Sunday, October 31, 2010

NACT #6 Boulder Cup - Boulder, CO

Very interesting....I have never raced most of a race on the side of a hill before. Weird but cool. Luckily weather conditions were dry otherwise it would have been a slip oh rama fest!

Nor had I ever been at a race where I could have sampled perfume and gotten a makeover before the event.

The race was at a mall!! Ok but seriously, shopping was the furthest thing from my mind. It was time to race....or crash, or roll a tubular. Your call. Ok, how about all 3 since we are being super greedy here? Why not?

So the race starts and this happens:

Click here to see video (I am coming into the VERY FIRST corner in 7th).

After being pinned down for what seemed like a year and after everyone got off of me I started my race all over again. I did a quick check of my bike while running to remount and decided it was good to go and to start trying to make headway through everyone from around the 20th position I was now in after the crash. Gotta love cross! There are always challenges and mine weren't over.

I did not give up in any way shape or form as I made passes as best I could and EVERYWHERE I could. This was not the time to be hesitant or scared of anything. And I wasn't, instead I was on a mission.

Toward the end of the race I had made my way up to the Top 5 and was really starting to feel the love and had gotten into a real groove on the bike. I was having so much fun and was keeping the pace beyond my limits in order to get through people. It was a good suffer day in that it felt good to suffer.

Here is the run up. Not sure why there is a ball on my helmet. Was that why I felt so sluggish right there? : )

But all my hard work came to a close when as I took an off camber corner (remember the race was on the side of hill) and my rear tubular rolled off the rim.

And of course it rolled off not too close from the pits so I was left to do this for a LONG time. Sure am getting those running workouts in though during my races so that is good......or not. Ugh. I rather by on my bike RACING thank you very much.

After getting a bike change it became all about how far I could get back through the field for the second time today.

I was not giving up easily at all and in the end made it up to 14th. Game over and I was bummed.

In fact I was so bummed and so determined and so EVERYTHING that I went back to Lance's that night and booked my flight to do the LA races that next weekend.

I had decided pretty easily that was NOT going to take my rest week and was going to instead hoof it out to LA with one bike and RACE without incident dang it!!!! I was bound and determined!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

NACT #5 CO Cross Classic - Boulder, CO

Nothing like a quick flight just directly over the mountains to get to your next race! Getting to Boulder was a pleasure and staying with my team manager and family was even more so! What a great family who all opened their doors to me with open arms.

When I got there and into the car there was immediately talk about a fire that was just outside of Boulder up in the mountains. Schools were being evacuated and the wind was howling allowing the fire to take over as much as it could. The smell of smoke was in the air almost everywhere. Wow, this could be an interesting training ride today in Boulder. Hmmmm? Was I doing more harm than good if I couldn’t get away from the smoke? Yikes. Luckily I was given great directions by our Team Mechanic, Tom, to head out of town away from the fire and it worked out not smelling a bit of smoke.

You can see the fire is in the background of this picture

That night we went to the Wenger store on Pearl Street in Boulder. They are one of our wonderful sponsors this year and it was nice to meet the folks in charge and pick up some great goodies for my feet and wrist along with a bullet proof back pack! You can always count me in for a shopping spree.

The next morning on race day we had a great team breakfast. Lance and his wife Carol went crazy making tons and tons and tons of food for everyone. It was great to see everyone again too and even meet some more of the team that I had not met before. It was a good lead to a well….alright race I guess.

Not sure what got into my legs or what didn’t get in there. I wasn’t feel ing the love at all out there during the race. I was loving the course though! But I swear the race started and then I started 5 seconds later. One of those days. Therefore it was makeup time from the get go. I pushed my way through the sand pits and painfully dismounted to run over the barriers as I was not loving life in the legs. There was some fun mtn bikey stuff on course which was a blast for me and then when it wasn’t about your skills, it was time to hunker down and pass people the best I could. The course even took us to a sand section that ran along the reservoir. It was pretty darn fun and fairly ridable too. I stayed on the gas, not feeling the love but pushing through and finally got over the finish line. It wasn’t the worst I have ever felt in a race but with the way I have been feeling this season it certainly was not the best. I was BACK there at the start but ended up 7th.

Teammate Amanda Miller and I getting thru the sand together

Sunday, October 24, 2010

USGPCX #4 - Louisville, KY

Today was another beautiful day in Louisville. Riding to the venue from Lisa’s was such a pleasure as I made my way along River Road with the sunshine peaking its way through the trees.

The course was mostly the same today with the exception of some added fun grassy corners.I was little sluggish off the line which is uncharastic e but I didn’t let it hold me back. Funny how sometimes you can lose a race in your mind in the first 5 seconds of race. So off I went not feeling spectacular but not feeling horrid either. The race was ahead of me and I just seemed not to be able to connect. The gap grew and those in chase shuffled around a bit as we powered through the sandy dry course.

Then I found myself reconnected with Teal from Giant Strawberries. Yes! Someone to work with!!! Then I blew it, meaning I hit the birm that was right before the barriers going mock 10. I had actually told myself when I first saw the course to NOT do just that. So much for that in the heat of the moment – eh? So I hit that basically JUMP (not birm at this point) at race speed and flew through the air. I remember thinking oh crap as Cyclocross bikes are just not made for jumping with NO suspension. This was going to hurt. I also remember Teal saying “Oh Kathy!!!” as she got to witness the carnage.

I landed on the right side of my bike and the bike took a BIG hit. I am pretty sure I didn’t take a big hit (although my neck was sore that night from a bit of whiplash afterwards) as I had no signs of any bodily damage. Unbelievable really.

I jumped right up and looked at the bike for any obvious damage AS I was jumping back on it to get back up to Teal. I have learned a thing or two about what can happen in crashes like that so I gave I it a good once over as I softly pedaled. The only thing that really seemed to be an issue was the shifting. And it wasn’t even that bad. It was just stubborn now instead of super easy and quick. But hey the bike was working and so was I! Wow! Off I went to chase back on…..again.

So now the question was to pit and get a new bike or not to pit. That was a big one in my mind since the bike was mostly working at this point and now every second was counting as the race was soon to be over. I chose not to pit and kind of cringed as I road by it (you can go backwards to it once you pass) hoping it was an ok decision as I hadn’t had much time since the crash to really assess.

In the meantime I got back up to Teal and dangled off the back. We were in 5th and 6th and it was likely coming down to a sprint finish on the pavement. This ought to be interesting! We hit the pavement and she took off giving it everything she had to get that 5th spot and I had the advantage being on her wheel BUT I went to shifting into the big ring and it wouldn’t go, tried it again, it stalled and then finally went and that was it, she got fifth and I took 6th. Can’t have ANY delays when trying to sprint someone at the finish. Oh well. I came away from the weekend with double 6ths and I am happy enough with that. Just gotta stay upright next time and take a pit change too.

That night after the race we went to a famous Halloween street in Louisville (can’t remember the name!) and walked up and down the several blocks of houses that went ALL OUT in decorating. Some of these houses must either have a storage unit somewhere to hold all the stuff the rest of the year. You wouldn’t believe the amount of detail work put into everything from music, dancing figures, the automated life size scary creatures all the way down to the elaborate decorations from the sidewalk to the roof. It was unbelievable and I will tell you what, I wouldn’t want to have to put those away each year after Halloween is over! Yikes.

And my little surprise when I got back home to Utah. Ugh.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

USGPCX #3 - Louisville, KY

After a really good travel day I arrived in Louisville, KY. Lisa’s parents were there to pick me up the airport and in proper fashion took me directly to the country club for dinner. Now that is southern hospitality at it’s finest although I was bit concerned that my bike racing/airplane attire may not be the best fit in the ole club- a- roo. But it was fine as I strolled in there with my flip flops (flopping loudly as I walked) along with each step past some fine diners. Gheesh, can’t take me anywhere I tell you.

The next day we headed to the venue where Cyclocross Masters Worlds are going to take place in 2012 and Cyclocross Worlds in 2013. The last time I was in Louisville to race was a few years ago and this new park that they built was just a bit across the road from the the old race venue. It was nice to be somewhat familiar with the area.

The weather was gorgeous and hot and that was anticipated for the rest of the weekend as well. Sweet!! I love the mud too but I at mostly at home in the dust so I will happily take it.

The first pre-ride of the course left me thinking that it WAS HARD. Wow. There were so many challenges per lap that you couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t daunting hard though. It was going to be flat out and downright FUN. You were going to be on your toes the entire time, that is for sure. And actually on that note, I think you were going to be off your bike a fair amount too.

What made it difficult? First off, there was a steep man made birm right before the barriers, then not long after there was a steep uphill that you could barely push over while still riding, then a ridable sandpit if you picked the right line and powered through then you got a bit of a break as the course was just flat windy through trees in what I called the “mountain bike section”. Immediately following that was a long sand pit that you ended up running through, then the flyover (about 7 monster steps up then a ramp on the other side to get you down it), then a few turns before entering the final part of the course that had a steep sharp downhill section with a 180 at the bottom that lead to a run up, then back on your bike before flying down another steeper section before having to really power up the legs in order to make it up another steep hill that was again, barely ridable. Wow, that is a lot to take on and it was going to be fun!!!

The flyover

On race day I had a great start getting right up there near the front but my laps weren’t flawless and I found myself in the top 10 but SOOOOO far away from the front which was getting away quickly on the first and second laps. I had a moment while sitting alone in never never land in the Top 10 somewhere when my brain started to say “You can’t….(make it back up there)” and I stopped it mid sentience knowing where it was going and then said “Oh yes I can!!!!!!”. And at that moment I put on the jets and settled into good rhythm to close a 10 second gap that seemed like an eternity away. And I did!!!! I was up there now in the chase group of 2, with me now being the third in the group. We were in 3rd -5th position as the eventual winner of the race was off the front and the gal in 2nd was up there alone as well. I sat on the front of the group for several laps driving the pace hard as I knew the gal in 6th was working her way up to us! And as generous of person that I am I didn’t want that!! : )

Other girls in the group took their turn up front but we just couldn’t hold off Meredith who was slowly but surely reconnecting with the group with all her power. She tacked back on with one to go and then the fireworks really started as people were jockeying for position. And just as I knew might happen, most of them made their move right before the finish in the difficult run up area and the last steep uphill section. Rats, I was going to have to settle for 6th today. Could have made it a 3rd place had I played my cards correctly but live and learn and I am still learning about the different strengths of everyone this year….and even myself. It’s been interesting after taking a cyclocross season off last year but it’s all good and it will only get better. In can’t wait to see what the future holds in cross!!!

The Sandpit

The pain of trying to squeeze everything out of your legs that they have just to make it up the last steep hill.

The run up

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Weekend of Racing

Men’s B 35+ Race

Today was SO fun. It is always so great to race locally and to see everyone again. Our local races in Utah have grown BIG TIME and it is so neat to see. Everyone is always happy and excited to race and the vibe is just flat out neat to be around. We are lucky to have a series like this that is so well run and extremely organized.

So my coach decided to sock it to me this weekend. First up on Saturday was a race with the B Men then immediately following the awards for that race was the Women’s A race. Then Sunday I got to race again. Ouchy. This was gonna leave me dragging and worked by the time Sunday afternoon came that is for sure!!!!

At the start of the Men’s race (which I almost missed the start of!) I snuck in on the back row. I figured that getting thru traffic is what I need to practice since I have had to start on the last row at all the other races I have done this year. It is always great to practice that plus it will certainly make me race even harder just trying to get up front!

And race hard I did. Those boys don’t slow down for anyone nor should they. It was fun. I got near the front pretty fast and got to witness some pretty spectacular roadie tactics during the race. It was the reminder I needed that being tactical is exactly what you have to do sometimes.

I found myself up front duking it out with the top 5 or 6 in the Men’s B class. They were handing my own a** to me. PERFECT. It was just what I needed. Not only was I on the rivet most of that 40 minutes, I was having to THINK (about tactics) while on the rivet which is a skill on its own. Attacks were being thrown in and I had to chase. Then counter attacks. Wow, I was getting worked and enjoying every painful second of it. I lasted the entire race and came in 2nd!!

Women’s A Race

Then it was time for the podium, get something to drink, make any adjustments to the bike and then off for the women’s A race. The women’s race was a fun race and I could immedialy feel the effects of working myself over in the men’s race where I fired off every match I had in order to be in contention for the win. I was sluggish now for sure. Standing around in between times sure didn’t help but you got to stand on the well earned podium!

Me and the boyz

Ok, so here I was already hurting and it’s just the start of the race. Great. So I thought to myself, what a BETTER time than to take what I just had learned in the Men’s race about drafting and sitting on and put it to use to see how it would go both physically and mentally. And it was weird. It is a different experience back there when you choose to draft. Cornering is different cuz it’s not your line or maybe it’s too fast or too slow based on the person pulling. And mentally it’s strange especially from an mtb perspective… I go now? How about now? Maybe now?? Now must be the time???....oh yeah I tell myself we are only 3 min into the race…..relax girl! : ) Better to sit and really get the full experience out of it while I could.

I did go up front a few times but I now could feel what I couldn’t feel in the Men’s race while up there: the wind, the ground sucking my tires to the ground creating more resistance, the fatigue, etc. Ok, just push thru I tell myself. I had my plan and was executing it perfectly despite what my head was telling me (to just go). I disregarded those thoughts and just sat. Then unfortunately with ½ lap to go I took a corner pretty bad and exploded on the ground allowing the gal in 3rd to take advantage. I just slid out, no harm done except I had officially lost the race right then and there. Oh well, there are always more races to come!

B Men’s Race

The next day I felt like I had been hit like a truck but I still drug myself out of bed to hit one last race for the weekend. I was less than enthusiastic because I was beyond tired but in the name of getting faster I was going to race!

And lucky for me it was a bit of a smaller race, as it is a newer series that has just started up in Salt Lake. I chose to race with the Men again only based on the fact that I could sleep in longer. Yep, I admit it.

The course was pretty interesting in that there was a bit of a climb in it as well as a cement fire pit of sorts that had a few cement stairs leading into and out of it. It was up to the rider to figure out the best possible way to get through that quickly and everyone had different methods based on what they were strong at. I chose to ride down the steps, dismount, run up the other side and remount. Some didn’t have to get off their bikes at all. Others found another line on the outside that was conducive. It was an interesting barrier for sure.

At the start we all lined up together and at the line they told us it was a 50min race (not the usual 40min). Ugh really? Ok, I am going to bail at 40min I tell myself. Yeah right I should know myself WAY better than that!! At 40min in I kept telling myself I could hang on for just a bit longer, just a bit longer. Nothing like total mind games to trick yourself to do what you need to do. I didn’t even have to race the whole race according to my coach but the thought of DNFing was just out of the question. I don’t do that I won’t start now. Sure, I will DNF if I broke my body or broke my bike (and don’t have another) but willingly DNFing – no way. So I suffered like a dog trying not to get lapped by the leading Men and it turned out to be a painful but great way to end a weekend of racing! Ah, now time for some rest…..