Sunday, May 22, 2011

My end of the world moment - Wilmington Grand Prix

Learning just minutes before the race start from the race promoter that the world might end totally threw me off my game plan for this race.

Naaa (Bavarian for No)… a more realistic excuse (but still creative) is that I got a deep tissue massage on Thursday because my knee was hurting. I was warned AFTER the massage that my legs could potentially feel sluggish for the race.

However you want to call it, my legs were definitely not on the same fire as Leonardtown. The race was hard right from the start, 25 laps, 25miles, 52 starters.

It was all about holding wheels and fighting for positions. Couple of laps in, Lindsay and a Colavita girl were in a break up the road, which suited me well: I didn’t have to do anything. This went on for a while.

At some point, everyone was together; I was really exhausted and was wondering if some kind of lead out train would form for the final laps….nope…”at some point” was half way through, still 12 more laps.

I swear there was a mistake with that lap counter. Someone must have forgotten to flip that first digit to 0. Apparently I wasn’t alone with my “end of the world” moment because half of the field had been dropped by that time.

It took me another lap to realize that there were still 11 laps to go. By that time, I have drunk all my water and burned every single match.

Sometimes, I have this magical moment of strength that would suddenly arise during total fatigue, but no magical moment this time.

Apparently, the lap counter people came back from their lunch break and turned the device to the last lap and it was time to get to the right position. In my case I was already perfectly positioned for the final sprint - in the back.

Coming around the last corner, I started my full-out sprint and I might have reached 15mi/hr or thereabouts, amazingly still passed four or five fellow sufferers and ended up 2nd! Just kidding, 22nd…at least I am loyal to my “2s.”

The big question I have to deal now with is, Kelly Cup or Killington?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pics from Leonardtown

Photo courtesy of Daniel Meaurio

Lindsay and I warming up....

....Working together

Shortly after the preme...

Strong field!

Sprint finish

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Leonardtown Crit May 15, 2011

Awesome racing today at the Leonardtown crit. A lot of strong girls showed up. I was ready for pain. 20mi of racing ahead. It started fast right from the gun. The teams attacked and counterattacked and attacked and counterattacked and…. . You get the message. It was fast.

There was never a time I thought I would be pulling away from the field since covering all the attacks was hard enough. So I was surprised halfway through the race when I got a small gap behind me on that uphill turn. I sprinted a little bit and saw that the gap got bigger so I used it and went all out. When I passed the finish line, the bell rang for a preme. I looked back and concluded that the distance to the field would be big enough to get the preme.

I soloed the next lap and was pretty cooked going into the final turn. A look back and the field was definitely closing but not threatening….so I thought. I sprinted anyway or at least of all the energy I had left and got caught by an inch! That was definitely a huge bummer. Three girls passed me with high speed and I had to dig deep to catch on one of their wheels.

Six laps to go and the field was pretty strung out. However, the race got suddenly stopped. The fire department was based on the course and fire trucks had to enter the race course. My loss for the preme was still in my head while waiting for the restart.

After about five minutes, we restarted the race with five laps to go. Everything came down to the last two corners. I happened to be at the right spot when we took the final turns. I sprinted all out and passed another two riders and finished second.

I am very happy about the two Second places this weekend. Wilmington GP next weekend….I am excited!

2011 - Pollesville RR – My First Road Race Anniversary

The Poolesville RR is not just another race for me. Last year, it was a defining day for my decision to switch sports. Getting ready for the Poolesville RR made me reflect on the past year.

The 2010 Poolesville RR was the first crucial stepping stone that got me into road racing. Last year around that time, I was still heavily involved in Adventure Racing and road cycling served solely for training purposes.

That morning in May last year, I decided to do a road race. I remember standing completely nervous and lost at the starting line with the Cat 3/4 field not knowing what to expect and hoping I just wouldn’t get dropped in the first few miles.

I was wearing mountain bike shoes, reflectors on my helmet, riding an over-sized bike and probably broke another thirty Velominati rules. Good times. (I posted the race report below).

This year was a different story. Over the past year, I moved up two categories and gained some invaluable experience. Teammates, riding buddies, and even competitors during a race helped me along the way to become a better road racer. I was curious how this year in the Cat 1/2/3 field would play out.

Having basically taken off the entire week for recovery from Speed Week, I felt really good going into the race. Since the field was small (about 14), I joked with Lindsay that we won the race to the starting line (still SpeedWeek in mind)…first row.

Race started and the pace was really mellow for the first half. We all stuck together. I tried to get away on the gravel section and one of the hills but both times I got caught.

The most crucial event happened in the third lap entering the gravel section. I was third wheel turning onto the gravel. Suddenly I heard someone crashing behind me. We kept going and looked back after about 200m realizing that the crash took out half (literally!) of the field.

There was only five of us left. Two riders could be seen in the distance behind us but never managed to catch on so there remained only us five. We stuck together until the finish…sprinted and got second. Congrats to my teammate Lindsay for the victory!

2010 - Race report

NCVC represented by: Sam Rynas, Rebecca Lowe, Catherine Miller, Monika Sattler

Time: 12:40 start, 32 miles, 3 laps

Field size: 16 (7 women in Cat 3 and 9 women in Cat 4)

As this was my first road race, I had no expectations whatsoever except not to get dropped in the first half of the first lap. The race hadn't even started yet and my heart rate was threatening close to my lactate threshold and I anticipated hyperventilation in the first 10minutes of the race.

I started out somewhere in the middle to the front and was able to keep the pace with the girls. No major events happened until the dirt section when one girl wiped out. The first lap I decided to take the left lane of this section because everyone recommended that. The field spread out a little but at the end of the dirt section everyone was together again and we collectively fought the upcoming hills.

The group stuck together and I stayed glued to the rear wheel of one girl in front of me. Apparently she didn't like that because she vocalized her anger...I will spare you the details. During the second lap, I found myself suddenly in the front pulling, and the people behind me wouldn't pull through. I didn't want to waste too much energy so I slowed down to 14mi/h until someone got sick of it and passed me. Approaching the gravel section the second time, I chose to ride the right side of it. I actually liked that side better and just bunny hopped the worst parts.

After the second lap, I was pretty exhausted and I expected being dropped every second. However, the pace in the third lap didn't get faster and we always slowed down at the right time; good for me, so I stayed with the group. Getting a little too excited I got first into the dirt section and my plan to pull away was pretty much set in stone. What I didn't take into account was that I blow up after 1/3 into the gravel section and within 30 seconds I was passed by 10 people. Apparently, I slowed down so much that even the competitors behind me had to cheer me on to pick up the pace again. Despite my failed attempt to attack the group, the girls slowed down the right time and I was able to catch on. The last part was fast and it seemed like everything would come down to a sprint. Around the last corner, Catherine and Sam pulled the trigger by drastically increasing the speed. Some girls came around and I followed them ending up 5th overall and 2nd in my category and a new PR for my max heart rate.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Final Speed Week race and Jeff Cup….

On Tuesday after a disappointing crit at Roswell, I tried to convince Lindsay to drive 12+ hours to Arkansas to race the Joe Martin Stage race; now I am happy that we raced all but one Speed Week races and did Jeff Cup.

The last Speed Week race took place in Charlotte, NC. The course was basically a corner to a winding downhill; at the bottom, sharp corner (if you happen to be in the back you come to a complete stop) followed by a long uphill to the finish.

I felt good at the starting line, especially considering Lindsay’s and my starting position: second row after the call-ups.
Once the race started my legs were definitely making sure to letting me know that I have been racing for a week. Also, the course was more physically challenging with that uphill than the day before so I scratched all preme plans and raced in the pack.
Lindsay told me before the race she doesn’t feel well but her “not-feeling-well” is definitely not the same as mine because she went for two premes.

We were pretty cooked going into the final sprint and ended up 20th and 21st, but both in the $$$, happy and sad that Speed Week is over.

Right after, we drove up to Charlottesville, VA to race the 50mi Jeff Cup RR. Lindsay posted a great write-up on her blog.

For me, let’s put it this way: This was definitely not an “A” race. My legs were dead so unfortunately I couldn’t make any difference in the final sprint.

Lindsay and I learned invaluable lessons about crit racing the past week. She is a great teammate and cant wait to race with her again!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Speed Week - Spartanburg crit 2011

Wow…three days ago I got dropped during the first ten laps and my only goal was to finish a race, now it’s actually racing my bike and doing well! I went confident into today’s race realizing that the Pro/1/2 field is actually not out of my league. I just raced terribly wrong the first three races – in the back. (I know, I know... everyone says it but in the beginning, I didn’t know what to expect to race against such a strong field. Also, I was not confident to move up within the peloton) It took me three races to figure it out! Dammit! I want to repeat those races again, especially Athens!

During the race, Lindsay and I were moving comfortably through the peloton. We both had a good time. One time I saw Lindsay in the front and suddenly heard her name by the announcer. She got a prime! I was smiling in the back. I wanted to cheer out loud but then I thought that might look really weird.

When we came around the corner on a slight uphill, I saw Lindsay still up front by herself and I thought that would be a good opportunity to move up. When I realized that some girls were hesitating of chasing her I jumped and got to her by myself. I passed her yelling she should come with me. I drilled it for another lap and then Lindsay said that the field is catching up. A look back confirmed the inevitable and we both sat up. It was fun being in the front. We got both swamped by the field and positioned ourselves somewhere in the second half of the peloton.

I had a really bad position coming into the last two corners and was only able to make up a few places when sprinting to the finish line. I ended up 27th, Lindsay got 21st. We are both very happy with the race today learning a lot of lessons and becoming confident racing against the Pros.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Walterboro Race Report: I was never so happy...

... in my one year cycling career to have finished a race. Yesterday sucked so I didn’t even bother to write a report. But today was different. What an incredible feeling not to wait on the finish line to watch the final sprint but actually be somewhere behind that…Awesome!

The course was 9/10 mi long. We had to race 25 laps, 48 starters. It was a flat course with two long straights and one tight leg and one leg with three shallow corners.

I had a hard time to motivate myself for the race. Lindsay and I both were tired. We couldn’t wake up for some reason. However, we managed to get a good starting position. She was second row, I started third row. The race began and I really tried to stay somewhere mid-field and learned fast that the outside line is the line to take. I barely had to break or accelerate. In the past three races, the repeated acceleration blew me up but this time I was able to go through the corners with speed.

So the laps went on and I felt great. Lindsay came up and said to me: Good job, Monika! That was great motivation! When I heard that the next lap was mid-race prime, I was stoked that I managed to be in the race half way. I felt really good so at some point I was actually playing with the idea to go for a prime and call it a day but my inner-self shut me up very quickly and made it clear that finishing a race would be the goal of the day.

Then 5 laps to go was announced and my thought was (since I still believed I wouldnt finish the race): awesome, at least I dont have to wait too long at the side line for the race to finish….I am sharing this here just so you can get an idea how bummed out I have been in the past several days about not being able to finish a race.

In the very same lap a girl crashed right next to me and I just hoped she wouldn’t slide towards me and take me out 4 laps before my first NRC race finish! Also, I was worried about Lindsay because I knew she was behind me and I didn’t see her for the next 10 seconds. Suddenly a rumbling noise approached from the back and I knew Lindsay didn’t crash. Her bike made some worrisome noises throughout the entire race. Later on, we learned that her front derailleur was banging against her crank arm.

Finally, the final lap and I felt great. For some reason, I didn’t even come close to my energy usage from yesterday.

I was able to come around some riders in the last two corners and sprinted to the finish- 28th place! Very happy about that!

Getting dropped was no option today

Monday, May 2, 2011

Roswell Crit, May 1, 2011

Field: Pro/1/2, 50 starters, five turns, two of them 90 degree

Race start: 4:20pm, 60min

This race report will be short because there was not so much of a race for me.

After this race, my training plan has drastically changed. I realized that I miss some of the most crucial skills for crit racing:

1.) Advocacy skills….You might have to make a strong argument to suspicious pit people that although you haven’t broken your collar bone or bleeding profusely you still have hit the deck and want your deserved free lap.

2.) Acting skills…When you happen to get caught behind a crash, a well-performed fall onto the ground (but please don’t hurt yourself) could substantiate skill set number 1.

3.) Judo skills…hitting the ground is not the exception and a practiced role over the handlebar would soften the impact on skin and bones.

To summarize Roswell…Lindsay and I got caught behind a crash. We tried to get a free lap but did not get one….race was over.

Also, I learned from another racer that I shouldn’t have been pulled at Athens. Three groups were formed during the race, the peloton, mine (consisting of three riders) and the chasing group. The chasing group got caught by the peloton and merged. The refs did not see that and thought we three riders were stragglers and pulled us.

Today is rest day, let's see what Beaufort tomorrow brings...