Monday, June 27, 2011

Got the bug – Time trialing

I was nervous for the time trial for a number of reasons.

It was the first time I did a TT that was not part of a stage race. Thus, the racers showing up at church creek were all known time-trialists. Everyone looked like they know what they are doing. I did not.

It was the first time I would be riding in this cramped time trial position (on my road bike) with a helmet I borrowed an hour before the race.

Also, it was the second time I was using aerobars, so crosswinds and navigating around potholes made me uneasy. I had so many questions….How much should I warm up for a 40k? Is there a race strategy? How can I keep myself entertained? I was nervous.

I chose to use the 5miles from the parking lot to the starting line as warm up and gave myself ample time – 40min – which I badly needed 2 miles into the transfer to the start line because, lucky me, I got a flat.

While considering what to do, another rider came towards me. He stopped and happened to have a tube but no air. He gave me the tube and kept riding. Ok, I was a step closer. Then a truck pulled up and a lady asked me if I need a ride. Oh my god, how lucky I was! She drove me to the starting line. Once there, I found someone who not only had air but actually changed the tube for me.

I still had another 15 minutes to warm up. I did a pseudo warm-up riding up and down the road and waited for my call.

I started as the third girl out of four in our category. Behind me was Kathleen Giles, time trial specialist, who won Jeff Cup and got top 20 in the TT at Nature Valley. I knew she would be hard to beat.

My race started fast and after settling into a good pace, I had my eyes open for my 30sec girl. I was able to pass her within the first seven miles. Shortly after that I was able to pass the minute girl. My goal was now not to get passed by them. No one was ahead of me anymore, so I got bored.

However, the Cat 1/2 men started passing me, sometimes with a pace that made me think I was standing still. Respect!! Soon enough, shortly before the mid-point, Kathleen Giles flew by and seemed totally relaxed. I was fighting with all the cross- and headwinds and was highly concentrated on keeping my bike straight. Otherwise, there was not much going on and finally there were only 3 miles to go.

I realized that there was a chance I could ride under one hour so I rode harder and harder until I was maxed out. I saw the 1k sign and then the 500m and finally the finish line but I knew I was cutting it really close to being able to get under an hour. I missed it by 19 seconds.

But those 19 seconds got me addicted to time-trialing. It’s just such a great workout...
You against the time, nothing else matters.

One might think the simplicity of this type of bike racing would transfer to the amount of excuses one might have for losing. Either you are faster than everyone else or not. That simple!

But shockingly, the reverse effect takes place in the realm of time-trialing. After extensive research, I am able to pinpoint my loss of every second lost to the winner…we are talking about 1:49min:

1. No full disc wheel: 29 sec
2. No shoe covers: 30 sec
3. No TT bike: 17 sec
4. Tire pressure off by at least 2 psi: 13 sec
5. Mouth open: 20 seconds

As the numbers clearly reveal, I could have won the race!
In any case, I am looking forward to another time trial!

Huge thanks to:
Anonymous guy who gave me the tube
Resident lady who gave me a ride to the starting line
Bob from NCVC for changing my flat
Josh as well as Mike, Matt, and Elliott from Cyclelife for helping to get my bike ready for the time trial

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tour of Washington County – my vendetta…now even more!

When I raced the TOWC criterium last year and got dropped after two laps and pulled after six laps, I promised myself that this would never happen again! So I was in high spirits for this very last stage of the Tour of Washington County.

The weekend started with an uneventful crash during the Twilight crit on Friday. I ended up fourth in a field sprint.

Friday night crit: This also could have been a Volleyball exercise from my college years

Saturday was more promising when I raced the 4 mile hilly prolog to second place, only nine seconds away from first. The road race a couple of hours later was definitely not easy. Two girls got away and when they got too far away from the field, two other girls and I decided we need to pull them in and we caught them with half a lap (3mi) to go. I messed up my shifting on the uphill sprint to the finish, and ended up in fourth place. Sorry, no creative excuses this time. This was a lame way to lose.

After the road race, I was in second place in the GC standing. I was very excited for the 19km TT because it would be the first time I would use aerobars. It was an out and back course and I caught my 30 second girl at the half way point. We passed each other couple of times but eventually I was able to ride away from her and it was great motivation to go faster because I didn’t want to get passed again.

I got third in the TT and since Erin, who was the GC leader after the road race on Saturday, chose not to race on Sunday, I became the GC leader with a 16 seconds lead on the 2nd place. …So far so good….

I had to avenge myself anyway from this criterium last year, so if I didn’t mess it up, I would win the Tour. How exciting!!!

The criterium: I was anxious and really did not want to lose. To make sure I really had the overall win, I worked way too much the first half of the race. I got some time bonuses from the quarter and half way sprints. In hindsight, I should have only worried about marking moves by other potential GC contenders.

The decisive move was made from the two girls that were close behind me in the GC ranking and I was unable to react. The girls got farther and farther up the road.

It was up to me to chase them down because no one would work with me in the peloton and I had no teammates. The two girls in the break had four or five teammates who wanted to make sure they stayed away. I chased and chased until I blew up. I managed to hang on to the back of the peloton after my best efforts to chase down the escapees and salvaged the final podium spot in the GC competition.

Of course, I am absolutely not happy with what happened. Still, I made it on the podium in third place but, believe me, my vendetta is not fulfilled.

Congratulations to CAWES and ABRT for a great race!
Erin, good luck for the National Championships!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Air Force Cycling Classic

This race report is dedicated to everyone who came out this weekend and made it such a great event. There is a huge difference when you travel 10 hours waiting in the hotel for your race to start or when you are driving 2 miles from your house to the race venue and feel at home because you see so many familiar faces who are cheering for you. HUGE DIFFERENCE!!!!

Clarendon Cup was a brutal race: 50 laps, fast, hot, and technical. It was probably the hardest race I have ever done.

I was so exhausted after 20 laps, I wasn’t sure if I had the energy to finish the race. Although there were times when the peloton got slower that didn’t mean any recovery for me. That was the only time I could move up so I could allow myself to lose spots during the parts of the course where I was not as strong as the other girls and still would be in the group.

There were several times that I got separated by the peloton and I had to dig deep to get back on. If I hadn’t heard my name yelling on the course, I probably wouldn’t have been able to push myself so hard! Thank you so much, guys, for cheering!!!

Crystal City was different, not as technical and easier to move around and not as fast. The two top teams, Colavita and Tibco, played the attack-counterattack game the entire time.

At some point, when one Colavita and one Tibco girl were up the road, the announcer called for a field preme the next lap. I was sitting in the back and thought it would be actually pretty cool to go for the preme.

So I had 2k to move up to the front. I didn’t actually make it up to the front until the last 400m on the straight away. I was sitting third wheel and maybe 50m to go, I jumped and no one came around. I was very surprised and I was never so happy about a pair of socks! :)

One lap to go and everyone got antsy. I was not able to get into the front and basically had to work myself up on the last straight away when it was way too late. But again, the atmosphere of the race event was great. It made it to a awesome race weekend.

Congrats to Lindsay for an amazing 7th place!!!!

Looking forward to Tour of Washington County!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Liberty Classic 2011

I don’t know where to start….about how Killington threw me off or about how unexcited I was to do Liberty Classic or how awesome it was to finish just a few meters behind the World Champion? Let me start from the beginning….

The Killington Stage race last week totally threw me off my game. I never was able to get into my competition rhythm. On top of that, I was never in so much pain going up a mountain. With 10 miles to go in the last stage, my feet became numb which developed into pain every time I put pressure on the pedals. It was the same feeling/pain you get in the winter when your freezing hands are suddenly are exposed to heat. I was out of the competition going into the final climb.

So I was not really looking forward to another painful event. I had low expectations for Liberty Classic with the only hope I could finish it pain-free. Also, Lindsay was doing a great job being excited for both of us.

125 racers started Liberty Classic. I never raced in such a big field. The biggest was maybe 70. Pro teams like HTC, Tibco, Juvaderm, Colavita, showed up as well as the current and a few previous World Champions ….it was a UCI race and had definitely the spirit of a BIG race.

The course was a 14.4mi circuit with two notorious climbs, Manayunk, aka the wall and Lemon Hill. A lot of spectators came out on a Sunday morning at 9am to watch us race in downtown Philadelphia. We had to have a minimum team of four riders, so our composite team consisted of Lindsay, Emily Thurston, Laurel Larsen, Emma Swatman and I.

Manayunk was truly a wall, super steep that spread the field apart. Lemon hill had no effects on the race and was not as exciting as I had expected.

The race started at 9:10am and we did a parade lap around the fountain and then the race started. I was told by about 20 people that there was a certain spot to watch, when the road narrows from four lanes to two. It was known for big crashes but nothing happened this time.

We went up Manayunk for the first time and the field didn’t separate up the hill but a Juvederm rider got a gap and soloed for the next 70km. In the second lap, I suddenly saw Laurel attacking the field and getting away. She was at some point out of sight and even got some QOM points at Manayunk until she got caught. That was an impressive move from her!

In the peloton, nothing exciting really happened up to the second time up the wall. We were at the steepest part of the hill (17% grade) when a girl in front of me crashed/fell over. That forced me to put my foot down. Since there was no way for me to get on my bike, I ran up the hill getting some ‘cross training in the middle of summer.

It was exhausting running up and I still had to get on my bike and get up to speed. I lost a lot of time. While I was clipping in a spectator yelled to me that this was a cycling event and not a running event.

No time to comment on this, I awkwardly hopped on my bike and gave everything to catch the group. It took me the entire downhill section plus maybe another mile and I was finally back. That cost me a lot of energy. I just hoped that this wouldn’t happen the next two times because I wasn’t sure if I would make it back to the field another time.

The next two climbs up Manayunk were relatively smooth. I was somewhere in the back but always managed to get back to the peloton. The pace picked up once we got on the last 2k, one more time around the fountain and then the last 200m.

It was a tight finish crossing the line as 42nd with the same time as the winner. Emily got 20th, Lindsay 26th and Laurel 65th. It was a fantastic race and I can’t wait for Airforce Classic!