Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Elkhorn and Beyond!

Several of the Cucina Fresca ladies are gearing up to head to Baker City, Oregon for the Elkhorn Classic Stage Race. Elkhorn is so cool because it's not only an equal distance race for the women (75 mile road race on the first day, a time trial and crit on the second day, and a 101 mile road race on the final day) thanks to the awesome support of Bev at BELLA Main Street Market and others in Baker City, it is also an equal payout event for women. This is so rare for female cyclists, that we should continue to support races that support women. Bev was also kind enough to get host housing for our entire team so that we can actually afford to do this!

In all, we have 6 women going down although all women are raced together, we are scored separately. Eileen will be our sole Cat 4. The Lauren, Amber, Tara trifecta of awesomeness will be representing in the 3s. I will be racing in the 1/2s with a fantastic Canadian guest rider Kristine who can climb my legs off.

After we conquer the 'Horn, I'm heading to Portland for a few days to visit one of my best friends, Katie who is the proud mom of my best dog friend (and Fry's girlfriend) Penelope.

After hanging for a few days with Katie I'm heading to Elite Nationals in Bend Oregon where I will attempt to not get pulled in the crit and not get dropped in the road race.

All in all, no matter how the results shake out, this promises to be a very fun 10 days!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Goals for 2010

- Race elite Nationals
- Race my first NRC (Cascade Classic)
- Upgrade to Cat 1 on the road

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tour of Walla Walla (finally)

I don't know why I've been putting off writing this race report but I'm finally doing it.

ToWW was my first 3 day stage race and was a big early season target or "A" race for me. Since I still have no clue what I'm doing training-wise, I did a half-assed taper for a few days leading up to the race.

Vicki and I flew into Walla Walla on Thursday afternoon and drove the Kellogg Hollow course. Then Vicki and Paul dropped me off at my house and an hour later we met back up and did a lap of the TT course. I liked the course and was feeling good. There was a small hill in it that was shallow enough to stay in the big ring but steep enough that I definitely planned on riding it out of the aero bars.

Thursday night, I ate a bunch of food, drank a beer, and got a massage from one of the Hubbards (I was lucky enough to be staying in a house with three massage therapists).


Friday was a hard day to plan out. Our first road race, Kellogg Hollow, was rumored to be a really difficult race, likely made harder by the fact that it was only 37 miles long. Also, we didn't start until after 4:00 PM so it was really difficult to plan out nutrition.

I drove out to the start with some teammates and Vicki, Kimberly, and I rolled on the road to warm up. I was feeling more intimidated than I have ever felt at the start of a race. There were over 50 pro/1/2 women registered including several girls that I didn't know from Canada, Idaho, and Oregon.

The pace was fast but not brutal. There were a few attacks but nothing that wasn't reeled in quickly. At the QOM line, I didn't go for the prize ($15 ... not even worth it) but glued myself to the wheels of the girls who were going for it. The hills were hard but steady and it wasn't as windy as it was rumored to have been last year. I just stayed close to the front and tried to conserve energy.

Going into the finish, most of the pack was still together and was feeling really good! I decided I was going to go for it in the sprint. I positioned myself on Cheryl Thonney's wheel since I know she's a really strong sprinter and prepared for the sprint. Unfortunately, Cheryl slipped through a gap that closed before I could get through and went on to win the sprint and get those precious bonus seconds. I wasn't able to do much and rolled in 16th but with the same time as the pack.


Time Trial

There were a lot of STRONG time trialists at this race so my goal was to make it in with the top 10 and not lose too much time to anyone. With girls like Suz Weldon, Tricia Bailey, Robin Secrist, Wheeler, and several others, this was going to be a difficult task.

I warmed up for about 45 minutes and was careful about getting all of my nutrition. When it was finally time to start I was feeling relaxed and ready.

It's hard to write an accurate report of a 15k time trial since I basically have tunnel-vision the whole time and verge on having to puke. From the gun I went hard and was able to catch my 30 second girl within a mile or two. Up the hill I saw 2 girls grinding away in their aero bars at a slow cadence. I sat up and shifted into an easier gear and was able to pass two more girls up the hill.

Over the top of the hill I started to run out of steam a little bit. It's times like that I wish I had a power meter so I could focus on keeping my power up on the downhills.

After the race I waited for Kimberly and Vicki and the three of us spun down together. I didn't bother going to check my results, I figured I would just see them at the crit that evening.


I got to the crit early to watch the Cat 4 women and saw that I had gotten 3rd place in the TT behind only Tricia and Wheeler! This moved me into 4th in the GC and only about 20 seconds out of 1st!

The crit is a somewhat sketchy 8 corner on not super great roads. My goal was to stay safe, sit in, and get the same time as everyone else. The time bonuses for the finish were not much so I wasn't planning on going for anything unless the opportunity really presented itself.

(thanks for the arty farty pic matt)

So the course was sketchy but the riders were even sketchier. There were a bunch of girls (not anyone from WA) that were all over the place and had no clue how to properly corner. It was horrifying. My line got cut around probably a dozen corners and I was trying to stay close to the front just to avoid the sketchiness.

At one point, a drunk woman ran across the road RIGHT.IN.FRONT.OF.US nearly causing a 50 rider pileup.

Then, with two laps to go, my pal and the GC leader Wheeler went into a corner too hot and hit a cone going down hard. It was the scariest crash I've ever seen. Had I not heard her moaning, I probably would have thought she had broken her neck. Thankfully, she got away with some road rash, a few stitches, a concussion, and a broken collarbone and is already back on her bike.

I was so shaken up after the crash that I just hung on and didn't even bother sprinting at the finish. I rolled in 21st and held onto my GC spot.


Sunday was the final race and likely my shot to move up in the GC or at least hold position. Although I was technically in 4th going into the race, because Wheeler was out, I was actually sitting in 3rd behind Cheryl and Tricia. Only 12 seconds separated me from 1st but 4th and 5th were only a few seconds behind me.

Sunday's race was a 75 mile road race through rolling hills finishing up a significant 3km climb.

The first lap was pretty uneventful. At one point one girl attacked but we just kind of let her hang out there until we caught her. Vicki was awesome and made sure that I was protected the whole lap. She moved to the front at probably sat out there for half of the nearly 40 mile loop.

Going into the second lap we climb the finishing hill. I decided to drill it up the hill since I was feeling good and there was a shot for a break to get away. I was the 3rd girl over the hill and actually managed to get myself a bonus second for the QOM.

The pack had totally shattered over the climb and 9 of us came back together and started working to stay away from the rest of the pack. All of the top GC girls were in the break and we were eventually chased down after about 15 miles. Once we were caught no one would do any work ... like at all. We actually were almost caught by the Cat 4 women. It was stupid but at the same time I wasn't about to do any work and risk losing my GC spot.

Finally, with about 5k to go a girl attacked and we rode a hard tempo to catch her. We got her at the 3k sign at the bottom of the finishing climb.

That 3k was the hardest I have ever worked. Two girls, one of whom was not far behind me in the GC got off the front, and 5 or 6 more of us were chasing her. I was climbing shoulder to shoulder with Robin Secrist who was only 5 seconds behind me in the GC and Tricia Bailey who was only a few seconds ahead of me. My goal was to not let go of Robin's wheel. I was climbing hard and doing math at the same time. At this point, even if she got 3rd she would only get 4 bonus seconds but I was 5 seconds ahead of her in the GC plus my one bonus second meant that as long as we stayed together, I would still beat her by at least two seconds.

At 200m Tricia attacked and Robin matched accelleration. They almost got away from me but I was somehow able to keep up with them. I rolled in 6th place but got the same time as Robin and Tricia.

The girl who won the road race ended up moving ahead of me in the GC but at the same time, I moved ahead of Cheryl so I held on to 3rd place in a very close race!

Just moments after I finished I watched Lauren Roschen, one of our Cat 4 women, win her road race after riding through 1/2 of the pro/1/2 field and catapulting herself from 12th to 2nd in the GC. Kara Nielsen, another Cucina Fresca Cat 4 woman ended up 2nd in the road race and won the Cat 4 GC! Tara O'Brien, after a bad crash in the crit, finished 4th!

Walla Walla had it's bad, hard, and scary moments but all in all was one of the best weekends of racing I've ever done!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Learning how to really race

This was such a great weekend of racing with my teammates. It was my first double road race weekend of 2010 and my first double road race as a Cat 2.

Saturday was the Tour de Dung road race and Sunday was Mason lake #2, 48 and 60 miles respectively.

Saturday I decided to just put myself out there and try attacks and crazy bridges. The pace was fast from the gun (22 mph neutral rollout ftw). At the end of the first of four laps I bridged up to a break with two of the stronger ladies in the race. I took one other girl with me. We stayed away for a few minutes and when the pack caught us, they had shelled a lot of girls. After that, 2 girls went off the front and stayed away for the rest of the race.

I was feeling really good, going into the last few miles when I pulled a totally rookie mistake. I totally missed the 1km sign (despite passing it three other times on previous laps) and when we hit 200m I wasn't expecting it and was totally boxed in. It would have been unsafe for me to try and move anywhere so I just pedaled it in for 15th out of 37 or so. Even though it was one of my worst finishes, I was totally happy with my race since I feel like I raced safe and smart.

Sunday was even better. We raced with the fast old guys and the pace was again really fast from the gun (a dude attacked the second we weren't neutral). Vicki and I were so good. We covered every break and made sure to have at least one of us close to the front, ready to jump.

Between the two of us, we managed to get into probably 6 or 7 breaks that were chased down and then finally on the last lap I got into the perfect break. I saw one strong woman go followed by another. I chased on and then one more strong woman followed me. It was perfect. There was a well-represented break of men up the road so the men weren't going to chase us this time. Immediately we started rotating and were able to pull away from the pack. I was the least experienced rider and probably weakest sprinter in the group but I was still feeling really strong despite all the chasing I had done in the previous 50 miles.

When we got to 1k, the strongest sprinter was sitting in front and none of us would pull through around her. At around 300m one woman went followed by another. I hopped on 3rd wheel and was able to get around the first woman who went but couldn't quite outsprint the other lady and I rolled in 2nd by about a bike length.

Finishing well was great but feeling like I am finally learning to be more aggressive, work with a team, and put myself out there is the best feeling ever.

In other news, our Cat 4 Cucina Fresca women are doing so well. I even got an email from another Cat 4 woman complimenting them on how safe, strong, and friendly they are and how well they work together as a team. I couldn't be happier.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A story about how I was wrong: Sublime Sublimity Circuit Race

This last weekend I did my first road race of the year. The Sublime Sublimity Circuit Race takes place in Sublimity, OR and is run on a 13 mile circuit. The Pro 1/2/3 women were run together in the afternoon. We did 3 laps on the course which, with the off course finish worked out to a little over 40 miles.

I had checked out the course profile (see entry below) and looked at pictures from last year's race. All in all, it seemed like a good course for me, two big climbs but only about 500-600 vertical feet over 3-4 miles for each climb so I figured they wouldn't be that tough.

I was totally wrong.

First of all, the roads weren't necessarily "bad" but they also weren't good. There weren't potholes or other real hazards, but almost the entire circuit was run on the coarsest chip seal I've ever seen (made Mason Lake look like smooth asphalt).

Second, when we weren't climbing, we were fighting a stiff headwind or a brutal crosswind. The one really screaming descent was fun but I was in a break every time we hit it so we were still working our a**es off to keep chasers at bay.

Third, there was something about the air or the allergens down in Sublimity that actually made my lungs hurt more than my legs. I was wheezing and coughing after every hard effort even though my legs still felt pretty okay.

On to the actual report.

We start off neutral from the staging area and onto the course. Up the first big climb, Lucy and I are sitting in the front and Lucy goes "we're still neutral, right?" and someone else answered that we weren't. Whoops. A girl attacks.

I chased from the front. Uphill. Into the wind. Now we were really racing. We cruised through the first set of rollers and then hit the big climb (Basil Hill or Basil Road?). The hill was on the same cruddy chip seal and I would liken it to some of the middle steep sections of Zoo Hill. One of the Veloforma girls attacked over the top of the hill and we started to string out chasing her. I'd already done my fair share of chasing in the first few miles of the race and let a couple of other girls pull us back up to her and then I went with the counterattack on the descent.

After the descent we hit another set of rollers and then a straightaway into a brutal headwind.

We'd already shelled probably 1/3 of the girls when we hit Basil the second time. I went for it up the hill, staying shoulder to shoulder with a Veloforma girl and two other ladies who I'd pegged as the strongest climbers in the race. Finally, we were able to break into a group of four.

Two more girls caught us on the descent but were gone once we hit the rollers again.

The rest of the race is kind of a blur of pain. Our group of four managed to stay together and I was pretty sure I could bring it in for third. There was one girl who was riding really strong and one who we kept almost dropping. The Veloforma lady (Rebecka Hartkop) seemed to be in about the same place as me so I was pretty sure she and I could round out the podium.

About 3 miles from the finish, up the last "big" climb, the lady who had been riding really strong (Mackenzie Madison, a pro triathlete) started to pull away from us. Rebecka tried to chase as did I, but we couldn't get her.

I kept chasing, putting a little into her on the hills but losing her on the descents. I did, however, manage to drop Rebecka and the other lady, Heather Hill, who had been in our group of 4. At 1km to go, we went off the circuit towards the finish. The final 1k was like a cruel joke. It was a series of rollers into a headwind with an 18% kicker from 200m to the finish line. I think I almost fell over in those last 200 meters.

All in all, I was very pleased with my 2nd place finish. I think If I'd been paying a little more attention, I may have been able to stay on Mackenzie's wheel up that last climb but who's to say whether I could have taken her at the line.

Also, I managed to get quoted in Oregon Cycling Action which was pretty cool.

See the bottom of the article

I love how I told him that I wanted to cry. Whoops. But seriously. I wanted to cry.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

HOLY SHIT!!! It's almost road season!!!

Holy shit!!! I thought I would be so burned after cross season that I wouldn't want to race my bike for about a million years but I'm totally chomping at the bit to start racing on the road.

I've been semi-injured for the last month or so and totally unable to run so instead I've been putting a ton of hours on the bike. As of this weekend, I have about 1500 miles on the year and one slowly healing saddle sore.

I don't claim to know much about how to properly train or anything like that but I have been having a blast. I've been training with people who are oodles stronger than me and I've finally found some amazing female training partners in my teammates Vicki and Kimberly (as well as several of the other awesome Cucina Fresca women). I'm feeling strong and ready to see if I can keep up with the big girls in the pro/1/2 field.

This Saturday will be my first race of the season, the Sublime Sublimity circuit race in Sublimity Oregon. The course looks like it's basically two giant hills over a 15ish mile circuit, so it should be perfect for me.

My two goals are to race smart, and try one crazy attack in the last lap.

After this, I'm just going to see what the season gives me. I'm not doing any races when the weather is dangerously bad a la Independence Valley last year (31 degrees and snowing) and I am setting the goal of finishing my first NRC stage race - Cascade Classic in Bend, OR.

I'll try to be a better blogger for the rest of the season, but I've promised and failed at that before so only time will tell.

Happy riding!