1) French Lick Ride/ Race Simulation: Since my return from Syllamo's marked the time to get all cross country-y, the next weekend Emily and I went to French Lick to get in some hard singletrack riding. I'd only been to that trail once before and didn't really feel so good that time, so I wasn't too impressed. However, I sorta fell in love a little when we were they the other day. The current five-mile loop is basically 2.5 miles of gradual climbing followed by 2.5 miles of awesome swoopy downhill. It was even open and flowing enough that I was able to put a few bike lengths on Emily in some places, which is quite an accomplishment.
Anyway, we did one lap easy and two at race pace, since DINO Cat 2 women's races are usually about 10 miles. I took off while Emily took a bathroom break and then tried to catch up with me, which was a good motivator for both of us. She caught me about 3/4 of the way up the climb on the second lap, but I repassed her by the peak and make to the bottom in the lead. The fact that she made up five or so minutes on me in an hour of riding isn't great, but is an improvement over the last couple of XC seasons. My goal was two laps in under an hour, and I did 66 minutes, but my legs were still a bit flat from Syllamo's. I think I can get under an hour with good legs.
2) Huge PR for Race-Sim Workout: A few days after our trip to French Lick, Jason had me to his "famous" power based race simulation workout on the road. I was a little scared going in, because my legs hadn't been good over the weekend and still felt a little sore. However, once I got going it was clear that it was going to be a good day. I was about 7 watts higher by all measures over what I did last July. That was good news considering that my training hasn't been quite as consistent as last year because of my nasty cold/allergy thing a few weeks ago, and just general life. I've been vacillating between really sub-par workouts then popping a really good one every couple of weeks. I just have to cross my fingers and hope to "pop" on race day.
3) Duffield (Demolition) Derby: Last Sunday I traveled to the southwest side of Louisville to try and get another race under my belt, since Jason thought that five weeks between Syllamo's and DINO BCSP was too long without racing. I had actually gotten pretty excited about the race, even though the Kentucky series races aren't as well attended as the DINO races, but I figured I'd get Emily to go with me and we could at least race against each other and pick up some prize money/ swag. Unfortunately, the weather was looking bad and Emily decided not to go. I pressed on because Adam had already given up a road race in Ohio so that I could race in Kentucky and I didn't want to back out at the last minute.
Unfortunately, it was pouring rain the whole time, and the course was like a very dirty slip 'n' slide. There was actually one other Cat 2 woman there, and I'm kind of disappointed in myself because I submitted to my baser instincts and did not fight hard enough for the hole shot at the top of the super steep quarter mile climb that we started on. I know most of the problem was that I'm afraid of racing in slick conditions and I was afraid of what would happen if I did get the hole shot, which is frustrating to me. The rest was self-fulfilling prophecy as we hit the mud, I washed out twice in the first couple of minutes, and I lost sight of her in no time.
The race didn't really help my goal of increasing my confidence and to start racking up so Cat 2 W's so that I moved back up to Cat 1 sufficiently mid-pack rather than leaking out the bottom like in 2008-2009. I think the difference between this year and years past is that in the two XC races that I've done this year, I can pinpoint the exact moment when I chose not to win, while in the past it's never even occurred to me as a choice. Now I just have to take it one step further and choose to WIN when the chips are down. Interestingly enough, the next time I will likely have to make that choice will be on another steep paved climb at the BCSP DINO race, and I've been trying to practice the scenario in my head so maybe I won't crack next time.
4) MMTT: Finally, I threw one more big effort in over the last couple of weeks at the Morgan-Monroe forest time trial a few days ago. Things looked bad at first because I had to spend Monday and Tuesday in Indianapolis for a work-related conference, which left me tired and cranky and pressed for time on Tuesday evening. By the time I made it home, I didn't have time to change and make out to the forest by bike, and I almost skipped, but at the last minute I decided just to drive out and take out a couple of days' frustration on the pedals. I felt okay, after the initial shock of absolutely no warm-up, but the results were a bit confusing and frustrating. I set a personal worst time and a personal power average for the 20 and 30 minute ranges. Given, I've not done one of those TT's since 2007 and that was without power, but I almost felt like if my time was going to be bad, I'd rather my power be bad, too, so I could just call it a bad day. Now I'm just confused.
Anyway, that's what I've been up to lately. I'm hoping the trails will be dry enough to bust a couple of hard laps at Brown County on Saturday, but we'll see. Then it's more race sim work and another trip French Lick, where I will be doing the DRT race on the 30th and hoping for the elusive 'W'.