Monday, October 31, 2011

Back at it in Boulder! October 29-30, 2011

After a non racing weekend and a little mini rest, it was back to racing. I decided to challenge myself the first race back and go to Boulder to suffer. And I'm glad I did. It was a great weekend of suffering. Saturday was the Colorado Cross Classic at the Boulder Reservoir. I have not gone back to this weekend of racing since 2007, because frankly, I stunk it up back then and couldn't 'race'. But Ft. Collins gave me a little hope that I can survive and do o.k. at altitude with all the peeps that live there. The reservoir course was much different, and although difficult in it's own right, much easier than I had remembered. I guess the miles of sand that was not rideable taken out made it a tad bit more manageable for me at 5000ft. It had snowed, so at least the course was not bone dry and there were some tricky spots. Lot's of barriers, off and on, but I just raced my race and although you always want to do better, I finished a respectable 5th.

Sunday I felt even better. I paced myself in the beginning and was riding the sand and mud well. The stair run up just about killed me, but I held on. Rode smart. And then apparently the lack of oxygen made me dumb. Real dumb. I was in 4th. With 2 to go, I had Georgia and Caroline in my sights on the climb. I told myself, 'screw altitude. I am going to go for it and do this thing'. It was game on. And then I went to grab gears and nothing moved. I should pit, I thought. Yep, and there went the entry to the pit. I struggled with it but got in a gear and got through the back side, and then I really didn't know where the second entrance to the pit was. MY BAD. But by then, I had one lap to go, Meredith, Julie & Caitlyn bearing down. I didn't pit. The worse mistake I could have made. Brook was there with my bike. I brought the bike in order to use it, and I failed. That last lap was a struggle to shift. At least I had the front working. But it wasn't enough. It screwed me. Meredith and Julie got by. I was still 6th, but by the time the sprint came, I was spinning like a gerbil and there was nothing I could do. Except kick myself for being so dumb, know that I raced well, I just have to learn to be comfortable pitting. And ride through them on warm up. You would think I haven't ever raced cx before. Rookie mistake. But not to worry. There are more races. And that is cyclocross, my friends. I still had a great time on that course and was happy how varied it was with the mud on the bottom half. Made it a lot more fun.
Back at it. Next up, OHIO!

But my blog can't always be all about me, can it??? While I was in 'boring Bolder', Tim was in Bend for the epic halloween weekend. Sorry Boulder, but there were 20 ppl at the race on Saturday. Sunday was better, but still...  Although I am glad I was not racing in the dust bowl. Can you imagine the nationals course from the last 2 years looking like this???

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fall is my favorite...

I must say, fall is my favorite season. And in Oregon, it's when we finally get summer. :) I took a really short rest week last week. No racing last weekend. And a quick trip to the cabin where I got to take a very easy 'recovery' mountain bike ride. It reminded me why I didn't race cyclocross for for so may years. The trails are in the BEST condition ever. The dirt smells so good. It was awesome to just get out there and breathe it all in. I really love it. And some day I will be right back there. But for now, it is all about racing cyclocross. It was somewhat painful to go to the cross crusade and not race. I must say, I had an awesome road ride, riding to the venue the long way, but it is good I wasn't on my cx bike because I may have been very tempted to jump in and race just for the heck of it. But not racing is good for the body too. I have a very smart coach who has dealt with these super extended cx seasons. And now with nationals in January, a different program. But it has been a great 2 weeks since L.A. Great weather in Portland. Some much needed rest. Rides with the beautiful fall colors. Training hard and gearing up for the second half of the season. I am totally psyched. Refreshed. Ready.

Thanks Bree for coming out and playing in the woods with me!!!

See, we do have seasons in Oregon!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Getting Spooky. SoCal CX. October 15-16, 2011

Going to SoCal was the consolation prize of not being able to afford going to the world cups. It was a hard decision to make, but kind of no brainer. Although I have great sponsors and River City has kicked in some cash to help me out, it would have been more than gone in this one trip. I have to be smarter and forgo some of the things I want to do. Yes, it may cost me a trip to Worlds in the end, but it is what it is. Sometimes the universe can not be controlled. Or actually ever. The good news is that it was a great weekend. I stayed with my good friends Gina and Hal and their little guy Calvin up in Claremont. I commuted to the races, braving the traffic and got to hang out with Caroline Mani all weekend. We had a blast. Dorothy Wong has put a lot of effort in getting some UCI races to the west coast and paying women equally and I want to support that. 2.5 hours is a lot closer. And it wasn't easy racing. In fact, it was just the opposite. When I had decided to not go to the World Cups, my coach and I had this weekend be the end of a long block of racing/prep/etc. Prior to cx, I did a bunch of road racing as training, so lots of racing in the legs. It was good.
Friday we arrived to teach a clinic. Although not totally organized, Caroline and I made it happen and had some beginners learning the skills. It was great. And a fun little gathering at Rock and Road cycles somewhere down there. But then it was hurry up and wait for the Saturday evenings race. 7:20 p.m. race time. I forgot how long the day seems when you race at night. It was good, however, because with the sun down, the temps had cooled off and it was quite pleasant. Aside from shadows chasing you, it was a good race. I could not close the gap to Caroline and dangled off her from the barriers on, after not getting into my pedals for an eternity. 15 seconds. 2nd was going to have to do.

Sunday I wanted it to be my day for redemption. The 84 degree temps, smog and sunshine put a little damper on that. I was just a bit off. Had a little problem breathing in the smog, and with flashbacks to Vegas, I just throttled 'er back a bit. I was with Caroline & Teal when I missed my remount after the stairs run up (rookie move) and once the gap was formed, it was over. I had to let the chase for even 2nd go and I could see I had a pretty good gap on 4th, so that is where it was going to end for the day. Not the race I was hoping for, but not horrible. It was just how it was going to be. I got spooked.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The 48 hours of Colorado: USGP #3 & #4, Fort Collins. October 8-9, 2011

WHEW! That was the longest 48+ hours ever. Not only was I full of anxiety going to race cx at altitude the first time since 2007, but Tim's bikes decided to stay on the plane and go get some sun in Tampa. If we had known what was coming on Saturday, maybe we would have too! So not only did we get in and have to deal with lost luggage, we missed the number presentation and still drove to Fort Collins to pick up registration stuff, making for a late night and tired, stressed people. It wasn't pretty. 
Saturday: New Belgian Cup 1, USGP#3
With Tim having no bikes, we headed to the venue early to get him dialed with SRAM neutral support and the fleet of Specialized Crux's they have. It was ideal for Tim because that is the bike he rides. Aside from the handlebars being a bit narrow, the stem a bit short and the saddle different, he was pretty comfortable on the bike. That didn't help with the weather, however. Luckily Tim had managed to find someone to pit for him, so I did not have to sit in the cold rain prior to my race. Although it was muddy and wet for his race, it got worse. Much worse. He had a solid race, but missed the podium by 8 seconds. With all the stress and riding bikes that weren't his, I think it was pretty awesome. 
The weather deteriorated for our race. The temperatures dropped. I think it was about 40 degrees and pouring rain out there by the time we started. I was kind of excited. I like crappy conditions in a weird sort of way. And I think I had my mud legs back. My bike was working, my pressure was dialed. I dressed warm. My Castelli roubaix skinsuit was the bomb, along with leg warmers, base layer and a hat. I know, it is a lot, but I don't think in that weather you can overheat. And I didn't. I was pleasantly warm. My hands and feet were a bit cold, but nothing like I have experienced in the past. And although not the fastest race ever, I rode steady and smooth. Not one crash. It was slippery as can be, but I just rode my race, stayed calm, didn't think about the altitude and finished 6th. Yes, I always want to do better, but considering the stacked field, I was going to take it. I was the 3rd American finisher. That made me feel better about 6th. And it was fun. Until the clean up began. Ughhh. I love racing in mud, but I really despise the clean up.
Muddy & cold. But loving it...

Sunday: New Belgium Cup 2, USGP#4
Totally different weather. Totally different situation. Tim had his own bikes. Course was fast and tacky. Tim battled the lack of oxygen during his race, riding steady and gradually working his way back up to 4th. By a wheel length. Painful to be so close! But a great race and solid finish, keeping him 2nd in the series. 
Tim with his game face (& his own bikes) on Sunday.

I was really nervous for my race. I knew it was going to be fast. Really fast. But the gun went off and I forgot about any concerns I had. I found myself in great position for the hole shot, so I went for it, only to have Mani rocket past on the inside at the last second. Great effort by her, but damn. I didn't quite get it. 
I was shocked at how fast she came up on the inside. Couldn't quite get it.

I knew I had to settle in, so I did and stayed with the group for a long while. I had seen a few people slip out of corners, so perhaps I was a bit too timid. I yo-yo'ed a bit for several laps and could not close the gap to Meredith with the gals in my group. I was being too conservative, not sure how the altitude would shut me down at any moment. I was riding scared. But I rode smart, consistent and tried not red line it too many times. Ultimately, I finished 6th. 19 seconds from a podium. But if I could have, I probably would have gone and chased. I keep thinking, only 4 seconds a lap. I can find that. And I will. I am building still. My starts are improving. And I know the fitness is there. And this time at least I didn't have to run a half a lap like Madison on Sunday. It was Georgia's turn unfortunately. But then again, it is 'cross and anything can happen. And will. Already excited for the next race. I know that is a good sign.
Love that flyover.

Satisfied. Not scared of racing in CO anymore.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Alpenrose! You have to see it to believe it. October 2, 2011

Alpenrose is always kind of special. Although many races have popped up before the 'season opener', Alpenrose is the first cross crusade of the season and it is quite a scene. I rode from home and when I pulled into sight of the venue, a certain sense of pride and excitement came over me. This is CX. Portland is crazy about making mud and rain fun! It is truly a sight to behold. And the course is always great and the crowd makes me smile. I feel like a hero! Everyone is cheering me on. It is a rare treat to race at home in front of the home crowds. I love it! 
 And to make the weekend even more special, my two best gals came to Portland and we celebrated my birthday and just being together. Friendship like that is rare and special. And they cheered me on on Sunday. How could I not win???

My fan club.
Dinner the night before with Pam & Gina.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

That's racing... Madison USGP #1 & #2, September 24-25th, 2011

Sometimes things go exactly as planned, sometimes they don't. Sometimes your bike cooperates and works in the mud, sometimes it doesn't. Madison weekend was a bit rough for me, but all the bad luck is out of the way for the season. And I re-learned how to ride in the mud. It took a while. The bonus of going back to the mid-west is a few days with family and also staying with a good college friend in Madison. Here is a bit about the weekend.
Race #1: All went well. I didn't get the hole shot, but it was smart. Not even the best start, but before I knew it, I was in the front. Not on purpose. The race was good. I rode smart. A large group of us stayed together for a long time. I was right where I needed/wanted to be. And then the conditions changed & I didn't want to pit because I didn't want to lose any time. As it turned out, I lost more time than planned washing out around newly slick corners. Chasing back on again and again. Essentially, I went from 4th to 8th real fast. It was still a good race. The fitness was there. I felt great. But to get 8th and have that good of a race. Our fields are getting deeper in the U.S. It was fun.
Race #2: It was wet. It was going to be muddy. Conditions changed constantly. I felt like a fish out of water that first lap. I had lost any mud riding ability I once possessed. That first lap, I realized my rear brake had come undone. With only a front brake, more crashes. My front tire constantly was washing out, grass was building up fast everywhere. My one bike was skipping on the cassette. But no panic. I finally got my A game back. Started riding smoother. Started picking off people. I finally had passed Meredith & Kathy, and found myself back with Caroline Mani. We were 5th and 6th and chasing well. And then it happened. My chain somehow fell off my cog into the spokes. I tried to get it out for a few seconds (seemed like an eternity) and finally gave up and started running. Almost a half lap. I figured I was dead last at that point, with all the progress I had made gone. But that is 'cross. Shit happens. I was surprised to see the results the next day to find out I only fell back to 11th. It could have been worse. But not something I care to repeat. Learning from the mistakes. Communicating better with my pit person. And just relaxing and not panicking.

Tim had better races than I. 2nd and 3rd.

Tom. Our lucky to be alive friend.

Maddie and Audrey, our little Madison fans.

My friend Karine and I. Always hard to say goodbye.
Day one was dry until about 2 to go.

Day 2 was muddy from the gun. I laid in it a few times. Ran in it a bunch. NOT MY BEST DAY!!!
After the racing was over, it was a few days of family time. Spending a half day with my best childhood friend and seeing my niece and nephew. Then a birthday party at my sister's house for her son. Time with my grandma. Time with my mom. Saw a few other relatives. It was nice. Short, but nice. And getting home and starting all over with the craziness. That is why this blog is late. Catching up is hard when the time goes so fast.

Mom, me, Oma & sister Cathy.
Abi, Musa & Alec. My MN niece and nephews.
Lucky to still have a grandma!!!