Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Portland representation at USGP 3&4 in Louisville, KY, October 24-25, 2009

The west coast rocks! There is no doubt about that. And Portland has the best CX series in the country (although I have yet to do one this year). It is fun, crazy, challenging and attracts more racers in one day than any where else in the country could hope for in a weekend. One problem for the tiny minority of us that want UCI points. We have to travel. And travel far. And often too often. After a break from my massive nonstop travel and a mid-season break from the bike, I was back on the road, but this time not alone. Tim joined me. Josh Berry joined us and I even convinced Wendy Williams to come too! The greatest host in the world, Kiet Do, agreed to host all of us and cart us around! And he and Drew Hartman were the best support non-supported racers could hope for. All in all, it was a pretty great weekend! Results may not have been that great, but sometimes it is about the journey, right??? OK, it is always about the results. I did not come away from the weekend satisfied with my 8th and 6th, but that is the speed I was racing. It was not for lack of trying. My brain wanted to go faster, but my legs did not. But it is a stepping stone for late season domination. Shhhhh. Don't tell anyone.

The number presentation in Louisville is always great with the future of cycling presenting!

Hanging out before we got our numbers. Me, Wendy and the superstar, Amy D!

Wendy and Tim sporting the coolest T-shirt ever!

Day 1 sufferfest in the boggy, wet course. Not slick, not really that muddy. Just heavy.

Day 2 had a few really muddy sections. It was less boggy than Saturday.

Fighting hard. (photo by Dave McElwaine)

Post race bison burgers and beer. The crew: Wendy, Drew, Josh, Tim, Kiet & me.

Drew owns a cool little bike shop called "On Your Left Cycles."
If you are local, you should check it out. It is pretty cool!!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

It's not always all about me...

Sure, it is MY blog and usually it is all about me, but this past weekend I went to a race and did not race. GASP! I know. Crazy. But with the whirlwind of the beginning of the season and wanting to be able to continue strong (hopefully through worlds), I had a rest week. It could not have come at a better time, because the crash in Gloucester left my ribs a bit tender, then racing for 3 days in Ohio made it worse and then when I got home, schlepping luggage, I got to the point I couldn't breathe and was in tears from pain. But wait, I said it wasn't all about me!!!
CROSS CRUSADE # 3: Sherwood. How strange was it to go to my favorite race series in the country and not race??? But seeing how bumpy it was and knowing how sore I was, my ride on my cx bike out to the venue on some of my favorite roads and with the sun shining was just perfect. I had planned for mud, packed my bag for Tim's car with rubber boots and everything, but the mud was pretty dry by Sunday. Amazing for how much it rained on Saturday.
My sole purpose of being at the race: Tim's support. I would say "pit bitch", but I am trying to keep this PG. I was there in time to cheer on the 300, yes 300!!! women on the course for the 2:00 race (which is all the women except the A's). It was great to see some familiar faces and cheer on those I recognized and those I didn't. After that fun was over, I made my way to pit #1 to view the race in a very lonely, isolated part of the course. It was sad. I was lonely. I didn't get to say 'hi' to as many people as I would have liked, but I was there for Tim. And I heckled everyone I could. Luckily the only problems Tim had he fixed himself. He dropped his chain a few times, losing tons of time, so thus did not have his best finish. Nevertheless, he looked good doing it. I told him that, but he said he would rather win than look good. And that, I understand.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

UCI3 in Cincinnati, OH. 3 podiums in 3 days. October 9-11, 2009

Although it is not a well known fact, Ohio has a booming CX scene. As this event grows each year, it surprises me that more people do not come. Granted, the fastest woman in the world right now comes, so the rest of us are racing for second, but the OVCX crew has done an amazing job putting on 3 different races at 3 different venues and paying more than any other race in the country. Maybe I shouldn't tell everyone that, because I feel like it is my little secret. But it is no secret. My third year back to Ohio, I had a blast. Conditions could not have been more different than the year prior. Last year, temperatures in the 90's. This year, mud, slop and I don't think it cracked 70 degrees. Here is a quick recap of the racing.

Friday: Darkhorse Cyclo-Stampede. New venue in a park just south of the Ohio border in KY. Park overlooks Cincinnati and it was a mud fest. I have not seen such slippery slide hills in any race I have ever done. It was a mess. But a fun mess. Only problem was that even though I had 2 bikes, I only had one set of mud tires/wheels. And I was too scared to ride my other tires, so I never changed bikes. A slip and slide from the start, after getting the hole shot, I took a high line into the 2nd muddy section. Being that it's natural camber kind of slid you to the right, I found myself sliding right into Katie. She was in the tape. I apologized, but it took her seconds to get right back with me and we were off the front. Then she was off the front and I was in no mans land in 2nd. It was a lot of fun to be able to ride calmly, alone and just maintain my position. No pressure, just good old fashioned fun in the mud. Practicing skills you don't always get to use.

Saturday: Java Johnny's/Lionhearts International CX. This race never ceases to amaze me. A pint size park with a supersized CX course. It is not easy. It has twists and turns, poppy short climbs, sand pits, this year some mud. It is all within a small city park. What surprises me more is that the town of Middleton allows us to trash it year in and year out. Today played out much like yesterday, only less mud and less gaps. I had a great start, Katie went, I maintained a gap to the rest and race was over. It was not an easy race and there is really no rest on the course. Another fun day in Ohio.

Friends from North Carolina: Dave & Beth Frye. You never know who you are going to see!

Sunday: Bio Wheels/United Dairy Farmers Harbin Park I really like this course, although I am not sure if it likes me. I suffered through this race. I had a great start, was feeling fine, and made mistakes from the first sand pit on. I may have had a tad bit too much pressure in my front tire, causing me to wash out on the corners and really not being able to ride with any speed through them because I was scared. The biggest flub, however, almost cost me a podium spot. With my ribs as sore as they are, it is really hard to lift my bike. Esp. when still on it. I could not bunny hop to save my life, which is usually not a problem. On the second to last lap, I didn't even get my front tire up and I stacked it, sending me ass over teakettle. I thought the race was over at that point and I was off the podium. Surprisingly, I closed the gap back to our group of 3 rather quickly and it was a race for second. I really tried to drop Laura and Barb every chance I had, but it was as though I had a rubberband connected to them. I'd drop back and then try to attack with no luck. I'd try to go off the front. Nothing. As we entered the last lap together, I knew it was trouble. I have been told many times, "Never get in a sprint with Laura Van Guilder. You will lose". And that my friends, is the situation I found myself in. Up the power sucking last 100 meters, the most winningest female on the road zoomed by me with an unmatchable speed. And now I can say I have sprinted against LVG. Yes, I lost. But I am not the first and won't be the last.

3 podiums in 3 days. Lots of good racing. Ohio Rocks! As does my host family. Thanks again Jeni and Geoff for a marvelous stay in Cincinnati!!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Back to the beginning: Gloucester, MA, October 3-4, 2009

Although it was not the wisest thing to do, I could not resist. I traveled to the east coast after my last whirlwind trip for the weekend to participate in "east coast worlds." Gloucester was my first national race back in 2006. Wendy and I went when it was one of the USGP's. I was psyched to finish in the top 20 back then, starting from the back row. Fast forward three years. I had a front row call up and was not totally satisfied with my top 5 results. Man, times have changed. But one thing that has not changed is that the Gloucester course is super fun, the setting is amazing and I still love racing my bike.
Saturday was CX weather. The rain did fall. LOTS of mud. It was a super fun race, even though some sections became runs (not my favorite) and the actual run up was new to me. Huge steep slippery slog. All in all, the race was pretty good. I was in the front group. Fell on the slippery "S" turns while running. Dropped back to 5th and definitely felt the 8 hours of travel the day prior in my legs. But not to worry, tomorrow was another day.

Sunday the skies had cleared, the course was tacky and I knew it was going to be fast. I had a not so good start, getting crowded out after I didn't jump quick enough at the whistle and quickly got back to the front. All was going well and 5 of us had made separation from the group. In the 'S' turns however, as I crested the top of the first one, I got t-boned by a fellow racer. She ran into me so hard, I could not imagine it not being on purpose. Of course, it was said to not be intentional, but you would have to be blind to run into someone that is in front of you that hard without yielding. I guess that is how some people race. So, moving on, I was taken out. Shocked. I picked myself back up and then ran around over the barriers only to remount after the run up and find my chain had also come off. Off the bike, chain back on, I let my anger fuel my race. I chased like I have never chased. I wish I could have been using that energy off the front instead of preserving my race. But I worked my way back up to third and with half a lap to go, the unthinkable happened. I had a front flat. At least I was close enough to the pit to preserve a 4th place finish that day, but it is a long way to travel to get bad luck out of the way.
My awesome pit person, Sharon Anderson Sandavol from PDX. Thanks again, Sharon!!!

So, now with sore ribs, I head out to Ohio. I think I have been gone more than home lately, so sorry for the blog delay. Focusing on the positive of the trip, I enjoyed my host family (Thank you Dave, Althea & Colt) stay and seeing a bit of the outskirts of Boston, it was awesome to see the ocean, ride in the mud, see some folks I haven't seen for a while and when it comes right down to it, it was still fun racing my bike!
Gloucester has nothing on Portland! Saturday's rain made it a ghost town. There were more people on Sunday, but I am sure Alpenrose was double or triple.