Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Part two.

Okay, so with one more weekend before the big mountain bike races start up again, I decided to try the pavement out a second time. There was a big climbing road race in Oliver Springs (Knoxville area) Sunday morning. I guess it was time to go find out if I really could climb. I was also really excited because Amanda was coming out to race with me; it was going to be great to have a friendly face in the pack.

It was going to be a really busy day. I had a clinic I was teaching for the Krystal Chik's cycling team Sunday afternoon. It was a day of: get up early, race fast, drive fast, teach a clinic, and collapse in bed. I might have put on the bad idea jeans in hindsight.

We got to the race and there was a really strong women's field there with some really good climbers. I was going to find out fast if last weekend was a fluke or not. They were racing the Women's Field and the Masters 50/60 Field together so we also had the men to worry about. They were scoring us separately but the men still tend to chase us down, etc.

The field rolled out and it was a pretty uneventful ride to the base of the climb, 9 miles into the race. I worked my way to the front and waited. Jamie attacked (she always does on climbs) and Missy and I were the only two who responded. I made myself let her go a little and stayed within myself. I just needed to keep her in sight and hope that I could reel her back as the climb went on. I slowly passed Missy and then Jamie. With about a mile to go they were both on MY wheel as we went up the climb. No one else was in sight. About a half mile from the top I gapped them and I came over the top of the climb alone. I had just out climbed some of the best climbers in the Southeast!!! They quickly caught me on the descent; I knew I wasn't going to stay away solo and three of us might just be able to hold our gap. We worked together well for the next 15 miles and then we were at the second climb. Missy was off the pace immediately and it was just Jamie and I. I set my pace and near the top she fell off. It was once again just me over the top. Jamie quickly caught me on the descent and attacked. She is much more brave than I am on tight mountain descents and she gapped me by the bottom. I chased back on and it was the two of us. With 1k to go we started slowly ratcheting up the pace and I took the sprint. I won!!! Amanda raced well for a 6th place finish. Good job girl!!!

Two weekends of big climbing races and I won them both. I think I might be getting this climbing thing down. The funniest part of the whole thing is that Jamie and I are a couple of pro mountain bikers and we rode away from an entire field of men and women that focus on the road. I know they must really hate that. Next weekend it's back to the dirt. BUMP here we come.

Thanks for reading....

Monday, May 18, 2009

This is what happens when mountain bikers race the road...

This weekend was yet ANOTHER wet weekend. I am SO over the rain, and racing in the rain, that I can hardly stand it. We had a weekend off of mountain bike racing so it was time to stretch our legs out on the road and see if we remembered how to race the skinny tires. The Highland Rim Classic was only an hour away and it is always a great event with big fields, strong racers, and great money. Even after watching the weather forecast grow worse as we got closer to the weekend, I registered for the whole omnium; road race (with a mountain climb), time trial (2 miles up hill) and crit. I am not a natural climber so I have always struggled a bit with this event but it is fun neverless.

Shannon, Paula, Gina and Helen were also coming up for all of the weekend (Shannon) or to help for part of it (Helen, Gina and Paula) so I was going to have some help climbing and controlling the race. Sometimes the stars are just not aligned!!! It was the weekend of mini-disasters for my team and I ended up solo for the duration. Helen woke up late and her truck had a flat tire. Shannon got sick on her drive there (breakfast did not agree). Gina and Paula were getting ready to go when a mishap with the dog on his leash landed Gina in the hospital with a dislocated shoulder. She's going to be fine but is NOT a happy girl right now. After a series of phone calls it appeared that I was on my own.

We pulled in Saturday morning under the threat of rain but so far, so good. It was going to be a tough race. There were some really strong girls there, including my friend Leigh that rides for Vanderkitten and Mary, a local bad ass road racer. We rolled out of the starting area and as we turned onto the course we could see the wall of water up the road. Great. That is not what I was hoping for today. Mary and I set tempo on the front, mostly just to stay warm in the steady rain that was now pelting us. As we got to the climb I moved to the front and set my pace. The plan was to ride my pace and hope that it was hard enough that no one would attack. I was soon on the front leading up the hill. I looked at the Power Tap and pedaled where I knew I could sustain it. After about 10 minutes it occurred to me that I was alone. I had dropped the field. ON A CLIMB. Wow. 8 years of working on climbing and it is FINALLY paying off. Leigh was the next rider back and I waited on her; 35 miles is a long way to ride solo. I figured I had a better chance to stay away if there were two of us. We worked well together and rode in a steady downpour for the next 30 miles. Just as we were coming to the descent and the finish the skies cleared. Leigh observed that it kind of felt like we'd just gotten out of the pool. Yep; that sums it up!! Coming into the finish I was in a dilemma. Leigh is a BAD ASS sprinter. I am not. I knew that if I waited to 200 meters I was not going to beat her. I also knew that I was riding stronger on the up hills and the finish was a slight incline for the last 1000 meters. I went early and although it was UGLY, I won. I still can hardly believe it. I won one of the biggest climbing races in our area. Me, the self proclaimed non-climber. Hmmm. Was it a fluke or has all that hard work finally paid off???

The sun shined bright all afternoon and we had a nice relaxing lunch while waiting for the time trial that started at 4pm. It was a two mile climb up the descent that we raced down at the end of the road race. Mark had modeled out the exact power that I would need to hold to match last years winning time. He has this really cool program that does the modeling. It was going to be tough but doable if I could get my legs to suffer. I got in a good warm up and rolled to the start. As they said go the skies again opened up and I was racing in the rain for the second time today. It was tough to start out at the pace I knew I needed; the adrenaline told me to go harder but I knew that the Power Tap was not lying to me. About half way up the climb I caught Leigh (she was my 30 second rider) and then the next girl. A few minutes later I caught another rider. I was not looking at the time. Just distance and power. I was REALLY suffering. I crossed the finish line and had no idea what I had done for a time. It felt really slow. I DID IT!!! I won the time trial by over a minute and matched my goal time EXACTLY. Thanks Mark. So, day one was now over and I had won a climbing road race and an uphill time trial. AWESOME.

Sunday was not wet. It was COLD. It was in the 50's cloudy and windy. It's the middle of MAY; where did summer go?? The crit was frustrating for me. I hate negative racing and I hate racing at 15 miles per hour but that is what everyone wanted to do. I would attack and everyone would chase me. Then we'd all sit up. They raced the juniors on the course at the same time as us and it was a mess when we got to the last lap. In the last turn there was a junior and a group of us all looking for the same piece of pavement. I sat up. It wasn't worth losing skin over. I took 4th.

I ended up having a great weekend. I haven't done much road racing in the past few years and I think I miss it. It is time to do some more of it. It was a nice change of pace. Hopefully the climbing thing wasn't a fluke and I am getting better at it.

Thanks for reading...

Mud, Mud and more MUD!!!

This picture pretty much sums up the weekend. I am SO glad this isn't my bike!!!

Star, Lisa and Shannon braved the weather and the mud to race the Dirt Sweat and Gears 12 hour race in Fayetteville, TN last weekend. The course went from wet and muddy but rideable to "the worst conditions I have ever seen" over the course of the first lap. Wheels stopped rolling and the winning solo man (Jeremiah Bishop) won the race with a whopping 4 laps.

Star and Lisa raced on a two woman team and put forth a valiant effort, finishing ALMOST 2 laps in 12 hours. Apparently it is much more difficult than it sounds to carry one's bike 10 miles when it weighs approximately 75 pounds because of all the mud. (yes, people were weighing bikes and 75 pounds was the average weight after a lap). Their effort was good enough for 2nd place!!!

Shannon teamed up with a guy friend of hers and definitely gets the award for cutest looking in the mud. She even made Velo News. check out the link: http://www.cyclingnews.com/mtbphotos.php?id=/photos/2009/may09/dirtsweatgears09/dirtsweat138

Great job ladies!! Sorry I missed it (okay, not really....)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Podium Shots from SERC #5/ Kenda Cup East #1

Paula stands on the second step with a smile.

"...so this is what the view is like up here; I could get used to this!!" - Helen

Gina and Catherine take 3rd and 5th.

Kym sharing the 2nd step with Shelley. We tied for the TT.

Okay, the pictures are few and far between from the weekend. Apparently it was too wet for anyone's cameras to work very well. I am still waiting on Gina for a couple of good "after" photos of the mud...
I am still doing laundry.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

SERC #5/ US Cup East #1

Helen on the (very wet) podium. Congrats!!!

Sometimes Mother Nature is a cruel woman...

Last weekend was the 5th round of the SERC series at our (almost) local trails at the Ocoee Whitewater Center. The Tanasi trail system is one of my favorites and I was definitely looking forward to the race. It was going to be a HUGE weekend, as the race was also the first round in the national Kenda Cup East series. We had 8 of the 10 of us registered to race and it was going to be a great weekend.

And then the rains came....

We have been in a drought for about a year and a half. Now with the mountains here, I have gotten plenty of rain at my house but at the airport, where they measure our rainfall, it NEVER rains. Therefore, we are in a drought. (I actually think that we need to go to the airport and ride on rainy days and we'll stay dry but that is another discussion...) It started raining about a week ago and it hasn't stopped. Even at the airport. We went from an almost 4" deficit to a surplus of rain in less than a week. The trail was going to be a river.

Saturday was the Time Trial and we awoke to what can only be described as a monsoon. Mark, Helen and I were headed to Tanasi as the thunder and lightening roared around us. Oh well, everyone has to race the same thing.

My day got off to a crazy start with Mark stranded in Shannon's driveway behind the mover's truck that was wedged in her very steep driveway. After a FRANTIC tire change at work, (I needed mud tires...sorry for the psycho behavior guys; I hate feeling late) we were finally going to the race. On our way there I got two calls. The first was from Emily; she was running late and was going to get there right as the time trail was starting. I told her to get dressed in the car and I'd meet her at the start with her number plate. The second call was from Catherine; her car broke down in Atlanta and she wasn't going to make the TT. The day was beginning to feel like the apocalypse.

I decided to try and relax during the warm up on the trail to see what the conditions were like. The trail was GONE and in it's place was a muddy river. It seriously was flowing. Fast. I didn't have the best TT but still ended up tied for second place in the pro field. Emily won the Expert TT and Helen won the beginner. Whew. The stress was worth it.

Sunday the weather was not any better and my bike was looking sadly at the mud it was about to be forced to endure. I LOVE my bike and she ROCKS on these conditions (thanks Specialized!!!) but mud does a number on everything. Even with the weather the fields were big; I think that the race being the first Kenda Cup East series race brought some riders down to the Southeast that would not have been here otherwise. It was fun to see new faces. It ended up being a great day for the team. I rode alright, my first lap was slow but then I got into a groove and rode myself into 4th in a very competitive pro field. Paula rocked the pro race from the start, taking 2nd. Emily was 5th in the Expert field. Gina, Catherine, Star and Lisa raced Sport and they went 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th. Helen was the star of the weekend winning her race in a sprint finish and making it a double with her TT win on Saturday. AWESOME!!!

Awards were done in the pouring down rain and we took our soggy muddy selves to dinner and then home. I am still trying to dry things out.

As an aside, I love the new look with the white/light blue team kits but WHAT WAS I THINKING??!!! I had to wash stuff 4 times to get the mud out.