Monday, February 28, 2011

Hincapie Spring Training Series Feb 27, 2011

Field: about 40 Cat 1/2/3/4 women
Length: 35mi race, 5laps

The course was the same as last Saturday when I crashed in the last 2 miles. It was a 7mi loop with some rollers. Wind played a big factor during the race.

When we started the race at 9am, my only expectation was not to crash. I met another racer, Kate, the day before and we planned to make the race more interesting, attacking, break away, whatever, just no easy race.
And soon enough, half a lap into the race, she attacked the field and strung it out. After about twenty seconds she sat up and let the field come back. Since I played this acceleration-stopping game way too much in the past weeks, I decided to just keep going and I passed Kate.

I didn’t really attack but only kept the speed up ever so slightly. When I looked back I had a tiny gap. This time (compared to Wolfpack), instead of wasting time looking back constantly I just gave everything I had for the next few minutes.

When I finally looked back I saw the peloton a few hundred meters behind me. They could catch me any minute but I thought, they’ll at least have to work harder to get me. So I kept drilling and finished the first lap alone in the front, maybe five seconds ahead of the field.

Starting the second lap, I pushed the pedals hard. Two girls from Headstrong bridged up to me and we immediately started working together. One of the girls was not as strong so we slowed down for her on the uphill. When we still saw the peloton chasing us after a hard five minute effort, one of the girls said that we wouldn’t make the break stick and we should just ease up.

However, I didn’t want to make it so easy for the field to catch us and convinced them to keep going so we kept working hard. Still in the second lap, the weaker Headstrong girl couldn’t hold our wheels anymore and told us to go ahead, she would wait for the peloton.

So it was only Giselle and I. Giselle, Cat 1, was a very strong rider, especially on the flats. She pulled major parts of lap 2 and 3, especially during the headwind sections.

On lap three, the motor ref drove up to us and told us we had a minute on the peloton. Not too bad but not enough to slow down so we rode on full power. If the peloton catches us the race would have been over for me. This was going to be a long anaerobic threshold workout.

When we started lap four, I seemed to pull sixty percent. The ref told us that we were a 1:30min ahead of the field so that was at least a good sign – we gained time. However, a minute later, the ref told us we were only a minute ahead. How in the world did we just lose so much time in such a short period of time? That made me nervous so I pulled even harder.
We only had one more lap to go; it would just suck to get caught after being in a breakaway for 25 miles.

Going into the fifth and final lap, I pulled most of time, more worried about getting caught than about a sprint finish against Giselle. So finally, after a ridiculous cross-eyed ride, we approached the 1k mark which was at a little hill.

I rode the hill faster, my attempt to “attack” but Giselle was right there so I kept pulling but swayed from side to side. Nothing worked; I couldn’t get rid of her. So the 200m mark came and I started sprinting. At 100m, she got me and passed and won. Second it was.

In the past few weeks, I got great advice on how to breakaway; however, I never asked how to actually win from a break. Again lesson learned. Although, I’d rather have won, I was happy how the race worked out. It was a tough race and I left everything on the course.

In the news:

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hincapie Spring Training Series

Saturday Feb 19 in Greenville, SC

Field: Cat 1/2/3 Women, 40 or more racers

The course was relatively flat with some small rollers. We started at 9:06am. Team Kenda and Headstrong had big teams out there so my goal was to get into any break if both teams were represented.

This time I even knew how many laps (five) we had to do but unfortunately as it turned out it would never had made a difference.

The pace was anywhere between 15-28mph. It was not the most exciting race so there is not much to write about. In those five laps, I was in two attacks which were caught in a matter of minutes. On the last lap, I positioned myself somewhere in the front third of the field. The pace was super slow and it seemed everyone was getting ready for a sprint finish. We all were quite packed with two miles to go when suddenly the girl in front of me lost her balance and crashed. I had no other way to go but to crash into her. I flew over my handlebars, straight on my head, and got buried by two or three other riders who fell on top of me. After a quick self check, I examined my bike that was quite damaged. The most obvious was the seat angled upwards; I fixed that on the go, jumped on my bike and headed towards the finish line. While riding I realized my big chain ring was bent, my rear wheel out of true, and my helmet adjuster was broken.

I guess at least I got my crash for 2011 out of the way. Luckily, Chuck was able to straighten my chain ring (he says: ghetto style), equipped me with new wheels and let me borrow his helmet….looks like I am ready for the crit tomorrow.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wolfpack Road Race - Race Report

Feb 12,2011

Riders: 5 Cat 3/4, 15 or so collegiate B/C racers
Course: 33mi, 7.4 mi loop, mostly flat with some uphill efforts

I learned one big lesson during that race: Know how many laps you have to do….this could have ended very ugly for me.

I was barely on my bike for 2 minutes when the race started. I decided that the first lap would be my warm-up lap. That gave me the chance to see the course and to test some fancy wheels Jared gave me five minutes before the start. After the first lap, I wanted to see what I could do with this race.

We rode the first lap very easy, which gave me the chance to warm up and play around with the wheels. We crossed the finish line concluding the first lap and a girl started sprinting right before a hill. I thought, awesome, I’ll go with her and see where that leads to. One quarter up the hill she slowed down and I passed her saying: come on, let’s work together, and expecting that we could create a breakaway.
I pushed further and didn’t look back for a few seconds. When I looked back I had a gap of maybe 20 yards. I was like, ok, maybe this is a sign for me to speed up and get away. So I did.

Looking back thousand times to see if they would catch me was probably overkill but I was worried that they would get me on the flats. However, after ten minutes of TT mode I looked back at a long straight away and didn’t see anyone behind me.

Finishing my first solo and second lap overall, I started my last lap. Because I was worried that maybe the peloton would speed up for the last lap, I gave basically everything I had. I started cramping.

Also, I realized I drifted off mentally so I tried to think of advice people gave me for timetrialing. Since I didn’t have a powertap, heart rate monitor, and even my speedometer didn’t work because I switched wheels without exchanging the magnet, I had no numbers to look at. Sooo boring! I tried to use trees to keep me somehow entertained but that lasted for about two minutes. Then I tried to chase the police car in front of me but that was discouraging so I was happy to see some riders from my race ahead of me.

I turned the last corner to the finish line and started sprinting, mentally celebrating my victory. But then, when I crossed the finish line, a spectator yelled: Monika, you got it you got it, just push more….okay... this is weird I thought…why is he telling me to push? I just crossed the line!...oh and why is the bell ringing? And why the heck is the police car still in front of me?

As those cues weren’t enough, I asked a spectator how many laps I am suppose to do but by that time I got the drift and just kept going. The police car didn’t stop, so that was the ultimate sign that I miscalculated my mileage of the race and I had to go another 7.4 miles….
I had so many 3s in my head that I thought it was 3 laps.

That was a huge mental switch from “Wunderbar!” to “Crap, tank is empty.” But, the fear of telling a story that I got caught by the peloton kept me moving.

Moreover, the field seemed to be all over the place because I kept passing racers.

So again, I got the final corner, raced a guy from a different field to the finish line and was done after about 20mi riding solo.

During the entire race, no one told me how much time I was ahead of the peloton.

After a little cool down and asking the ref if I was really done, I headed back to the car. On my way back, the peloton came around the corner getting ready for the sprint finish. I was so glad I didn’t have to sprint!

Looking forward to the Greenville Spring Training Series!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Ride Report: Haymarket Winter Bike League 2011

What a training series – the Haymarket Winter Bike League!!!

A lot of action was going on… at least for me – rain, 20 degrees, getting lost, chain drop, chain suck, flatted, bike bonking three times, Monika once….

Since I just found my passion for road cycling in July (I did some random road races before that but focused on Adventure Racing), I wasn’t mentally and physically exhausted yet after the season. After only three months of road racing, I was at a loss when Turkey Day was supposed to be the last race for a long time! I hate winter. What was I supposed to do during that time? After Charm city and Iron Cross, ‘cross was definitely NOT an option!

After some forever-lasting three months, January finally came around and the Haymarket Winter Bike League saved me from switching to another sport! I was so desperate to ride again that I didn’t care if it was raining (as in the first race), 20 degrees and freezing (second race), brutal (third race), or flatting 20 miles into the ride (last ride).

Summary of last HWBL:

I was so ready to ride the last HWBL. It was supposed to be sunny, in the 40s, nothing like the last three times. So when I talked to Erin the Friday before, I joked that something has to happen during the ride because the conditions for the ride just seem too perfect. Why not getting a flat…. Yep, I jinxed myself!

So Sunday came along and the weather brought quite a number of people out there! As usual, the first 20mi or so were easy-going. Just before we went onto Snickersville, my bike started bouncing and soon enough, I realized I had a flat!

Great, this has to happen right then when the “race” starts, what timing. So the SAG wagon and four guys stopped for me to change the flat. I declined the offer to jump into the SAG wagon because Snickersville is supposed to be the fun part of the ride. (I refrain from defining fun)

Having changed the flat, I rode a little bit with the four riders but then decided I might catch the big group at the rest stop at Bluemont and attempted a 10mi TT effort. I knew that no one would wait there for 10 min but just the idea kept me going. Of course, no one was at Bluemont anymore when I got there, so I told myself, I have to practice timetrialing anyway, why not doing it for another 40 miles.

But soon enough, on the way up Mt Weather, I found my carrot in the distance that made me speed up. Finally having caught up with him, Robert and I ended up riding together the rest of the ride.
Down Mt Weather and getting ready for the next climb, we surprisingly caught some people and became a group of six or so and we basically stuck together until the end.

We had some navigation issues in Marshall and for a second I felt like in an adventure race again. (I do miss it) We couldn't really follow the cue sheet anymore since we didn’t find a certain road. It didn’t matter because we certainly would hit the 80mi mark anyway. Burgers were only eight miles away!

Although I was disappointed that I got a flat in the beginning of the ride, the people, the weather, and the anticipation for the spring cheered me up!

The Winter Bike League was a perfect opportunity to get to know riders from other teams (not that I would know all 310 NCVC guys). Thank you, Jared, for putting this on!

I am psyched to race again. Maybe NC this weekend?