09/23/02 - NCNCA: Oh so close, but no cigar!
Shelly, Laura and I raced the NCNCA District Championships this weekend. Laura is waaaay older than spritely Shelly and I, so Laura raced the 40-44 race while Shelly and I raced the 35-39.
Our race was combined with the 30-34 women. Although the field wasn't large, maybe about 15 women, it was pretty stacked. Our race included the Drumm sisters, Diet Rite's Cheryl Binney, former Schwab sprinter, Sandra Kolb and 2-time National Champ and World Medalist, Laura Charameda. Laura has "retired" from racing and now coaches a junior team, Team Swift. I think riding with those junior kids have kept her in tip-top shape!
There were many attacks in the race, almost all covered by Shelly and Michelle Beltran (who was wearing a radio for this race??!!) Shelly even chased down attacks from women in the other age group. Shelly knows this may not be the best strategy, but she's such a tough competitor she just enjoys the chase and can't help herself sometimes. I was feeling a little ragged from all the cross practice this week, so I tried to stay in the field. When I saw Shelly doing so much work, I felt obligated to come up and help, so I dragged my lazy butt up there and chased down a few, then settled back in the pack to rest.
At 3 laps to go, it looked like the group settled in for a field
sprint and the pace slowed to a crawl. Kristin (or was it Helene?)
Drumm attacked with 1 lap to go, but she wasn't in our age group, so none of the girls in our age group chased. Neither did any of the
girls in her age group (whats up Nor Cal Velo??), so Kristin stayed
away to win her age group while our pack continued with Shelly
leading the way. I saw that Laura, Sandra and Cheryl were all lined
up on Shelly's wheel. While I didn't feel strong enough to give
Shelly a lead out, I thought she would get swarmed at the finish
without one. I shot out of the group and got in front of Shelly and
picked up the pace. Since I started a little early, I hoped that
someone would tag on my wheel and then Shelly behind that. I looked under my arm and saw that Shelly was on my wheel. I was going to fade too soon for a decent lead out and I tried to hold it for a little longer, but I slowed and Laura jumped around me and Shelly had to as well. Shelly gave it a good go, but couldn't quite catch Laura at the line. Shelly's awesome to finish so well after so much work and a botched lead out! She even won some wine, (we picked the Petite Syrah) for our Velo Bella party. Cheers!
Laura's race was similar in that two age groups were combined. Some early attacks split the group, and Laura made the final cut of six up front. 4 of the women were in the 45-49 group and only Laura and Nancy Wright were in the 40-44 group. Laura tried an attack right after Nancy attacked, thinking that Nancy would be too tired to follow. But Laura was covered by Nancy's secret teammate, Linda Elgart, and Nancy attacked soon after. Laura thought the pack would chase Nancy down as they had chased her, so Laura hesitated. Unfortunately, the pack didn't budge. When Laura realized her predicament, she set off chasing, but it was too late. Nancy Wright, the district Time Trial Champ, stayed away to add a Criterium Championship to her honors. Laura never gave up chasing and so finished 2nd and 2nd overall. Unfortunately, the race promotors think that wine is dangerous for women of that age or something, so Laura only won a medal and my admiration for her effort.
We raced an East Bay Cyclocross race the next day. We all sucked. Too much booze and food (and questionable crayfish) the night before and too hot of weather during the race made the rhythym of the race all wrong. And the goatheads on the course didn't help. I had a flat before my race even started that required me to scramble for a wheel. I got a good start, but the heat and effort meant that the crayfish and margaritas were making their way back out of my stomach. I quit after 4 laps. Laura suffered two flats afer only one lap. Alan was looking good in second, but the crayfish got to him as well. He pulled out after five laps. Steven was the only one to finish which was pretty amazing in that he crashed, suffered a mechanical and a flat. But he was helped in that he didn't eat the crayfish. It was still a fun day in that we got to dust off our cross skills at a low key event. Sort of.
09/19/02 - Downieville MTB - racin' flats on 9/7
Yep, it's true - I was the 6th woman overall after the climb, including Experts and Pros, then came the first flat. Since the week prior I'd had 4 flats in 6 rides (on 3 different bikes), I was really speedy fixing the flat. Too speedy to fully inflate the tire, though, so I got another pinch flat after only another mile or so. Then I fumbled the ol' quick-flate
cartridge (which is good for 2 inflates, only if you're not a lame-ass
like I was) and got to hoofin' the rest of the race. As the Sport and
beginner riders came past me, though, I thought to ask someone how much was left to go. Oh, 8 miles, eh? Guess I'd better bum a pump from someone!
Rider #439 kindly lent me his pump, but I couldn't figure it out 'cause it was one of those switch-able cartridge-to-hand-pump items. So I started walking again and came upon a different victim of pinch flats. His pump was of the normal type, and so I took care of business and got back on the trail, losing only about 30-35 minutes to buffoonery. I was warned by the pump-provider to look out for the racer running down the trail without his bike. He'd gone over the edge with his bike, but while he came to a stop, his bike hit the Truckee River and he couldn't get down to it. I'm not sure I personally would've gone running down the trail 8 miles to get a rope to retrieve it, but that was this guy's plan! As I continued on my way, I came upon Rider #439, out of the game with a flat. Poor guy! So I returned his pump, which hopefully he knew how to use, and finished the race uneventfully. I did try to get my race recorded as a DNF (since I accepted "outside" help) so that my abysmal finishing time wouldn't be on record but no such luck.
On the other hand, my Velo Fella Dave, returned to racing after a
5-year injury-forced hiatus with a stellar race. He finished 7th of
60+ Sport men in his age group with a respectable time (I'm hung up on this time thing), and he'll be ready to race Expert next season. His
tubeless tires were da bomb for this race, so you can bet I'll be
investing in a wheelset for myself shortly!
Ski season starts in 6 weeks!
09/08/02 - Late Season Action at Northstar MTB
Petra, Shelly, Alyson and I raced the Northstar MTB event which was also the 6th race in the CA State MTB series.
They started the Expert and Pro Women together, so I got to see Petra for a brief instant and Shelly even briefer. Shelly took the holeshot at the start with another pro, Jennifer Todd on her wheel. Petra was a few feet behind them. Petra has been suffering from some kind of ailment thats been making her sick to her tummy and she hasn't been able to keep any food down. I don't think I could even pedal my bike under those circumstances, but Petra was hanging tough.
The course started with a rocky technical singletrack climb, but the
climb wasn't too tough because it wasn't steep. Besides, we had just
ridden much tougher stuff at Bromont. Then we did some fireroad climbing before popping into another rocky singletrack climb, only this section was steep. Some more fireroad climbing led to the ickiest section(or funnest depending upon your level of depravity). This mile plus section of rolling singletrack was in 1 foot deep silt powder stuff. Now, I can ride the sand, but this was different somehow, or maybe my ear infection was affecting my balance. Whatever the case, I just could not get it together in this section. As Alan would say, I looked like a monkey f*%king a football as I made my way very ungracefully through this section. With much relief, this trail was followed by a fast fireroad descent and one last fun, but technical rocky singletrack before the finish.
My race was uneventful, if you don't count the monkey/football
section. I got a good, but safe, high altitude start. No more rocket ship explosions from fast starts at altitude for me. Ruby climbed up and away from me as she usually does and I tried to keep her in sight on the climb just in case a miracle struck. I passed Jessica, one of the expert women in another age group, on the climb. The sport men caught me in the rocky singletrack descent. One passed and almost sent me into the cheese grater of rocks, so I pulled over to let a bunch pass, rode, pulled over, rode pulled over until one of the passees was Jessica. Then I stopped pulling over. I passed her on the climb again, at least this monkey was climbing well. But Jessica got by me in that stupid silt section as I was doing the funky chicken trying to pedal in that crap. Whatever!
I didn't pull over for anyone in the rocky section on the last lap
and that was good because I finally had a little flow going and could
ride all but one tricky rocky part which I cyclocrossed quicker
anyway. I finished 2nd to Ruby by a whopping five minutes. This puts me temporarily in the lead in the series, but I'd have to beat Ruby in the next race for that to stick.
In the pro race, Shelly eventually dropped Jennifer and went on to win the race. GO Shelly Belly!! Jennifer was 2nd and Petra was 3rd. But moving past Petra and Jennifer was an expert racer from Incline Village, Anne-Marie. Anne-Marie wanted to race this event as a pro, but couldn't get her upgrade in time. (Hey NORBA, give the girl her upgrade.) Alyson Lowery had a good time in her race and finished 2nd. Alan won by catching and passing the leader in the technical section. He's now leading the series, I think.
In other racing action, Alex Fabbro raced the lovely Downieville Classic, but I hear she flatted twice and still placed 2nd!
Alan says he's hung up his mountain bike for the season. I may do the same...still contemplating that one. I did bring my cross bike to
work today though.
09/07/02 - San Ardo: Saturday 8/31
I wanted to race that weekend and I didn't want to have to drive to San Francisco or Santa Cruz, not to mention I was actually working that particular Saturday. I'd never done, or even heard of, San Ardo, but when I saw it was in Monterey County, I figured it would have to be close to Castroville, which is where my office is. The NCNCA directions state "south of Salinas"... well, so is Tijuana. I found out the hard way, that south of Salinas means you're on your way to San Luis Obispo. San Ardo is 30 minutes south of King City. I made the race in Laura fashion (just in time), but luckily this was an NCNCA race and they were already running 20 minutes behind.
The course is a 21-mile loop, low traffic through farm fields. Pretty flat with some rollers--there wasn't any stretch where you could really lose anybody. There's one little hill at the feed zone (so also at the finish line), but again, you could almost do this little hill in your big ring, so climbers really weren't at any advantage here. The whole race is a big-ring race. The weather was hot, dry, with no wind.
I wasn't sure who was going to be at this race so I was happy to see my two Velo Bella buddies, Laura and Monica. Laura was going to ride the Cat 3's--I had to get back to work so I didn't have time to ride for 3 laps. It would be the new district champ Monica and myself to race in the 30+, bringing the field total to about 14. I figured having a team member would be important for this race, as other local and SoCal teams showed up. I knew I could count on the strength of my teammate, Monica. She alleged that she recognized some of the women from out of the area--the SoCal girls had 3 strong girls, and there was another team with 2 girls in it. One of the SoCal girls asked Monica where Velo Bella was out of, which told me that they don't get out of SoCal much.
The first 20 minutes or so was the usual jockeying-for-position, and then things settled in and we were able to get a nice paceline going. I don't think anybody got shelled off. At this point I expected the team with three members to use their advantage in numbers to attack, block, form a Jessie "fan club," something other than what they did, which was nothing. In fact, a member from one of the other teams went out and pulled for us all for close to 10 miles at 24 mph! What was she thinking? Thank you OLN for not being on everybody's cable package.
I had two water bottles, and I drank them both. The feed zone was
well-placed, and props to Brenda for getting us fresh water, because it was really dry out there. After the first lap I ate a goo; I also had taken my pump and an extra tube in case I flatted, because I just got the feeling that I wouldn't be getting any help out there. I can't say with any certainty that there was a support vehicle, so keep that in mind if you do this race next year.
There really wasn't a lot of activity in terms of breaking and bridging, so I sat next to my teammate, we took turns pulling, and saved our strength. The rest of the race was just the seven girls who had teams pulling everyone else along. Midway through the second lap Monica came up by me and said, "It's going to come down to a dog fight".
That made me feel good--coming from the top dog of districts, I knew we would finish strong.
Coming into the final hill a blur went by. After 41 hot miles, the race was on. It was great move and the only one to answer the attack was Monica who came in a strong 2nd. I got 6th and the race was everything I wanted it to be--a great workout, another white t-shirt, and another chance to work with a teammate on race strategy.
Velo Bella rules!
09/01/02 University RR
How was the University RR in Santa Cruz? It was hell, pure torture. The route is described as a 3-mile mountainous loop around the UC Santa Cruz campus. The mountainous part is not a lie. It was hot, really hot. There was one climb about 3/4-1 mile long where you were completely exposed to the hot sun. Brutal.
The women, all women 1/2/3 & 4/5 started about 1:00, things were running 30 minutes late. Trying to find cover in the shade to stay cool pre-race was a challenge in itself. The few patches of trees in the area had people crowded together under their branches for what little shelter they provided. It was tough to warm up if you didn't haul a trainer, as you couldn't really get out on the road and the parking lot area provided limited space.
I was racing Cat 4. I met a new Bella, Jennifer something, I don't remember her last name, she is a 5, second or third race. Emily Catchpole was there watching, she has an injury to an elbow I think. No other Bellas. We did have David has our "token Fella" who did an excellent job in the feed zone, handing out bottles for drink and or for dousing.
My race started out faster than expected, at the starting line field size was 18. By lap 2, there were only 7 in the lead group. Included in this group was Hilary Daniels who some of you know from Cross, and Ginger Boler who works for BoyerBikes, and I hear rides some on the SMR, this was her first road race. Lap 3 while I was trying hard not to puke, Hilary & Ginger start pulling away from me. I wasn't sure whether I was going to be able to suffer through this heat. I just couldn't get my mind to kick my legs in gear to hang with them. I was seriously considering drifting off to the side, going back to the car for a beer, it sounded SO good.
By lap 5 I regained composure, realized I was in this thing to the end. By this time Ginger and Hilary had a half a lap on me and I had lost sight of any other competitors in my Cat behind me. I had caught up to a group of about 6 Cat 3's (who started a minute ahead of me) I hung with them for several laps. I didn't ride with them, off to the side (can't work with another group you know). I passed them several times and they would pass me back. I passed several Senior 4/5 men who started a minute ahead of the Women 1/2/3, this was good for the ego.
Everyone was struggling. David, our resident Fella in the feedzone, is telling me Hillary is cramping, I was gaining on her. Ginger was out in front by almost 2 minutes, she rode a helluva a race. David said she was really impressive. Lots of people dropped out. I saw Cat 1/2 women on the side, I saw men, saw girls that started in my group. Jennifer, our new Bella, I think made it only two laps, the heat and route were too much for her. She stayed and offered shouts of encouragement. Thank you it was most appreciated :)
The last half of my race I was feeling all right, my legs were a little tired from San Ardo but I was doing okay. I lapped a few Cat 4/5 women, twice even! It was hell out there. I knew I wasn't going to catch Hillary, she may have been cramping but she still had 40 seconds on me. As the race was winding down I could see her the last few laps, which I couldn't before but there was no way I would close that gap. I was feeling pretty thrilled to be finishing at all, let alone in 3rd. I would've been 8th I think in Cat 3, Ginger Boler would have finished about 3rd in the 3's, Hilary probably 5th or 6th....pretty damn good.
The finish was a bit of a cluster ****, groups got all mixed up, some people didn't do all their laps, one chick in my Cat who finished a lap early said she was 2nd...it was a mess. We hung out for hours as they tabulated results, hours, I really mean hours. The race ended around 3 and I finally got my $15 & Velopromo t-shirt (which wasn't too bad you guys, a lot better looking than San Ardo's) about 6PM. I decided I worked way too hard to not be sure that 3rd place was recorded! It was a long wait but kind of fun sitting around talking with people.
I know Pat Ross won Cat 3. Trudy B was second. Women 1/2 was won by Kate Maher not sure who was second. It was a grueling day on the bike, the heat made it so tough but I want to do this race next year. The route was really pretty, the roads were smooth - nice venue! Today its Labor Day Picnic time, lots of good food, friends, daquiris and no bikes.