Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Its Time to see where I stand.

2009 USGP Planet Bike Cup_Sat_0283 by NikkiCyp.I have always been a firm believer that anybody can do almost anything with hard work and determination. I have never been the fastest, skinniest, smartest, or most talented person compared to others around me, but I try to make up for that by giving it my best foot forward. I remember as a young girl going to basketball practice, getting my butt kicked, then going home and going out to practice on my own. By the time I was in high school, that hard work payed off and I was a 4 year varsity player with some college scholarships lined up. Anesthesia residency was another example, it would take me twice as long to read and study, but I stuck with it (and it was very hard) and now I am thankful everyday for all the work I put forth. I always tell people they can do whatever they want in life, they just have to make sacrifices and stick with the plan to accomplish those plans no matter what. It's the same with cycling. I have made a decision to give being a cyclocross pro a shot. Aside from my job, it consumes my every thought. I make a lot of sacrifices and some times I wander if it is worth it. Being a person that works hours that are more than what most people work in 2 weeks and being regimented to stick to a training plan on the bike is a lot to swallow when I wake up on Monday morning. Add in taking care of personal, financial, yard and house duties, and it can be a little overwhelming at times. But....

Last weekend I hit up the Wisconsin USGP elite women's race. The start list was a who's who of pro women's cycling. It was really the first elite race where I felt kinda like I belonged. I say this because I think I have had a chance to start getting into cycling shape to race at this level. I have been training and focused for almost 2 years now, and I'm almost at that level. I had a next to last row start and I was surrounded by world cup winners , Olympians, mtb world champions, and paid athletes. Was I crazy! Maybe, but I worked hard to be there too, and now was the time to see where I stood. I placed 16th out of 32! Maybe I do belong, my hard work is starting to pay off. I found a lot of things I need to work on, but also gained  valuable positive thoughts that will help my confidence at the next big race. I will take all those lessons and head out to practice and work hard on getting better.  Plus, I gained some UCI points and those 6 babies will be super sweet to have in my pocket!2009 USGP Planet Bike Cup_Sat_0254 by NikkiCyp.

Day 2 was not as positive for me,  I had some equipment issues (thanks Matty J for the wheel)  before the race and failed to warm-up properly. I felt really good by the last 2 laps, but obviously it was too late then. I also had an untimely incident with busting my knee square on with one of the wood stakes during the first lap. I had to keep pushing on it to squeeze the blood out of my kneecap so I could have full range of motion to pedal. That was a stupid mistake.  I was still very pleased to place 23rd. Since top 25 was my original goal for the weekend, so I was okay with day 2. I know what I did wrong and will hope to avoid those things next time. That's what always leaves you coming back for more, the hope of doing better.
Aside from that, the venue was wonderful and the weather was cross perfect. I pre-rode in a rain storm on Friday, but other then that, the weather was okay. I also want to give a shout out to Mike Benedek for providing housing for me, after a last minute change of sleeping plans, it was a huge help and stress relief. Thanks Mike! I'm thankful for a one day race weekend of OVCX in L'ville on Sunday this week to prep for the next weekend. Three day Cinci area uci is fast approaching and I hope to put it together and post some good results. I just feel if I could have a break through at some point, I could be on the verge of not having to start dead last. All I know is that I will keep working my ass off to get there! Thanks for reading.
... and YES, it is all worth it!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Show me the power and mud! OVCX opener report.

Well, the Drt racing crew showed up in a big way this past weekend for the "official" kickoff of cross racing season in the subs of Cinci for the King's Cx OVCX opener. We had a nice team showing during the 2 days of racing that showed both sun, rain, mud, heat, humidity and lots of racers.  I was super stoked to see the large numbers of 3/4 women racing this year as they had over 20 gals line up to duke it out each day. I was also a little bummed that more of us elite women didn't show, as we didn't even break the double digits. I'm sure that will change really soon though with the way 3/4's are getting into the sport. 
We headed down from Northern Indiana on late Friday with the RV and woke up to a chilly Saturday morning, but beautiful conditions and plenty of time to scope out the coarse. Josh Johnson and I were there first from the team to arrive and would later be joined by Zach, Andy and Don. After getting a good look at the layout, we got prepped for the days events. 
Josh had the first race in the Cat3 men and had a great showing with 2nd place (which he would repeat on day 2). This was a sweet job considering he was a cat4 last year and only had
 about 4 cross races under his belt.
 (Pic: Josh in the lead group hitting the center of the barrier)
Don and I would take the line next. I really was excited about the layout since I felt it was a good mix of some tech and long power sections. It had a little too much running for me, but I knew I would make it through it. Running is something I am unable to do with the bum ankle so I am a little anxious with more running in the laps. It turns out that the running really wasn't a problem. I took off from the line into the humungo first straight and felt like the legs were firing great! I dipped in 2nd wheel behind Olivia Jaras and drafted a minute to catch my breath before taking the lead. I had  the lead for a while until I found myself eating the ground on the barriers. I got a little fancy and tried to step off at the last minute and my front wheel hit the barrier sending me pile driving into the ground face first at full body speed. Ouch! I'm still feeling it. After getting back up in dead last, I had a bent lever and couldn't shift. So I was forced to do some climbing in a massive gear until I got to the pit for a bike exchange. After the exchange, I had made my way up to 4th and after getting my A bike back I finally passed a tough Pam Loebig and moved into 3rd.  I then set my sights on 2nd place that was held down by last year's series winner, Amanda Mckay. It took some effort to get up to her, but I drilled it on the hills and finally did it. I played it safe and drafted a little off her on the bell lap until the very last straight. I threw down what power I had left and had a fair gap allowing me to not have to work too hard in the last meters. I finished 2nd, but I had to work the whole race to get it. I was pretty happy with being able to fight my way back after a wreck and 2 pits. On a side note, Don decided to eat the barrier also and played a similar race as myself and was able to fight back for 3rd!
Andy and Zach took the line next in the pro men field and they both had a good first day showing, placing 6th and 9th respectively. The pro men for ovcx are looking super tough this year and there should be some epic battles for the overall series points chase. 
(Pic: Andy Messer rounding the pit area in the 1/2/3 race . It was a fast, dry day.)
After another night in the RV at the venue, and a showing of Office Space, day 2 of racing was upon us quickly. Being a team of MTBers, we were hoping the rain predictions would stick and that happened just in time for the races to start. A steady rain began and I was excited to get to try my new Rhinos. Josh's race was probably the slickest of the day with the rain being constant, but by the time I started it was dying down and forming walls of humidity. It was sticky and I was regretting putting on the embro earlier when it seemed "cold." I  didn't feel that great in my warm up, but hoped the legs would wake up once the racing started. It was fast pace from the gun, and with some stiffer competition and ovcx points on the line, I wanted to do the best I could. It was pretty bunched up at first and slowly the obstacles and mud started spreading us out. AnnaJean (Nikki) got into the lead early and I stayed with her for a little while, but she slowly gained on me in the power areas and I settled into 2nd.  I had a couple more hard surges to try and get back to her, but I was unable to bridge it and was feeling the hurt from my hard chasing the day before. It really just comes down to power to weight ratio at this point with her and I. So 2nd place it was, and I was okay with this considering there was some good gals out there to race with. I was also very happy to have no wrecks or mechanical in this race of muddiness! It was super fun to race cx in the mud again and it reminded me of why I love it so much. Plus, the Rhinos were amazing!
Drt continued to have good team results on the weekend with Don G placing 2nd in M 1/2/3, Andy finishing 4th, and Zach E. coming in at a strong 13th. Not a bad showing for the team before we head to the Wisconsin Usgp this weekend. Thanks Kings Cx for a great venue and all the work to put on a good time!
USGP is already shaping up to be a huge field for the pro women and looks like all the paid gals will line up. I look forward to see how this full-time anesthesia cross racer can fair against the full-time pros!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Do mechanicals come in three's?

In anesthesia and in medicine, most things happen in 3's. Like 3 people die, 3 difficult cases in a week, 3 call-ins in the middle of the night, stuff like that. I'm hoping that rule doesn't hold true in cycling. In the last 2 races I have had 2 mechanicals to my bikes that have resulted in me either coming in dead last or losing the race. I think 2 is enough since cross season starts in official swing this upcoming weekend. Here's the low down. 
(pic: Dino Indy start, first race on a 29er)

Dino Indy was the first breakdown. It all started great with me leading the elite women for about 3/4 of the first of 3 laps.
The track was dry and I was trying out the new niner and was having a fun time on it. I felt like I was in slow-mo in the corners compared to Terry, but maybe it was just the way the 29 feels. I don't think I was actually that much slower. Coming into the field section I was passed by AnnaJean, which I expected and faded a little before deciding to start racing again. About that time,  I noticed that my left crankarm/ cleat was wobbling all over the place and I thought it was just my shoe cleat coming lose. After babying this along for a whole lap, I found out what it really was because after an excel out of a corner the whole left crank came out of the bb and fell off.  Thus, ending my racing day. I was happy that I didn't kill myself, but I was super bummed since AnnaJean only had a 10 second lead on me and I still felt like I had some fuel left to burn. I walked back to the car about 2 miles, fixed the bike and decided I might as well do the last lap for fun. By that time it was starting to rain and I cruised along kinda happy I didn't have to risk my life in the slime trying to get a win. Unfortunately, this put me in dead last, leaving me with no payout. This was made worse by the fact that I got a speeding ticket heading out of Indy later that day. Oh well, some days just don't pay.
I ended the Dino series overall in 2nd place. Officially 3rd, but I omit trail work bonus points in my book since I feel it is not indicative of race finishes. I think trail work should be rewarded, but doing it in a race series at the expert level is not really the place. I feel race points are race
 points, not points on how helpful you are in life. It would be like letting the bears add a few points to the score board because they helped mow the field that morning before the game. 
Anyway, this officially closed the mtb season except for Iceman, and I am looking forward to that race a lot.

After the dino race, I took off (very fast) with my 
parents to the Tour of Missouri. We had a great time and it was a very cool experience. I am thankful that my parents have embraced cycling so much and enjoy watching it even if I'm not the one racing. I can't stress enough how anyone who rides a bike should go watch this event, it was a unique thing to see for sure.   
( pic: Garmin compound, Busch Stadium lot)

Mechanical number two happened in the first cross race of the year. Josh Johnson, Anne Young and I headed up to a Kisscross race in Grand Rapids MI to get our feet wet for the season. This was a smaller race and would serve as a low- key practice race for me. Practice races are for getting the kinks out and I had no kinks until the last stretch of the last lap when I rolled my rear tubie. I was leading by a sizable margin at the time and by the time I ran for a bit and then realized I had to far to run to finish, I deflated the rear tire to about 10psi to get the tubie back on the rim, got passed by the girl I was beating, then barely made it across the line ahead of the 3rd place girl. This was no fun to lose the race due to another mechanical, but I would so rather it happen in this race as opposed to a pro usgp race. That's why I do practice races. The good things from this race were: I sat in 4th overall ahead of a bunch of guys until my tire rolled, I held the effort no problem and still had more left, barriers were flawless, Anne kicked butt in her second cross race
 ever, and Josh brought home the win in the B race! 
I'm sure the bad luck is behind now, and I will get on with it. Mechanicals happen, I just hope they don't come in 3's. Cross is full on now, with 1 or 2 races every weekend until December and wncxw's every wed at the bike depot. Fun, fun...Hup, hup is what I have been waiting for since last year! (above pic: Josh and I 1st and 2nd in the first cross of the year. Cannonsberg ski area. Drt domination! )

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Cross Builds

Well, here it is- The cross builds. I have to say, that the S- works is a bas a**. I had a hard time deciding  to get a carbon cross bike, but I'm happy I made the move. It is so sweet and rides so stiff that I want to go ride it all the time! Its just stupid light and feathery! The bike not only looks fast, it is a pure rocket. All I have to do is provide the firepower. I think the biggest difference, as far as ride goes from the B bike, was the way it excelled out of corners and I felt it was very stable in power transfer on the first couple strokes after remounting. As it stands it weighs in at 16.6 ibs. I will drop a few more grams soon by a few little touch ups. Here are the vital stats:

Frame- 2010 Sworks tricross 52cm
Fork- Sworks 
Wheels- Easton EC90 aero tubular with Challenge Grifo 32
Shifters- Dura ace 7900
Rear Der- 2008 dura-ace
Front der- 2008 ultegra (due to upgrade)
Cables- nokon
Cranks- Fsa K-force 36/46 fsa rings
Pedals- Crank Brothers 4ti eggbeaters
Chain- ultegra
Cassseste- ultegra
Brakes- TRP Euro mag with Swiss-stop yellow
BB- ceramic 
Stem- 3t
Bars- FSA compact short and shallow 40cm
Post- Thomson elite masterpiece
Saddle- Specialized Ruby 155cm

I love these wheels! I built this with a double 36/46t, but I think I may drop the double and go single. Haven't decided yet, but I will see how I feel after a couple races before deciding. 

View from the cockpit. Fizik tape is the only way to go. Trying 3T for the first time. It was plastered all over Cervelo bikes, so I think it will be good for me. 

A and B together. My B bike was a bike I had bought for my sister 2 years ago. She didn't like the style, so I inherited it back, and good thing because it worked out to not have to buy 2 bikes giving me the oppurtunity to pimp out the A bikes as much as I could. I will mostly ride the B bike to work, during skills practice days, and I'm using it now as my road bike too. It is also great to warm up on during muddy races and on the trainer, not to mention, it will be my pit bike. Although it has lower componants than the A bike, it has turned out to be a pretty nice ride in itself. Upgrades to it this year were the Dura- ace levers, Thomson elite post, TRP euro-x brakes, and specialized Ruby saddle. Barry at Summit City bikes fit this bike to match the A bike perfectly, so both bikes flow with ease. B bike's name is Putty. That's a Seinfeld throw in, and this bike is pretty much my David Putty: it is always a good standby, mechanically sound, 
can do a little of everything but doesn't have much bling. 

I'm running sweet Dugast Rhinos for the mud with Chris King Classic cross hubs and Sun rims. They look so tidy all clean and new, but I can't wait to see how well they track in the mud. Zach Edwards (pro cross mechanic) at Revolution Bike and Bean in B-town built and glued these sweet babies up. I can't believe how supple they feel! Next year I will add a file tread set of wheels to the quiver. Maybe by my forties I will have all the wheels/ tires I want.

 Chris King is THE king of hubs (especially rear) in my book. I am thankful to now own a pair for cyclocross.
That's it. I'm stoked and very thankful for all the help I have had to get these bikes going. It takes a lot of planning and dreaming to get 2 bikes to fit together. Tim and Terry at Summit City did a great job with the bike builds and now it is time to put them to the test. I'm heading up to Grand Rapids MI on Saturday for the first race of the year! Its a small practice Kiss cross race and will be a good starter ride on the new rides! I can't believe cross is here already, it just seems like yesterday that I was throwing my arms in the air for my B National Championship Win in KC. Come to think of it, I liked throwing the W, I think I will do it again!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pity for Non-Cross Racers

I really do feel a little bit sorry for those of you who don't race cyclocross. Not only because it is the best form of cycling I know, but because everyone is crazy about it right now. You would be hard pressed to view any form of cycling material and not find some cross mention that throws it in your face. Every magazine, e'zine, blog, tweet, and cracker jack box has some cross crack right now. Everyone is getting ready for it like old people stocking their pantries before a blizzard. That would make me feel a little left out if I were not a cross racer.
  In my 21 years as a bike racer I have never seen anything like the buzz, passion and explosion of cyclocross. Sure mountain biking had a pre-Lance build, and BMXers are a dedicated and unique bunch (and a close 2nd to cross in my fav book), but cross is taking the cake. Look at the growth people! Is there really a good excuse to not do it? Topping the list is the "I don't have money to buy a cross bike," excuse. This could be pretty valid I guess in these times. But it is cross. No fancy top of the line crap is needed unless you want to big pimp it as a cat 1 or 2. A good old mtb will do just fine, or take an old roadie sitting around and do a little home shop work. Plus,  you could nab a fair cross bike at any shop for a grand. Sell some old parts on ebay and you are half way there! Following next is the line, "I'm kinda tired of racing." What? Really? This isn't road racing... it is actually a fun environment people. The atmosphere is so laid back at times, you would think you are at a tailgate for a college football game (but everybody is a cyclist). The races are short and you don't need tons of training right now as long as you are still moving around  a little bit during the week you are good to go. Besides, are we ever not racing? Everyone knows you may be doing a local fall touring ride trying to best your time from last year; might as well add 2 or 3 cross races in there. Lastly, the "I don't like the cold," excuse is a favorite of some. Are you kidding me? You're a biker, you can handle whatever is thrown your way. It's not baseball. There are no game delays in cycling. Rub down with some Belgium knee warmers or take a warm shot of whiskey (which may help mentally) and go play in the frozen mud. Suck it up! It is fun to brave the elements in a skin suit! 
Seriously, cyclocross really is a ton of fun and I wish I could get every cyclist to try just one race. I know it isn't for everyone,  so maybe they should come out and cheer us on instead.  My point is that something must be great about it because cross talk is all over the place, and I'm sorry if you don't get into it since it is everywhere. 
Personally, I have started my cross prep full time. I have had about 3 weeks of cross specific practices and rides in. This ranges from race specific rides to switching to my cx bike for my daily commute to work. I also have taken the cx bike on the mtb trails for some technical handling and ride the cx bike for my road training rides. The geometry is different from the specialized sl, so I want my body to be totally in tune with the cx geometry. I have also bumped up my core routine, hitting the trainer 2 days a week and mixing in some small core work everyday otherwise. Darrell and I have started kickboxing which is very helpful for glute and hip flexor motion specific to cross. We are also doing some major jump rope, simple but effective in getting over the barriers and running up hills! It is always different from going from a static position on the bike to having to dance and run around with your
bike while not falling on yourface. It takes practice and core strength and is a major challenge at the beginning of the season and will leave you wandering how you could ever make it through a 45-60 minute race! It's a lot of work, but the payoff is so much fun and I hope some of the little changes and attention to the details pays off in a big way for me this year! After my last mtb race in Indy Sunday (aside from Iceman) I will be in full cross mindset and look forward to hitting a small practice KissCross race in Michigan next weekend.
Hup! Hup!
Now go get your cross on!