy had an amazing race, shaking Kerry B. and finishing 4th.

Trying to remember to breathe

Race afterthoughts: OUCH! That hurt. But, a great trip. We had a great time racing, hanging out and attempting to breathe. It is always good to challenge yourself against fast people. No sandbagging for us. Tony and his twin Tom were awesome fans and yelled loudly. In fact, I have noticed that there are more and more people cheering us on around the course and I don't even know who they are. I'll hear "go Sue" or even " go River City", "go Portland" and it is nice and makes me smile. Apparently I did smile through my suffering, so that is good. Another great weekend on the road...

Our gracious host, Tony.