Monday, April 26, 2010

Cherry Blossom Classic: April 23-25, 2010

Although I really wanted to do the Bear Spring mtb race this past weekend, Coach K and I had decided long ago that the Cherry Blossom would be better for my fitness, so I agreed reluctantly. I warmed up to the idea and then set the goal that if I had to go, I would try to win. After all, the prize was an all expense trip to Nature Valley GP in MN, racing on a composite team. I have raced Nature Valley once before, but alone, and strictly for fitness and experience. Perhaps racing on the road with a team will change my opinion of road racing all together?!? I think I will always prefer the dirt, but this past weekend was actually fun. More so due to our amazing hostess, Erin Ford, and hanging out with Tim, Melissa, P. Dowd and Erin. That made it a lot more fun! So, here is a bit about the weekend.

Friday, stage 1: Columbia Hills Road Race, 55.8 miles.
One of the two strong teams there attacked out of the parking lot. Not your usual road race start, but fine none the less. It was actually a race. I played nice. Didn't pull a whole bunch, per my usual mtb brain. On the last lap, however, I got out front on the descent so I wouldn't get dropped. Yep, descending on a road bike in a pack is not one of my strong suits. I took the last corner way too hot, Melissa jumped and was gone, I played catch up but could only get as far up as 6th place. All the same time, so gotta work on that sprint. It was great to see Melissa win and holy cow, does that girl have a jump.

Melissa with leaders jersey after stage 1.

Saturday, stage 2: Orchard Run Circuit Race, 46.8 miles, 8 laps.
This was a climby little course. Short, fast with wicked cross winds. It was downright scary the first time descending, as I second guessed using my deep dish tubulars. But I got used to the slight drift. It was a fast race, some attacking and at some point, Robin got away. Not exactly sure how that happened, but she was gaining time on us every lap. We tried to organize. I sat on the front a lot and not always by choice. But whatever, it didn't bother me, because I figured Robin was riding alone, so I would work as hard as I could to try to reel her back in, especially since I knew it would take a miracle to beat her on the TT. On the last lap, the first climb after the descent, I jumped and got a small gap, so I decided to give it a go. I didn't catch Robin, but I did put a minute on the field and it saved me from having to sprint uphill at the end. I got to pedal up the finish, then watch Melissa clobber the field on the sprint for third.

Podium: Me, Robin, Melissa.

Sunday morning, stage 3: Eight mile Creek Time Trial, 10 miles.
Considering I had never done a TT on a TT bike, and this would be my 4th TT ever, I was as excited as I could get for the TT. I was also scared. I had worked hard the day prior in case I didn't TT very well. On my borrowed bike, compliments of Erin Ford who is 6 months pregnant, it went fairly well. My goal was to not get caught by Robin who started 30 seconds behind me. Well, she caught me, but I also caught the two in front of me, so I really had no idea how it went. I knew there were some really good time trialists that had started earlier. Imagine my surprise when the results came out and despite losing 30 seconds to Robin (who, btw, won this race last year, including the TT), I placed 2nd. It must be the bike. Like magic.

TT podium.

Sunday afternoon, stage 4: Cherry City Criterium.
It was your basic 4 corner crit downtown in The Dalles, OR. It was only 35 minutes. I figured I could suffer through it. Hopefully be in the right place at the right time. Well, the time to be in the right place is with 2 to go and 1 to go and then at the end to sprint. I failed. Miserably. I was in the wrong place, not far enough forward, decided not to risk injury, played it safe and then finished 19th. It was my first crit of the year and my 6th ever. But I think it was my worst one ever. I thought with experience you were supposed to get better. Well, there was no time difference and I knew I had 2nd overall tied up, so I watched Melissa clean up and get the win from the back.

Overall GC placing 1-5. Missing one gal. Great job to the CB crew!!!

I placed 2nd in the GC overall, so no, I did not win. I knew going into this race that winning would take extraordinary measures or extremely good luck. Being the runner up is the next best thing and I feel that the weekend was a success, both in gaining fitness and experience. And apparently the winner is not able to go to Nature Valley, so it seems I may 'win' even with my 2nd place finish. It will be a new adventure, racing on the road with a team, some organization and a visit to the family to boot. Plus, there is a US Cup race the weekend following in WI and I've always wanted to ride the mtb trails in Red Wing. It seems I may get my chance. Funny how things work out.
Post race burgers and Big Jim's. The racers with their lovely (pregnant) hostess, Erin Ford.

Post race bliss. Oh wait, that is after we ate our food. Here we are still waiting!

And how can I forget to mention how Tim's races went. I knew I forgot something. Unfortunately we always raced at different times and never really got to see each other race. He did awesome. The Masters 40+ category is FAST! It never ceases to amaze me. He finished 9th overall GC in his category, 10th overall. (There is a really fast 50+ guy in there). With several strong teams and Tim racing alone, he held his own, won the chase group field sprint on stage 2 and was in the mix on stage 1. He rode is new TT bike for the first time in a race. Here is how he did in the 40+: Stage 1, 7th; Stage 2, 5th; Stage 3, 1o; Stage 4, 18th. Check out the stage 2 finish pic below. Uphill sprint. It was brutal.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sea Otter: 70 degrees and sunny! April 16-18, 2010

The 2010 version of Sea Otter will probably go down in the record books as the best weather ever! Tim and I made our pilgrimage down to Monterey on Thursday afternoon, since Tim's XC MTB race had been moved to Friday. It was fun times seeing friends, racing bikes and getting sunburned. I was going to work on some sponsorship stuff, but I just can't handle spending too much time at the venue. I failed on that aspect, but I did see a good friend I hadn't seen for a long time on Friday and even rode my bike with him prior to Tim's race.
Tim's XC race went well, with his all time best finish in the cat 1 40-44. He was 8th. He then jumped in a road race on Saturday (as if the 36-mile mtb race wasn't hard enough) and raced with some locals, working for them. After they all expired, Tim was left on his own, riding solo and finishing 9th in a really hard field. Then it was game time for me.
This year I have been quite apprehensive going into my races. But having seen Dr. Kerry the week prior and being certain I was 'protected' from any breathing problems and having learned how to use my inhaler correctly, I was feeling good. Legs felt good. I was ready. Short track is always hard, and this year was no exception. Taken off guard by the '...and the rest of the women's field' after the few call ups, I did not get in a very good position. No panic. I know I have a good start. And it was fine. I got through the messy side hill with a small tap and was in good position. In the first 5 laps, I worked my way up to 12th, then 11th. I felt good. And then on the sixth before the climb, I made an operator error and somehow my chain found its way far into the inside of my chainrings. I thought I could pedal out of it, but I was stalled. Completely. I got off and thought it would be a quick fix. I grabbed the chain and it didn't budge. I yanked, tugged, didn't want to break anything, so I remained calm, girls passing right and left, and finally got it and then hopped back on my bike to chase for 2 more laps, but it was too late. Even though I had moved back up somewhat, I was pulled. Who knows where I ended up. Somewhere around 15-18th?
Sunday was the big show. In our new abbreviated format, it was going to be a short race. We were set to do some road riding on the Laguna Seca track, followed by a loop on the front field, followed by a double track dirt climb, ending with some fun singletrack on the back side. The laps were fast and furious. I had a pretty good start. Was with a good group, then the fade happened. I somehow went backwards. One place at a time, I slipped back to 17th. Not what I was hoping for, but something to build on. The positive of the weekend was that the breathing felt good. I am feeling better knowing I can push a bit harder and not be deprived of oxygen. This is very important. All in all, it was a fun weekend. We had the best hosts! Alex and Karen make racing Sea Otter something to look forward to. And now I have some wicked tan lines! Until next year... so long Sea Otter.

Chris lunching with his awesome helmet head!

Chris Brophy and I studied in Vienna together as juniors in college (91-92) and we are still friends.

Tim finishing his mtb race.

OJ and Tim hamming it up.

Unlike the women's field, the men were over a 100 deep.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mixing it up: Road race on Saturday, MTB race on Sunday, April 10-11, 2010

The season is really starting in earnest now. I think there is an opportunity to race every weekend from here on out. And some weekends you can race twice. Don't worry, I am not going to do that, but this past weekend, I did double up. I was convinced to go road race on Saturday, even though my pals raced with the boys. I raced with the girls. The wind was strong, my legs were sore, but I survived the 56 miles of undulating terrain along with that punishing finish for a third place. I would say I kind of 'missed the sprint'. Third was good. And I actually didn't sit out front the whole time. I am learning. I had to save some for Sunday, to do what I really like to do.

See me back in 3rd. Like I said, I was not even in the sprint. Oops.

Sunday was the second local mountain bike race of the year. It was a course with a lot of climbing, lots of twists and turns and some really slick descents. I knew going into it that Alice would be going much faster on the slick downhills than me, and I was hoping I had enough to make up for it on the rest, but not quite. For the first 3 laps I was dangling about 30 seconds back, seeing her just ahead. Then at the start/finish after lap 3 I was shocked to see her at the pulled over. I guess she didn't realize we had another lap. I yelled at her, she caught up, we rode together for a tiny bit, but at the first downhill, twisty turny section, she was gone. She even waited for me to give me a second chance. I blew it. I bonked a bit on that last lap, but knew there was no chance of getting caught from behind, so I enjoyed the ride. It was a fun, muddy race. I got second. But that is not to say there was not a victory in the family. Tim stomped on the competition and won the cat 1 35-44 and actually beat all of the cat 1's.

The start, right where I like to be. Out in front.

It was a fun course. Lot's of cones. Had to pay attention.

Cold creek crossing, aka "bike wash".


Burgers followed at Deschutes, making a great weekend of bike racing complete.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Blah, Blah, Blog.

As a rule, I try not to post without pictures, but I don't want to let my faithful readers down. My weekend was uneventful, feeling a bit under the weather, unable to enjoy the new snow and get in some turns and really not able to ride. Yawn. You don't want to hear about it. So instead, I won't babble, but I thought this would be a good time to thank those that are continuing to support me for this mountain bike season. Other than the obvious, RIVER CITY BICYCLES, there are others that stuck around with the dissolution of the Monavie-Cannondale team.
First off, Wobblenaught. Tom Coleman was in town and got my bikes re-dialed in and shared some new technology that is down the pipeline. Pretty exciting stuff. Found out my seat was too low on my mtb. (hmmm? how did that happen?) and my cleats were a bit off on my new shoes (I did the best I could). I really think that the foundation starts with a good fit. His precision fit has served me well. But it is more than just the 'fit'. It is also training the brain. It is a constant struggle, but hopefully one that has endless benefits.
Secondly, Last year our team was sponsored by and I loved my wheels. They were amazing. Light. Never had a problem sealing. I didn't want to be without. I sent an email asking if they would continue to support me, and they did. I am so grateful and will also be trying out their new road wheels. First on the road and then for 'cross as well. I feel lucky to be racing on these awesome wheels.
Third, Monavie. I am still on the juice. When I heard that it was final that there would be no team, I was thinking, WHAT ABOUT THE JUICE??? Luckily, they have stood behind me and are continuing to support me with the product that has kept me healthy for the past two years! Thank you Monavie.
Other good fortune that has come my way has been Pearl Izumi. I have been rocking their shoes and doing some testing and have dialed in my mountain bike and road shoes and love them. Thanks Tony Torrance! Locally, Karsten Hagen was kind enough to recognize that data in training is important to me and he sponsored me with a Garmin 500. I love it. Now I just need a wireless powermeter to go with it. Anyone??? I have also been lucky to be rockin' the best glasses in the industry, Oakley. I hope that continues, because I love my shades!
And of course, the BEST sponsor out there is my husband, Tim Butler. Not a day goes by that I don't realize how lucky I am to be chasing a dream and having such a supportive spouse. And since I said I never blog without pictures...