Monday, July 26, 2010

The hard way.

I have always been one to do things the hard way. That might be why I love cycling so much, it is a challenge. Yesterday was a perfect example of me doing things the hard way. Although I will point out that a lot of yesterdays "challenges" were not my doing, just mine to deal with.

I have decided to chase the TBRA (TN Bike Racing Association) mountain bike series. I hadn't planned on it but after looking at the series standings, I currently have the lead. If I do a few more races I should be able to win the jersey. They are fun courses and places that I haven't gotten to race in a few years. And it will be good training. The fields are usually fairly small so I can use the races to experiment with both bike and body to dial in some things before cross season starts.

Star and I got up at the butt crack of dawn (5am) yesterday to drive to Oak Ridge TN for a series race. I've ridden the trails at Haw Ridge Park before but it's been a few years. Racing without a pre-ride is not ideal but it was just a training race anyway so I was not too concerned. The boss man (Coach Mark) had given me strict instructions to ride the race as a tempo ride, no harder. Okay, that is easier said than done but I was determined to do it. We arrived at Haw Ridge at 7:45am for a 9am start. Hmmm, where is the race director?? Don't you think that MAYBE registration would be set up an hour and 15 minutes before the start. Nope. However, that was not the most disturbing part of the day. We arrived in need of a restroom only to be told that there wasn't one. Really!!!??? Okay, it is race morning, there are things that need to happen. I love Mother Nature but there are just some times that I do not want to know her so well. That is all I am going to say about that. We eventually were told that there was a city port-o-let about a half mile from registration (after we had already visited the woods). One. A half mile away. Wow. This does not bode well for the rest of the day....

After the restroom "incident" we waited in line for registration for a while (during what is normally my warm-up time) and as soon as they had everyone registered they were ready to start us. It is a good thing I am just riding tempo today.... No warm up, no pre-ride, okay GO. Ha!!! We headed off and I took the lead at a (mostly) tempo pace. I slowly rode away from the rest of the field, all the while trying not to get lost. The trail was marked as well as I expected after experiencing the rest of the morning's events. Had I been going race pace I would have blown past a number of the turns. Near the end of the first of two laps I came to a steep rocky descent and there was a volunteer yelling something at me. I slowed to try and hear his urgent message. I promptly crashed and tore up my knee. Apparently he was telling me to be careful; if I had been paying attention to the trail instead of him I'd have been fine. I jumped back on the bike, yelled at myself for being a dumbass and kept going. About a half mile later I started to feel the back end of my bike slide around. Oh NO!!!! Flat tire. I continued to roll on through the feed zone/start finish area. A bit farther down I stopped and messed with the tire until I got it (mostly) holding air. Amanda, who was riding strongly in second place passed me as I was messing with it. Crap. I hate mechanicals. I was happy to see her doing well though. I eventually got rolling again (Thanks Troy) and the chase began (at tempo of course...). I caught Amanda and slowly distanced myself from her again. The remainder of lap two was cautious and definitely tempo. I was riding gingerly to keep upright and aired up. I rode flawlessly down the area where I crashed on lap one. I took the win, albeit not one of my better performances. Amanda rode strong for second, Star was 5th and Emily was 6th. Both Emily and Star got lost and ended up riding a longer race than us. They were not the only ones. About 1 in 3 of the riders I talked to had a similar story.

We waited 2.5 hours for results and awards.

Star and I laughed about our adventure all the way home.

Thanks for reading...


After last weekend's drama at Raccoon we were all looking for a little redemption. We had a "divide and conquer" plan of attack for the weekend. We had riders going to 3 events in two countries. Anina was in South Africa and ready to go. The rest of us were divided between a Tennessee race in the Nashville area (Lock 4) and a Georgia race at Fort Mountain. We all had high hopes for the weekend.

No one disappointed.

We had 9 podium appearances in 2 days. Anina lead the way with a SECOND PLACE at the South Africa Nationals. Congrats girl, we are SO proud of you.

Georgia saw Amanda in 2nd and Catherine in 4th. Lock 4 had a time trial on Saturday with me winning, Emily 3rd and Kelsey 2nd in her race. On Sunday we went 1st (me), 2nd (Shannon), 4th (Emily) and 2nd Kelsey.

Whew. We've still got it. Redemption is good.

Home Turf Advantage??

One of our biggest team weekends of the year was the SERC race here in Chattanooga. The Trek Store of Chattanooga was the round sponsor and it is our home trail. We were excited. After my rest and recovery after the June craziness I was once again ready to ease back into racing, albeit a bit slower than where I left off. I knew it was going to probably take the body a few weeks to get back to "race shape" after the time off, but I figured that with my knowledge of the trail I would be okay.

We had the whole team sans Anina and Amy signed up to race. Anina is on her way to South Africa to race her National Championships. We wish her the best and hope she brings us home a jersey. Amy was in Ohio with family obligations. They were both missed.

Saturday started with the Trek demo trailer and fun times talking about how awesome our bikes are to the local riders. I am sure our passion translated into some new bikes for people. It's easy to be passionate about the bikes you are riding when you are on the best bikes in the world.

Our pre-ride was a ton of fun. We had an AWESOME presence with 6 of us out there riding together. We definitey turned heads. We laughed and enjoyed having all of us in one location. Dinner that night was at Star's house, we did a pot luck of sorts with everyone bringing their favorite pre-race meal. Yummy!!!

Sunday was hot, as has been the case the past few weeks. We started out on the pavement and Shannon went to the front to be my "lead out man"... she was fabulous. She launched me into the single track in the lead and I never looked back. I wasn't "race fast" but I rode strong and consistent. It was enough to take the win in a large women's field. My teammates did not fare as well, although it was not for lack of trying. Amanda was riding strong and kicking butt in second place until the trail decided to kick her butt. She crashed hard and ended up walking out in search of bandages and possibly stitches. Fortunately she was ok and no stitches were needed. Catherine rode most of the race in 3rd place until her still frozen camel back didn't thaw and she got totally dehydrated. She lost tow spots in the last 30 minutes for 5th place. Still a strong finish but not what she was hoping for. Star's brakes got stuck on for the whole race and she cramped. Kelsey fell and re-injured her bad hand. Emily just had an off day.

It was a tough ride for us and one of the hardest days we've had as a team all season. In spite of it all we had a lot of fun, rode our bikes and took home the win. Even our bad days are ok. And I would rather have a bad day with my teammates than any other ladies on this planet. You girls are the BEST!!!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

LOVE the socks!!!!

I just have to give a shout out to our awesome sock sponsor Swiftwick. We got a new order of socks this week and I can't wait to show them off. The Compression socks are a life saver, the Merino Wool socks are the sock of choice for my cyclocross season and the Olefin socks keep my feet dry and cool on the hot humid days of summer. Swiftwick has a sock for every season and every race (even my silly tall socks for cross!!!!)

Do your feet a favor, get some today.

Thanks to Swiftwick (and a shout out to Sam for helping us out). We never forget that our sponsors allow us to do what we do.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The June Whirlwind

I can't believe it is July already. The mountain bike season is drawing to a close and I am looking forward to cross. And yes, it is still hot here.

After Dauset I had my favorite week of the year; camp. Mark and I run a development camp for USA Cycling, it is open to kids ages 14-22. Keeping up with a bunch of teenagers is exhausting but so much fun. The enthusiasm that these kids have for cycling is incredibly motivating. It reminds me of when I started riding and makes me remember why I love to ride. With that being said, do they ever sleep!!?? Camp is a lot of work. The week was a blur and I felt like I had been run over by a truck by the time it was over. I can't wait for next year.

After camp we had two days to re-group, re-pack and hit the road for Wisconsin for the Pro XCT series race. I was really excited to see my family, even if the timing of the race was not ideal. The race course was so much fun and even though I was a bit tired from camp and traveling, I was still hoping for a top 10. Well, to make a long story short, my bike had other plans. I learned a lesson about my own ability to work on my bike. Mechanics are indispensable. I wish mine would travel with me at all times. It was a frustrating race that saw me finish in a dismal placing. But I finished. I did not quit, which would have been the easy thing to do. I do not quit races.

After the crash and burn result of Wisconsin I needed some time both physically and mentally to recover from my long crazy month. It was time to take a step back and focus on my late season goals and CROSS. Yes, I am getting excited for cyclocross season to start and I am getting ready. Now that I have had a break it is time to finish the SERC series, ((hopefully) race the World Cup in Windham and then look forward to fall and my cross bike.

Thanks for reading...