Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bubba #6: Bellefountaine

I had fleeting thoughts of "it's almost too warm for a cx race" as I headed out for my warm up laps on Sunday. 70+ degrees in November in the 'Lou--unheard of! No way was I complaining about it after all the rain we had. This was a twisty, bumpy course for Sunday. It had longer laps than we've seen in the previous races in this series and incorporated gravel and a switchback. What more could a girl want!I made sure to position myself at the front of the pack for this race. I looked around and wondered what the heck I was doing lined up against the Cat3+ women, but thought, "What the heck! Let 'em pass if they can." They did. The whistle blew and we were off. I held my position in the front until the C-racers (I really believe that C is for crash because these boys went down like bowling pins) bunched up. I got passed like the bread basket at Thanksgiving dinner. I forged ahead though. With a two longer climbs and a couple of little steep ones, I knew I could wear down some of the field. Slowly but surely I began to pass the girls who got away. There wasn't much notable about most of race with the exception of the boys crashing and my catch of the 10th place girl in the second to last lap. By that time, I knew Alice probably had too much ground on me for a catch, so I focused on catching Soli. I had been trading positions with a rider from Big Shark for a lap or two. We were on the beginning part of the course before the long climbs and off camber switch back. I jumped on his wheel and told him it was his job to help me catch her. (He had been looking a little beat by this point.) He responded to my challenge and I held his wheel up the climbs. I let him take me to one of the paved sections where I stood up and took off. It was somewhere in here that my HR popped 190+. I caught her at the barriers and didn't look back. I finished the rest of that lap and the next one comfortably for a 9th place finish. My goal was to stay upright for this one and I did it! We're supposed to see more rain this week/weekend so Sunday may be sloppy again. :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Bubba #5: CC Park in the daylight

Today's course was much faster than last night. We were in the same area, but the course was more spread out and avoided the uphill muck that caused me so much trouble.

We again started with single speed and C men. That meant our total field on the course was about 60 riders. I lined up poorly today; I was in the back of the women. The whistle blew and we headed out on pavement. We hit the first set of turns and the field bunched up. From there we moved into tall grass that actually had solid ground underneath. My goal today was to finish in the top half of the women's field (there were 17 of us). I knew there were about four or five that I passed off the whistle. I was trying to keep two girls in my sites because I know I'm strong enough to beat them. We hit the railroad tie barriers from last night. The ground was pretty messed up there. Over those with no problem and back into part of the course from last night. The same tight turns, but at least I could see them in the daylight. The back grass straight from last night was all mud and ruts today. I took Klucker's advice, picked a line and pedalled steady and easy. It definitely made a difference. From there the course had larger turns and came up to the traditional barriers. I knew they were coming, I talked myself through getting off the bike, but my left foot would click out. Down I went, on the same hip that's been getting abused. I grabbed my bottle and bike, hopped the barriers and remounted. My hip hurt. I tried not to cry because there is no crying in cyclocross. I let the "go Mommy" cheers urge me on and I let out a primal yell on the front paved section. I kept going somehow.

I cringed everytime I had to hop barriers, but I've promised myself I will not DNF a race. I never caught the girls I was after and don't think I made the top half of the field, but I wasn't last either. I finished hard and was ready to keep going.

Bubba #4: Fun in the Mud

Last night was a rough race. It's been raining all week...we've had a record setting, wet October and the course was next to a huge lake. I knew the course would be soggy, but that doesn't even begin to describe it. I'm glad we raced in the dark because I think I may have backed out had I been able to clearly see what I was going to ride. We got there and got our costumes ready.

Being as it was Halloween, those wearing a costume were staged first. Klucker went as a blood doper and I was a pirate. It was a little chilly during my warm up laps. The course was almost completely flat with lots of turns, three paved sections and some large gravel. All-in-all, pre-race it seemed do-able.

Because of the late start, they staged Men's C, Single-speed, and women together in that order. At the whistle I tried to take off, but it was a mad house until the second set of pavement. I didn't like my field position and worked for the next two or three laps to move ahead of the women in front of me. All was going well and I was riding great. Because the course was flat, my heart rate was in a great range. Then there were five laps to go and it went south. By this time the course was a mucky mess, what grass we started with was beat down or gone. I was making one of the 180 degree turns and lost my back wheel. Down I went, muddy and wet! I got back on as Alice passed me and took off. I made it past the barriers and saw Cristel and Cory. I passed them on the back asphalt and started to the third-to-last lap. I made it through the turns and into the slime. I guess I tried to power through too much, didn't gear right, or just was completely crazy, but sploosh, mud bath number two. Cory and Cristel passed me as I hopped back on and I worked to chase them down again. I made it past them in the front half of the course and navigated the turns successfully and upright. Back to the mud and back on my butt! This time, after they passed me, I couldn't catch them. I got lapped by the men's leaders as they were finishing their last lap and got the all done signal as as I passed the start finish.

I was over an hour for the results but never saw them. I need to work on riding in the mud and not letting my frustration get the best of me when I struggle.

I found out today that I finished 12ish...after someone reminded them that I actually raced. Oh well, all in the name of fun!

Bubba #3: JB

Sunday was the perfect day for a cross race. It was overcast and low 60 degree weather. I had run several 5K races at this venue, so I expected hills for this race. I got out on the course to warm up, and found my assumptions were correct. It was going to be a fast course, lots of level changes, long and spread out. I had enough time to take two laps and get a good feel for what I would need to do.

The start line was on an uphill. For the first time this season, the women actually were given their own start 30 seconds after the C race. There were about 15 of us at the line—a few new faces to our pack. Larry blew the whistle and we were off. I had a good start position, about sixth off the line. By the first turn, Teresa passed me. I knew I should be able to hold off the rest of the pack, so I planned on just staying as close as I could to the leaders. The first section of the course was roling, with an off-camber climb and quick turn. From there it had a few long sections with 180 degree turns. We then headed to a very brief pavement piece with a quick off camber hill, a few technical turns, back across pavement, a down hill turn to the nasty hill. The nasty hill was short but STEEP. Some of the stronger riders, women included, took a long angle on it and rode up and down. I chose to view it as a run up. I decided to be more brave than I had been at Faust and remount for the downhill. Amazingly, I made it down that hill each time without losing my bike tire at all. From there it was uphill and turn again before the long climb. The long hill wasn’t steep, just taller grass that seemed to go forever. A few more sharp turns and a steeper, mid length climb followed. The back section of the course was much faster with three or four turns downhill to the barriers. After the barriers, came a bit of tall grass and turns and the gravel road back to the starting straight away.

Somewhere in the second lap, Soli passed me. I had finished ahead of her in the last two races, and my pride hurt when she went ahead. I was determined she would not finish ahead of me in this one. I kept her in sight for the next two laps, and got my chance to catch and pass her on the long hill. This was a long course, and a long race (I was on course 57 minutes) and I don’t think a lot of the girls have the endurance to go so long. With three laps to go, I started lapping some of the women. I was on the back half of the course heading towards the barriers when a girl on a mountain bike didn’t hold her line. I was trying to pass and stay out of her way and, whoosh, down I went. Of course it was my left side that still is the color of eggplant from last week’s slide across the parking lot. That hurt! I got up and back on as Carrie passed me. She told me to get at it—only a few more minutes to go. I caught and passed the girl at the barriers. Two laps to go! I was so looking forward to hearing “Go Mommy!” by the run up hill; my leg was throbbing at that point, but my cheerleaders weren’t there. I kept going and just concentrated on holding my ground. At one point I saw Kate K. close behind and I knew I needed to hold her off. The barriers were really tough the last two laps, it hurt to jump them. As I was heading to the start/finish for the last lap, I heard my cheering section and let that motivate me to push through. Chris and Amy lapped me on the last lap. I held onto Amy and think I actually edged her out on the line.

Once again, I had to protest the results. Girls I passed and who were pulled off the course were ahead of me. In the end I think I was 7/15.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bubba #1 & #2

My pre-race jitters started early on this weekend. After my fall on Friday, I was moving slowly and really hadn’t convinced myself that I wanted to race Saturday night. When I was scrambling to find a babysitter when ours cancelled at the last minute, I almost convinced myself it was an omen that I shouldn’t go. Klucker knows my mental games though and reminded me that my bruises and soreness were all in vain if I didn’t race.
We got to the park way early…got to watch them run the tape around the course. It was chilly and my butterflies were doing wind sprints. I didn’t like the idea that I was racing with the “big girls.” The Bubba series only runs one women’s race and I hate being DFL! We got the bikes out and got registered. Other women were showing up—a lot I didn’t know. After a full season of road races, there aren’t many women racers I haven’t seen at one time or another.
They opened the course up and I went for a warm up lap. I’ve decided that this is one of the most important things I can do in a cross race. The course was tough—hills, off camber and a run up right after a barrier. I did a lap and was even more nervous. I didn’t want to fall on my hip again. I think I would have cried! Registration was slow, so our race was about 15 minutes delayed. We finally lined up—stuck behind the squirrely C men—and we were off. There was a crash early on (it was Klucker getting knocked over by a kid on a mountain bike in flannel). I avoided the carnage and kept going. The first time at the barrier was a log jam. I pushed my way through, ran up, ran down and ran up again. I remounted and was off. I was following Cory and Gina through most of the first lap. On the second lap, I decided they were in my way on the hills, so I split them down the middle and took off. Gina held on to me for a bit, but I finally shook her. Somewhere on that lap, I overtook Sam and kept going. For the next two laps or so, I played games with Big Shark Stephanie. I’d pass her on the up hills, she’d get me on the down hills. Finally, around lap four or five I was passing her on the uphill and she said “You just don’t go away, do you?” I calmly said, “I will now” and kept going. I stayed out of my saddle awhile to put distance between us. On the second to last lap, I could see Alice near me. I was going up the second half of the run up and I heard someone tell her that she could catch me. I managed a decent remount and took off. I lapped a few girls on the back half and finished strong. The results were crazy messed up. We ended up writing down the finishing order for the official so that it would be right. I ended up 5/15.
Sunday I was ready for “second verse, same as the first.” We were back out at Faust Park for the day race. It was packed when we got there. I saw a lot of higher cat women getting ready, I knew this race was going to be more challenging. It was awesome that I had three teammates there though..plus my very own cheering section with cowbells. The cross country race finished and I headed out on the course for my lap. The first change was that they had us going the opposite direction than the night before. The course was longer, more technical, and included pavement. The barrier/run combo had been removed and instead that was not an off camber climb, rutted out from the night before and still wet. Yikes!!!
The race started on the pavement. It was a huge C and women’s field. Just like the night before, the men crashed right away. (It wasn’t Sam this time, he was watching my cheering section!) I navigated around them and was off. I hadn’t gotten as good of jump on the start as I would have liked and quickly realized that I didn’t warm up as long as I should have. It took me at least two laps until I felt like my legs were open. I was positioned around the same women as the night before. I got past Gina by the second lap and was battling with Stephanie and Alice for three or four laps. Alice eventually passed me like I was sitting still. I played tag with Stephanie again for a few laps. We pushed each other enough that we made up a lot of ground on the girls in front of us. We finally came up on Jamie, one of my teammates, and I passed her on the back side of the course. I held both of them off until we came up on the off camber hill. They passed, one on either side of me. I kept them in my sites for the rest of the race, but could never get them. I felt like I had a good finishing place until I saw the results. 15th? WTH? Then I looked at the top girls. They had a girl I had passed early on winning. We gathered the women’s field and protested yet again. I think by the time it was through, I finished 13/20. I wasn’t as happy because I know there were at least three girls in front of me I could have beaten. I promise those thoughts will motivate my training this week.

PICX II--That's a Winner!

Sam and I loaded up the bikes and headed to Godfrey, IL on Saturday. This was the second race in a new Saturday series of cross races. We had decided Friday night that Sam would take the new cx bike and I would stay with our original. We got there and registered. The lady handling the registration was so excited that woman were racing. Sam got the bikes ready for us while the 5K cross country race was running. I had thought about entering it, and seeing how slow everyone was, I should have.
I rode around the park and on the trail while I was waiting for the race to end. They gave the announcement that the course was open and jumped on for a warm up lap. The course was mostly flat but had lots of turns. The grass varied in height so some areas were much slower than others. There were a ton of turns in this course. The promoters bill this as the Corn Maze race and it was definitely a maze. I reached the barrier and hopped off and jumped over. I thought it was odd there was only one. I remounted and came to a screeching halt…there was the other one. They were oddly far apart with a small turn in between. After the barriers, the course only had a few turns till the pavement/trail section. The next grass section was crazy. I thought I was lost several times and almost got turned around in the round-about. Coming to the straight away at the start/finish there was one off-camber spot. I made it through once and they called us to the start.
The beginner men and women were going to be on the course together. There were about 12 men and four women. I told myself it would be freakin’ embarrassing to finish third or fourth in the race. Of the three other women, two had raced in Hermann. Sara started us and I jumped off the line. I was not getting caught behind anyone this race. I locked easily into the new pedals (first time on the bike with the eggbeaters). I got out in front of the other girls and jumped in front of about half of the men’s field. I got the barriers and realized I forgot to click out. I stopped before crashing and got off none too gracefully, hopped over both before remounting this time and took off again. I kept neck and neck with Mark (one of the other girl’s husband). We traded positions a few times as we went through. We crossed the start/finish line and went around again.
During the second lap, I passed Sam with a quiet, “sorry, honey, gotta go.” He cheered me on. I was almost to the barriers when I heard the announcer say the leader of the women’s race, Kate, was going past him. I yelled, pretty forcefully, “What??? What am I then?” About thirty seconds later he corrected that. I was still staying tight with Mark on the back section of the course. We were going through a turn and I tried to take him on the outside. He went wide and I went into the tape. I yelled (not at him) a bit more, but stayed upright and got back on track. Mark turned around and apologized for his lack of bike handling. As we hit the start/finish area, I realized the third place male was in front of us. I urged Mark to go after him. (this was his first cross race). We both over took the third place guy.
The rest of the race was pretty uneventful. I accidently stayed in my big ring on one lap. That’s when Mark got a gap on me. I lapped the third and fourth place women at some point. I was half way through a warm down lap before the announcer had realized I won. I think he should have waited to start drinking. All-in-all it was a good race. It had a lot of turns, but none of them as tight as the last course. My heart rate being high didn’t freak me out as bad. When it was all said and done, I realized I probably should have raced the women’s 3/4 instead of the Beginner. Next week will be tough as both races are women’s open.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hermann Under the Lights

Thursday I headed down to Forest Park for cross practice. Jamie, one of my teammates, said she’d meet me there to give me some tutoring on mounting/dismounting. I got there a little early and road around the area a bit, just trying to get use to the bike handling, etc. There were a few guys there already, so I watched them as they went over the barriers. I got a handle on the basic idea of dismounting and tried it a few times, very awkwardly.
While I was waiting for Jamie, Cory showed up. Cory did a great job of walking me through the mechanics of what I needed to do. I started to feel more comfortable with what she was showing me and rode a few complete laps on the course. Carrie and Jamie got there and gave me great tips and advice as well.
Saturday we headed to Hermann for the race. I was excited to race this event because it had an actual beginners’ women’s race. I rode the course three or four times prior to the start, falling on my first time through trying to get my left foot out before the barrier. The course had three technical turns, the first banked high the left. The back straight away was flat and asphalt, and right after the start/finish was a set of concrete stairs.
We were lined up behind the beginner men, I had registered in time to get a front row starting spot. The start line was actually parallel to the finish and added a 180 with a high right bank. The whistle was blown we were off. I fell behind going around the first turn. We got to the stairs, I dismounted without a problem and headed up the stairs. I made up a lot of ground on the stairs, I remounted and was off. The first and second loops were pretty uneventful. I stayed close to the fourth and fifth place women. On our third lap, the two women in front of me passed the third place woman and got a bit of a gap on me. I looked down at that point and realized how high my HR was. I tried to work on breathing, but couldn’t get it below 180. I stayed right on the fifth place woman through the technical pieces and the barriers. I caught and passed her on the back straight right before the start/finish. I got up the stairs and realized that I had put a pretty good gap on her. There were two laps to go and I wanted to concentrate on getting up with riders three and four. I caught up with them near the barriers and stayed with them until the asphalt section. They got away from me there. On the last lap, I was just behind them going up the stairs. I stayed with them until the last barrier. I dropped my bike when I was jumping over it and they got away from me. I got back on and finished hard. I think I was about 20-30 seconds behind 3rd and 4th place.
I know I need to work on being quick off the start and the remount still.

IL State TT--September 5...A real goat rodeo

Race day was a beautiful. Temperatures were cool and there was a slight breeze. We got to Harvard and went to check-in. I stood in line 20 minutes waiting to just pick up my number and I was fourth in line. I finally got my number and pinned it on. Sam had my bike ready and I headed out for a warm-up. I rode about the foirst five miles of the course. IT appreared to be flat, but there actually was a slight grade in place…of course uphill on the way back. I knew I would be hating that!
I got back to the start/finish and sucked down my GU and got in line. I was feeling good. My time at the start line came and off I went. I was in the right gear and felt like I was flying the first quarter of the course. My speed averaged about 22-23 mph and I was holding a cadence of 100+.
About seven minutes in, I added a gear and was able to still hold a mid 90s cadence. I got passed right after that like I was sitting still. The guy had actually started three behind me!
A little past the 10K mark, the course turns began. This was a looped course instead of a straight out and back. After the second turn, my fleetness disappeared. I had heard this course’s pavement was rough, but rough doesn’t do it justice. Over the next five miles, I checked at least four times to make sure I didn’t have a flat. My cadence was the same, but the perceived effort went up and my speed DROPPED. I kept myself going through lots of self-talk and small incremental goals. Finally, I saw the turn for the smoother pavement.
I saw the cones for the 10K turn-around (juniors and masters) and kicked up my efforts. I kept going and hit the nasty little uphill grade with about three miles to go…so I thought. My legs screamed at me, but I pushed through. I saw the 30K mark hit and pass on my computer and still didn’t see the finish line. ARRRGHHH! Just one more unorganized component of this goat rope of a race. I kept everything ramped up and kept going. Finally, after two more miles, the I crossed the line. I was estatic to be finished.
I placed 5th for Cat 4. I was happy with the effort I was able to give, but disappointed in my time and place. I hate that this was the last race of the season and didn’t end on a high note.

Druber's TT Challenge August 24

A little behind with posting reports:

Sunday started early for us—on the road by 5AM. It was an easy drive for me because I got to cat nap until the sun came up.
We got to Tolono a little before eight and picked up our race numbers. I was surprised at how few racers there were. Sam got the bikes ready and we headed out to preview the course. I was glad I had packed my arm warmers because it was chilly. The warm up was good, the course was mostly flat, but there were a lot of false flats along the way. I was disappointed that I still wasn’t getting a cadence reading on the bike but figured if I should know the feel of what I needed to do.
We rode out about 15 minutes. The roads were smooth and had little to no traffic. When we turned around to head back, it became very clear that the wind would play a role on the second half of the race.
We got back and were Gu-ing when Sam realized he had a flat. Of course he was too hard headed to just switch wheels, so I went to line up while he changed his tire.
Everyone in the starting order was friendly and chatty. Some guy swore we’d met because I rode for Veloforce and he went to Heather’s wedding. Whoever Heather is…
The race got started about 10 minutes late. I was 9th in the order. There was one guy between Sam and me and a girl behind Sam, so I was hoping I had a good chance of not being passed a lot. I rolled up to the line and happily accepted a holder. What a change eight months has made! The official blew the whistle and I was off. I was in the right gear and got rolling well. My heart rate skyrocketed off the start, so I spent the first two miles concentrating on my breathing and getting it into check. I felt great and was holding a 21+ speed with a nice effort. Around that time, out of nowhere it seemed, the guy behind me flew past. WTF!!! It usually takes seven minutes or so. I did a little self talk and kept pedaling. The organizer had a lot of volunteers stationed along the course so it periodically there were cheers from various folks. I finished the first quarter and felt good. I kept telling myself to keep my pace and effort steady.
Before long I started seeing the riders on the way back. I was close to the cone. I felt much steadier on the turn around this race—more comfort on the bike. There was some loose rock and my rear wheel skidded a bit, but I kept it up right and kept going. As predicted, the ride home was hard. The wind was a killer—either straight on head wind or a diagonal head wind. My speed dropped but I concentrated on keeping my cadence up. I ended up dropping into my small ring about 1.5 miles into the return. I maintained my speed when I did it, but it was much easier on me. 40-50 minutes in to the race were the most difficult, mentally more than anything. During that ten minute span, I was passed six times. I felt like I was sitting still. When I hit the three quarters mark, I popped back into the big ring and pushed as hard as I could to hold it. This was also the false flat uphill section of the course. I just kept my head down and kept going. The finish line finally came into view and I gave all I had. When I looked at the time, I really pushed to try to get in under 1:10:00. I didn’t quite make it, but I was happy with the improvement over Jeff City.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Jeff City Time Trial

We got out to Jeff City with good time for me to pick up my number and chip and warm up. As we pulled in, I saw Craig Farrell--it was good to see familiar faces. We parked close and I headed up to registration. Sandy and Ted were a few in front of me. Seeing people I know always puts me more at ease at a race. When I got back to the truck, Carla and Alane were there. whew, lots of friends.

Sam had our bikes out for a warm up and I had to change into my skinsuit. As I was getting ready to head out for a warm up, rain moved in. At first it was just drizzling, but then it opened up. I stood under the back of the truck for a few minutes and then decided I just needed to tough it out. We headed out Hgwy 94, the opposite direction of the race course and that was a big mistake. The traffic was too heavy and fast and just made me uncomfortable. Plus, I got showered by every truck that passed. After about 12 minutes we turned around to find something less nerve wracking. We turned off the highway near the race start and found a quieter road to ride. By this time the rain had stopped but I was SOAKED.

About 10:20 I went back to the truck and wrung out my socks and dried my feet before heading to the start line. There were very few familiar woman...most were unknown. I did see Kathleen and chatted with her before we crossed the road to the start tent. I rolled up to the start and was happy to see our Wednesday night holder standing next to Buddy. I'm finally feeling comfortable starting with a holder and know the gear that will give me the best go.

Buddy gave me the countdown and off I went. I felt great and started in the right gear. About 4 miles in, I caught a glimpse of a girl in front of me, I knew I wanted to catch and pass her, but I didn't want to blow out my legs. The length of this race really had me psyched out...I didn't want to go too hard and not finish strong, but I was worried about not going hard enough. I finally caught and passed her about 1/3 of the race through. Her number was four less than mine, so she had really lost some time. I cruised along feeling good and seemingly out of no where, the girl who started behind me passed me. NO! I was not ready to be passed. My legs felt good so I through on a gear and racheted up my pace. I caught her and passed her without much effort and just kept going. I didn't want to look back. About 1/4 mi before the turn around there was a car drive up to the edge of a driveway. (No, the course wasn't closed) I was ready for the guy to pull out in front of me when out hopped Larry. He told me the turn was good and to keep up the pace. I crested a tiny bump and there it was. I turned and saw the girl I who had tried to pass and a girl from CBC right behind her. I knew they were close and I would have to give a great effort to hold them off. By this time, the sun was trying to come out and it was humid.

While I didn't feel like I had a tail wind on the way out, a head wind came out of nowhere on the way home. The gusts were tough, especially when they combined with the motorcycle rally that went by. About 44 minutes in, the CBC girl passed me. I kept her in my sight for about 10 minutes, but she eventually pulled away. When I got to mile 19, I threw on another gear and tried to hold it as long as I could. With the wind, it was difficult. I took it off and tried to put it back on a few more times before I held it. Somewhere in there I got passed by a guy in a zebra print skin suit, that was just humiliating! Around mile 23, I threw on a gear and decided I would hold it or else. I gave it everything I had and finished hard. 1:15:09. I was hoping that I would be able to go closer to 1:10:00. (I think the winning woman--CBC girl--was 1:01:00ish) I was disappointed in my time and think I screwed myself up with overthinking how hard I should go. I'm glad I have a baseline at this distance now though. Hopefully Champaign and Harvard will be quicker races.