Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Race Report: Jingle Cross Rock

This weekend was UCI Girls' Weekend part deux. Our destination was Jingle Cross Rock in Iowa. Cory and I had the honor of having Karl accompany us on the entire trip this time. Our drive up was entertaining, but with no u-turns or mishaps.
We got to Coraville, picked up our stuff and had time to pre-ride the course. I took more spills in that pre-ride than I have all season. I silently prayed I had gotten it out of my system. The weather was overcast and windy, with temps around 50. With the exception of Mt. Krumpet and another run up, it was flat.
Our race was packed. We had 35 Cat 2/3 women, as well as the Cat 2/3 men on the course with us. I was in the second row on the end. The whistle blew and we took off. It wasn't quite as much madness as Cincy for me. We hit the grass and I was able to pass a few girls. I was in great shape until we hit the muddy off camber section. Everyone dismounted to run it so it clogged up. I couldn't find a clear spot to set my bike down so I ended up running all the way to the flyover. I didn't get a great remount on the flyover--that lap or any lap. It was a short little section till we hit Mt. Krumpet. That lap I shouldered my bike as I ran it. My remount there was poor as well. The rest of the lap was good. I was smooth over the logs and quick through the spiral. Lap 2 was better. We were more spread out. I was able to remount easily in the off camber. I also tried running with the bike instead of shouldering it on Mt Krumpet. It wasn't any better. Lap 3 I started getting lapped by the men. Most of the time it was fine, but there were a few close calls and a little rubbing. I ended up in 18th overall. My highlights were my cornering and riding the off camber. My weaknesses were uphill remounting and remounting at the top of the flyover.
Post race we popped open the sangria cube and headed to Mt. Krumpet to spectate. We headed back to the hotel and down to the hot tub to warm up. While we had great photos of the event, we were amazingly well-behaved and back to the room by 10PM. Our culinary treat was Chinese delivery in bed. I know the perception is that we're wild girls on the road, but we're actually pretty lame and sedate.
Saturday was just ugly from the start. It was raining and 42 degrees when we got the race course. And of course, I had the Mich lite kit on. We sat in the car as long as we could until it was time to warm up. The course was very similar to Friday night, sans the flyover and Mt. Krumpet. The women's field was deeper, 40 of us and we raced with the single speeders and master's 55+ men. I was slow off the start and we were clogged through the first lap. We were about two minutes in when the single speed men started passing us. It was crazy crowded as they went through. By the time I hit the first puddle and sunk my feet ankle deep in the mud, my entire trepidation about the conditions left. I felt like a little girl playing in the rain. I think I laughed the entire time I was out there, even dancing as I came through the start/finish. (yes, I'm a dork). I felt good through the race today in regards to my bike handling in the mud. I rode it confidently and made sure to look where I wanted my bike to go. I was also very smooth through the barriers. My struggle came through the off camber muddy section above the bleachers. I would take the run up smoothly and remount well, but then struggle as I got closer to the downhill when my bike started to slip. I may have been better off to run the whole thing. I ended up 17th for the day, better but still not where I wanted to be.
You could not see the Big Shark logo on my skinsuit post race. I was a complete muddy mess and was freezing. Cory & I took luke warm showers to rinse off, but it didn't do much good. As much as we wanted to stay and watch more racing, we needed to warm up. We headed back to the hotel to clean up. After a yummy hummus and martini lunch, and a trip to look for cleats, we chilled in the hotel room. That evening we hit the Vine for the "party" but it wasn't quite what we expected. We eventually ended up back in the hotel bar, just hanging out. Cory's teammate Chris joined our happy crew. It was another wild night with us in the room by 11PM.
By Sunday morning, the rain had stopped but the cold set in. It was mid 30s and windy at race time. Cory decided not to race because she's still battling the crud she picked up in Cincy. Karl wasn't up for it either. I envied the two of them and Chris sitting in the warm car while I rode circles in the field warming up.
I didn't preride the course Sunday, but I did a loop outside and it *looked* like we were heading in the same general direction. The flyover was back in, as was Mt. Krumpet. The course was muddier than Saturday, but it was a thicker, goopier mud. I ended up with less on me, but my bike and shoes were covered. Our field was back down to 30 something. I got a good jump off the line and we headed through the gravel to the grass. I was ready to go right, and the course went left . . . it was different. That threw me off because I realized I would be riding lap one blind. We were bunched up when we hit the muddy off camber hill but I was able to run around a few girls. I kept the bike shouldered and hit the flyover. I finally feel comfortable riding down one without being in my pedals. From there it was through the corral to Mt. Krumpet. It was just a mucky mess. I threw the bike on my shoulder and ran as much as I could. At the top, we kept going. It was long, slow grinder to the top (my favorite part of the course on the day--I think that means I'm sick in the head). I realized at the top I climbed the whole thing without being in my pedals. At the top we started the off camber switch backs down. I was determined to ride it. I did fine until the third section. I was unclipped, dobbing and I just slid out, toes over nose and bike on top of me. I hopped up, grabbed the bike and ran. I realized as I remounted for the muddy downhill that my right lever was completely crooked. I tried to straighten it but got stuck in the mud while I did. I dismounted and ran and straightened my lever, loosing a lot of ground. I felt great the rest of the lap, handling the bike well through the mud and took the lincoln logs cleanly. Lap two was much better for me. I knew where the course was going and was able to choose better lines. I passed quite a few girls, especially running up Mt. Krumpet (those trail races are paying off). I chose to run the entire downhill this time and remounted right before the downhill by the bleachers. The course was long enough that we only did three laps. My third lap started out great. My lines and handling were even better. I was about three seconds off two girls in front of me up Mt. Krumpet. In hindsight, I should have remounted my bike earlier because I when I did, I couldn't get clipped back in my pedals and had to get off in the middle of the ankle deep mud and run. I pulled back some time on them, but was never able to catch them. Finished 18th. Meh!
The off camber above the bleachers.  *Photo credit:  Jon  Peck
I got cleaned up and we hung out until the single speed speedo race was done. Watching the crazies in less clothing than me was nothing but comical. All-in-all it was a great weekend. Somehow we survived it with no u-turns or Starbucks. I don't think I documented any new Coryisms either. Each one of our road trips has been uniquely different but insanely fun. We've met some wicked-cool people and made lots of new friends. They've definitely been experiences that were worth the price of admission.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Race Report: Bubba #9 Mount Pleasant

Today we had true cyclocross weather.  It was in the low 40s, wet and rained off and on throughout the race.  The race was at Mt. Pleasant winery in Augusta, MO.  This venue is known for the hills and toughness of the course and today was no exception.  

The hecklers were cracking me up here.

Not sure why I was laughing in this miserable weather.

We had nine women in the A race.  We got the whistle and took off.  We started on pavement and there's a sharp turn before heading out into the field.  I went down in that turn last year, so I was careful this time.  And, sure enough, the woman who got the hole shot slid out.  I was sitting in third as we hit the grass.  We were bunched pretty tight at that point.  We headed through the top part of the field and wound to the off camber section (ok, most of it was off camber) and I slid out.  I was riding my training wheels today because I'm having some difficulties with my race wheels and I think I gave them a little too much credit.  I got up and on, but had fallen into 7th.  By the end of the lap, I made up a position.  Heading out for lap two, the girl in front of me wiped out hard in the first turn again.  That lap went smoothly.  By lap three my hands were wet and cold.  I had to dismount on a climb I could ride simply because I couldn't move my hands enough to shift.  I tossed my gloves when I got up on top and immediately felt better.  We got lap cards that time through and they read four to go.  I was riding well until I got to the bottom of the big run up.  I was taking the section right before too quickly and just went down.  I've got a beautiful souvenir from where my pedal met my knee.  I hopped up and ran up the hill.  The rest of the race went well.  I was able to pass Gina at the top of the run up in the final lap for 5th place.

After my first fall, I know I backed off some.  I was a little more timid.  I still raced hard, but I wasn't as aggressive in the turns and off camber section.  That being said, my lap times, as usual, got faster and I made ground on the ladies in front of me each lap.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Living in a Grafted Tree

Yesterday I was perusing Twitter when I came across a story about a new law taking effect in Illinois.  The law allows anyone who was adopted to request a non-certified copy of their original birth certificate.  Why does that matter to me?  I am adopted.  I was two months old when I came to live with my family.  So that story stopped me dead in my tracks.

I am comfortable with being adopted.  I've always know I was adopted.  I feel that I was pretty damn lucky to end up where I did.  While I grew poor, I grew up loved.  Now, my mom and I had our issues, and still do.  But never did I question the love my family felt for me.  It should be obvious by reading my blog that my dad was my best friend, my hero.  And I know a few things about why my birth mother relinquished me.  The bits and pieces that I know are that she was a teenager.  Her mother was possibly recently divorced.  In my mind, she gave me the best possible gift she could.  She set me up to have the life she couldn't give me.

If I am so comfortable with my adopted status, why would I want to know more.  There are times in my life when I get melancholy about what I don't know.  When people talk about their nationality, I typically change the subject or smile.  I have some indication that I'm French by birth, but I can't be for sure.  When I lost my first pregnancy and found out it was a genetic factor, being adopted really hit me hard.  Could I have prevented that tragedy if I had known?  Probably one of the biggest moments in knowing that I need to know from whence I came was when I had Boo.  I held him for the first time and looked into those big, brown eyes and realized I was looking into my eyes.  I had never had that experienced that.  I had never known someone of my own flesh and blood until I created him.  That's the best I can explain it.

I immediately called the county courthouse yesterday and asked what I needed to do to request the birth certificate.  They referred me to the Illinois Department of Health website where I downloaded the forms so I could fill them out.  I copied my certified birth certificate and driver's license this morning and mailed it off.  Now I wait.  There's a chance that she has already requested that my birth certificate be resealed.  She has that right.  As of yesterday 350 birth parents had already done so.  Time will tell.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Is Social Media Killing Communication?

I’m “plugged in”. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, and Tumblr.  I have accounts on LinkedIn and other such places.  Much of my life is an open book.  I’m sure there are folks who believe that I put too much out there, but I am very keenly aware of what I share.

Being active on these sites has allowed me to stay in contact with friends across the globe.  It’s allowed me to make friends and acquaintances across the country.  I feel well-informed on topics that interest me.  Typically, I enjoy the time I spend networking, communicating and learning in these realms.  Lately though, I’ve begun to question the detrimental effect of social media on “real communication.”

My first red flag came in the vein of cyber bullying.  I’m almost 40 years old, and yet I’m still dealing with the mean girl syndrome.  I don’t know if boys can fully appreciate the concept of mean girls.  These are women who purposely pull down other ladies for the sake of feeling better about themselves.  It’s rampant in middle and high schools, and it’s something that many women never get away from.  Social media gives these girls an outlet to be venomous on a large scale.  No longer is it spreading rumors in the hallways and passing notes, you can now post subversive tweets and status updates for your 452 followers to read.  It’s unnerving.  Instead of talking face-to-face and resolving the concern, let’s passive-aggressively blast someone on the interwebs.

While I was still contemplating the detrimental effects of the mean girls, I started becoming more keenly aware of the concept of “online persona”. Now, don’t think I’m that dense.  I know everyone who has an online presence puts out there what they want people to know or think.  What I mean are people who have multiple online personas.  They pretend to be someone else, and not just in one place either.  Now I know for years authors have been using pseudonyms for various reasons, but how many Twitter accounts does one really need?  And how do you keep up with it all?  Do you know who the real you is?  How can you maintain the duplicity?  I barely have time for my single account.  I'd have to toss out my kids, work or training if I tried to do anymore.

I think the most concerning piece for me came this morning in the form of an email epiphany.  And I am incredibly guilty of this one--using my social media to send a communicate with someone. I don't mean posting on their wall or sending a direct message.  Instead of texting directly, emailing or calling, I write a blog, post a song, or a veiled phrase that communicates my meaning, with those “not in the know” none the wiser.  Now this began as a fun game.  It tested my quickness, my ability to discern and encrypt and I enjoy the smile that many of those messages give me. But when I had a blog sent to me this morning, I realized how skewed my reality has become.  I used to believe I was a great conversationalist and that I was easily approachable.  Has that changed?  Have I neglected it in favor of the quick and easy approach? 

Without a doubt, social media, social networking is here to stay.  I think the real test is to figure out what role it plays.  Is it your main means of communication?  Is your digital world your new reality?  How can the two be blended in a beneficial way? I can say this for me, after I hit publish on this, I’ll be picking up the phone to address the blog. And I won't be posting a link to this one on Twitter . . . it is what it is, you know?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Race Report: Bubba #8 Creve Coeur

Today's course was quite different from yesterday's . . .pancake flat, few turns, but it was incredibly windy.  I got three good warm up laps in, and practiced going over the dirt mound several times.  We had six ladies in the A Race again today--two were the same as yesterday.  We got the whistle and I wasn't quick off the line.  I was fifth as we hit the grass, but I moved up into fourth after the first set of turns.  We headed into the tall grass and wind and I concentrated on staying on the Liz's wheel.  Britta, Gina, Liz and I stayed together through the first lap.  As we wound through the first set of turns in lap two, Britta and Gina pulled away.  I again sat on Liz's wheel until we crossed by the roadway and I went around her.  She stayed with me through the barriers and the little switchbacks.  She passed me back by the tree line heading up the dirt mound.  I focused on staying with her.  She turned to me during lap three and said the only to catch them is to work together, so that's what we did.  We traded pulls through the next two laps, and shortened their gap to under 10 seconds, never able to reel them in.  In the final lap, I passed Liz in the wind and worked at trying to gap her.  It came down to the section right after the dirt mound.  We had two lapped riders in front of us and I was focused on getting around them.  I lost track of where Liz was.  We went into the last hairpin turn and she jumped.  I foolishly wasn't expecting it.  I went after her and gaining, but wasn't able to pass before the line.
The dirt mound . . . there definitely was a line that you needed to take.

This is the spot Liz got me in the last lap.

Sponsor shot!

That made me mad enough to want to try it again, so I signed up for the C race.  I had 12 minutes before the race started, and in hindsight, I should have spun around.  There were 31 C racers, plus six or seven single speeders in the second race.  I was in the second row.  I got a great jump off the line and was staying with the front eight through the first set of turns.  When we hit the long stretch in the wind my legs were screaming, I got passed and passed and passed.  By the end of lap one, I was sitting in 14th place.  Todd was on my wheel at the end of the lap, and passed me right before the long straight in lap two.  Another guy went around as well.  Somewhere during that lap, I picked up a guy on my wheel who passed me.  My legs were warm again, so I didn't let him go.  I stayed with him until the fourth lap and then went around.  He tried to take me several times, but never could get the job done.  In the fifth lap, I got lapped by the lead single speed racer, making that my last lap.  I didn't want to have the guy on my wheel take me at the end like Liz did, so I just added gear and went all out.  I put a nice distance between us and ended up 16th in that one.
Playing with the boys!  I've wanted to do this all season.
My lines got better through each lap.  By the end of the second race, I was pedaling through even the tighter ones with no problems.  The only spot I felt fatigue in the second race was the barriers.  It got harder and harder to actually "jump" them.  Overall, I'm happy with my racing, not happy with my foolishness at the end of the A race.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Race Report: Bubba #7 at the Seminary

Today was not a stellar performance.  I got to Concordia early because I knew this was a course that would challenge me.  I did two laps before the junior races began.  There were plenty of turns and tight spots, but some straights that I knew I could use to my advantage.  It was breezy and overcast, about 60 degrees at race time, seven women in the A race.  The whistle blew and I got the hole shot.  Cat passed me in the first little downhill and Britta passed me in the next downhill around the tree.  We turned and did a short set of steps and wound our way around the barriers. Kerri, Gina and Cory got me through there.  My lines were horrible.  We headed to the wooded section of the course.  There were some tight spots, but nothing too hard.  I couldn't stay off of my brakes though.  I knew it, I said it aloud, and it didn't help.  There was a long slight downhill section where I was able to add gear and speed and make up ground.  We wound around the top of the hillside before heading into leave covered sludge.  At the hard right, I saw Gina unclipped, blocking Cory.  It gave me a chance to catch them.  Cory went around her as did I.  It went slightly up from there to a log across the course.  I dismounted, jumped it and remounted, realizing I dropped my chain.  I got off and put it back on and was quickly in last place.  I wasn't very happy heading into the most technical spots.  I worked at staying off the brakes.  I saw Gina pull off the course, it looked like she was having mechanical issues and I still could see Amy and Cory.  I bobbled my remount after the second set of stairs and wound around the off camber and trees back to the start/finish.

I told myself lap two had it be better and it was.  I calmed down, stayed off the brakes and took good lines.  In lap three I caught Cory at the barriers and passed her.  She had already done a 5K this morning and I knew she went out hard.  I was gaining ground on Amy.  On the uphill before the log, one of the B racers was on my wheel, she told me she was going to pass me on the inside.  I told her to give it her best and added gear--it was a race after all.  I heard her say "I guess I won't." We also had a little tussle before the second set of stairs, but my remount was cleaner and I was able to gap her there.
One of the few times I haven't smiled in a race.  "You will not pass me" was the thought in my mind. *photo credit: Dennis Fickinger

Ah!  That's better! *Photo credit:  Dennis Fickinger

The log where I dropped my chain in the first lap. *Photo credit:  Dennis Fickinger
I was able to catch and pass Amy after the first set of steps in lap 5.  She knows I want good standings and gave me encouragement as I rode by.  Throughout lap 4 and 5, I had a Trish (B racer) on my wheel.  I would gap her in the straights and she would catch me it got technical.  Even though I wasn't officially racing her, having her there pushed me and gave me cause to practice my sprint at the end.  I ended up in fourth, even with my Busch league first lap.  Hoping tomorrow is better.  Practicing the technical is good for me, right?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Weekend Report: Cincy3 CX Festival

A weekend like this deserves more than a simple race report.  Cory and I loaded the car and headed out after work on Friday night.  Our first stop, of course, was Starbucks.  After properly fueling for the drive we were eastward bound.  I don’t think there was a silent moment for the entire drive, and that included our 45 minute traffic delay in Indiana.  (Dr. Matt warned us to take 64, but we trusted Garmin.  Mistake!)  Between our dissection of the problems of the world and our lives, and the outright snarkiness that flowed like water at Niagra Falls, the trip went quickly.  We arrived in Cincy about 12:30AM EST.  No time for frivolity—we went right to bed.  That is after I tried every alarm sound on my iPhone.

Saturday morning came early—6:30AM was when the iPhone rang.  We packed up and set out for Middletown.  Karl had provided us with the addy of the park and the nearest Starbucks so we were set.  The only problem was it was cold!  35 degrees cold.  Yes, I had checked Accuweather for the high—it was supposed to be 62.  I forgot that we were racing at 9:15.  We got to the park and found Karl and registered.  Of course I had to make things difficult because I wanted to know if we got upgrade points even though we were racing Masters. Us old ladies want to be Cat 2 as well you know!  The UCI officials were friendly about it, but it limited my time to pre-ride the course.  I only got through half of it before getting kicked off. 

We changed clothes in the car and I was so happy I’d thrown in my embro at the last minute.  We headed out to warm up, riding through the grass alongside the course on the section I hadn’t gotten to ride.  I was geeked about this race.  It was definitely a power course, with very few technical sections.  I couldn’t wait. 

We got called to the line and staged. Because we did day of registration we were in the back row in a field of 32. It didn't hit me until after we started that I'd never raced a field this large. We got our instructions and the whistle and were off. It was a scene out of a bad movie, there were girls weaving everywhere, going slowly and I just wanted them out of my way! I was cautious through the first section of the course that I hadn't ridden. I wasn't getting a read of my heart rate because my strap needs new batteries, but I can tell you I was not putting forth effort because I couldn't get through. Finally as we headed back towards the tennis courts I was able to jump out in front of some girls. I didn't know who was in my category, and decided that didn't matter--I was passing who I could when I could. I was more confident coming through my second lap and was able to pass more girls. As I passed through I saw we had two to go. I continued to concentrate on catching girls in front of me one by one and on pedaling through the muddy section as it got sloppier. In the last lap I caught and passed a girl on the rough pavement section. She came around me after the mud and was able to ride the hill I took as a run up. She got a little gap on me as we went through the barriers. I pushed after her and turned on the sprint as we headed towards the pavement. I was at her front fork when we crossed the line. I finished 7/19 for women's open 35+ and 13/32 for the entire field. Strengths for the day were riding the mud and being smooth over the barriers. Learning for the day was I need to be more aggressive in passing. I tended to sit back and watch too long before going around.

Karl was wonderful and was waiting at the finish with my jacket.  I got it on and we found Cory.  We washed our bikes in the showers in the restrooms and then headed back to the truck to change and planned on going to get food.  Yeah, that never happened.  I wanted to walk up and check results because I was hoping for top 10.  Cory busted out the acrylic wine glasses and the cube.  After all, we needed post race rehydration.  We headed back up to the results board and ran into Flavia—she used to live in Carbondale and race for Heckawee.  We chatted with her before getting accosted by Dr. Matt.  He’s from Cincy and came back home to race Friday and Saturday’s race.  So much for food, we had to watch Matt race.
Wishing Dr. Matt luck on his race.
After Matt’s race it was another trip back to the truck and then Cory wanted to find Kirk, her coach.  We found him and then spent the next couple of hours talking to him and watching races until Karl was up.  The elite women raced after Karl and we had to watch them.  And who wanted to leave when the elite men were racing.  It was 5:30 before we left.  Throughout the day we talked to a lot of cool peeps.  They were all a bit intrigue by our glassware and silliness.  I lost count of how people asked to take our pics. 

We headed back to the hotel so we could get a shower and find food.  Cory checked with Kirk about safe choices and he said he’d set something up.  PF Changs at 8:20 was the decision.  We walked in to shocked looks—I don’t think they expected us to clean up so well!  After a few minutes, Kirk stepped away.  We turned to see where he went.  He was talking to Jeremy Powers who was joining us for dinner!  What more could two girls want—dinner with seven men, two of them pro cx racers.  We laughed a ton throughout the whole evening, especially at Tom and his chocolate cake!  By the time dinner was over, we were exhausted.  Believe it or not, we were back at the hotel and in bed by 11.  Definitely not what you would have expected from us.

Sunday morning arrived and I didn’t want to get out of bed.  Cory and I talked each other into the race with the caveat that we’d head to IKEA after we were done.  We found our Starbucks and went to Harbin Park.  I was bound and determined to pre-ride the course because we had heard it was going to be hella hard.  It took forever to register though, even though there was no line!  I jumped on, still wearing my jeans and got through about 75%. It was a long course, my little warm up ride took 9+min and I didn't finish the entire lap.

After I got kicked off the course, I headed back to the truck to get changed.  We warmed up in an adjacent field.  Thankfully it was warmer, although the wind had picked up.  Once again call ups left me sitting in the back--row four.

I was much more aggressive off the line on Sunday moving up through as many girls as I could until we hit the first little muddy section. Some girl immediately went into a stake and caused a small pile up. I stayed up and got around her but that created the first gap in the group. I had watched the first lap of the race before our and saw the carnage on that off camber section so I had made the decision to run the trickiest part. We hit that and I was off the bike. I had trouble with footing but stayed upright and got back on and headed to the start finish. I decided to run the sand as well and actually passed girls riding it. We went through and I was on a girl’s wheel as we hit the playground. She hit the railroad tie and went down. I hadn't seen this section of the course so I wasn't expecting it--I quickly dismounted though and jumped her like a barrier and took off. I ran the second section of sand and was doing well until I hit the tree root section. It surprised me and I tried to ride it and couldn't. My dismount was awkward and I lost a lot of ground. Cory passed me through that section and told me to stick with next.  I also then bobbled as I tried to ride the slick little uphill and had to dismount mid-way. I talked myself through it . . . race your race, race your race. I got on and rode through the mud. I hit the pavement added two gears and went after Cory and the other girl in front of me. I was able to pass them in the section leading into the next off camber tree.  I didn’t want to look back because I was sure Cory was on my wheel. As I went around the tree, I unclipped and dabbed my left foot to keep my balance. I got to the barriers and went across, although not as smoothly as Saturday. I thought of something Tilford told me as I went to remount . . . don't be in a hurry, wait until you feel comfortable, so I ran the bike the rest of the way up the hill and around the corner. I jumped back on and opened it up on the downhill. I hit the mud at the bottom and sailed up the hill on the other side. I caught up to some other girls going through the single track and stayed on them until we hit the grass on the other side. I passed them in the grass and headed into the off camber section. I again dismounted, shouldered the bike and ran it. My remount was smooth and I headed to the finish. I saw one to go as I went under.
The second lap was much smoother for me than the first. I decided to dismount and run anything that may be tricky for me and that seemed to work for me. When I hit the back section there were two girls in front of me. I flew past them on the way to the barriers and kept pushing to put a gap. One of them stayed with me. She was on my wheel as we hit the off camber section for the last time. She passed me in the section that I could ride and it made me nervous. I decided to dismount there and really lost my footing trying to run. I saw her fall in the trickier section and knew I had a chance. She got back on the bike quickly and took off. I remounted and pushed. She looked back at me. I cracked up one of the spectators because I said to myself, “that's right, look back because I'm coming for you. I upped my cadence and added gear several times. The finish was looming but I wasn't going to stop. I passed her with 75m to go and didn't slow at all. I ended up 8th in my field and 15th overall. I’m so happy with that because it was such a tough, technical course. I was happy with my handling through the mud. I would have like to have been able to ride the course in a non-race situation to see if I could have ridden the railroad ties and the off camber dirt sections. I also still need to work on riding in sand. I will say that I stayed calm and knew what my strengths were (i.e. running) and played to them rather than giving in to areas where I need work.
The conditions of the course definitely called for Wellies post race.

Yes, it was a muddy one!
We checked results and loaded up the bikes.  We headed back to the hotel via carwash (clean bikes are happy bikes).  Quick showers and then it was off to lunch.  We spent the next two hours roaming through IKEA in domestic paradise.  Karl just redid his kitchen so he needed the finishing touches.  I found a cute beagle puppy for my Bella.  We made one final Starbucks stop and were back on the road. 

The trip started more quietly.  On the trip east I tried to take pictures of the “Welcome to” signs but flubbed it horribly.  I was 4/5 on the way home in snapping getting my shots.  Indiana traffic was bad, but not as bad as Friday night.  Our trip through western Illinois definitely went quickly as we got involved in a Twitter conversation regarding dropped shorts, muddy butts, and lightening the load. We pulled into Ballwin at 7:30, officially ending the UCI girls’ weekend that was full of laughs, fun, and peacefulness.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Race Report: Bubba #4 and #5 -- Faust Park

I knew going into Saturday night's race it would be hard.  I did the trail run in the morning and had fun, but I haven't really asked that much of my legs since GEO in July.  It also didn't help that I realized at Tesson Ferry that I had left my number at home and had to turn around to get it.  By the time we got there I didn't have a chance to pre-ride the course and I effed around and didn't warm up.  All my fault, I own it.  Just like I own my poor performance.  I was quick off the line at the whistle, but Sunny just rode away from us all.  I was quickly passed by the rest of the A field and that's where I stayed--DFL.  I even got passed by some of the B racers.  That really helped my ego.  The only thing that kept me going were the lewd comments from the crowd about my costume. I did get quicker every lap, as my legs got warm and I got familiar with it.  But I never got quick enough to catch anyone.  The big lesson for me was when I downloaded my data.  I obviously played bad mind games with myself because my average HR was only 168 . . . a good 20BPM slower than typical.  I let my "perceived" fatigue and overall poor attitude get in the way of having a good race.

Sunday morning didn't start off much better.  Saturday night's sleep was about three hours due to issues to remain unnamed and my problems sleeping past 5AM any day.  So I began crabby and my legs were still a little tender.  I emailed Coach and asked him if I could just go for a long road ride instead.  In typical Chuck form, he gave me permission but made me really think.  Here's part of his message:
if you are not looking forward to the cx race today, don't do it.  there is physical and mental fatigue.  staying 'in the game' yesterday was likely similar to a very tactical road race of a couple hours or more duration or a 60-70k tt.  if you decide to go for an easy ride, be able to say (if it's true) 'my muscles are sore, i've had enough.'

Of course after reading that I decided to race.  Because truly, above all else, I'm a horrible bike handler and anytime spent riding and working on those skills is good for me.  I made sure I got to the park early enough to get on the course.  It was basically the same as last night, with an added side section through the trees.  It was about 1.5 miles and at least I could see the ruts and avoid hitting them in the daylight.

It was windy and overcast at the start, about 58 degrees.  We got the whistle and I jumped but was third off the line.  Courtney immediately took the lead and Gina followed.  I tried to stay with them but didn't have the power today.  Kerry was right on my wheel.  We stayed that way until after the tree section when Kerry passed me.  I pushed to stay on her wheel through  the rest of that lap.  A few times I thought about going around her, but knew I didn't have the gas to put a gap on her and didn't want to continue to go back and forth with her.  On lap two we were heading to the path and I felt good.  I went around her and added gear and kept going.  I concentrated on seeing how much room I could put between us.  I was able to extend my lead on her through the next three laps.  In the final lap, she made some ground, but when I saw that she had come closer, I went harder.  I ended up with 3rd.

The hardest part of the day's race for me was the barriers.  I tried to run and jump but my legs told me no.  I made sure my dismounts and remounts were clean so that I didn't lose too much ground there.  I also worked on pedaling through my corners and taking clean lines.  The handling is definitely getting better.  And I say that knowing I haven't faced anything truly technical yet.