Monday, August 20, 2012

Race Report: Edwardsville Rotary Criterium

I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful night to race than Saturday.  It was sunny, low 80s and one of my favorite courses.  It's a figure 8 course with some tight turns and narrow streets on the backside.  They also offer a sweet purse so it attracts a ton of people.  Plus the town did a great job of promoting the race with a course side pub crawl, so the streets were packed with spectators.  The icing on the cake was this is the first race all season my kids have been there. ;-)

I warmed up on one of the local bike trails.  I did a few hard efforts to get my heart rate up and rolled back up to the course.  They were a bit behind because of a nasty crash that had happened a few races before, but they were making up time during the kids races.  I got to do two laps on the course and get good luck kisses before rolling to the line.  We had 23 ladies in our field -- some very strong and a few very new Cat 4s.  The whistle blew and we were off.  The first lap was calm, everyone feeling each other out.  We rolled through start/finish to the sound of a prime bell.  My legs felt good, so I was considering going for it.  I was in a decent position up front after turn six, but Britta just took off.  She got a great jump on the field and while a few ladies gave chase, there was no catching her.  We came back together and went around again for another prime.  I'm not sure who took that one, but it was not a gimme.  Around lap six or so I had another rider come into me right before turn three.  My back wheel slid a bit and I was definitely uneasy for a few laps.  I felt myself migrating to the back and then having to fight to catch back on after turn five.  I had a good minute of self-talk/lecturing about trusting my handling equipment and knowing that I needed to be sitting no further than fifth wheel.  I moved back up and got myself refocused.  I looked at the lap cards and outwardly groaned when I saw we still had 25 laps to go.  This race was going to wear me out!  We got two more primes around laps 10 and 12.  By this time there were ladies contesting them hot and heavy.  Jamie launched a nice attack after Emilie won one of them.  Carrie led the chase and I went up and took over for her to jump on Jamie's wheel.  We settled back in and the laps counted down.  Another prime with 12 laps to go, and I knew I didn't have the legs to fight for it.  My goal was to race smart and to be there for the finish.  The race was filled with attacks and speed, but nothing was able to stick.  I got to hear "go Mommy" every time I hit the backside of the course.    

We got the bell lap and the real race was on.  There was lots of posturing as we entered the chicane.  I got aggressive and went for the wheel of the lady sitting third, much to the chagrin of another racer who was going after the same wheel.  She yelled me a bit and holding a line.  I just yelled back sorry and she kept ranting.  We came around turn five and I saw Jamie signal Emilie -- she was giving her a lead out.  Try as I might to jump on Emilie's wheel to take advantage of the free ride, I couldn't do it.  Britta jumped after turn six again and it was one.  Carrie and Emilie chased, with Ashley and Trisha getting up there as well.  I managed to stay up front with them and sprint against Jamie to take 6th at the line.  Carrie won -- fitting as it was her birthday.

In line with some strong ladies.  *Photo credit: Dennis Fickinger

Where's my smile??? I look mad and mean. *Photo credit: Dennis Fickinger
A piece I realized during this race is that often I am unaware of what is going on behind me in a larger field.  I didn't realize we had dropped some ladies until we started to lap them.  I work hard to be positioned at the front so I don't fall victim to crashes, etc happening in front of me, but often I don't know who is left.  That bothers me somewhat, but when I mentioned it to Coach his comment was the race is front of you unless you're on a flyer or lapping the field.  Point taken!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Race Report: MO State Time Trial and Criterium

It had been a rough few days last week.  I was mentally and physically exhausted and wasn't in the frame of mind to race two courses that I really don't love.  Plus, I hadn't raced since early July in Indy.  I did not have high expectations for my performance.

Missouri State Time Trial
I wasn't focused on this race like I like to be focused on a race.  I haven't ridden a 40k on the time trial bike since August 2011.  That being said, I knew I would regret not doing it.  Plus, the ride to Jeff City was a hoot.  Kate was hyped on her Double Big Gulp and Phil's sense of humor always makes me laugh.  Add in that Adam was a little loopy from sleep deprivation and it made for great laughs.

I got on my bike and warmed up on the outer road near the start.  The weather was beautiful, sunny, light breeze and cooler than it's been in two months.  I took my Gu and headed to the line.  It was quickly my turn to go to the line.  Ron took hold of my seat post and I clicked in.  Mark gave me the countdown and I took off.  I felt like I didn't have a great powerful start.  I was in my 54/23 so it should have been fine.  I added a gear, settled in and kept telling myself to tap it out, tap it out, find a rhythm. I found a good cadence and started singing a montage of songs to myself.  I never did get the melody to Fighter right in my head.  I hit the 10K mark and had originally planned on adding a gear.  While I wasn't fatigued, I didn't think I could sustain anything further.  About 20 minutes in I was passed by the guy who started a minute back.  I had expected that to happen at some point.  I also had to tell myself to hold back and not to try to chase him down, knowing that would cause me to blow up later on.  At 30 minutes I knew I should be getting close to the turn.  I got passed again by the rider who had started further back.  I kept telling myself that was okay.

I got to the at 30:03:30ish.  I didn't handle it well.  I haven't done a tt this year with a cone turn, so I was skiddish on speed and ended up sliding my rear wheel a bit.  I took off a gear stood up and got back up to speed.  I added my gear back and put my head down to pedal.  I had hoped for a more significant tail wind on the way back, but that never happened.  At 40 minutes I got passed for a third time.  UGH!  I kept this one in sight a lot longer and was still feeling really strong.  It was about that time that I started getting more and more uncomfortable in my saddle.  I knew I needed a new one on my tt bike, but with only doing shorter races this year, it hasn't bothered me.  There were a few times I had to stand on the way back to ease the discomfort.  I got to the 30k mark and knew I just needed to keep my effort hard and consistent.  I worked to maintain a cadence around 100 and didn't focus on speed.  Overall I felt really good the entire race.  My legs worked, but never felt like I couldn't keep going.  My effort was consistent throughout.  My official time was 1:05:31.  That's two seconds off my best time on this course.  Perhaps a better turn or not standing on the way back could have given me those few seconds--wouldn't have made a difference in how I finished, just a PR for me.  My place was 2nd for Cat 3 Women.  1st for MO licensed racers.

Missouri State Criterium
In spite of the results on Saturday, I still wasn't anymore ready to race Sunday.  I got there and registered and there were three others on the roster.  I was surprised and hoped we'd get more ladies.  I watched part of the Cat 5 race and then got dressed.  I was able to ride a couple of laps on the course before the Master's race started.  Kelly (Momentum) and I rode around for a while after that to warm up.  I attacked a few hills to get my heart rate up and then found Amy.  She and I spun for the last 10 minutes talking about who to watch in the race.  We ended up with 14 girls on the line at the start.  It was a good field, with some strong ladies in it.

The clouds had cleared and it was sunny, warm and humid for us.  The race started pretty quickly.  The first lap was hot.  The second lap eased and we rode about 20 minutes before the first prime.  Several small attacks were attempted, but nothing stuck.  The prime bell sounded and the positioning began.  I felt good and decided to give it a go.  We hit the back side of the course and the hill and Britta took off on us.  She got a great jump on the field.  I wasn't ready to let her have it though.  I went after her hard.  I rounded the last turn on the course and was out of my saddle sprinting as hard.  I think she assumed it was a given and sat up.  We went to the line and it was so close I didn't know what had gotten it until the next lap when I looked at Mark and he shook his head No to me.  I was disappointed, but was happy with my efforts.

Amy doing the work! *photo credit: Don McKinney

I found my smile! *Photo credit: Don McKinney
It was a close finish.  *Photo credit: Don McKinney
We came through with one to go and Britta took off.  She surprised everyone and got a sizable gap.  Emilie, Jamie, Ashley, Renee and I were all up front working to close the gap.  On the back hill Emilie drilled it and Ashley was on her wheel. I followed along.  As we hit the second hill Ashley faded and I tried to jump up on Emilie.  I couldn't grab her wheel and she was off.  I put my head down and knew I needed maintain my gap.  I turned onto the finishing straight and tried to stand on the little rise and my legs yelled at me to sit down.  I did and put my head down.  I could feel someone alongside of me and looked over to see Renee pull even. Shut up legs, we're goin' now.  I got up again and added gear and pushed.  I could see my tire move past hers and looked down to see the line on the road.  I snatched third!  It was a good hard fought race.  Amy worked very hard launching a some attacks and covering others to help me stay near the front and ready.  I was really happy that I was able to focus my mind and shut down the outside noise and get in a race frame of mind and stay there when it mattered.  And lots of friends cheering along the race course was an added bonus.  My surprise came when I went to check results.  Mark said he felt so bad that I didn't win the prime, but I was the Cat 3 state champ so that really mattered more.  It didn't hit me what he meant until Sara said something about getting my medal and jersey when results were final.  I think I squealed.