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!