Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Welcome to Cat 2*

* it wasn't a bad crash and no one was at fault, although i do feel a little like the fates hazed me into the 2's :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Methow Valley Stage Race

This weekend was the Methow Valley Stage race. It was probably my last chance to get a large number of points towards my Cat 2 upgrade so I really was motivated to do well.

The race was 3 stages in 2 days. A time trial and a hill climb (in lieu of a crit ... awesome) on day 1 and a road race on day 2.

Time Trial

The time trial was hard and demoralizing. It was almost nothing but hills which generally I like but I just felt SLOW on this one. Luckily, I had a bunch of carrots in front of me and I just concentrated on picking girls off the whole race. I think I passed 3 or 4 girls. I finished 2nd behind Robin Secrist. I'm proud to say that I'm the only woman who finished within a minute of her.

Hill Climb

The hill climb was so hard but so fun. About 1/2 mile after we started climbing, Robin and Sally Fraser started pulling away and I did my best to stay with them. I never quite got their wheels but I kept them in my sights until Robin dropped Sally. I caught Sally on a flat section and realized that I too had broken from the pack. Sally and I worked together taking long pulls to the top. We weren't able to put any time into Robin but we kept her in our sights almost the whole climb, finishing about a minute behind her. At 200 meters I gave it what I had left and got 2nd place over Sally by about half a wheel.

Road Race

The road race was not exactly my kind of course, more rolling than hilly but I was excited nonetheless. I went into it 2nd in the GC 4 points behind Robin and 7 ahead of Sally and another girl tied for 3rd. We all agreed to take the first lap as a warmup which was really nice.

So here's what I'm really proud of ...

Going into the second lap, right before we were going to "really" start racing, I flatted in the rear. The wheel car stopped for me and quickly gave me a new wheel. I was really upset and said to the mechanic, "I'm not going to catch them, am I?" The mechanic was so nice and just told me "go! I think you can get them!" The pack was probably a minute up the road from me. I had flatted at the bottom of the only decent climb, right in town. I hammered up the hill and just as I crested, the wheel guys pulled up next to me and offered me a pull. I paced the car for a few miles which was scary and fun at the same time. Finally, we got the pack in our sights. I kept hammering behind the wheel car until I was about 100 feet behind a truck that was stuck behind the follow vehicle. The guy in the wheel car waved me through and I jumped and caught the pickup truck. I sat behind him for a second before passing him and catching the follow car. the driver of the follow car waved me through and I jumped again, catching Tamara who was hanging off the back of the pack. Tamara and I worked together and finally, about 4 or 5 miles after flatting, I caught the pack again.

The rest of laps 2 and 3 I just sat in. I was really hurting after chasing back on. Liz from Starbucks was awesome and helped me through the rest of the race so I would have a shot at holding on to my GC place. at 1k she gave me what lead out she could and I gave what little I had left in my legs. 3 girls went off the front and I managed to barely out-wheel a girl from Valley for 4th in the RR, holding onto my 2nd in the GC.

All in all a really fun weekend and as an added bonus, I think I finally earned that Cat 2 upgrade ... updates will be forthcoming.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Ravensdale Cumberland Road Race (aka another win)

I raced the Ravensdale race yesterday. I don't know why, but I'd totally psyched myself up for this race. I'm really familiar with the course since the Black Diamond Triathlon is run on a large portion of it so I knew what to expect around almost every corner. Also, I'm only 7 points away from my Cat 2 upgrade and man ... I just really want to join Travis and Chris and all the other Cat 2's living the luxurious life of a 1/2 tomato.

The 3's were supposed to be raced alone but there wasn't enough of a turnout so they ended up combining us with the 1/2 women. At first I was kind of bummed but then I got excited since racing with the 1/2 women tends to be more fun and can give me faster wheels to sit on if there's a break.

The pace started out easy but that didn't really last. little by little attacks and counter attacks started happening. I chased maybe half of them and sat in for the ones that I knew wouldn't stick. Around 10 or 15 miles in Cheryl from Blue Rooster went off the front alone and just kind of hung out there. For me it was kind of NBD since she's a Cat 2 so I didn't really have anything motivating me to chase her. I guess no one else was feeling motivated to chase her either because amazingly, she stayed away the whole race. I later found out that it had something to do with the Washington Cup and the Wines women not wanting Michele Conrad to win and make up points on Tricia ... I don't know ... it doesn't really matter to me as a 3.

Once it was clear that we weren't catching Cheryl (by the beginning of lap 2 she had 1:30 on us and at 40 miles it was over 2 minutes) people started attacking again. When it was a faster woman attacking I chased since I didn't want anyone else to get away, when it was someone who I knew couldn't stay away, I just sat in and let everyone else chase.

We really started pushing the pace up that hill after the hard left (corner 2?) and I was definitely working to stay in. Gina from Wines was just hammering up the hills and I just tried to stay close to the front so I wouldn't have to waste any extra energy chasing back on.

When we made the left to the finish Gina attacked and took me and one other Cat 3 with her. I stayed in the saddle and on a wheel to save myself for the final sprint. 200m came faster than I was expecting and I put my head down and started hammering. I realized as I was sprinting that I was spinning out ... still in my small ring ... crap. I was leading but there was another 3 right on my wheel ... crap. I took a risk and shifted into my big ring at full tilt. Luckily no jammed chain or shifting issues. I pushed it across the line, winning the field sprint by what I was told was a decent margin and getting the overall win for the 3's.

Sadly, there were less than 11 women in the 3's so I only got 3 upgrade points. If there had been a few more women I would have gotten the 7 points I need for my Cat 2 upgrade. Oh well ... c'est la vie. I may put my request in anyway and see what Martha says :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Enumclaw Stage Race: an exercise in pain

Last weekend was my first stage race since my failed attempt at the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic as a Cat 4 in 1999 (I dropped on day 2). I raced the Enumclaw Stage Race in beautiful Enumclaw, WA (horse f*$%er country).


Saturday was a 10k (actually 6.5 miles) TT in the late morning and a 40 minute crit in the evening.

Lucy and I rolled up to packet pickup to find out that our start times had been pushed up about 20 minutes so we had to scramble to get dressed, pinned, and out to the TT start. Once we got out there I was unable to get air into my front tire. Travis and I both tried to get it to work to no avail and neither of us wanted to pull the valve extender off and screw with it anymore. Luckily my awesome teammate Tim came to my rescue and loaned me his HED Stinger for the race. I warmed up for approximately 3 minutes before heading over to the start tent.

I had never done a TT this short so I just pushed it until my lungs burned the whole time (this was not hard considering the heat and the pollen count).

The course was flat to rolling with one little kicker at around mile 4. I crossed the line in 15:08, comfortably over my goal pace of 25 mph although slightly slower than my reach goal of a sub-15:00 TT. This was good enough to win the Cat 3 TT by over 30 seconds!

After the TT, we had about 7 hours until the start of the crit. I hid out in a room in the hotel and studied while Lucy watched the crits.

It was still hot by the time the 1/2/3 crit started and I wasn't feeling super confident. Unfortunately, I got a really bad start position in the back of the pack and had to fight my way back on as girls were getting shelled.

The crit was like a 40 minute drag race. It made me realize how much I need to work on my accelerations and cornering. I think I just get a little timid in these races and won't fight for a place closer to the front.

I finished a disappointing 12th out of 25 or so Cat 3 women moving me from 1st to 5th in the GC.


Sunday was the road race. the 1/2/3 women didn't go until the afternoon which meant two things (1) that I got to sleep in and (2) that it was HOT.

We did 4 laps on a 14+ mile course for a total of about 58 or 59 miles. about half way through each loop we climbed mud mountain, a decently brutal 3k climb with two or three 10%+ kicks and slogs.

Lap 1 we shelled a few women and about 4 women got away from the pack. We chased them down, catching them a few miles into lap 2. Same thing happened the second time up the climb.

Lap 3 I was able to stay with the lead pack. The 4th time up the climb, a few women just totally took off and I ended up in a chase pack of 5. We never did catch the lead pack but thankfully there were no other Cat 3 women in that lead pack so I was able to sprint across the line for a 3rd place finish, moving me into 4th in the GC and winning me a total of about $150.

All in all I'm pleased with my performance. I wish I could pull it together in the crits but I'm still pretty new to this so I have a lot of time to learn and improve.