Tuesday, January 17, 2012

And that's a wrap! End of CX season 2011-2012. Nationals in Madison and beyond...

Although I have already had a few weeks to reflect on the season, part of me remains unfulfilled. After nationals I did not have the feeling of satisfaction that should come with a race well raced. I felt like I wanted a do over or more racing. I wasn't done. I had already known that worlds was out of the question, with 5 of our amazing female athletes automatically qualifying for worlds with top 15's at World Cups. I didn't get to Europe, so I wasn't even in that pool, but I was still swimming. 
Madison was better than expected for everyone there. It was muddy, mild and just all around not like Madison in January. Amazing, actually. Having grown up in the midwest (MN), I was prepared for the worst. It didn't happen and no complaining from anyone. The course was hard, the mud was slick and it turned out to be pretty awesome. My race was good. I had a good start. I felt completely in control and capable of climbing on that podium again this year. But as sometimes happens with cyclocross, it didn't work out that way. 14 seconds. I was riding well, but as the course changed a bit, I overcooked the corner before the barriers and had a nice slide on the ground on the 3rd lap (I think). My right food slid just right to dislodge the shoe buckle. Bummer. That cost me. On the 4th lap, I found myself on the ground in a straightaway, not even knowing what hit me. But that is cyclocross. I knew that anything could happen and I should keep pushing. I did. I grew a bit timid in some corners, but I just didn't have enough. My legs would not get me there. I was in 4th then 8th, then 7th. And that is where I ended up, just missing one more spot at the line. Did I meet my goals? No. But there is next year and motivation sometimes comes from disappointment. Did I do my best? Yes. And that is where it landed me. Everyone had their issues that day. Everyone found the ground probably at least once. There was no room for error. Everyone was fighting for the same thing. And new faces graced the podium. It was a great day for American cyclocross. The sport is growing, getting more competitive and it is awesome to be part of the fight!

But this blog is not all about me, as we all know. I was also support for Tim at nationals on Saturday. 9 a.m. It was an early morning. Frozen death ruts for his race. It was comical to watch from the pits as poles snapped and tape was broken as the masters ping ponged around the course. Tim had a strong race. Although initially disappointed it was not a podium finish, he finished 6th. His best nationals finish yet! I applaud him for his tenacity on that course. It was rough, but it was good practice for what was to come the following week.

Although I wanted nothing more than to go back to Portland, Tim and I headed to Louisville so he could participate in the 2012 Masters CX World Championships. I did some volunteering and played support for the week. Tim had a great qualifier, finishing 3rd and earning him a front row start for the big dance. And he made the most of his starting position. On Saturday he was like a bullet off the start line, gapping the field and taking the hole shot. It was awesome. I was so excited for him to have the race of his life. And then I ran to the pit and I couldn't find him. Where did the guy in the white kit go? I was informed that after the start on the first straight away, it appeared that Tim found one of the icy ruts and was thrown hard off his bike off course. He went from first to almost last in a flash. But he got back up, back on course and fought his way back to 9th. It was a commanding performance and on da day where everything went right, I am convinced he would have been on that podium. But it wasn't meant to be and now he is hungry for next year. Goals have been formed and now with a little bit of snow coming our way, we have some time to relax, ski, enjoy our cabin and get fired up for the upcoming year of fun on two wheels. Thank you for everyone who has cheered us on this season. We are forever grateful for the love and support of our friends, family and sponsors. Life is good.

Tim about to get hole shot.

Game face. And in about 400 meters his race for a podium would be over.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Winning is a great way to start: CCCNYR, December 31, 2011 - January 1, 2012

WOW! I guess my life isn't exciting enough to just blog about the amazing adventures between Bend USGP & Chicago CX New Years Resolution. Not that they were anything to brag about, because it was the usual bike riding and training, but with 2 awesome weekends at the cabin surrounded by friends. I hope everyone had a nice holiday. Ours was quite and hectic all at the same time. And then it was off to start the new year with a BANG!
I headed off to Chicago without Tim, landing in Milwaukee and heading to my gracious host family, Wayne & Heidi Simon, producers of Enzo's Cycling Products, both Buttonhole Chamois Cream & Enzos Embro Stick. Both come highly recommended. And in Chicago, both were needed. Especially the embro.
Arriving at the scene on Saturday, the course was fairly muddy, but the sun was still out and I thought it would be fairly decent weather. But as soon as that sun went behind the clouds and the wind picked up, it was a really cold affair. I was prepared and dressed ready to rumble. But my body wanted a few more minutes to prepare. Although totally warmed up on the trainer, my engine got off to a slow start and then the crash fest started. I found myself caught behind the pileup on the first slick corner. Oh well. No panic. Just start riding and picking people off. My pre-ride conditions were a lot different than during the race as I found out in a corner before the pits, when I slid out and superman'd the corner, letting everyone I had worked on passing pass me again. OK, back on the gas working my way up. I finally got myself back to 3rd, but needed one more lap. It was a great way to shake out the legs and get them race ready.
Day 2 was a whole different story. Colder temperatures, more wind and goopy, peanut butter mud. I actually called my coach (Kendra Wenzel) to get permission not to race. It wasn't that I didn't want to race, but I was worried about my bikes and thought that if it became a running race, was it really going to improve my fitness or help? Stories from earlier races made me cringe. Broken derailleurs, running huge stretches of the course, etc, etc. But I had a good pit crew and I just couldn't not race. I love to race my bike and I do like epic conditions. Except when they force you off the bike for long stretches. Luckily, it wasn't that bad. I was smart and actually did run more than I wanted to, just because it was faster. I had a great start, because it was a mean head wind and no one was as stupid as I was to go in the front, but I didn't want to get caught behind people and I wanted to set the pace and ease into the day. But again, after my fast start, my body just needed a bit to warm up. I settled in to my pace and just rode my race. In my head I had decided if I was out racing, I wanted to win. I rode smooth and just plugged away and my body started going faster. I finally caught the leader with one to go and in one lap put 51 seconds on her. I hate to admit that it was fun, but also, without the help of Wayne Simon and company in the pit, I would not have won. I rode smart, pitted every lap and just stayed consisten and it paid off. It was a great way to shake the cobwebs out of the legs and get ready for nationals. And ready I am. Although all the spots for the worlds team are already taken with automatic selections, I am still ready to rumble and have a great race! And the cold weather practice was a great way to start the new year!

PICTURES TO FOLLOW. Not sure how to upload on my ipad?!?!