Tuesday, August 25, 2009
In an odd unplanned way, I accomplished one of my goals this year.
Kenda Cup 2009, their inaugural year and I wanted to compete in the East Coast Championship for Cat 2 which meant I’d need to do 4 of their 6 races. Races were in TN, AL, VA, NC, VT and NY. That was part of the problem with the series; it was very wide spread over the east coast. Not that many folks have the time/budget to make it happen. It was tough for me as well but I managed my 4 venturing to TN, VA, VT and NY.
TN – May 3rd; a blast of a course to me, especially in the pre-ride the day before. Race day brought the shorter course and me learning another aspect of not letting the mental game get the best of me during a race. Let’s just say I had more fun pre-riding the day before than I had during the race because I ended up with a competitor in my way that I didn’t get by and I let it mentally bum me out. Even though the pre-ride was a muddy mess it was oh so fun. Hubby had a good race too, as did our teammate and we all ventured home having a good weekend.
VA – June 7th; was a blast for me, but no pre-ride. It was a day to wake up early, drive down, race, drive back. I enjoyed the heck out of the race, technical rocky climb up and then descending down, a ski slope course that I enjoyed so much more than I expected. I passed some folks climbing and descending, shockingly more climbing. I had a great fun race and was all smiles at the end. Hubby had more laps than me so finished after and unfortunately my smile was whipped away as he rolled in holding his arm funny and I learned he had a crash that causing his thumb issue he’s still dealing with. He still finished strong just we had to visit the ER that night.
Then there’s a break in the racing. Funny enough exactly 2 months between Kenda races for me. My fitness degraded even further as I got busier at work, road less and slept less. I raced two MASS races, Iron Hill and Fair Hill, both were basically pathetic and jokes. No reason to actually be “racing”. My exhaustion and lack of fitness was showing and it continued into my final two Kenda races.
VT – Aug 7th; Mount Snow, the same location as last year’s National’s where I loved the course and came in second regardless of being another ski slope course. The course changed some this year because of muddy conditions but that didn’t have much effect on my day. Physically horrible, rode moronically on lap one and my bike became full of mechanical’s come lap two. Rear tire wouldn’t hold air and my derailleur stuck leaving me with no ability to pedal. Basically wasted tons of time in that lap which as it turns out taught me something important. Apparently to USA cycling, a mountain bike race is no different than a road race and I was pulled at the end of lap two (of three planned) because I was “off the pace”. A finisher none the less but still I tried to fight with the officials to not be pulled to no avail and actually ended my day incredibly emotionally pissed off and drove home asap. Granted, we had our race at Neshaminy the same weekend and Hubby had already stayed home to work on the trails. I needed to drive back that night but the earlier the better as it turned out since I didn’t want to hang out in Vermont for one second longer than I needed. Thanks to a friend for getting my medal and prize (since I was actually 1st with no competition on this day).
Aug 9th; our race at Neshaminy. No racing for either one of us but our first as promoter’s of a race. Considering the rescheduling, the day of rain and all our other factors it seemed to be a good day overall.
NY – Aug 14th; the weekend after VT and another ski slope course. I had never ventured to this course before but knew all I needed was to finish and I’d take the East Series Championship. Kinda easy when no one else ventures to the required 4 races of the series. It was amazing how low the turnout was across the board for all the races in the series, especially VT and NY. I brought Hubby’s 29er to this race hoping that would change my luck since he wouldn’t need it as he ventured to Mount Washington for the hill climb that he rocked on. But my luck didn’t seem to change much. I got there Thur night to do a pre-ride on Fri am and the ride went okay but I had issues with air in the rear tire again. After the lap I realize I had torn a hole in the rear tire and had to swap it out. That should have been fine but as the race begins I realize I have issues in the first ¼ of the lap. I’m burping the front and rear tires constantly, the front with every turn and the rear over most every rock. Add to it, in the mitts of a race scenario I convinced myself the CO2 cartridges I have don’t fit in my dispenser. By lap two I have basically no air in the tires, I’m walking everything trying not to hurt Hubby’s wheels and I remember being pulled last week because of being “off the pace”. Sadly, at this point my race turns to the hope of getting pulled because a third lap would be 100% walking/running. I’ve always believed everything happens for a reason and apparently the reason for VT was so I’d know I might just get pulled this weekend and not to even consider a DNF. My luck is there and they pull me, thus I’m a finisher. . and I’m the East Coast Series Champ for Cat 2 Women 30-39.
So I accomplished my goal of competing in the Kenda Cup and I won the series, but like I said, not the way I wanted. I managed to finish 4 of the 6 races and no other competitor did. Exciting.. Not.
Then the whole East v. West championship in Vegas the end of September was cancelled / changed to CA the week before. Not happening for me, thanks but no thanks.
So here I sit in Mid August, feeling done with Mountain Bike racing and feeling mostly caught up on the work front. Still have the Stage Race in NC sitting on the horizon for Mid-October and hoping somehow I manage to pull 38,000’ of climbing out of my you know what. Next year isn’t that far on the horizon with the 12hrs of Oleta the first weekend of January. And a decision of what my focus is for next year. Endurance, Cat 1, Cat 2.. MASS, Kenda.. no idea. All I know is I’ve still got tons of work to do and I’m certainly hoping to accomplish it during the next few months. I’ve got a good year of mtb racing somewhere inside me.
And maybe next year I'll bring a camera to all my ventures!
Sunday, June 7, 2009
As hubby and I ventured across the state line into Delaware the rain started. Now considering all of us were expecting a dry race based on the forecasts, something out there was letting us know we were all in store for another mud experience at some level. It stopped by race time but it was enough to make some sections of the course muddy goo. Still a fun course overall though, even with the mega dip being taken out because of the conditions.
Now I hadn’t had a great week before, some late nights and wasn’t feeling my spunkiest but these 3 laps pretty darn near killed me. Last year I did the 4 hour enduro and actually went out with something like 2 minutes to go because I wanted another lap. This year, 3 laps and 2 ½ hours and there isn’t a chance I could have done another lap. Proven by my DFL finish.
Since Iron Hill, another tough week has occurred from various angles, more to come on that eventually. But Hubby and I are still venturing to the 2nd Kenda Cup in our race plans for this year, the Hoo-Ha in Virginia. I’m not expecting to do anything special here but finish. We shall see…
Thinking of everyone in Philly, either doing or enjoying the race! Have fun everyone.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Last weekend was a wonderful weekend OFF from racing (and as it turned out, basically off from riding in general!) French Creek being postponed was quite welcome after racing for the four preceding weeks. Sadly it’s rescheduled to a weekend that I have a different race in the plan but that’s this year. Seems it’s the year of conflicts.
The weekend off also happened to be Mother’s Day and I got a killer surprise :) Yea, I hear you now. No we don’t have any two footer’s (thankfully!) but we do have our Furry Babies as a friend refers to them as. They are our kids and they got me a gift!!
So that’s only our youngest but he’s the staved for attention type so he got center stage. A few more mod’s still to come for the bike. Heck since I'm not getting a 29er just yet I might as well dress up the old girl! I refer to her as pinky now.
So the season of racing has begun and I’ve had a mix of both good and not so good experiences. I feel I’ve got my mind oriented correctly somehow and I'm really looking forward to the whole year. My goals for this season have kinda come together for me throughout the last month.
But first, the prior four weekends of racing:
Weekend one was the 6 Hours on the Greenway in Ft. Mill, SC, a race right near our friends in Charlotte, NC so gave us an excuse to go ride some and see them. Not to mention slightly warmer weather at that point. But I’ve never felt so lethargic starting a race, no energy or motivation. I watched all the “competitors” pull away with-in the first lap, not that this is necessarily new for me but usually I feel like I’m pushing at least a little as they walk away but this day I felt nothing. This race got summed up as I got to ride my bikes for six hours in the sunshine while in was misty rainy and cold back at home. Had a good time seeing our friends, and sadly seeing one of our furry friends for the last time.
The next weekend brought the Baker’s Dozen, a 13 hour at Leesburg, VA. One that I had been hyped to do for a year. We weren’t able to last year and I had been bummed about it ever since. Granted, after racing the SnotCycle on this same course, my enthusiasm had fizzled a little. I didn’t have a good race that day and had a little more hesitation than I normally would approaching an endurance event. But the day came, brought beautiful weather and a chance to hang with some other friends. I rode 10 or 11 laps (the results say 10 but the timing on one of my laps makes me wonder if they missed a lap – I don’t keep count and it doesn’t really matter except I feel better having ridden 77 miles verses 70). At the 12hrs 30min mark I was debating completing another lap but chose not to, I lose motivation when I’m already last or close to it. I should have in hindsight, I know better. I wouldn’t have made top 3 but would have been officially 5th out of 9 with 11 laps verses 8 out of 9 with my 10 laps. I’d feel a little better about my day, that’s all. I had fun, good ride, good course but I continued with a lackluster performance.
I have to thank FatMarc and his crew for bringing some smiles to my face during the day. Not only did they have the largest pit area of anyone, they brought me to laughter on more than a few occasions. FatMarc and his “incoming” comment as he was getting ready to me pass one of his many times. Incoming? Really, are we at war? Okay, maybe we were. But then one of his friends, of which I forget her name as well, passes me and say’s “great job friend of FatMarc, keep it going!” It was a good day in all.
Greenbrier, the place of my first “felt like I was racing” experience last year. My memories had it as a blast of a course, actually rocky and a place you really do need a mountain bike. In other words, fun! But what I didn’t remember was the climbing there, I only recalled the one at the start which is barely a climb. That's me looking a little too relaxed!
The day was hot, and feeling it hanging around before the start let me know I might be in for it with my tendency to overheat, even though I do love the heat. Yea, I’ve been called odd on more than one occasion. The race started and at the first little climb my quads felt like rocks. I begin to lecture myself “I’ve gotta start warming up more, this sucks”. The field pulls away. After the first descent and rocky section I bring the competitors back in sight so when the climb begins I push to try to maintain my gap verses losing ground. Sometime during this climb I begin feeling the heat, especially when we get to more exposed areas. Drinking from my camelbak isn’t sounding good. I remind myself I want to finish this race and back it off a bit. But apparently the heat had already gotten to me and I started getting sick. Once on a climb and the second time actually descending on a rock section. As I finish my first lap I just want cold water.
Hubby had been kind enough to venture to my race on his return from completing the Choutta 100 miler in the scorching heat the day before. I was looking forward to seeing him but I didn’t know he’d also save my day!
As I come through on my lap he’s there with a bottle full of Ice Cold Water. It was the best I had ever had. I grab it and go, drinking some and pouring some on my mellon. It made all the difference. My sickness was gone, I could feel almost normal on my bike. I was out of “competition” but I felt better. So on a day when many others didn’t finish, I did and that got me a third place. I wasn’t upset at all about the day. I left thinking it is a great course, glad I went and I pushed to what I was capable of on that day.
Kenda Cup Race #1 - which happened to be at the same location hubby’s Choutta started the weekend before. He was kind enough to be driving again! This time he had company with me and a teammate and friend, Janel joining for the journey. The forecast had been rain and rain there was! We arrived mid-day on Saturday to start our pre-ride, while it was raining. The course was phenomenal! Well after the three miles of climbing that is.. when you flowed into three miles of singletrack joy and ended with a three mile downhill (somehow 11 miles total). This ride ranks with one of the best, I loved it. The course was good, nothing like out west or anything but just riding singletrack and a fun downhill while it was pouring raining, it was a blast! I even took my time near the top to enjoy some of the views.
Race morning they announced they’d be shortening our laps and that meant the three miles of fun singletrack in the middle would be gone. So three miles up, three miles down with a little other stuff here and there. But the conditions were expected to be getting even worse and lap times would be longer. The rain had stopped by the start, exactly what I didn’t want. Once the rain stops and a race starts, the mud begins. Most of it was actually pretty good, just a few slimy parts and it really had to be one of the best race courses to handle bad weather I’ve ever seen. I fell out of contention near the start of this race, on the nice steady not steep three mile climb. Towards the end of the first lap I reeled in one girl and sadly caught her right AFTER the fun narrow downhill began. Granted we had a long while of gravel road downhill I should have caught her on before, but after my gravel crash and slide at Quantico last year I ride gravel way too timid. And she wouldn’t let me pass even though I assured her she would pass me again right after the downhill. I know, it’s my job to pass her and it is a race and all. But I just wanted to have fun on my downhill and couldn’t. I became bummed and moseyed my way through my second lap. Short story- I had a good ride, not a good race. Mental got me more than my physical I do believe. Didn’t matter, I was very glad to have come and I knew my goal here was to finish, period. And I did. Plus hubby and Janel both had great results and besides having to do the whole drive back Sunday night we had fun.
The year ahead… plans/goals for this year, I have three and they’re all staged towards the end of the season. Starts out early Sept with completing the Shenandoah 100, I did say completing – not competing in. Key point there. Followed up by the Kenda Cup finals in Vegas, I do want to compete here. Granted I am not expecting to win, they’ll be at least a few women that are Cat 1 caliper and although I’d love to race at their pace my true goal is to be competitive and try to be upper pack to a podium. The finale is in Mid-October by completing the Pisgah Stage Race, 4 days but the first day is only 6 miles – it goes up from there. And by up I mean 38,000+ feet of climbing. We have at least 6 team members doing it plus another 2 folks we know. It should be a great time, great challenge and yea I know I have some training to do.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
The first lap started okay, not a typical XC start with the ice but we all went into the trail with me about mid-pack of 9 women. Cool course was my first thought, but then my sliding around was really starting to get old. In talking with some of the other racers that would watch me slide, I was certainly having more of an issue with it than most. I'd say I was on slicks but I got to verify that wasn't true first hand when I had to pull over to put air in my flat rear tire. That took about about 15 minutes with trying to twist a frozen CO2 cartridge with cold wet hands. Finally got air in but by this point I was out contention. So what I thought, I still want to get my three laps in. But then lap 2 became a painful joke. My rear tire was going flat again and I was sliding worse. My third sliding crash took me out. Not sure how I did it but both my knee's took serious impacts and it took me a few seconds of laying in the middle of the trail wondering if I'd ever walk again before I was able to drag me and my bike off the trail. Then another 5 minutes of just standing there with my bike before I could bend a knee. The 15 minute walk out of the trail was probably a good thing and kept a little motion in them. Little swelling knots that were iced last night. Not the end of my walking life thankfully, but did end my first XC of 2009.
It was great to see alot of people that I hadn't seen yet this winter. I'm looking forward to the Baker's Dozen with a little warmer temperatures and a lot less ice.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Tomorrow we'll see how much "fun" I had after 22+ miles of "racing"... in January. I might be figuring out I prefer endurance events over XC's. I never seem to get as 'worked up' before those.
And I might just succumb to the facebook revolution this weekend and get one going. Maybe.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Saturday, January 17, 2009
For a person that gets cold when it’s 70 degrees, why would a single digit road ride seem like a good idea?
I hadn’t been on a bike in two weeks. Hadn’t done any kind of work out. The sun was shining. It seemed like a good idea. I was actually feeling like a long road ride more than any kind of mountain ride. (Very odd??)
The face was in pain, but that went way. Then the fingers went numb, but that went away. Then the toes went numb and it wasn’t going away. I cut my ride shorter than I planned.
Still, I felt surprisingly good overall. Guess just happy to be back on the bike. And I kept my personal goal to never shift into an easier gear than hubby’s fixie.
Tomorrow - looking forward to a great mountain bike ride!!
That picture is only part of what caused the end of my day at Oleta. Sure it was a couple weeks ago, but I’ve been busy so this write up is slightly delayed!
Oleta 12 hour… Worn bib’s plus riding a 26” hardtail over non-stop roots and little rocks are discomforts I can push through. Probably could have pushed through the choking pain for the night laps. It turned out I didn’t have the extension between the light and the camelbak and even with my battery high on my back it was disconnecting. Thankfully a friend of a friend was in the pits and started helping me rig it. The solution, put zip ties around the front straps to keep the camelbak way up on my back. The problem… the zip ties were at my throat and choking me, literally. A pain I still feel 2 weeks later, only slightly concerning.
But then I broke a spoke in the rear wheel. Having to take that lap gingerly pretty much solidified that I wouldn’t be on the podium this day. I was done. Not the day I hoped for and redemption has now entered my plans for this year.