Monday, August 23, 2010

...and then my Mojo returned.

When one races bikes a lot (almost every weekend) there are times when you are fast and times when you just have to take a break. Mid-summer has been my break in anticipation for cross this fall. With the slightly unexpected trip to the World Cup next week we have had to accelerate my come back to race fitness. I am hoping to continually get faster until Cross Nationals in December, but I have also been hoping for my race Mojo to return to me before Windham.

Yesterday was the last tune-up race/workout before the journey to Windham. Last week was a tough week of training and I was tired but the legs were feeling strong. Booker T State Park is a local trail and the race was going to mostly be my teammates and myself. The goal was to beat the boys. And to race it in under 2:15.

The race was a pavement start and we rolled out easy up the first half mile climb. Once we hit dirt, it was time to rock and roll. I took the lead and pushed hard. Uh oh. My legs felt flat and didn't want to go hard. Okay, let's see if I can work into this a bit. I held a good hard pace and slowly kept ramping it up. I felt better and better with each hill. By 2/3 of the way through lap one I was feeling really strong. By the end of lap one I was catching the back of the men's race. I kept railing it. I felt better every lap. By the finish I had caught all but two of the guys. My lap times were consistent and other than my first lap, they were the same as the front of the men's field. And my finish time was 2:13!!! My Mojo has returned, just in time. I needed that. I am REALLY excited for Windham.

My teammates rocked it too. Amanda rode a strong second place and Star was only about a minute back from her for third. Amy took fourth in spite of her slightly crazy weekend plans. She raced the Fool's Gold 50 on Saturday. 50 miles of MUD and rain. She was 4th there too. Girl, you are an animal!!!

And now the journey begins. Stay tuned for travel and race updates...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Memphis. Hot.

So instead of my mountain bike season being over after the SERC finals, I have the little matter of the World Cup Finals with the US National team to get ready for. That means a few more weeks of racing. We have had a horribly hot summer and I am looking forward to cyclocross but I am also super excited for Windham so I am prepared to suffer through a few more hot weekends on the mountain bike. This past weekend we had a choice of going to GA for their series finals or going to Memphis and doing a TN series race. I am winning the TN series (sort of a bonus from doing well at the TN SERC races, I wasn't planning on doing the TBRA series) so we decided to head to Memphis. One more weekend and I will no longer be able to be caught.

Memphis is an island. A hot island. One that you can't get to from Chattanooga. It is a 5-6 hour drive (closer to 6 when there are traffic jams). We got up really early Saturday and loaded up. There was a time trial Saturday so we figured as long as we were making the trip we'd do the whole weekend. We arrived in Memphis to 100 degrees and humid. The heat index was 114. Yep that's hot. The pre-ride was fun, it is a great trail and the promoter was out there marking the course and helping us find our way around. Everyone was really nice and helpful. We rode the 10 mile cross country loop and then went out for a lap on the time trial course (a portion of the cross country). We got a good hour and a half of trail riding before the start of the TT.

The TT was hot but bearable. The whole trail (including the TT) is a very twisty, flat trail. It is the kind of trail that screams home course advantage. I can only imagine how much faster I could have ridden the TT had I known what turns were coming up next. Even still, I turned a respectable time, beat a good portion of the boys and won the day. Okay, I lost the day too, as I was the only one but I did alright against the guys so that was my personal measure of things.

Saturday night we were lucky enough to be invited to stay with Kelsey's parents. She is already back in KY at school but Sue and Roger were so sweet to invite us to stay. We found out after we arrived that it was their anniversary. They cooked us an amazing dinner and we thoroughly enjoyed their company.

Sunday morning we awoke and it was already really hot. 83 degrees at 8am. This is not good. The race was 3 laps starting at 10:40am so it was going to be a long hot day. There were two Cat 1 women who showed up to race so although I was given my own category, I had ladies to start with. And the men started 4 minutes ahead of me so that was a goal too. On a flat fast course it was going to take me a lap or two to make up that much time but  I was up for the challenge. Lap one went well. I rode strong and although it was hot, I didn't feel bad. I started catching men at the end of the lap. Lap two things started to get ugly. It was really hot and it started to feel like my body had a dimmer switch and someone was dimming things. The cool water at the mid-lap aid station woke me up for about 10 minutes but I then started to fade again. By the time I caught Mark at the end of the lap I was in bad shape. We had some communication issues over me passing him (I was trying to tell him to slow down and not worry about me, he was trying speed up and get out of the way) and he ended up crashing. Sorry babe. I stopped in the feed zone to grab my frozen bottle and shoved a handful of ice down my sports bra (I got cheers for that!!!) and headed out to lap three. It was a death march. I was hot, had stopped sweating, and felt like throwing up. Then the chills came. Uh oh. I was pretty sure i was rapidly approaching heat exhaustion and the only option was to slow down and keep pedaling while trying to not get any hotter. I stopped at the mid race aid station and filled my bottle with cold water, dumped some more on my head and continued on my way. I was actually getting worried the last 20 minutes that I wasn't going to make it. Somehow I did. They grabbed me at the finish and soaked me under a hose. I drank 6 bottles of water and after about an hour I started to feel like me again. It was officially 101 degrees in Memphis with a heat index of 118. I have found my limit.

I won the race. I beat some of the guys. I found my limits in the heat.

I would like to say a huge thank you to Stanky Creek Cycling and Larry in Memphis. You guys put on a class act event. Everything from the course to the food to the support to the prizes were awesome. Thanks!!! I will spread the word and hopefully be back next year with some teammates. But only if it isn't quite so hot...

Next up is Booker T here is Chattanooga, then on to Windham!!!!

SERC Finals, Fontana, NC

Pro Women: Kym and Anina 1,2 on the SERC series overall podium.

It has been a long season. We started the SERC series in March down in Florida and we've been going non-stop since then. Whew. I have loved every minute of it. I love my team and I love racing my bike. That being said, I am ready for the series to be over. It is time to look to fall for Cross season and some other fun things. Mostly just to fall for some cooler weather but that is another story. I am not complaining about the heat but 100 degrees is hot. Enough said.

Fontana is always a great weekend. There is NOTHING there except for the village/resort and some trails so we are isolated with a whole bunch of other cyclists for the weekend. We took full advantage this year. Mark and I went up a day early and enjoyed some relaxation time. Complete with massages and lots of pool time. And maybe a beverage or two. Fontana was my "victory lap weekend" for the series. I just needed to finish the race in order to win the Pro Women's field for the series so I was going to enjoy the weekend and celebrate all of my hard work. And I was going to do it with all of my teammates!!!

Saturday morning was a pre-ride of the trails that were in great shape. It is rare that Fontana is dry but somehow we lucked out. It was not too hot and not too wet. Just right!!! The course was hard (it always is) but it is one of my favorites. I was excited about it. After the pre-ride we spent the afternoon at the pool (in the shade) and waited for the evening events...
A hard earned top step for Anina. Short track podium.

Short track: Anina was our lone star. She did not disappoint. She lined up with the non-pro men's field and held her own fabulously for the first three laps. And then it happened. She violently re-visited dinner. In front of a huge crowd at the bleachers. She got a ton of applause and even more when she got back on the bike and finished the race. AWESOME.

Sunday was sunny and boarding on hot. We raced at 11:30am so there was no escaping the heat. The race at the front was going to be a battle between Anina, Myself and my friend Carey. Carey is an endurance racer but she's fast at everything. And to make it worse, she was racing on her single speed. I knew that we'd drop her early if we started hard but she NEVER slows down. She has caught me a time or two late in a race. Anina took the lead and it was painfully clear to me immediately that my rest mid-season, although much needed, was still being felt. My legs are getting faster again but I need a couple more weeks before the top end is back. I dug deep and hung on up the hill and once we got to the fast rolling sections I knew that two things needed to happen. One, I needed to push the pace. This part of the course was my strength. Two, we needed to put a big gap into Carey if we wanted to ultimately finish 1,2 today. I passed Anina and for the next 20 minutes I buried myself and she hung on. And then I was done. Cooked. Finished. I told her to go and I settled into a pace that I hoped would hold Carey off through 2 more laps. It worked!!! Anina took the win and I was second. It felt really good to be able to work for my teammate and she ROCKED today. And second place to Anina is nothing to be ashamed of.
Final race podium. Anina 1st Kym second. Love those Swiftwick compression socks!!!

Amanda's weekend was a victory lap for her as well. She has ridden extremely well this season and had the Cat 1 women's overall sewn up. Catherine had the hardest day of all of us. She went into the finals with one point separating her and our friend Jen for the series Cat 1 podium. Whoever finished first between the two of them was going to take second and the other would be third. They battled the whole race and with Jen in sight on the climb to the finish Catherine gave it everything she had. It wasn't quite enough. They finished 2 seconds apart. Wow. Catherine still should be so proud of her season. In her first year racing as a Cat 1 she finished on the series podium and was contesting the front of the races. Amy, Emily, Star and Amanda all rode well and finished in the field. Fun times were had by all. The team finished the series with 6 of the top 10 positions and 4 of the top 5. I think we can officially call 2010 a huge success.

Final SERC podium for the Cat 1 Field. Amanda 1st, Catherine 3rd.

Thanks to Gone Riding for an awesome series and to every one of our sponsors for their support. we couldn't have done it without all of you. And a special thanks to my husband. You put up with a lot.

Thanks for reading....

World Cup Finals!!!

I found out this past week that I will be racing the World Cup Finals as a member of the US National Team. WoooHooo!!!! I am so excited. There are only three ways that one can race a World Cup race: ride for a UCI trade team (nope), Have 20 or more UCI points (nope, not enough UCI races in the US that I could get to for that to be possible), or ride for your country's national team. Of the three, my only option this year was to somehow race as part of the national team. It became an early season goal and I raced well and kept my finger's crossed. I petitioned for a spot on the team and waited. And waited. I was notified last week and I am fired up!!!! Look out Windham, here I come.

Look for lots of pictures and updates soon. The race is in two weeks!!!