Monday, October 27, 2008

Helen makes her racing debut and she does it in STYLE

Helen is all smiles after her race.
Sunday was the TN High School Mountain Bike Championship race in Sewanee, TN. As our developmental rider, Helen has been dying to get her first race over with... this was her chance. She went up there a couple of times this past week to check out the course and she was borrowing my bike for the race.
Helen sticks it to the boys at the start!!!
Helen and I got up there early and did a lap of the course for the warm-up. I am sure she was nervous but she remained composed and never showed it (Everyone forgets their address while registering, right??). We practiced the start and she was READY. At the start a boy came into her and she almost crashed but then recovered quickly and started passing people like crazy. GO HELEN!!!
Post race celebration...yes, Mark does have a stop watch around his neck!!!
I think Helen had the biggest cheering section out there (we were definitely the loudest). She WON the women's race. Helen is our newest champion. She also beat half of the boys. Go girl!! You are going to fit in just fine with us....

Lots of Hardware from our new State Champion.

Emily, Kym and Amanda ROCK at Haw Ridge "12 hours of the Hill of Truth"

The last Saturday in October is one of my favorite weekends of the year. Not only is fall PERFECT riding weather, Halloween is close and the best 12 hour race on the planet happens.

For those who have never done a 12 hour race, you are missing out on a ton of fun (assuming that you do it with a team instead of solo...). Haw Ride Park in Oak Ridge, TN has the BEST race the Saturday before Halloween every year. It is aptly named "The Hill of Truth", after the steep miserable power line cut that the course climbs about 3/4 through the loop. The weekend can best be described as a big Halloween party with a bike race that happens in the background.

We normally put together a women's team for the event but this year logistics prevented that from happening. I got recruited to race with Mark and some "old guys" on a master's team (35+). This was not a co-ed category so we would find ourselves racing against teams that all had 4 boys. Amanda, our new teammate for 2009, raced with a women's team and Emily decided to try her hand at solo racing.

It POURED rain the day before so we were all a bit tentative about what we were about to partake in. We really lucked out. It has been SO dry that the ground soaked up all the rain and other than some slick roots and corners, it wasn't bad; just enough wetness to keep you guessing but not really muddy. Lucky for everyone from Chattanooga that was racing, Mark went up Friday in the rain and set up our "compound". We had a great area with a ton of room and pop up tents. And he didn't melt from the rain so all was good....

Emily had 8 tough women to race against and she ROCKED. She quickly settled into second place and never looked back. Carey, the woman who won, is awesome and a nationally ranked endurance racer so taking second to her is ALWAYS something to be proud of. Emily did 9 laps of the 7 mile course in 12 hours. She then promptly went to sleep and missed the awards. She is still feeling like she got hit by a truck today. We picked up her awards and cheered loudly for her accomplishment.

Amanda and her Knoxville women's team took a commanding win. Great job Amanda. You looked great out there!!! It is going to be so fun racing with you in 2009.

Mark and I had a great team. It was his team, I was just along for the ride. We had a VERY exciting race, going back and forth with one other team for the entire 12 hours. We were never more than 5 minutes either ahead or behind them. YIKES!! Things were made more exciting by the untimely demise of our lights. Mine went out on my second night lap right at the end of the lap. The bad news was that it was on the last fast descent. Talk about freaky... one minute I was flying down a hill, the next minute it was BLACK. Fortunately our friend Jon was right behind me and let me follow him back in, only losing a couple of minutes. In the end we WON. The team with the girl beat all the teams with 4 boys. That was fun!!!

What an awesome weekend and what a great showing for our team. If this is any indication of 2009 we are in for a great year!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

UCI weekend, Part 2:

I lived through it. That is the best description I can think of for the weekend. It was a BLAST and yes, I am a cross racer. I think even a decent one. I had so much fun it's hard not be converted.

Saturday's race was a struggle for me. I don't think I recovered enough after my killer ride on Friday and it was tough. From the moment they said "go" I struggled to race my bike. I did alright, actually 18th which was a good placing, but I was not happy with how I rode; and the sand pit did NOT help. It was more like a cruel joke than an obstacle. I looked like a 6 year old trying to run underwater while carrying a bicycle. I am sure that I entertained the crowds. It was still fun in that painful, it-feels-so-good-when-you-stop, sort of way. The fields were bigger and so were the cheering sections.

Sunday. My last chance at redemption; I really wanted to end the weekend on a good note. There was a lot of climbing and it was a FAST course. And of course a sand pit...although a fun one. I managed to not look quite as "challenged" while running it. They said "go" and my legs decided to cooperate. I went. And it was FUN. I rode really well and ended up 16th. Not exactly where I had hoped (one spot out of the money) but it was a really good ride for me in a tough field. I was really pleased with it.

In fact, I was really pleased with my entire weekend. I have never really raced out of the Southeast against anyone on a cross bike so it was great to see that I stacked up as well as I did. I am now REALLY hooked and can't wait to do more....

Thanks for reading...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

UCI racing in Ohio... Day One.


So I lived through what can only be described as torture on a bicycle yesterday and did alright. I obviously packed the bad idea jeans for the whole weekend because I am going back for race two in a little while. It's hot and dry here which is good for me; that's what we've been racing in all summer. And the field is FAST.

We started a very stacked field yesterday and anything above last place would have been a success. I stated hard (so did everyone else...) and at one point was as high as 10th place. Hmmm... not sure how that happened. Go Kym!! I got some really bad side stitches and had to sit up for a couple of laps. I got passed by a number of girls when that happened but there was nothing I could do about it. I haven't had that problem since I was a runner. I am hoping that it was just the combination of the heat, going really hard and the EXTREMELY bumpy course. We'll see today. It is not as bumpy so let's hope for the best.

I ended up 15th, which I am extremely happy with. I even made money. They paid 15 deep!!!!! I made money at a UCI race... that amazes me. Wow. I seem to be better at this cross thing that I thought.

Time to go... more racing to do today...

Cross season is here!!!

Cross season started last weekend and this year I am much more ready than I was last year. We went up to Parrotsville, TN for the first TBRA race. I had NO idea what to expect; especially since there was a strong field of women there... women who routinely kicked my butt last year.

The plan was to just hang on and see where I stacked up. Half way through the first lap I attacked the group I was with and suddenly found myself off the front of the race. WOW. What is this??!! I dug really hard for the rest of the 40 minutes and I WON!!! Awesome.

Somehow, this mountain biker has become a cross racer. I still don't want to admit it, but I do love it and seem to be getting proficient at it.

This weekend is a UCI Cross race weekend in Ohio. Not sure what bad idea jeans I was wearing when I signed up for it but I guess we'll see how I stack up against the best. YIKES!!!! All the "big girls" are going to be there....