Thursday, September 17, 2009

River Gorge Omnium

Chattanooga was full of racing the end of August. The weekend immediately following Booker T was a road race weekend here in town. This wasn't just any race, it was the mother of all climbing races, River Gorge. The short course (which everyone except the P1/2 and Cat 3 men race) was 48 miles with 4 good size climbs and a mountain top finish. I finished 2nd last year and was really hoping to win this one. After seeing the registration list, I had my work cut out for me. There were a number of really good climbers here to try out their legs on our mountains, including some of my teammates. Paula, Gina, Catherine and I all lined up and we were off.....

Women's road racing is annoying. One of the the big reasons that I don't do more of it is that everyone tends to wait for someone else to do something. When someone (read: me) finally does do something they chase it down and do nothing again. The mountain biker in me really hates that. I minimize that by picking races that have a lot of hills so we at least have to do some work. River Gorge proved to be the same old thing. The hills were hard but other than that it was SLOW. Everyone was saving themselves for the climb up Raccoon Mountain. There was a group of about 15 of us together at the base of the climb (3 miles to the finish, all steep uphill). We rolled into it slow and then the attacks started. I had a plan and I was going to stick with it. I knew exactly what kind of wattage I could hold up the mountain and I was going to look at my Power Tap and do my thing. That meant letting the early attacks go in hopes that I would reel them back in. The hard part about doing that was watching Ann, arguably one of the best climbers in the Southeast, go up the hill without me. Patience, Kym. I slowly started bringing her back. I was in second and had dropped everyone else. I had Ann in sight. I caught her right as the road flattened out for a minute. I held the power high instead of recovering on the flat area. It worked, I dropped her. Okay, about 1.5 miles left. Stay focused and stay strong. I refused to let myself look back. The race is ahead of me. As a came to the 1k to go sign I glanced over my shoulder. No one around!!! Kym, you have this; just keep pedaling. As I rounded the corner to the finish there were crowds SCREAMING and cheering for me. Wow. I was really going to win. I did it. I won a climbing race against climbers. This has been an amazing season. This one-time-sprinter has finally transformed herself into a climber!!!

My teammates also all did great. Paula rolled in for 4th, Gina was 5th and Catherine was 6th. Great job ladies.

After some quick lunch and a nap (I love racing at home....) it was time to head back for the time trial. I HATE time trials. I had borrowed a tt bike, (Thanks Carol!!) and was hoping for the best. As good of a bike handler as I am off road, I SUCK on a tt bike. Even worse when I can't stop because of a bad brake pad/wheel combo. Oh well, time to try and minimize my losses. I got 2nd by .24 seconds. Yep, less than a second. Wow. To the reigning state tt champion too. And it was all in bike handling. I lost tons of time on the corners. I guess maybe I should practice this skill once in a while. Catherine took 4th. Great job girlie.

After sleeping in my own bed it was time on Sunday to race the crit. Catherine and I had a nice commute/warm-up to the race and then it was time for one of the most boring crits I have done in a long time. Nothing happened. The plan was for me to lead out Catherine (she as tied for 3rd in the Omnium). I won a couple of mid race preems and made people work. It was fun, AND our plan worked. I led Catherine out for a beautiful 3rd place finish.

All in all it was a great weekend. My season is complete. I am focused more than ever on cross and it ended at home on a high note.

Thanks for reading...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Booker T

Okay , I am slowly playing the "catch up" game with my reports. Today brings me to Booker T mountain bike race in Chattanooga on August 23rd. Booker T State Park is about 15 minutes from my house and I NEVER ride there. Not that it isn't a fun trail, it is, it's just short. If I am going to load up and drive somewhere to ride I typically want to ride a trail that is longer that 5.5 miles. At race pace it is about a 30 minute lap. That is a lot of riding in circles...

Catherine, Star, Shannon and I headed to Booker T on Sunday morning to unseasonably cool temperatures and perfect course conditions. My personal goal was to see if I could turn a time that would outright win the 40+ Expert Men's fields. That is Mark's field and I can usually get most of those guys but there are a few that I just can't quite catch. I knew the trail and I was feeling good. If there was any day it was going to happen, this was going to be it. This was also Catherine's last race as a Sport rider and Star's first as an Expert. My girls are all growing up!!!

Local races are always fun. There is a small amount of added pressure to do well but it is ALWAYS fun to race in front of the hometown crowd. We had "peeps" in almost every category and Chattanooga was poised to do really well.

Our race started pretty tame, it was a pavement start and no one was fired up to go too fast. I stepped up the pace and took the hole shot. I was the only pro woman, all the other girls were experts, so my goal was to see where I could finish in the men's field. The men all started in front of me so it was pretty much 2 hours of "go catch the boys". FUN!!! Secretly that is one of my favorite games. My other goal was to finish in under 2 hours. If I could do that i would take a SIGNIFICANT amount of time off of last year's time. The course was faster this year but that was still a lofty goal. I raced hard and paced myself well. I ended up coming in at 1:58!!! I did it. I took 12 MINUTES off my time. WOW. Most fields were about 2 minutes faster than last year. I know that I have gotten faster this year but that was a really great feeling. In the end, I was only beat by 5 expert men.

Star took 4th and Shannon was 5th in the pro/expert field. Great ride ladies. Catherine won, of course. Her career as a Sport rider is officially OVER. Welcome to the big girl races....

The best part about Booker T was that it was the final race in the TBRA (TN Bike Racing Association) series. We did a few other races in TN that were part of the series and although we were not chasing the series, Catherine, Helen and I all ended up on the podium. We each took second in our respective categories. What a great season this has been!!!!