Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Knoxie Cross #2

Star with her "game face" on...

Sunday was the second Knoxie cross series race. Star and I headed up there ready to race. The women's field is combined so we knew that we would be racing together and there would be a ton of women. we were both really excited about the competition.

We lined up with 12 other women, including some really fast girls that are "real" cross racers. My biggest competition was a girl named Deb from NC. She's strong and fast and a great competitor; I've also never beaten her when she's not having mechanical problems. The girl is FAST. I felt pretty good and I knew I could stay with her, it was just going to be a matter of getting around her BEFORE the finish. It was the toughest race I have done in a LONG time. We were shoulder to shoulder the entire race. It came down to a sprint. I WON!!!! By about 6 inches, maybe less. Whew. I earned that one. Deb and I both collapsed at the finish line. I almost puked. Amazing what we do for "enjoyment" isn't it??

Kym and Deb beating each other up....

Star ROCKED!!!! She has only done a couple of cross races and for the "recovering ultra endurance racer", this is about as far out of her element as it gets. not only did she line up with the "big dogs" today, she held her own and raced like a seasoned pro. Her form was AWESOME and other than one moment of "did I just miss a turn??" she never slowed down. GO STAR. She finished 6th overall and looked great doing it.

Star attacking the barriers....

One more weekend of cross racing for us and then we gear up for the road and mountain biking for the season. This "off season has been so much fun!!!

Thanks for reading....

Chattanooga Cross

This weekend was FULL of cross racing. To top it off, it was local and there was MUD. I love the mud; it makes us mountain bikers feel a little bit more at home on those skinny little tires. Lisa and I were the only two Vantaggio ladies racing it, Lisa in the cat 4 women and myself in the 1/2/3 women's' race. Paula, Gina and Shannon came out in team colors and were BY FAR the loudest cheering section out there. Thanks a ton guys, it really was cool to have you out there.

Lisa started out or day with a hard fought battle for the women's CX4 category. She took second to the current series jersey holder, Kim Bishop. Lisa dug hard a put up a great fight. We were so proud of her!!!

My race was a little bit anticlimactic, I was the ONLY one on my category. Bummer. My teammates cheered me on like there were a hundred women out there chasing me. My legs were really flat after a hard week of training and it was mentally really tough to push hard. I tried to make myself chase the boys but Sunday was anther race and there will be some girls to race with. I kind of saved my legs for "things to come".

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

COLD Cross racing in Columbia, TN

The last two races of the Columbia series were this past weekend. Wow, it is cold here. I feel like I am back in Wisconsin. The high on Saturday (which was achieved early morning) was 34 degrees. It was below freezing (judging from the freezing puddles on the course) and blowing at about 20 mph by the time we got out there. Sunday was even worse, 17 degrees at race start, but at least the sun was shining and the wind had died down.

The course Saturday was wide open and fast, not really my favorite but it takes all kinds. the minute they said "go" I knew I was in trouble. My legs were COLD and my lungs (which don't tend to work well in the extreme cold anyway.... exercise induced asthma at its finest) were non-functional. I can deal with one or the other, but not both. I struggled the entire race but managed to BARELY squeak out the win. I never got warm; in fact I was freezing when I finished. It hurt worse than any race has in a long time. I did not have fun. Not even a little bit.

Sunday was a whole different story. First, Star came to race with me so I had a teammate to cheer for. Second, the course was REALLY fun. Fast, a bit more twisty, some single track, and a killer steep run up. the ground was mostly frozen (except for a small part of the single track where the sun was thawing it and creating MUD!!!) and it was FUN.

Star did great. She lined up in a very competitive category 4 women's field against the top two girls in the state and some others. She rocked. She easily took second and looked great doing it. I had so much fun cheering for her.

Sunday was the first race in 6 years that I did not race in a team kit. It was just too cold. After Saturday's miserable experience I was going to be warm, I hope our sponsors understand. I don't know if it was the fun course or the added clothing but I raced great. I went hard from the beginning and never let up. It was one of my better races this year. Not only did I win, I was 7th overall in our field of cat. 3 men, masters men and 1/2/3 women. I was sitting in 5th for a big part of the race but lost it in the last lap. It is always fun to feel like I am racing with the men. And I know they love being pushed by a girl....
As an aside, I won the Columbia CX series for the category 1/2/3 women. Thanks to Columbia for a great event.
I've posted some photos that were taken by Keith Nash on Sunday. Thanks Keith!!! As you can see, it was cold...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Vantaggio takes TWO 'Cross State Champion Jerseys!!!

This weekend was the TN State Cyclocross Championships; complete with bragging rights and state champion jerseys. I'll admit it, even though cross is NOT my focus, I wanted to win. Even more exciting was the fact that Star and Lisa were going to give cross a try so I had teammates coming with me.

I started off the weekend with a "warm-up" race in Knoxville on Saturday. It was a great course except for the stinkin' pea gravel. Deb, one of the fast girls from NC was there and I was riding with her... not only was I riding with her, I was passing her!!! Go Kym. And then we hit the gravel pit. I kept getting gravel in my cleats and I couldn't clip in. Uh oh. And there went my lead. I ended up second by 5 seconds. I was okay with it, I rode well and had great legs.... tomorrow should be fun.

Sunday, Star Lisa and I headed to Nashville to see what the State Championships had in store for us. I was finally going to get my wish...RAIN which equals MUD!!!! Star and Lisa are both new to racing cross so they would be racing in the category 4 women's race.

The course was TOUGH. It was muddy and tight. Definitely the most difficult and technical course we had seen all season. I was so excited. The cat 4 women went first and it was EXCITING!!! Lisa lead from start to finish with the girl in second charging hard. It came down to a sprint and I almost lost my voice cheering. LISA WON!!! Star took 5th and was definitely the smoothest girl in the 4's. She raced with grace... she will definitely be a good cross racer once we get a few more in her.

By the time my race rolled around the course was a disaster. I got a front row call up (with all the Category 3 men who had the same start as us) and I killed it at the gun. Whew. that hurt. I never looked back. just keep pedaling.... I WON!!!!

What a great day... you can't ask for more than sweeping the women's categories at the State Championships. Vantaggio/ Specialized is starting out 2008 in STYLE.

Thanks for reading....

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Columbia CX

So I have become obsessed with cyclocross. I admit it. I am having a BLAST racing cross instead of doing miserable structured "interval training" this winter. Yes, it is the off season, but even so, there is a time to sprinkle in a little bit of intensity and I'd much rather do it this way.

It all started with the new bike. I can't help it, I am like a little kid. I LOVE NEW TOYS!!!! Especially when I can sell the old one and get a new one without it costing me any money (okay $53...). And the S-Works Tricross is the most kick butt bike ever. Once I fell in love with my new toy (back in November) I decided to explore some of the TN series races. Well..... after a marginal start to this latest adventure, I am getting the hang of it. I have practiced the running/on/off thing and although it is my off season and I am not fast, I am getting proficient at it.

So with all of that being said, after this past weekend, I am now winning the TN series for the category 1/2/3 women. More importantly, I am hooked. It is so fun to get out and race and laugh at myself. I enjoy not taking it too seriously.

We went to Columbia TN this past weekend and I won both days. More importantly, they raced us with the men (category 3 and masters) and I finished mid field both days. That makes me feel good when I can race WITH the men instead of behind them.
Thanks to Emma Williams for the great pictures. She was out there having way more fun than any one person should have on a bike. Once she was done racing, she captured my "focused so I don't kill myself" look on the cross bike. Next weekend is the State Championship race where I hope to continue my trend of improvement on the bike. I am also hoping for some good MUD just to make things interesting.
Thanks for reading....

Thursday, January 3, 2008


It is COLD here. Not chilly, not a bit cold but COLD. We awoke yesterday to 17 degrees. Maybe it will warm up. Nope. The high was 25 degrees. Oh, and the real kicker, it was sustained winds at 20 mph. I had a 4 hour ride planned for 9am.

After some whining from the boys that were joining us, Star, Shannon and I rolled out with Mark, Steve and Dur. Steve's wife Karen told us we all need to be committed. We did consider finishing the ride at Moccasin Bend Mental Health facility. We figured they wouldn't even ask before admitting us. I opted to leave the bike clothing home in exchange for my ski gear. It was a good choice. Poor Shannon did not have the right clothing on and obviously needs to eat a few more Christmas cookies to add some insulation. She was FROZEN in the first 15 minutes and had to turn back. She was the only one with any sense. It took her the rest of the day to thaw out.

The original plan involved a bit of climbing, but with the cold we opted for plan "B" which was no climbing of any kind, in order to avoid descending. We headed out River Canyon/ Mullins Cove Road along the TN river. It was a good choice. We were protected from the wind and the "doggie intervals" kept us warm. (That road has approximately 4,000 dogs on it, all running loose and chasing cyclists.)

It was a cold day and not what I would choose for riding conditions, but we got out there and did it. The company was great and made what could have been a miserable day bearable. Thanks to everyone for following me on what could only be described as a "crazy cold adventure". I am sure Moccasin Bend is waiting for all of us!!!

New Year's Eve Ride

Last weekend, as I was weighing my options for "adventures" for this week, I checked the Scenic City Velo forums. For Monday, a group of "slightly off" SCV guys posted a ride that went out through parts unknown in North Georgia and involved an "unimproved road surface" climb. Hey, this sounds like just the adventure I was looking for!!! I like dirt. I like climbing. I like new roads that I have never been on before. I'm in. Mark was thrilled to be roped into another "Kym adventure". (He hates it when I use that word... "adventure" really means "death march" or at least "bad idea that is going to be LONG and painful".)

Lisa also had the day free so her and I rolled up to very foggy start. Wow, there are a lot of people here. We were the only two women, there were 25 guys. This should be fun!!!

A foggy start...

The first part of the ride was through Lookout Valley, one of my favorite routes. We continued south and eventually found our dirt climb; Sulphur Spring Road. It was everything we expected and more. Steep (average of 10% with two short pitches at the top at 21%) and dirt... there was a decent line up the entire road but keeping traction when it got steep was an issue on road tires. What FUN!!! I was in my element as was Lisa. We both climbed the entire thing... more than a LOT of the men could say. I was even one of the first riders to the top; all while riding tempo.

Lisa kicking some butt climbing the mountain.

The ride back to the parking lot became a bit of a race, the male ego can only be contained for so long before it takes over even the most sensible of men. The closer we got, the harder the push became up each hill, until they were just attacking each other. My brain told me "Kym, you are doing base miles, sit up and let them be boys..." but my ego said "don't let those stupid boys drop you...". The ego won. it was a good time.

Lisa and I had a great time and we cannot wait to take the rest of the team on the route. It has become an instant favorite. Also, to Mark's credit, he didn't complain about the ride at all and rode really strong... he was one of those "stupid boys" we were chasing all afternoon.