Sunday, March 30, 2008

Short Track

Kym passing someone during the short track.
I saw Joshua Trees today!!! As we drove out of LA and into the Mojave Desert we saw them. It made my day. FINALLY. Okay, sorry, I regress. Now for the race report...

Two laps to go!!!
I was BEAT today when I woke up. I have been fighting something since before we left to come out here and I am feeling alright, I just don't seem to be recovering as well as I should. When I woke up exhausted I was really bummed. Short track is so fast you cannot afford to not be on top of your game. Oh well, we'll just see how it goes....

No time to enjoy the pretty flowers!!
I seem to have one speed while racing, regardless of the race. I had the same problem with 'cross. I tend to struggle early and then pick people off as the race goes along. Today was more of the same. They said "go" and I struggled to stay with the group; after about 10 minutes I suddenly started catching and passing people. I felt pretty good!!! I lasted until the final lap before being pulled. I think that is a personal record. I climbed the steep section on the course really well, now if I can just figure out how to start faster!!! It was a fun day. I am still not quite 100% but it is good to feel like I can still race even when I'm not quite on. I finished 30th I think and was definitely competitive.

Navigating a loose dusty descent during the short track.

We are now on our way to Vegas. We are staying in Barstow, CA tonight. We'll spend a couple of days in Vegas riding some of our favorite trails and visiting old friends. After that it is time to head back to AZ for another weekend of racing.
Thanks again to Mike for the great photos.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Cross Country

Kym at the start of NMBS #1 Fontana, CA

The first NMBS (National Mountain Bike Series) race of the year was today. I didn't have a good day but I also didn't have a bad day. There were a number of frustrations but there also some things to be happy about.

All that 'cross racing payed off during the start... what a mess!!

So first, my complaints: I did NOT feel great on the bike. I didn't have that "fire"... or snap or whatever you call it. I felt flat and like the whole race was a struggle. As Star and Lisa would say, I was not a "tiger". I'm not sure why; probably a combination of jet lag, travel, the remains of a cold from last week, getting up early and sitting in the feed zone for the boys, etc. I don't have any excuses (I hate excuses) the bottom line is I just didn't "have it" today.

Climbing the steep hill on one of four laps.

Now, that being said, my positive outlook: First, I finished 32nd, better than I have ever done here before. Also, I finished. That doesn't sound like a big deal until you examine the parameters of the race. Because it was a UCI race, they pull riders that don't stay within 80% of the leaders. On a short loop with Georgia Gould as the leader, that leaves very little room for error. Especially since they changed our race to four laps (where it should have been to begin with), making it a long day to stay close to some fast girls. They pulled a lot of our field. So, even not feeling well, I did alright. I was competitive, I just didn't get the result I was hoping for. And it is only the second race of the year for me. Many of these women have been racing for awhile.

...and the finish!!

A few other notes from today. Mark and Mike raced before I did today so we were out of the hotel at 6am this morning. I handed out bottles for them. Mike had a phenomenal start (he led up the first hill) and then succumbed to some mechanical problems and had to abandon. He's ready for redemption tomorrow in the short track. Mark had a good solid race, finishing 17th. Also, Charlie, a friend of our from NC took 14th in the pro men's race. It is always good to see the Southeast riders do well.

Kym all smiles during a pre-ride the day before the race.

Thanks to Mike for all the great pictures. He was out there all day and took about a million shots that made me look really fast.

Ps. I am still not over the Joshua Tree incident.

Urban riding....

A view of the urban sprawl from the top of the course...
Today was all about getting the bike and body dialed in before tomorrow's race. Not only is California completely different terrain than what we are used to, this course is in Fontana; think suburban Los Angeles with smog and graffiti. It's odd to be out riding and the course arrows have been "tagged" with gang type symbols. The trail itself is a good race course and it should be fun if my body doesn't revolt from breathing all the smog (it's really gross!!!). One minute you are riding along thinking you are in the mountains, the next you are riding past spray painted culverts and construction sights.

Is that a bomb shelter on the course??!!

This was the "scenery" we were treated to on parts of the course.

Our course is short. REALLY SHORT. Apparently because it is a UCI race and an Olympic qualifier there are VERY specific regulations they have to adhere to. We are doing 3 laps on a course that is 7k. That is NOTHING. I am pretty bummed about that; I tend to do better in longer races. We did two laps today as a pre-ride. I felt good and had fun. I also played tourist while on the course to take pictures of the graffiti and bomb shelter....
Mike smiling about the fun trail.
Tomorrow is race day, wish me luck!!!
Thanks for reading....
Ps. I am still upset about the Joshua Trees.

Friday, March 28, 2008

From Arizona to California

Wednesday was much better than Tuesday was. I woke up in Arizona (after arriving at 11pm- pacific time) and had nothing to do except assemble a bike, ride and grocery shop. Mark and Florida-Asheville Mike were both arriving around noon and our trip was "officially" starting then. The boys arrived with no delays (figures) and we got the bikes together and it was time to PEDAL!!

Our ride took us from Rachel's to South Mountain on a canal path and then on some killer fun single track. I could have ridden all afternoon but after a couple of hours we needed to get back. I always forget how much fun the fast roller coaster desert single track is.

After a fun yummy dinner with old friends, it was time for bed. Thursday was going to be a long drive...

Today (Thursday) we made the journey from Arizona to California. It took forever to assemble our stuff in the tiny rental car. We sent ourselves a bunch of stuff, including a bike rack, so we didn't have to buy stuff out here and could rent a much smaller car. The small car makes for some interesting packing. It was a lot like a jigsaw puzzle; both in the trunk and getting the bikes on the rack. The frustration was worth it... we saved about $500 on that minivan we were going to have to rent.

My one and only request for the 5 hour trip to California was to stop at Joshua Tree National Park. Interstate 10 goes right past it and I LOVE Joshua trees. I'm not sure why but I have a thing for them; they are only found in a very small part of the world and Joshua Tree NP is one of the biggest concentrations of them. I was very excited. So we stop at the park and head past the visitor center... Hmmmm, where are the Joshua Trees?? We are in a NATIONAL PARK that is named after them. We drove for 20 miles and saw NONE. We went back to the visitor center only to find out that we had to drive 45 minutes into the park to even start seeing the trees. I was SO UNHAPPY!!!! We didn't have time for that. I think it is false advertising..they should call it "Joshua trees way-in-the-park-and-a-lot-of-other-stuff-until-then NP". As you can tell, I am NOT over the whole thing. I really wanted to see those trees.

After my HUGE disappointment with Joshua Tree NP we continued to Fontana to get settled in our hotel and ride the course. What a pleasant surprise!! The course is in great shape and they have re-routed the big trouble spot of years past. We had a great pre-ride. The weather was beautiful also. It would almost have been perfect if we weren't breathing the gross smog of the LA basin and paying $3.65 for gas. Have I mentioned that California is NOT one of my favorite places??!! The Joshua tree thing did not help the state's score any....

Mike has been taking pictures so hopefully I can get some of those tomorrow to post. We've got some great shots of the packing of the car. For now it is time to get some sleep. Tomorrow we pick up our number plates and do some more pre-riding.

Thanks for reading...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Still waiting...


I made it to Washington Dulles International Airport only to be delayed for ANOTHER two hours. United was kind enough to send me an email telling me this. I think that is a bit odd, they send you an email alert about a flight that you should already be on. If you haven't figured out yet that the flight is delayed I think you probably have bigger problems. My first instinct when my plane is delayed is NOT to check my email. I'm not sure, but this might be a feature that could be eliminated to help keep the costs of air travel down.

I hope the trip gets better, right now I am really tired of paying absorbanent prices for internet service because I need to work and I'm stuck in the airport.

I have been traveling for 10 hours now and am farther east than when I started. hmmm....

On the Road Again....

...And it is that time of year again. Travel is back upon us. Two weeks ago we were in Florida as a "warm-up" and now the marathon that is race season is HERE. I am currently sitting in the Nashvile International Airport waiting on a delayed flight. That didn't take long. I usually have at least a couple of trips before I have huge delays, but apparently not this year. This is race number two of the season. I am two hours into a two week trip and I am delayed. I hope this is not a sign of things to come...

I complain but I love the travel. Not the traveling, but the travel. With all the airline restirictions and cut backs, traveling had become more of a nightmare every year. Mark and I are doing this trip on frequent flyer tickets, so suprise, we are not on the same flight. We are actually not even on the same day. Oh well, free is free. I also snuck my bike on without getting charged (think $80 each way if they hear the word "bike") so I guess the delayed flight is not too bad. I'll wait as long as money isn't involved.

I am on my way to Arizona, California, Las Vegas, and back to Arizona. The races are in CA and AZ and we are staying with two of my favorite people on the planet Rachel and Foye. They have the unfortunate pleasure of living in AZ now so we are invading their house. From their house we are driving to CA for the first National Mountain Bike Series race in Fontana, from there to Vegas to visit some old friends for a couple of days, and then back to Phoenix to race the second NMBS race. It should be a ton of fun and great racing.

Mike, one of my athletes, is also joining up for the journey. He is a brave soul to spend two weeks non stop with Mark and I.

I should have regular email and internet access so stay tuned for travel updates and race reports. Most of the rest of the team has a couple of big weekends of racing in the Southeast so we should all have good stories to tell.

Star and Lisa debut their new Specialized Ruby Pros

Star and Lisa headed to Birmingham this past weekend to try their legs, and new bikes, on the Speedway at the annual "Ride to Live" race.

Let me just start by saying that we are all SO EXCITED about our new road bikes. They arrived last week and they ROCK!!!! For 2008 Specialized has an even better women's line than in the past and we are all on the Ruby road bike. It is incredible. It is fast and light and responsive like my Tarmac was, but I can ride it with a regular length stem. I LOVED my Tarmac and this bike is even that much better.

With new bikes, new gear, and legs antsy from a winter of not racing, Star and Lisa decided to head to Birmingham and remember how to race. They lined up a strong field and and raced well. Both ladies animated the race and were trading punches with two other teams that each had 4 riders, along with a bunch of solo riders. They made the final selection but were a bit out-maneuvered in the last turn. They ended up 7th and 8th. Great job ladies!! You rode well and looked great doing it. Notice the "rock star" pink and silver Specialized sungalsses...

Our new team kits are due in any day so please ignore the clothing. The new stuff will be worth the wait....

Monday, March 17, 2008

Vantaggio ROCKS SERC #1 in Gainesville!!!

The opening SERC (Southeast Regional Championship) Series race was this past weekend in Gainesville, FL. Jamie, Emily and I headed down, along with a contingency of Tennessee boys, to test our legs in Florida. It was going to be Emily's first expert race. She's 15 and has no junior women to race with. After DOMINATING the sport women's field last year she was ready for the challenge.

This race is always really tough for us because it is HOT compared to the weather we have been training in and the Florida riders are always FLYING. They race all winter and already have their race legs. We never have huge expectations, if we see the podium it is a bonus. The joke Jamie and I had heading down was "oh well, it's Florida in March...". It was our answer to EVERYTHING about the weekend.

The pre-ride was less than stellar; I had bruised and bloodied myself in the first 5 minutes. I was NOT optimistic. The course was typical Florida... in and out of a quarry, tight and twisty and stupid little wall type hills. It did not seem to flow but I was hoping it would get better at speed.

We lined up a strong field, including a number of Florida natives. Jamie, Emily and I all lined up together and were discussing the finer points of wanting to puke on the starting line. Nerves are always a killer for the first few races. They said "go" and I somehow immediately was at the back. Hmmm... I need to remember how to start a bike race I guess. Jamie had a great start and was second wheel with Emily not far behind. I put in a huge effort at the first corner to pass the field and ended up third wheel behind Jamie. We hit the first couple of little "walls" and I powered up them to second place. The next wall was bigger with roots on it and was the one that got me during the pre-ride. I told myself I was going to ride up it today and I did!!! I was the only one that made it and suddenly found myself at the front. Okay, let's go with this.... Jamie quickly caught up and we decided to work together for a couple of laps and then beat each other up at the end. All was going well and then she washed out in a corner. She was fine and I kept going, figuring I'd see her again shortly. The course was flowing for me and I was concerned that the Florida girls were going to catch us. Where is Jamie?? Keep pedaling... By the end of the third lap it occurred to me that I might win this race. In Florida. In March. WOW!!

I WON!!!! Jamie took a strong second place and Emily rolled in 9th. We had a great team showing for a race that we had no real expectations for. We are off to a phenomenal start this year.

On another note; my incredibly supportive husband raced his first expert race in 6 years and did great. He started 2 minutes ahead of me and the goal of the day was to see how long he could hold me off. 38 minutes and 32 seconds. Good job Mark!!!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Race season has started!!

Yesterday we officially kicked off our race season with a crit in Maryville, TN. WOW, what fun!! Lisa and I represented the team; Gina, Star and Paula were all supposed to join us but were battling injury and illness when the weekend arrived; oh well, next time. We missed you ladies!!!

The women's field was big (21 women) and STRONG. We had riders from everywhere including one nationally ranked pro. Hmmm.... this was going to be a harder race than I thought. I guess that today we find out if I am ready for racing.

They said "go" and we went hard from the start. Rebecca Larsen, the Aaron's team pro was definitly the driving force and I was NOT going to let he get up the road. We immediately got a gap from the field and then one other rider bridged up. I was psyched. I figured that was the break and we were set. Suddenly the girl that bridged stopped working. AHHH. Then Rebecca stopped working because the other girl wasn't working and she didn't want to give anyone a free ride. Well I was certainly not going to pull both of them. The chase group caught us and then NO ONE was working. Have I ever mentioned that I HATE women's negative racing?? I attacked a bunch of times (and probably did more work than I needed to but I had fun), won a prime, and it ended up coming down to a sprint finish. I got pinched in the last turn by a lapped rider and took third. Ultimately, I would not have won anyway; Rebecca was STRONG and definitely was the best rider today. I think I could have taken second but that's bike racing.

Lisa rocked!!! It was only her second crit and she was in with the big dogs. She rode strong and smart and finished 8th overall, one lap down to the top 7 but her group was still way up on the rest of the field. She was the 2nd Cat4 rider; although at the rate she is going, she won't be a 4 for very much longer. Lisa, we are all so proud of how far you have come in such a short time!!!

After the women's race I decided (against my better judgement, thanks Mark...) to jump into the Cat 3 men's race to get some more intensity in. I was definitely wearing the "bad idea jeans" when I agreed to this. Not only had it gotten cold outside, I was TIRED and my legs were COLD by the time they finally started. It was UGLY. I made it almost 10 minutes before I got pulled. Oh well. I think I could have raced with them if I had been fresh and not freezing but not the first crit weekend of the year. I'm sure I'll get another opportunity to make a fool of myself in the men's race, but this was enough humble pie for a while.