Monday, December 27, 2010

Zolder World Cup (& the day after): 12/26/2010

Merry Christmas Everyone! I spent my Christmas pre-riding one of the most ridiculously hard courses I have ever ridden. Not for the normal reasons. More because of the huge amount of snow on the course. But I like riding in the snow. I knew racing in it would prove a bit more difficult, and oh boy was I right.
The course opened at noon on race day, so I thought I had better go check it out again. 24 hours was going to change the course a lot. And it did. It was even more difficult to keep the bike straight and ride. I rode the descent in warm up, but didn't quite make it 100% to the bottom, so made some decisions of where to run, etc. I had a plan. The plan I hadn't had was for the uber chaos at the first turn. I had a great start down the pavement. It was safe thus far. Then we entered the snow. It was people flying everywhere. Running into people, over people, shoving, pushing only to get back up and be shoved back down or have someone crash in front of you. Over and over again. It was survival of the meanest. Those lucky few that made it before the first person down were golden. But it wasn't as though they didn't crash too. Everyone crashed. It was just a matter of when and how quickly they could recover and get around or out from under the next person. After surviving that chaos, it was time to make up time. It didn't go so well. It was either me crashing, someone crashing in front of or into me or not being able to clip into pedals due to the build up of ice from running, mounting, dismounting, etc. Lap 4 I finally got it together and got moving. 3 laps to late. But I moved up. Passed others that had their luck run out and survived for a 19th place finish. I wasn't exactly 'happy' with the outcome, but the fact I finished with just a few scrapes and bruises, I figured it was good. Nothing broken and my season could continue. Whew! It was over. Here is a quick re-cap of womens race. I see that I am about 10th from last after the first corners of crashes. Wrong place, wrong time. And I thought I was having a good start, totally relaxed and in good position. Things change fast. check out some of the great crashes!

This was when I was in good position to start.

Fighting with that right pedal...

The guys made it look easier, but still had problems.

Monday I woke up sore. Really sore. Everywhere. Especially my left butt cheek where I took my hardest fall. I did my spin on the trainer, and then Ryan and I ventured into Brussels for a little tourist action. I had been, but Ryan had never been to Brussels. We got crazy and didn't use the GPS. An adventure. (I'm a little addicted to my Garmin Nuvi) I did, however, mark a way point where we were parked and after our little visit to the Grote Maarkt and Manneke Pis and a stop for coffee/food, it was kind of good that I did. I was lost. Ryan probably would have found it without my help, but for a moment, we had no idea where we parked. That could have been one good adventure. We watched Diegem on the internet instead of venturing there. (Ryan has raced it before and I have been twice to watch), so we stayed warm, picked up some frites and wine and pretended to be there. Ahhh. Life is so hard. One more race and then homeward bound.

The main square in Brussels.



A panoramic video of the Grote Markt in Brussels.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Back in Belgium: Kalmthout World Cup, 12/19/2010

Well I made it. On time, as scheduled. Unlike Ryan who was a day and 5 hours late. But even w/o modern technology, I found him at the airport and brought him 'home'. Home for two weeks is Meise, Belgium. The 4th floor apartment at the Schamp residence, Kris Schamp, race promoter extraordinaire from Portland's parents house. It is where I have stayed many times, but have not been for 2 years. I have missed it. But coming here, we did not escape the snow. We are in the thick of the snowiest winter yet, perhaps, in Belgium. It will make for an interesting two weeks. Glad I brought a trainer, as much as I hate riding them.
Jet lag is always an issue. Not sleeping well, waking up at 2 a.m. and having a hard time getting back to sleep, but despite this, we carry on. Push our bodies. Expect miracles. Some it does not seem to affect (Katie), but in my daze, I pedaled. We had a ton of fun on Saturday pre-riding a very empty course due to Scheldecross and we took a whirl through the forest in Kalmthout. What a great place. Made me a wee bit jealous about the riding around here.
Sunday it was game time. Ryan loaded the car while I tried to sleep at least a little bit. But to no avail. We were off. It was snowy. We managed to meet up with Sram's Chris McKenney at some random roundabout and get to team parking. It was amazing. Katie's family had reserved a spot for us amongst the compound. It was an RV, tents, an overhead building and the van. Very cozy and very helpful. And then it was off to the start. To make a long story short, I actually did get a front row, but I didn't make the most of it, being in the wrong gear due to a panic of my saddle not being tightened down. I got a tool, got it fixed, but screwed up my start. I didn't panic, but did not ride overly smooth, dropping a chain at the top of the first set of stairs. Hadn't done that in long while. I was cold. I am not sure how, being that I dressed warmly, but I struggled to a 23rd place. I am adjusting better now. Sleeping better and ready to rock it at Zolder. Unfortunately my camera battery died, so no pictures, except a few from Lyne.

Just to show the HUGE sloppy puddle. It's usually a dry ditch. At least in October. Yikes.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bend Rules! Podium at Nationals: Sunday, 12/12/10.

For most, Nationals is the culmination of all the hard work of the season and an end to a job well done. For me, it was the 2nd weekend of my second season. A week of training, ending in a battle royal. Against teammates, nonetheless. I was nervous heading to Bend. Portland had gone well. I was coming back, but it felt like October, not December. That is a good thing in the long run, but it was a long week of riding, waiting, preparing, cheering and then finally racing.
First things first. Thursday was Wendy Williams 40-44 masters championship race and Tim's TT. I got Tim all set up at the TT and then rode to watch Wendy. I ran myself silly, sick to my stomach watching the back and forth of her and Gina Hall, only to end in a huge celebration and a victory for Wendy. Damn, that was hard work! And stressful. And Tim got 4th in the TT. A good day.
Friday was Tim's race. It is really stressful to watch the person you love most race. I knew he had worked hard all season. He won Saturday in Portland, showing he was in good form. And he was. But sometimes things beyond your control make it difficult to achieve goals. He got caught behind a few crashes early on, but was still in the fight for a podium. There were about 5 guys that could take 5th. But then it happened. A crash on a corner. By himself. And that was that. He rode valiantly. Fought hard. Never gave up. Tim had his best nationals finish ever: 8th place. I worried he would be disappointed, because that is how we are. Always wanting to do better. Yes, there was some disappointment, but also victory, knowing he left it all out there. Knowing he did the best he could. And knowing there was always next year.

Sunday was my turn. I was nervous. But I was also confident in my fitness. I wasn't 'peaking', per se, but I felt good. I was ready. I was determined. I decided I would go for it at the start, but secretly hoping to tuck in behind Georgia and hold on as long as I could. Plan didn't quite work, but I did get a great start and stayed out of trouble. Georgia rocketed by, but I remembered what my coach said. Race my own race. I stuck to that plan. It almost backfired when I took myself out on a stake near the end of the first lap, but in the end, I relaxed, I reset, I fought hard and the goal was achieved. A podium finish. My first at Nationals. It wasn't the exact step I wanted, but again, are we ever satisfied? I made mistakes. I had some shifting issues in the 'sprint' or lack there of. But in the big picture, there were 20+ of us that wanted to be on that podium and only 5 make it. This year was my turn. I made it. And the plan is to be there again. It was so exciting with the amazing crowd willing me to the finish. I must say that was one exciting race and one I won't easily forget. As was the men's, as our gracious host, Trebon, fought for the stars and bars, racing his heart out and finishing a bit short in the end. And now it is on to the next chapter of my season. A few more world cups (with Ryan tagging along), home, and then back for a few more and worlds in St. Wendel (if all goes well). Life is good.

Monday, December 6, 2010

USGP PORTLAND: Racing on home turf. December 4-5, 2010

I know I forgot to post about last weekend, Thanksgiving. But really, it was just eat, train, sleep, watch movies. Granted, we got to ride in snow and slush, so it was a bit exciting. But it was all in preparation for racing our bikes. Fast. Did it work???

Friday cyclocrossers from around the country converged in Portland. I hosted my buddies Wendy and Norm from Canada and Mr. Legg, sans Katie. And about a dozen folks ended up at our house for dinner. It was a full table and lots of conversations. Good thing we weren't all racers. That may have been too much. But we fueled up for great races the next day. Did it work???
OK, I will get to the point. SATURDAY was a fantastic day for the Butlers. Tim dominated his race from start to finish, riding off the front. Hands up in the air as he crossed the finish line and I had arrived just moments before the finish to embrace him and tell him he is the fastest husband ever! It was something he had been working towards. He already had a 3rd and a 2nd, so he really wanted a win in the USGP series to complete the set of plywood trophies.

(Photo's from

The women's race was at 1:45. I was super nervous. This would be my first national level race back after my illustrious sinus infection that plagued me for far too long. Since the Czech republic, when I raced sick. Granted I had a short reprieve and went to LA, but that turned out to be bad. Very bad. So here I was, basically feeling like it was Star Crossed all over again. How will I measure up? Will I still be fast? How bad is this going to hurt??? Well, it hurt A LOT!!! My legs actually felt like lead. It was a hard, hard day, but I pushed into that pain cave and did not let go. When I was in third, I was determined to keep it. And I did. Podium finish. 3rd for the day. A great way to start the weekend! I was secretly hoping I would feel better the next day.

SUNDAY I did feel better. I made it to the course to see some of Tim's race where he attempted to claw back up to the lead 2, but he fought off chasers behind him and finished a strong 3rd. Another podium finish for Tim, thus putting him in 3rd for the series! A great year for Tim. Then it was time for me to get serious. I went out and warmed up on the path by PIR. The trainer did not sound appealing. In retrospect, the trainer was probably a better idea. I rode out a bit too far, and when I turned around into the headwind, I worried I may not make it back in time. I had to book it. Add to an already stressful situation, a very slow leaking rear tire that was getting lower and lower. With no time to fix a flat, I made an emergency call to Patrick. He rode towards me on Tim's bike just in case and I did make it back. 10 minutes to get all my stuff dialed. Rushed. Turns out I did have a great warm up. Perhaps too great. And eventful. Because I tore off the start line, getting the hole shot, and my legs felt great and then it started. Small mistakes here and there. Bobbled on the rutty side hill thing before the whoops. Silly stuff. Not getting into my pedals after the run up or barriers. Rookie stuff. I probably could have used a few more calories to get my head on straight. The pedals were driving me crazy enough that I pitted. One more lost spot, and that was a big mistake. It didn't make that much of a difference, but it was a clean exchange and good practice. Right? So I fought hard, didn't give up, not quite having enough of that top end to make up for my mistakes or perhaps just for the second day of racing. I finished 7th. It was my poorest finish yet this year domestically, but it was not due to any lack of cheering. Holy cats! If someone won from the loudest cheering section, I would have won. I wanted so badly to have a repeat performance for everyone yelling their heads off. It was sooooo awesome. Really. I love Portland. So much. Thank you Portland. I will try my best to make you proud in Bend.