Monday, September 17, 2012

OVCX #1 - Huber's Apple Cross

The OVCX opener went a little better than the previous weekend's beatdowns.  I got a good start, but quickly faded towards the back of the 30-deep elite women's field.  That's not totally surprising in a field that boasted the entire Bob's Red Mill elite women's team and the United States' two most recent Under-23 women's national champions.  Quite impressive for a non-UCI regional series race.

Anyway, I faded, but I stayed closer to the next people up, didn't get lapped by Ashley James and Katie Antonneau, and didn't finish last.  Early reports were that I finished, "Like, fifth from last!", but upon further inspection, one was a DNS, so it was only fourth from last.  More importantly, I got the confirmation that last weekend was unable to give me:  I'm okay.  I don't magically suck; I just haven't moved up to where I want to be yet.  

Out of the 30 riders number 26-28 were as such:  the 2011 OVCX Cat 4 35+ Women's champion, the 2011 OVCX Cat 4 Open Women's champion, and the 2011 OVCX Junior Women 15-18 champion. Last year's points show Karin Reed, Emily Falk, and I as the most consistently good riders in our respective age groups among the Cat 4 women's wave.  Notice I said "most consistently good" as opposed to dominant, because none of us were.  There were a few dominant riders early in the season, but they quickly upgraded, and left a pool of us swapping around battling for the overall top 5 or so in the wave.  There were plenty of other good riders who were either a race or two short to make the series podium or had bad races, but in the end, it was just the category winners who moved up.  

Now we are the little fish in the big pond, but we're still battling it out like always.  Karin successfully attacked during my third lap slump, tipping the balance back to "Nemesis" from "Victim" on my page, while I stayed ahead of Emily the whole time bringing my record up to 3:7 against her (damn that Gun Club sprint).

So I'm okay.  I'm not off the back in no man's land.  I still have my place, although I'll admit I'm crossing my fingers for some auto upgrades to come out what is shaping up to be a super tough Cat 4 women's group so far this year to fill in things a bit for us newbie 3's (and give some of my old Cat 4 buddies a chance at some podium glory).  Hopefully, as the season progresses, so I will I, and I will become an established 3 instead of a newbie.  For now, though, it's enough to know that I'm not alone.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Opening Weekend 2012

"If I look back, I am lost." - Daenerys Targaryen

What a useful bit of wisdom from a fictional character who knows how to take lemons and make lemonade, or more accurately take petrified dragon eggs and make dragons.  Maybe my yet-to-be-purchased track bike needs a dragon name.

But this weekend was about my ghetto-named cyclocross bike, which I am apparently not as good at riding as I was last season.  It was also about my bedazzled skinsuit:

Since the early fall weather usually only warrants a short-sleeved skinsuit for 3 or 4 races at best, I opted not to buy a new short-sleeved skinsuit, and instead recycle the long-sleeved one from last season.  I also opted to do the alteration myself, hemming up the free edge with a Bedazzler rather than bland old sewing.  It was a hit.

Anyway, on to the racing.  Since the ICX opener was moved up to this weekend after I'd already signed up for the Lionheart CX tune-up race, I got a double-dose of big girl class racing to get the season started off right.  Or at least started.

Basically, work has sucked most of the time since last 'cross season ended.  I think it actually started sucking towards the end of the season, but I was focused on winning the OVCX championship, so I didn't notice as much. (I remember going home crying after being kept late in a somewhat pointless meeting during one of the really dark days of the year a few days before Kings CX, and riding in the dark out of spite.  Missing my intended workout obviously didn't hurt my performance that weekend.)  Anyway, once the OVCX season ended, work took over, and I apparently let the next nine months slip away in stressed/depressed fog thinking, "Oh, I have plenty of time to get ready before the season starts."

And then it started. had me predicted for a solid mid-pack finish in my first 1/2/3 race for Saturday, but I found myself slipping off the main pack early in the first lap.  There was one girl behind me and I tried to force myself into thinking she was right on my wheel so that I'd be motivated to keep going hard.  That is when, "If I look back, I am lost" came into my mind.  Then I looked back.  I saw I had a good sized gap, only to look forward and see the lap counter had two more laps to go than I was expected.  Total demoralization kicked in and I started thinking about how I couldn't take five more laps of pain.  Then my gap was gone and the girl passed me right before the stairs on "Heckle Hill" in front the biggest crowd of spectators boosted by the early-season tune-up race.

I'll admit that I totally gave up at that point, but I couldn't just drop out, so I kept slogging along.  Then I realized the girl was coming back.  When the gap had all but closed with a lap and half to go. I threw down an attack before a muddy twisty section knowing that holding the lead to finish would hurt, but at least my pride would be salvaged a bit.  I made it and felt good about the fact that I had turned it around a bit, and spared myself last place at least.  So 45 minutes races really are a lot harder than 30 minutes races, but I guess the extra 15 minutes was enough to completely lose it and still kind of get it back again.

Sunday, not so much.  I had low expectations since the Cat 3 field consisted of myself, Rebecca, and Val. Considering that I had been on the tail-end of that trio so many times last season, I didn't really expect much to change unless one of them had disintegrated even more in the intervening months than I had.  Sure enough, they each did extremely well, staying within a minute of the overall winner, and I languished in DFL no man's land.  Since there were only three of us, I still managed to get on the podium, so I figure I need to post the picture since I expect these will be much more rare this season.

So as Debbie Downer as all that was, back to my original point:  If I look back, I am lost.  I can't get the last nine months of training back.  Nor can lament the fast Cat 4 I used to be.  All I can do push forward with what I have now.  Time to jump into the fire.  I might get burned, or I might come out of it with a dragon.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Track 101

It's been over a week since I completed my Track 101 class at Major Taylor Velodrome, but it was a super busy week at work, so I didn't get a chance to blog.  I don't guess there is a whole to lot to report, but I did have lot of fun.

We started out with a short classroom session where the instructor explained the etiquette of track riding, then we got our bikes headed for the track.  We learned the basics of how to start and stop (harder on a fixie) and practiced balancing and bumping on the apron.  Then we took to the track in earnest with some paceline work.  We didn't really get into any full race skills, and I'm still a little scared of the idea of a sprint finish when I'm already gassed. Here's me pretending like I'm sprinting, but it's really only about 70% effort.

I mistakenly thought that once the class was completed that you were considered ready to race.  However, that is not the case, which was actually a bit of a relief when the clinic ended, and I definitely did not feel ready to race yet.  I guess I still need to do 2-3 more hours of practice track time and then I can enter the Thursday night intro races.  Then it will be a matter of proving to the local track authorities that I'm not a menace to society and can hold my own against the big girls on Friday nights without injuring myself or others.  That's all fine, since the track season is ending and CX is beginning, so I wasn't going to race track this season anyway.  I just need to get hella strong over the winter, save up for a bike, and then get my extra track time in April.  Then I can start working on my "Last Friday Night" parodies.

The good news is that the 2013 Giant catalog came out this week, and the new Omnium is white, which is more my style than the blue version I posted for "Want it Wednesday" a couple of weeks.  Picture this with some pink bar tape and a white and pink Fizik Vitesse saddle:

It'll be like New New's cute little metrosexual brother.