Monday, March 28, 2011

Pro XCT #2 - Fontana, CA

Lap 1 up the monster climb

No matter how long you have been racing there is always something new happening or something new to learn.  The trip to Fontana, CA to do my first cross country race since July of last year was no exception.

As for the new experience:  That’d be the fire alarm going off at around 1am in the hotel the night before the Cross Country race.  I have never woken up from a deep slumber in such a panic while flailing around trying to figure out what that horrible sound was!   Did we exit the building?  Why no we didn’t.  Did everyone else (the ones with a brain)?  Yes.  Glad it was a false alarm!!!

And learning.  How was my body even going to respond to this first national race of the year???  I really had no expectations which can be a good and bad thing.  And I didn’t have those expectations because last season was more of a building year for me getting my fitness back after losing both my parents.  And I finally got that fitness back by the time cross season hit and found myself on the podium at the 2010 US Cyclocross Nationals in December!!  But since then everything has been “not normal” training wise. 

I was hoping to make the Cyclocross Worlds Team.  That meant I was going to be training hard until I found out in January if it was a go or not.  When I found out it wasn’t meant to be I took some time off the bike and then started training trying to build some base.  It wasn’t long after that when I headed to the 24 Hours of Old Pueblo and then immediately on to Spain to do my first ever 6 day stage race! 

After Spain I literally sat on my toosh for 2 weeks and then headed on over to this race.  Ya, you can see why I didn’t know what to expect.  No real formal training had taken place….or it had, but just in a different way. I was also trying to dial in recovery from the stage race without over or under doing it.  Yikes. Hope I read my body well!!  Better to over recover after putting in more hours in 6 days than I normally would all month long.  How would my body even respond?  NO CLUE but I was about to find out.

Pre-riding the course

Tiziana reminding us what it is like to have no fear!!

Cross Country
So there I was on the start line with my trusty Stan's NoTubes teammates, Nina, Shannon and Zephanie lining up against the nations (and worlds) best along with all the others that are in the hunt for the coveted UCI points for the upcoming 2012 Olympics.  Oh my.  This ought to be interesting.  The plan?  Go hard, have fun and see where I land.

I had uncharacteristic sluggish start.  All I remember is looking up and seeing an endless line of women in front of me.  GREAT….lot of work to do before the singletrack comes up in just a few minutes.

The terrain at this race made the “go hard” part of my plan pretty easy to do.  There was a climb called “The Elevator” that was up to a 30% grade and took you up 250+ feet in under ¼ mile.  That climb had parts in it where I needed to will myself to spin harder to just stay on the bike so that I wasn’t off and running the rest.  Oh my goodness it was not easy by any stretch but it was somewhat familiar to my legs after doing the stage race. 

The Elevator
As I did my best to pass people I had enough in me to fire off some attacks.  Some stuck others did not. But I was surprising myself with how good I felt out there.  Maybe I rested the right amount after Spain?! 

Ok I take that back.  On the second time up the brutal climb I thought I was going to die.  No really, I thought I was going to DIE or perhaps barf and curl up in a corner and then die.  That time it was pure hell but somehow I cleaned it for a 2nd time.  At that point I had to reassess what I was doing because I didn’t want to feel that way again on “The Elevator” when I came back around for the 3rd and 4th laps.   So I did a few things differently on those next laps and the climb was much more manageable…..thank heavens!

My Orbea Alma 29r glided down the stutter  bumps with ease making me feel like I was on a full suspension and my Stan’s NoTubes Crest Rims withheld the jolting from all the rocks and different terrain that was thrown at them.  Together the combo was unreal allowing my body to just race.

  It was fun too because mid race I found myself with my teammate Zephanie Blasi.  We kept each other on our toes and kept the pace high which was a great thing since we had others breathing down our necks waiting for that one mistake.  NOT an easy race with people there all the time but that is what makes it so fun!! 
When I could clearly see that I wasn’t going to win the race (try placing 13th instead - haha) I came up with other minor goals.  One of which was to clean that blasted hill on all four 4.4 mile laps.  And I did!!!!

Overall considering my pre race prep, I am happy with 13th but will be expecting a much better showing the rest of the season! 

Short Track
Oh how I love the!!!  Today I got a descent call up and was on the second row.  Not sure how that happened since its been a while that I have been at one of these races but I wasn’t going to complain!

We were off like a shot on the quick 3 minute (ish) lap for 20 minutes of FUN!!!!  And did I have fun!!!   I found a little hole after the start and was able to get right up there towards the front by the 2nd corner when just as fast as I got there, was pinched out and found myself chasing wheels to get back up. 

One moment you are there and the next you are not. I love that about this race.  I was lucky to have such a strong team presence and was able to ride wheels to get back where I needed to be.  By the time I did, the split up front had happened and we were now chasing in a group of 5.  I drilled it off the front of our group but wasn’t making headway so I had to come up with a new plan since we were now officially racing for 6th-10th. 
We all took turns pulling, attacking and trying to get a gap on each other but in the end I was able to jump around and in front of everyone on the final climb just in time to grab 6th place!  I was really pleased to finish the weekend solid.

Next up is a local race in the great state of Utah and then on to the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, CA.

Race Notes:  A BIG thanks to Jimmy Deaton, MTB Hall of Famer who helped us with all our bikes from washing and wrenching.  Now if we can just get him out on the trail to give us some downhilling tips!!

The Stan's NoTubes Compound

Fontana has grown a lot!

Zephanie making her way up to the tippy top

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