Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hot, Hot, Hot

So yes, I have been slacking. Not in general, just in my posting on the blog. Life has been a whirlwind since Texas. We had BUMP and then barely enough time to recover before more racing, camp and more travel and racing. Whew. I have almost forgotten what my house looks like.

With that being said, I'll pick up with the reports where I left off. Dauset:

Jackson, GA and the Dauset trails are always a lot of fun and always seem to be HOT. Amanda, Emily and I decided to head to GA to see if we could battle the heat before Emily and I went to the USA Cycling Development camp; me as the lead coach, Emily as a camper. Mark and I run the camp every year and although it is one of my favorite weeks of the year, it is exhausting and takes me a few weeks to recover. I have not yet learned that going directly to camp from a race does not help my exhaustion level. The heat also does not help the situation. But I digress....

We arrived in GA and it was HOT. I realize that I keep mentioning the heat but it was miserable. 95 degrees and really humid. I don't ever complain about the heat, but if I did, I would have complained this weekend. Our pre-ride was awful. Afterwards I tried to cool off by swimming in the pond/beach at the park. It was as hot as bathwater and did nothing to cool me down. UGH.

Dauset was also the individual time trial for the series. I determined that I did not need the points toward the series overall so I decided to opt out and cheer for my teammates instead. They rocked it. Catherine won and Amanda was third. We were off to another great weekend.

Kym and Amanda on the podium
photo courtesy of Trish Albert/Southeasterncycling.com

Sunday morning was hot when we woke up and just kept getting hotter. The race director decided for safety reasons to shorten the laps. He took out a technical slow 2 mile section of the lap, making it an 8 mile loop instead of a 10 mile loop. Any other day I might have been bummed but today we were happy. I didn't hear anyone complain about the short race. I decided that I wanted it to be over quickly and I went for it. I took the hole shot and drilled it. I never looked back. Amanda rode hard to second place and Catherine was a strong 4th. WoooHooo!!!!! The heat got Emily but she still pushed hard and finished 8th. Sometimes the hard days tell more about you than the good days. Great job Emily!! She never quit.

After the awards, We hit the road FAST to get home, do laundry, re-pack, and head to camp. We were exhausted by the time we arrived. Camp was going to be a long week.

More soon, thanks for reading...

Monday, June 14, 2010

BUMP and Grind

I'm tired. Extremely tired. I need a break. But wow, the last two weeks were worth it.

After Texas I had less than a week to get ready BUMP and Grind in Birmingham, AL. It is arguably the biggest race we have in the southeast and the fields are always big and strong. In the past few years it has been coupled with an Xterra race the following weekend so there are world class athletes from multiple areas of the sport in the mix. This year would prove to be more of the same. Our start list on Sunday included Shonny Vanladingham, Luna  Team rider and former national mountain bike champion, and Melanie McQuade, multiple time Xterra world champion. These ladies were going to be tough. Anina and I had our work cut out for us. The other categories also had big fields and everyone was going to have to be on their "A game" this weekend.

I went into the weekend feeling wrecked. The racing and travel to Texas was still lingering and a busy week of work had not allowed me to recover. It was going to be tough. We did a short pre-ride and I had a great time hanging with the team Saturday night. The Emily quote of the weekend was: "I tell my left from my right because the left hand is the one that doesn't work as good."  I love that girl!!! We all spent a lot of time laughing and it was a good, relaxing pre-race evening.

Sunday was an early start. Mark and I headed over early to get the team tent set up. We had a key location right on the course near the start finish. It rained Saturday evening so my warm-up was spent doing some recon on the course to see how it held up. The trail was a little slick but good, my legs were not so good. Ugh.

We lined up and I was as ready as I was going to be. They said go and I immediately knew that it was going to be a struggle. I managed to hit a cone that was covering an obstacle in the first section of sidewalk at the start. Rookie. Who does that!!?? Me. I chased back on and then had a horrible time getting into the woods. I got behind a rider who kept sliding out on the roots and the top three riders were gaping me. Damn. Anina was one of the three and I was psyched to see how strong she was riding today. At least someone from our team would have a good showing. I got around the slower rider and began my chase. I could see Shonny, Melanie and Anina about 10 seconds ahead of me but I could NOT get there. Stay steady Kym, it's a long race. We hit the fire road climb and I was still catching glimpses of the race in front of me. My body was screaming... it did not want to ride. This was the worst I have felt during a race in a long time. I continued to push and hoped for the best. After the climb and the long fire road I knew that Shonny was long gone but I was focused on trying to catch Anina and Melanie. My body was finally starting to cooperate a little. I still didn't feel great but I was feeling good enough to push a little bit faster. Shortly after that I passed Anina on the side of the trail with a flat. OH NO!!! I continued to push and suddenly I saw Melanie ahead of me. I was catching her. I passed her and realized that I was now in second place. Okay, I was having a crap day on the bike and still somehow managing to ride myself into second place at BUMP. I guess my fitness was going to carry me through even when my body didn't want to go. I pushed hard and suffered badly for the next hour and rolled in for second place. I was extremely happy with where I finished and that I suffered through but I am very disappointed in how I rode. I know that I am way stronger than what I did today. It is now time for some much needed recovery. I don't want to repeat this again.

Anina is one tough chick. She fixed her flat, flatted again fixed it again and eventually rolled in for 6th place. I hate that she had such bad luck today. In all honesty, I don't think I would have caught her. She was on fire. Unfortunately, sometimes that is racing. Some days it's your turn, some days it is someone else's. I am extremely proud that she didn't quit and that she's my teammate.

Kelsey came home with the only win for the team this weekend. She finished all smiles and didn't crash or end up in the hospital. This is a HUGE improvement. We are glad your hand has healed. We've missed you!!

Emily took second in the Junior Expert Women's category. Great ride today girl, you looked good.

Amanda, Catherine and Shannon all lined up in  the Expert Women's field against some tough ladies. There was a mix up at the finish line as the ladies were supposed to head out for lap two and Amanda and a few others were told to stop when they were supposed to keep going. The mix up was eventually realized but Amanda lost a spot in the process to finish 3rd. Catherine took a wrong turn (we won't point out that is the second time this year...) and her and Shannon both finished mid field, 8th and 10th. It was good to have Shannon back out racing. She's working on her PhD and has been studying like a mad woman and not getting to ride as much as she'd like. We've missed you Shannon!!!

All in all it was a fabulous weekend. 5 podium spots and great times with the team. After some reflection I am still not happy with my performance but I am happy that I have good enough fitness to ride fairly strong even on the bad days. I am glad that I went to Texas, even though it meant a not so stellar ride in Birmingham. In the big picture, Texas will help get me to my goal and although this weekend was not ideal, it still turned out okay in the end.

Now I need a nap.

Thanks for reading...

Friday, June 4, 2010

I messed with Texas!

I have had a ton of people asking about the trip to Texas. Thanks for all the good luck wishes and support.

So, here's the report:

Texas ROCKED!!!! I rode well and surprised even myself at how I stacked up. It was hot, technical and really an all around tough course. I did my thing and came out 8th against some of the best riders in the world. I couldn't have done it without my family, friends, sponsors and especially my husband. Thanks to all of you. My goal this season is to have good enough results to be able to race the World Cup Finals in Windham, NY. Ultimately, it will be up to USA Cycling to decide if I can go, but I think that I am on the right path currently.

The trip began with a LONG drive to Texas. Mark drove, I navigated and we arrived almost when we planned with very little drama. We stayed with our awesome friends Jason and Jill. It is always so nice to be able to stay at a house with friends instead of a hotel. And it was so fun to see them again.

We arrived in Austin at rush hour and after battling traffic, made it to Rancho Juan Pelota, Lance Armstrong's ranch, for our pre-ride. I am not a huge Lance fan (not that I am an anti-Lance person, he's done a ton for cycling, I just don't really get "star struck"), but it was cool to be racing there. I aired up the tires as I usually do and headed out to ride. FLAT. In the first 20 minutes of my ride. I walked to the car and changed out my tire and headed out again; this time with more air in my tires. The course was rocky and technical, I decided that bouncing with more air than I usually run was better than flatting. What a fun ride!!! Friday was another day of pre-riding and relaxing. I rode fairly well both days and felt ready to race. Other than the heat, it was a really good course for me.

Saturday was HOT. It has been so rainy in the Southeast that I was not ready for the heat yet. 95 and sunny was going to be miserable. Oh well, hopefully I could stay hydrated and do okay. All the "big girls" were here so it was going to be tough regardless of the weather. I was called up in the second row and when they said go we started FAST. My goal was to be strong and stay near the front and not blow up. I knew I was a good bike handler and that my ability to stay smooth and fast on the bike was going to be key. Well the bike handling thing worked well for about half a lap but as I got tired and hot I started riding a bit like a beginner. Things that I rode easily in the pre-ride were now forcing me to fall all over. That was my key to back it down a notch and settle into a pace that I could sustain. As I came through the feed zone the first time I had no clue where I was positioned and was hoping Mark would tell me. He was jumping all over and yelling that I was in 9th!!! Holy crap. I was having an incredible ride. I pushed as hard as I could for the rest of the race. It was so hot that I was forced to take some recovery in the shaded sections. I rode smart, listened to my body (a little bit anyway; had I listened too much it was screaming "stop this!!!"), and finished strong, passing one other rider in the process. My whole last lap I kept thinking "Don't mess up, and DON'T FLAT". I rolled in with 8th place, the first non-trade-team rider to finish. I made money and got UCI points. WoooHoooo!!!! Mark met me at the finish line with ice water and a cold wet towel, both of which nearly put my overheated body into shock. Wow.

The rest of the weekend was a blur. Mark raced Sunday in not-as-hot conditions and took 10th. He did awesome and I am so proud of him. He did have an unfortunate run in with a cactus that required me to remove cactus thorns from his ass but I guess that's all in a days work. Monday we rode some killer fun trails in Austin with Jason (instead of driving home) and left late Monday towards home. Tuesday was another LONG day in the car. We arrived home at about 11pm.

I am still exhausted from the trip and my legs have been sore all week. This weekend is BUMP and Grind in Birmingham, one of my favorite races. We should have big fields and strong racing. I am looking forward to it, even if I am tired. Texas was worth it.

Thanks for reading...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

TBRA racing... a tune up in the mud before the journey west.

Mark and I are headed to Texas next week for the Pro XCT series race in hopes of getting a few UCI points for me and some results racing with the "big girls". I haven't really lined up against anyone except the people I am really used to racing in the Southeast yet this year and I have no idea where I stack up at the national level. My big goal this summer is to get to race the UCI World Cup Final in Windham, NY. In order to do that I need UCI points and some good results at big races. Texas is to be the first step in that journey.

Before we headed to Texas we needed one more hard effort to get the body (and mind) ready to suffer. It was a weekend off from the SERC races so we decided to head to central TN for a TBRA race. It was going to be a sunny hot weekend so we figured we were finally in luck with the weather.


So apparently it rained (poured actually) the two days before we got there and the course was muddy and slick. It also had about 1100 feet of climbing per 7 mile lap. I felt like I was in the damn mountains!!! It was STEEP and slippery and one of the hardest courses I have raced in a long time. Talk about being caught off guard!!! To top it off, I didn't get to pre-ride (work) so all I had to go on was Star's description from her pre-ride.We were lucky that Star also made the journey up there with her husband Bryan; we all had a great time camping the night before the race and Bryan handed up bottles while we raced.

Race morning we were a bit apprehensive about ANOTHER muddy race. This was supposed to be a tune up for Texas, not a "destroy my bike three days before I leave". Oh well, I didn't drive here to talk about racing... let's do this and hope for the best.Wow, it was long, hot and really hard. I haven't used my little chainring that much in a LONG time. I won fairly convincingly. In fact, my time beat all but 4 of the Cat 1 men. I would have won Mark's category and the one below his. Now I feel ready for Texas.

Star was AWESOME today. Not only did she overcome her hesitation about the muddy course, she rocked it!!! She took a strong 3rd place, barely behind second after over 3 hours of racing. I am so proud of her. this was only her 3rd or 4th Cat 1 race and she made the podium!!!! GO STAR.

The people at Mousetail Landing State Park did a fabulous job. Thanks guys, we'll be back.

Look out Texas, here I come...

SERC #6 Tanasi

All smiles after the racing was done.

Wow, what a fun whirlwind of a weekend!!! Almost the whole team was here (Shannon we missed you!!!), the weather held out, and we raced at one of my FAVORITE trails. Tanasi is just over an hour from my house and it is a "local" trail to me. I love riding there and I have been so excited (and a little bit nervous) about this race. It was definitely on my list of races I wanted to do well at this season. Not that I don't always want to do well, but there are definitely some races that are more of a focus.

I was thrilled that we were not only all going to get together, but that we were going to do it in NEW CLOTHING!!!!! I love the new stuff. And I really love that we are now able to properly promote all the sponsors that are supporting us this season.
Kym and Anina are 1,2 again!!!

We started the weekend on Friday with some car drama. Now I know NOTHING about keeping my truck running except that I ask Mark to fix it when something goes wrong. All 221,000 miles of my Xterra are doing great, it's an awesome team vehicle and it has seen more of this country than most people have. Thursday it stopped running. In my driveway. Okay, we'll use the car and some of my teammates cars and deal with it next week when we have time, right??? Nope. Mot Mark. Let's just see if we can get it running and put more gas in it just to be sure.... So, now instead of having a dead truck in my driveway, we have a dead truck parked down the street. This is after it died on Highway 153 and we had to coast/tow it into the neighborhood using the Scion XA as a tow vehicle. Yes, we got the redneck award of the week in our neighborhood. At least I can laugh at myself... a little drama is still better than a car payment.

Anina arrived shortly after the car drama was over and we had a nice relaxing dinner and then her and I went shopping for the feast I was cooking for the team the next night. She was very helpful and even offered to make us a yummy and very pretty dessert.

Saturday was the team pre-ride and we looked HOT in our new stuff. The course was in great shape. We beat the afternoon storms (barely) and all had a good time. We got out of there just in time, the skies opened up and we got HAILED on as we drove home. Good timing.

Saturday night was dinner like no other. We all converged at my house and started cooking. I made wild rice with cranberries, Emily and Catherine assembled salad, Star did the veggies and Anina made us a really yummy, (mostly except for the chocolate) healthy, and PRETTY dessert. After a short team meeting it was off to bed. The course was a drive in the morning and we had to be there early.

Amanda takes 3rd after an exciting sprint finish.

We awoke WAY too early and headed to Tanasi. From the roads appearance it had rained up there all night. Hmmmm, things were not going to be super fast. They might even be a little slick. Fun. I warmed up on the first part of the climb and my suspicions were confirmed, the trail was slippery. There was one section near the start that was all roots and was going to be a determining factor. We lined up a strong field, including my former teammate Paula. I love Paula and it was great to see her but her presence definitely meant that the bar was raised one more level.

We had a nuetral start and when the moto pulled off, I waited for Paula to take the lead. I think she was waiting for me to do the same. We rolled side by side to the trail head with Anina close on our wheel. As we approached the singletrack climb I decided that as long as no one was killing it, I was going to take the hole shot and set the pace. I jumped, got the lead and spun up at a reasonable pace. I cleared the slippery roots that I had practiced in my warm up and kept rolling. I looked back a minute later and the field was gone. Everyone was gone. I had the lead. Sweet. I just kept rolling and tried to remain smooth. I know this trail and I really wanted the win today. I helped build these trails, I ride them all the time, this one was MINE. My bike and body cooperated well. I rode strong and consistent and never saw anyone again. I won by over 7 minutes. I also took the fastest lap prize. WoooHooo!!!!

We LOVE the new kits.

Apparently Anina broke her saddle in the first 100 meters of the race and rode the whole thing with a broken saddle. She caught and passed Paula to take an impressive second place. Amanda had a 3 way sprint for the Cat 1 finish. Unfortunately she had to brake-check to keep from impaling a small child. Still a great race for her. The rest of the girls rode strong and finished well with the exception of Emily who flatted. Bummer. Better luck next time girl. All in all, a great weekend for the team.

Thanks for reading...