03/27-30/03 - Race Reports
Praying for a Safe Crit
You guys have no idea how much your little messages mean! It is early Saturday morning and this is the first time that I have been able to check my messages since the start of the race. I was so tempted to pack my bags last night and head back to Monterey. After all crits are not really what I consider fun.
I feel like I am finally starting to get my legs back after being sick for
two months...what a way to ride yourself back into shape... nothing like a little competition! Hope you all get some good miles in this weekend!
Home for a Minute
HI VB's - want to say thx so much for the email support - and the VB beams that I know were sent our way. While it was a small team - people were asking who the VB's were :-)
Ginger did amazing - esp. for being out sick with that nasty bug that was going around for 2 months - she hung in there, raced hard and was an awesome source of encouragement and support.
Lynn - well, her results speak for herself - she is great at everything - hill climbing and crits.
Just a little update on Solano and the last two stages. I learned a very valuable lesson in the crit...positioning is everything! Of course I knew this going in, but I was in for a bit of a shock with the speed from the get go. I was gapped off by two girls in front of me and just not strong enough to get around. There was a large group of us who worked together before they finally pulled us. I was so happy to just get off the course and watch the action from the sidelines!
It was not until 9pm that night when I saw the results and realized I was not listed. Of course the roller coaster of emotions I had been on for the last couple of days did not help, but I was at a complete loss as to what to do. Did this mean I couldn't race on Sunday? It was too late to call anyone...so I stressed through the night about it. Poor Felicia had to put up with me that evening and the next morning while we were warming up! I was really having to fight to keep my head/heart into it! Got to sign-in and sure enough, my name was not on the list...turns out they missed my number when I came across the line...so they prorated me into the first group they pulled from the crit. But at least I got to race!
The circuit race was a blast and frustrating all at the same time. I knew that I needed to be up front...and I was for the first couple of laps and feeling fine....but then I let my guard up just a bit...got sucked back on a decent and then gapped off again! But there was a group of us who worked together for rest of the race.
If any of you ever have the chance to race/"board" with Felicia during a race, you are in for a fun weekend! Thanks Felicia, I will be thinking about you at Redlands!
I felt so guilty this whole race, with two teammates in the top 10, and I wasn't able to help them...but I think my legs are slowly starting to come back and maybe with a couple more races under my belt....let's hope!
03/23/03 - CCCX MTB #2
by Shelly Whisenhant
Pro/Expert Women's Race:
There was a really good turnout this week, didn't count but at least 10 women on the start line. Our teammate Susy Pryde just got here from NZ last week, and came out to race, recovering from a 5-hour ride the previous day and the flu last week. So did Karen Brems (Kurreck), Alto Velo Webcor. Two gals came a long way to race yesterday - Jessica Runyon, our Velo Bella Elite Expert racer who is a full-time student at Chico State, and Ann-Marie, a girl Sabine and I met in Tahoe last year and is racing her first year pro for Sobe Headshok. They came all the way here to race the Happy Trails, if you can believe that! Also on the start line was expert Velo Bella Ann Cigan, along with the girl who always races in the skirt and a quite a few others I didn't know by name.
It was a 4 lap race, but this week the laps were longer, so it really was a 2+ hour race this time. The course was in great shape with the morning rain to pack down the sand and otherwise make the trails nice and tacky.
My goal was to keep myself in control at the start and for the first lap, and go hard off the front like I always do. I am notorious for wicked fast starts, which sometimes work in blowing your opponents up if they try to follow, but it always ends up that I struggle for at least the 2nd half of the race to keep a decent pace up. While I usually never entirely blow up with my off-the-front starts, feeling strong for the entire race is a much better goal to attain, and this year, my main training/racing goal is to do this. For me, this means keeping my HR below 175 and operating between 165-170, in training I have learned that I can hold this pace for a couple hours.
So at the start Susy went out hard and Ann, the expert VB, stayed on her wheel. Go Ann! I went out not so hard and was with Karen and another girl for a little while, then me and the other girl got fed up with the roadie's poor downhill skills and we passed her on the last part of the start-to-finish line section. Then I subsequently dropped the other girl and within half a lap closed in on Susy and Ann. At this point Ann was pretty much toast from holding onto Susy's early charge, and on a short climb fell off. I hinted to her that it was a long race, and later she told me that made her back off some, to avoid blowing up at this early stage of the race!!
So now it was me and Susy. Shortly thereafter, as we weren't
going too hard really, Karen and Ann-Marie came up behind us. Then Karen kind of attacked and Susy and I just hung with her, and Ann Marie fell off. About a mile from the end of the lap we climbed to the top of a "long" (by happy trails standard), fun downhill. I knew Karen would be slow, so I went hard around both her and Susy right at the top and took off. I got a pretty good gap on them right away, but Karen dragged Susy and worked to almost catch me by the end of the lap. Then crossing the finish/end of lap line, I look over to see where they were, and there is no more Karen, just Susy. I backed off a little for her to catch onto me, and she said Karen had slipped on one of the corners and then her brake started rubbing so bad she had to stop (my guess is she bent her front wheel). After the race we found out she had dropped out right then. So Susy and I worked together at the front from then on in the race!!
We both just kept the pace comfortable, taking turns in front. Then at one point about mid lap 2, we saw Ann-Marie was closing back in on us a little, so at the start of lap 3, Susy said we should try to put some time on her. So we both worked harder than we had been (for me, it was getting pretty hard now, but I was still staying at the high end of my HR zone. I'm sure it was still comfortable for her!) the whole lap, punching it in the flats and on the short climbs. It worked, because on lap 4 we could not see her back there anymore on the wide open sections. We were in the grove so we kept the gas on pretty good the rest of the race, and then crossed the line together. Her hanging with me kept me motivated to keep my pace up, but because I managed my start much better this race, I was ABLE to keep my pace up and feel strong throughout the race! It really works.
Other results of our race:
Ann held on and ended up 4th overall, and 1st Expert, coming in behind Ann-Marie, and poor Jessica blew her rear shock and had to pull out.
These races have been great "tune ups" for Sea Otter, with the same fast type of course and terrain that we will experience there.
03/15/03 - Madera Stage Race
by Jessie Hickel
First race after Cycle-X Nationals. I was obsessed with packing all the rain gear I owned. Walking out of the hotel, it hit me like a ton of bricks-I forgot my SHOES ( I have a check off list). I went a whole week without drinking to get ready for this race. I'll never do that again and I don't mean forget my shoes. Cynthia Snyder from Body Concept was my hero. She had an extra pair of size 9 speedplay shoes just waiting for me.
The crit was uneventful; I got 4th. At the time trial I went like the wind, oh I was so strong I came in under 30 minutes, which I was happy with until I saw that time was dead last. The race of truth. Jen, you better get me out on the Swanton TT.
The road race was a blast. I felt stronger every lap and came in 3rd. Finished in 5th place overall and the proud owner of Madera Stage Race T-shirt which I will give away with pride.
I had a great time and I'm jazzed to start the race season. 6 months till cycle-cross.
03/15/03 - Madera Stage Race by Heather Kirkby
Well, it must be early in the season because we are all so keen to write reports... I am going to pipe in too with more Madera news since this was my first crit, my first time trial (outside of a triathlon) and my first road race so here are...
MY TOP 10 THOUGHTS, REFLECTIONS AND QUESTIONS
(1) GOOD COMPANY IS KEY: Having cool, fun, kind teammates rocks. Jessie, Marilynn, Tracie (and yes, her TT outfit was super fast and sexy-looking – see point #10 below), Julie (my race mentor goddess), and Jen -- thanks for being there! And thanks Felicia for letting me crash at your apt (and for all those baked goods in the freezer - I, er, took a few more than planned after you left).
(2) ARE PEE STOPS NORMAL? Hands down, the most bizarre moment was when the Cat 4 women's pack ground to an almost complete halt halfway through the 51 mile road race...with girls at the front shouting "neutralize! neutralize!". I started having flashbacks to playing games like 'Capture the Flag' in the meadows and forests of Ontario, Canada. And then, to my utter disbelief, I heard girls saying "pee break." So, I've never done a RR before, but I've done a few other sporting events that lasted longer than a 51 mile RR and I've never heard of a mid-race potty break!!! I just kept spinning along and sure enough most of the other girls quickly decided this whole pee-stop was wacky and off we went. I learned afterwards that a bunch of riders got dropped while their chammy's were dropped... I even heard 2 riders protesting to the officials at the finish line that the pack "attacked" when a pee was going on. I nearly peed my pants listening to them.
(3) THE FINGER IS NOT FRIENDLY: If you have tattoos all over your arms and legs and you give the finger to the entire pack after making an illegal move (crossing the centerline & getting reprimanded - with 60 mph traffic in the opposite direction I might add!) then no matter what jersey you wear it will be hard to ever miss you as the girl-that-flipped-us-the-bird.
(4) FRICTION HAPPENS: Not having ever raced before I have spent little time on my hoods or drops (except descending of course) so it was quite an experience to do 3 races where I spent 100% of the time on my hoods & drops. There was smushing in places never smushed so much before and I have identified several new strategic zones for chammy cream application (TMI, I know, but arghhhhhhh!!!! do I need better bike fit??? or better shorts? I think I definitely need more chammy cream).
(5) CRASHES HAPPEN: Within about 10 minutes of my first bicycle race EVER there was a crash...(Cat 4 crit)...about 3 riders went down, no Bellas. Nobody hurt. Drama though.
(6) ROAD QUALITY VARIES: There was a heinously nasty section of road that lasted waaaay too long (where our bodies and bikes were rattled to bits) with deluxe sized pot-holes and a railway crossing in the crit - do I need to train on shittier roads?!
(7) ARE SPRINTING NOISES NORMAL? I grunt when I sprint. Who knew, I never really sprinted efore. In a flash of teamwork Jen let me grab her wheel going into the end of the crit and then I just hammered to the finish line. I also grunt in technical sections when mtn-biking - some of my buddies have used this as a barometer of trail difficulty ahead. It doesn't always work though, sometimes I grunt at the wrong times sending out false alarms (Sabine experienced this at Skeggs).
(8) WHERE IS THE FOOD? The whole racing thing was SUPER fun and exciting but I sure missed those all-you-can-eat food frenzies you find at some sporting events.
(9) EVERYBODY LIKES A STEADY WHEEL: Figuring out the whole pace-line-thing, pack-thing, attack-thing, grabbing-a-wheel-thing, holding-the-line-thing etc. is obviously so important and a HUGE BELLA THANKS to Julie for imparting so much racing wisdom to me in so little time and keeping me from doing the squirrel-thing and the overlapping-wheel-thing (most of the time). Next month I'll be getting "schooled" by the Wise Wenzel folks : ) and will be mastering the sumo-thing!
(10) LOOKS COUNT: Bella Jersies rock, I can't wait to have my own!
03/02/03 - Iron Angels MTB Race
by Julie Starling
Field: 10 Beginner Women
2 laps about 12 miles
Scott and I got to the race with just enough time to get in one lap. While standing around at the start, I lamented to Scott how I wished I had a teammate here. As supportive as he is, having a teammate feels like home. A few minutes later, I heard my name from the sidelines... lo and behold, it was Suzy!!! Yeah! (BTW Suzy: You had a tough field so congrats to you for sticking with it!)
From the pre-ride, I knew that this course was about a good start and a good position into the single track--a single tracker’s dream race! Although I had a goal to finish in under an hour, my little time-trialing strategy was NOT going to work this time. I had a good start. I guess being a roadie really helped me put the hammer down. The Cannondale girl and I competed for the single track opening… somewhere in the middle of the climb toward the single track she passed me and then right before the single track, 2 others passed me! YIKES. What happened? NO power. I have a good spin, but the power of my slow twitch muscles seemed non-existent on the short steep climb. A LOT of this race is about using your middle ring and the power of your slow twitch muscles to get over those little steep climbs w/o switching gears. I think my slow twitch muscles took a leave of absence and forgot to tell me!
As I got onto the single track I was in 4th. Ok, I thought, if they were strong enough to pass me, they must be pretty fast riders, but to my surprise, the pace was too slow! I hung out in 4th on 3rd’s wheel until I found a place to pass, then I powered by her into 3rd behind 2nd. The girl in 2nd was bit faster, but her climbing was way too slow for me, so again, looked for an optimum place and passed her. I spun my way up to Cannondale in 1st who was nervously looking back at who was gaining on her. This happened all within the first 1/3 of lap 1. After this, it was me, battling to find a place to pass Cannondale, but she was good. She was fast. She’d pass some juniors, I’d pass some juniors. She’d get ahead on the descent; I’d catch her on the flats and climbs. She had an entirely different climbing technique. She powered the climbs... I spun them. Each climb I was on her wheel and she’d get out of her saddle and of course slip back about and inch or 2, causing me to loose a smooth spin. In the end, her technique won out. Right before the end of the 1st lap, I got caught behind some juniors and she powered up the hill. At one point, to try to catch her, I decided NOT to use my brakes on a descent with a gentle turn. But I didn’t lean my bike enough and I actually rode right off the single track into the grass! Then I over corrected and missed the track to the other side of the grass! What a comedy show. I never fell but I had to let the bike slow w/o braking so I can steer back on the track. I imagine I was only down by 40 seconds at the end of the first lap.
At the end of the first lap, I had rib cage cramps and was feeling queasy. Still have another lap! I saw Jed at the start/finish. He tried to feed me but I was just so tired, I couldn’t take the bottle. Thanks anyway Jed for the awesome support! Then I heard him say, “Jules go, you’re only a little behind, hammer this pavement!” At this point, I was in full recovery mode, with little left for hammering. I decided to only take it up a tiny notch.
Then at the beginning of the single track again, I heard a spectator say, “First woman through! Yay!” I had to correct him. ”Second,” I coughed out, politely, to him. I knew my place alright!
The rest of this last lap was basically trying to keep a good pace away from 3rd place woman, who I never saw but imagined she could catch me within 30 seconds. I focused on going as hard as I could w/o bonking. On this lap, I didn’t power through all the corners at full speed as I was getting tired and couldn’t hold my line at faster speeds. At the finish, I heard Suzy, Jed and Scott yelling. Ok, time to smile. I never have picts of me smiling! So I crossed the finish out of breath, with nothing left but a smile.
In the end I finished 1:01:42... ugh! I REALLY, REALLY wanted to finish at 59 minutes or less. Oh well. Cannondale girl finished 1:00:26. I think 3rd was 2 minutes back. Guess I’m going to have to work on middle ring climbing! Although this course was a 2nd ring course, I spent a good portion in my small. I’ve always been a grinder, never a spinner! So it’s too wild that I rode this way.
On another note, Scott came in 3rd out of 35 men. I’m so proud of him!