Monday, June 15, 2009

...and the "Bad Idea Jeans" finally PAY OFF!!!!!

I was supposed to be in VT this weekend. Unfortunately, due to some bad timed scheduling, my USA Cycling Camp got cancelled. The kids are still in school up there. Oops. No wonder registration was so low. Next week is still the road camp we are running here in TN and we have 35 kids so I will get my camp fix, but I am bummed about VT.

Due to the oversight in school schedules, I suddenly had a free weekend with NO PLANS!!! Unthinkable. What to do??? Mark decided to go home to Michigan and visit his family and I figured I'd stay here, get in some good training and pick up some extra hours at work.

Saturday was a GREAT ride with some friends. 4 hours, 2 mountain climbs and the legs felt great. So great that I was a little bummed that I wasn't racing. Oh well, I do love long training rides when it is warm and sunny. It was a good hard workout and I was a happy woman.

Oh, as a side note did I mention that the TN State Criterium Championship was this weekend 30 minutes from my house??? I wasn't going to go. I needed the long miles. It was not in the plan; and then...

Okay, so Sunday morning at 11:30am I decided to go and race it. I had exactly 2 hours to: get dressed, pack the car, eat, find wheels for the pit, drive up there, register and warm up. I did not really have any expectations except that it would be fun to see people instead of riding alone. I made it there with a whole 25 minutes to spare for my warm up. It was a classic case of the "bad idea jeans".

We lined up 17 women in the Cat. 1-3 race and every one of them was looking for that state champion title. Nothing was getting away, that became apparent almost immediately. Surprisingly, my legs felt alright, even after the long day on Saturday. There were three of us on the front doing most of the work, trying to wear everyone else out on the hill. I know, I shouldn't do that much work, but I hate not racing hard. I guess it is the mountain biker in me. I'd rather use way more energy than I need to and get a good workout than win without feeling like I worked hard. And besides, I was here to finish my weekend of good workouts; I had no delusions of winning.

With 5 laps to go the field was still together and I decided I was feeling good. I suddenly WANTED that win. Forget the "get a good workout" thing, I wanted that state title. I was going to go for it. I knew what I had to do and I was going to do it from the front. With one lap to go the attacks started and I covered everything. In the second to last turn Mary came around me and as I jumped on her wheel she clipped her pedal in the turn.


Whew. I swerved, missed her and was set up perfect for the sprint. I WON!!! By 2 bike lengths. I am thrilled. I am the TN State Crit Champion. It was so much fun and it was great to do it with the home crowd there. Chattanooga had an awesome weekend as a whole with us taking jerseys in 4 races.

Not bad for a mountain biker...

Catherine Wins Again!!!

Catherine rocked it again this weekend in Georgia. She raced the Georgia State Series race in Athens, GA and won by a convincing margin; over 15 minutes!!! The race was on her "home" trails and it showed...

Congrats. We are so proud of you!!!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

SERC #6 Clemson, SC

Summer is finally here. This weekend was two in a row that were hot and humid. I am not complaining; as long as it's not cold and wet, I am happy.

Clemson, SC was the sixth stop in the SERC series. We had a good team showing with six riders. Star, Helen and I drove down from Chattanooga, Emily and Amanda came from Knoxville and Catherine had the short drive from Athens, GA. The trail in Clemson is really fast fun single track accentuated by steep climbs that don't feel bad during the pre-ride but HURT on race day. The weekend was made more interesting by the time trial Saturday afternoon. There were bonus points up for grabs so the TT was a must for those of us in the hunt for the overall series. It was a fairly long TT, over half of the 11 mile race loop including the steepest long climb. GREAT.

We arrived Saturday in time to set up the team tent, have a picnic lunch and relax before our pre-ride. The pre-ride was less than ideal. Catherine and I rode the fast sections at a fairly fast pace in preparation for the afternoon's time trial while Star, Helen and Mark took it easy to save the legs for the overall. The excitement started when Star broke her chain and no one had a tool to fix it. Her pre-ride turned into a pre-walk. Helen, meanwhile, was finding out that she was NOT over the illness that she has been fighting for the past week. It took everything she had to finish the pre-ride loop. After some assessing we determined that it was not smart for her to race the TT or the cross country race. She was demoted to bottle girl for the weekend. Mark rescued Star with a chain tool and we were finally done with the pre-ride. Whew.

The afternoon was becoming really long and the time trial start was fast approaching. All I really wanted to do was relax and eat dinner but I needed the bonus points. I WANT to be on that final series podium. The first part of the course was downhill and twisty. Now I am a good bike handler, it is one of my big forte's while racing; I take pride in being able to handle a bike. As good as I am, Shelly is better (hands down one of the best bike handlers I know, male or female)and she was my big competition. I did not want her to catch sight of me in the time trial so I lined up after her. I knew I was a stronger climber than her, I wasn't worried about the second half of the course. I felt fairly certain that I would make up some time over her bike handling with my climbing ability, but I wanted the advantage of being out of sight. It worked!!! I raced what felt like a miserable, slow time trial (don't they all??) but I won!!! WHEW. I was actually 13th overall; take THAT boys... Catherine won the Sport women's category and posted the third fasted women's time of the day. Go girl!!! Emily soft pedaled to get her points and save her legs. It was a smart move.

Dinner was a picnic in our hotel room. Everyone brought something and we had taco/burrito/make-your-own-tex-mex dinner. It was WAAAAYYYY better than anything we could have gone out and eaten. After that it was bedtime; it was going to be an early morning.

As predicted, morning came way too soon and we were loaded and heading to the race before my body wanted to be awake. I really wish these things started later once in a while. While warming up I noticed some stiff competition had shown up; my friend Niki was here. Great. She's a phenomenal climber (not so good for me on a course that finishes with a mile long climb) AND she has fresh legs since she skipped the time trial. They said "go" and I stuck to Shelly's wheel like glue. I was NOT going to let her get away today. We rode away from Niki and off the front of the race. About half way through the first lap Shelly told me to go around her and before I knew it I was off the front alone!!! I rode that way for over a lap. Suddenly, at then end of lap two, my legs started to remind me of the time trial from the previous day. Just keep pedaling. About half way up the final climb Niki passed me. Damn. Keep pedaling. After a moment of really being bummed out over losing the lead, I rallied the troops and decided to start chasing. It took about 10 minutes and she was back in sight. Unfortunately, every time it went up my legs started screaming. Keep pedaling. We got to the last climb together and that was all I had. Niki rode away for a well deserved win and I was going to have to settle for second place. I rode a great race and was proud of what I did out there; even if in the end I lost by less than a minute in a 2:15 race. Amanda rode in for 4th place with Emily in 5th. Catherine took second in the Sport race. It was a good weekend for the team.

Thanks for reading...

Monday, June 1, 2009


Amanda and Emily with the Armadillo.... don't ask.

This past weekend was the annual BUMP N Grind mountain bike race at Oak Mountain State Park in Birmingham, AL. BUMP has been one of the biggest races in the Southeast for as long as I can remember and always offers tough fields, tougher trails and HUGE bragging rights if you finish well. This year it was going to be even bigger because it is now part of the US Cup Pro XC tour and therefore it was a UCI (international) race. YIKES!! That means that for the pro fields the competition was going to be extremely tough and the fields were going to be the who's who of mountain biking in North America.

The start of the pro women's race.
BUMP and I have a sorted history. It is my race; the one that is the "monkey" on my back. I have had one of the best races of my career there and I have also had some of the worst there. For whatever reason I am plagued by mechanicals and crashes when I race at Oak Mountain. Of the 10 times I have raced BUMP I have DNF'd 7 times. For the girl who NEVER quits races, this is a bit traumatic. If I can keep the rubber side down (and inflated) I tend to ride really well; these are my kind of trails. I was really hoping that this was going to be my year.

Kym waiting for the call-up.
Amanda, Emily, Catherine and I loaded up Saturday morning and headed to Birmingham to see how we stacked up. It was FINALLY supposed to be warm (actually HOT) and sunny. We were finally going to get a weekend without rain!! We rolled in and it was obvious immediately that it was going to be a tough weekend for me. WOW. Factory team trailers everywhere along with their riders, mechanics, etc. It was going to be a fun but really hard race.

Emily wins the Junior Expert Women's race.
We all went and rode our respective courses and decided to re-group after the pre-ride. BUMP has always been characterized by the long (17 mile) loop that we race two laps of. It is rocky, technical and tight; one of my favorites anywhere. This year, the pros had a different course. Because it was a UCI race, we had to have a shorter, UCI standard type course. It was a 6 mile loop that went up the last part of the trail everyone else finished on and then ended with a pavement section. It was a fast and fun course (good for me) with a bunch of high speed handling (also good for me) but still not the long loop that I love. The race was going to be fast. My pre-ride loop was only 35 minutes at a really easy pace. I compensated for the down time by hanging out at the beach while waiting for my team mates to finish their long pre-ride. Nothing like screaming kids to get you relaxed and in the mindset to race a bike....

Kym getting PAID at a UCI race!!!
One of the best things about BUMP weekend is getting to see our friend Phil (and his wonderful fiance Katherine) and eating his "to die for" cooking. Phil and Katherine did not disappoint. They were incredible hosts and we ate well both for dinner and an EARLY breakfast. They got up at 5am to make sure we all got fed before heading to the races. Thanks guys!!! You are awesome.

Coasting across the finish line with a smile.

Sunday was a LONG day but WOW is the best description of our experience. Emily and Amanda's races were at 8am so we were up early getting ready to race. It was sunny and cool but getting warmer by the second. Both ladies had great races with Emily winning her race by over 30 minutes. CONGRATS!! Amanda had a really tough field and took an impressive 5th. Catherine continued the trend with a win in the sport field. Great job ladies.

Kym focused in the feed zone.
By the time it was my turn to race it was HOT. Not miserable hot, but hot enough for those of us that have been living in a rain cloud for the past 6 weeks. I decided that I was going to have a spectacular day one way or another. The plan was to go out super hard and either blow up in a huge manner or have a really good race. It worked!!! I felt like I was going to puke but I rode myself to 10th place in a field of REALLY fast pro women. Some of the best riders in the world were here and I raced with them. It was one of the best races I have ever had. My ultimate goal was 15th if everything was perfect. I didn't believe Mark when I crossed the finish line and he told me I was top 10. I put it all together and did it on a day that counted!!! My bike was spot on... it was the perfect machine for the technical fast single track and the steep pavement climbs. Specialized, your Era is the bomb!!!

AWESOME day....
Thanks to Mark for sitting in the feed zone and to all the cheers from all my friends and team mates. It was really fun being the "local girl" in the big race. You guys all made me push HARD. What an incredible day. We rocked BUMP this year. Great job to the entire team. You guys make it so much fun to do what we do....

Thanks for reading.