Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Some things are out of my control. Chaos around me and fever.

Who doesn't love the Derby City USGP? That's right, no one. It is a sweet event and this year did not disappoint. This event has a special place in my heart since it marks the anniversary of my first pro cross race. This year I had a much different outlook on my expectations from last year. I went from thinking I was gonna get killed, to wanting to kill it! As you can see, the RV made the trip and camp was set for a weekend full of racing. The women's pro field was balling big time! We may not have the numbers that the pro men post, but the depth of the talent is packed. As a matter of fact, there is very little "pack fill" as the pro men have, and I knew a top 15 finish on my part would require some focused effort mentally and physically. My goal for the weekend was to post top 15 results. Let's see how that went...
Friday teammates Josh Johnson and resident manager Anne Young made the trip down with me in the RV. We set up camp and scoped out the course with flashlights and prepped for what looked to be a muddy venue. We woke up to a chilly morning and tons of cars that once was an empty lot. We were thankful to be in the warm rv as we watched the poor cat 4's start at 830 am. Way to early! All reports showed mud and more mud. What was soup by the morning, turned into thick, power sucking mud by my race. After course recon, all us pro women were prepped for yet another muddy race of the season. True cross racing at its best!
I continue to start from the last row, but am slowly moving up in call up ranks (I was told I am ranked uci 93rd in the world). I had a poor start to say the least. I took advantage of weaving through some gals messing up on the muddy sections and by the end of the 1st lap I was sitting in about 10th position. Sweet! I felt like I was doing a good job of choosing lines that were getting me a few seconds ahead of the other gals but maybe were a little more technically challenging. I wouldn't say I like a mud race, but the mud races seem to like me. Anyway, I held that position for a few laps until disaster struck. A racer in front of me wrecked on a muddy G-out and I was going full speed into it myself. With no braking power in mud, I had no option but to ram right into her. Our bikes locked and after getting separated, my sweet trp's were jammed into the wrong place on my front wheel. I was forced to stop to try and free it and after a few attempts I started running for the pits trying to fix it on the run. I finally got it fixed after watching about 10 girls pass me by. Tough break! I fought hard the rest of the race to gain positions, finally making it back up to 15th. I can't really help situations like that, but it really makes me wander what could have been. I was still happy with 15th, because it could have been much worse.
That night was filled with de-mudding as usual. That seems to be the routine this season. I just kept thinking how thankful I was for getting Rhino's this year. We finished the night with a movie and gladly went to bed early to get ready for the next day of fun.

Day 2 also had a hitch in my plans of doing well. I went to bed the night before with confidence that I could maybe break the top 10. That quickly changed when I woke up early with nausea and a fever. I couldn't believe it. It felt like I had put embro all over my face, and I was super tired. I went to cheer Josh on (who finished 3rd and 8th) and I was exhausted from that. Not what I was expecting. I debated to not race, but I figured I had already paid and made the trip, so I should just give it a go. I decided I would drop out if I felt like death. I had nothing to lose.

I did better than I expected. It was tough, but I got 15th again. Riding with the flu on a muddy ground is super energy zapping. Surprisingly, I had a better start and felt better and better as the race went on. I started in the top 10-14 pack, but faded a little as I found I had zero top end spunk. I focused on staying as smooth as I could and slowly gained on that group again. I was in 16th going into the last lap and I was determined to get my goal placing even though 15th spot was about 40 seconds ahead of me. Well, I caught her. Once we got to the green monster, we went back and forth and going into the final mud pit I made a sweet pass and I knew I had her with my power. I made the pass and never looked back. It was a hard earned 15th, and I was proud of it. I met my goal, even being sick.
So that concludes my usgp races for this season. I would love to hit the NJ one, but my funding for such a trip isn't there this year. I hope to get a little more support next year to be able to put some bling in the bank to hit all the usgp's. I just have to keep working hard and posting some results. Both of which I know I can do.
It was a good weekend otherwise, it is always nice to have a high profile race really close. It is super fun to see all the ovcx regulars doing well with the best racers in the country. I also had some amazing ice cream on the way home. It made me feel better (at least in my mind). Thanks to Josh for helping around camp, Anne for doing everything without even being asked, Tim Wagner for being the pit boss, and Mike B and his family for providing general fan support. Thanks for the rest of my team and locals I know for the cheers and cowbell that we all know make us go faster than we really should!
I actually have a short race weekend this week with only one race! Wow, a weekend day at home. I really need it, I feel like I am abusing my cat. Plus, I have big duties of being a "scare" character at a Halloween party. I get to wear makeup and everything while a play witch and scare little kids on a hay ride. I love Halloween!
... and then, its time for the Iceman Cometh.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round...

I really do just love to watch them roll!
and man have they! Tons of fun things have been happening since the last post.
The 3 day UCI weekend in Cinci area, a couple chill days at work, a short vacation to Brown County, and a sweet event put on in Bloomington by Messer and Knapp. The wheels on the bikes and the cars have been working overtime, but I was also blessed to just sit back and relax in the hot tub at the cabin this past week in BC before I get ready to head off to the USGP in L'ville. Since a lot has happened, I will try to just hit a few of the fun details:
UCI Cinci was good to me. It was good last year in the 3/4 ranks as I won all 3 daysNicole <span class=
in a row. I didn't win this year as I have moved up 2 cats since, but a win is measured from person to person, and in my book I was a winner (and that is important). I finally overcame the thought that I would not break the top 15 in the pro ranks. I smashed that on a mud filled Friday by placing 9th! It was a huge accomplishment in my mind and I am very excited about it. It really just came down to managing the mistakes and falling the least. I have to say, it was the most freaked out and out of control I have been on a bike since I took off training wheels. The mud was like ice for sure! It was so fun! At the end of the 3 day weekend I counted 43 bruises on my body and Friday had a lot to do with that. I put it all out there and it payed off.

The Saturday race was held at my favorite venue of the 3. It had a good mix of all things cross. It also was a great place to make camp with the RV for us as we had hot showers and electric! Sweet! This made me super happy to be able to pimp some electricity off of the good city of Middletown. Anyway, I was a little behind from the start on this day as I had a poor take off then got behind some gals playing in the sand pit. I had a ton of ground to make up and worked hard the whole time to do it. I was sitting in 10th and was about to go into 9th on the next to last lap when I decided to take a piece of the venue home with me by sticking a wood stake in my bike bars. After unloading that, I cruised to 10th in the end, but still very happy with the results. Big time thanks to Doug who put on this race! Great job at this site and thanks for jumping the RV!
After Saturdays race we drove the RV to Harbin Park and set up camp pretty late. Emily and I discovered that we had actually parked our Rv by some organized Ferrel cat colony, so who knows how many times the bikes were sprayed in the middle of the night. Harbin is not my kind of venue for cross. It is a roadie coarse and it has some elevation increases that make me cringe to think of on an end of a 3 day effort. No matter, it is still cross and I was thankful for the day. However, upon awakening, it was clear that the RV crew was a bit on the tired side. We all sat around munching our cereal like zombies and needed a little kick in the pants to get motivate to go kill it for 40 minutes. I decided to stick Roam in the dvd player to get the vibes going. Roam is my favorite bike movie and seems to always get me in the mood to ride, so it worked for me once again. After that, we recon ed the venue and then hit the trainers. To say I struggled with my warm-up was an understatement. I was worn out from simply doing it and worried that I was gonna get killed during the race. I didn't forget the fact that several of the pro women are killers on the road racing scene, and that this venue would favor them. But after the start gun, I found myself in a good position and I was actually getting reports that I was sitting in 8Th. I hung that for a few laps, until my gas tank started to drain to near empty. I thought I was going as fast as I could pedal, but gals just kept slowly picking me off until I crossed the line in 12Th. I was disappointed but then again, I did the best I could and still remembered I met my goal of top 15. It was still a fun day and a great weekend. We packed up the RV and made our way home. I don't think I stopped eating constantly for like 3 days. An effort like that is huge and come to find out, after examining my bike, I totally seized up the BB on day 1, making it almost 10 times as hard for the cranks to turn. No wonder I felt like my legs were burning!

Cinci was good to me and my team, we posted some great results and it also upped my mindset and expectations of myself. I no longer am trying to "just make it" in the pro ranks, I am actually gunning for uci point positions. I really can't believe it! Thanks to all the cool people who made this event happen.

After the trip home and Monday work and massage, I was pretty drained and was looking forward to some time off from the days stacked with work, being on call, and training on top of that. Every year my Mom and I get a sweet cabin in Brown County to take in God's handy work of fall splendor. We had a great time and enjoyed the stillness of the area as I found I had no Internet, phone, or tv access at times. Just reading, bird watching, conversation, and hot tub relaxing was what we had to do. It was perfect and I was once again reminded how thankful I am to have such a great Mom and friend be a part of my life. Our parents won't be here forever, so I am enjoying mine while I can.
In the middle of vacation I also had a cx race in nearby Bloomington. I thought I was feeling horrible, but after the start of the race, it really wasn't too hard for me to hang with front runner Nikki, and I slowly went back and forth with her until she faded on the 3rd lap. I really just took it easy after that and didn't expend too much energy while rolling in for the W. Andy and Ryan had a great venue and I really enjoyed the way the coarse flowed. I actually thought it was pretty easy to tell the truth, despite others thinking it was a little more technical than usual. I guess my mtb racing for cross training pays off. I was so happy to come away with the win at this ovcx stop. We had some good competition, it was my "home" venue, and my Mom was there to cheer me on. That was nice. Aside from a lack of podium for the elite women, the guys did a good job putting on their first event.
To make it even more cake I was able to get a sweet headliner in velonews thanks to a great write up by Amanda McKay. Check it out:
also a sweet clip of the Friday uci race in the mud fest, check me out about minute four, finally making some smart line choices. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7786OOS_yOs.

So its off to Louisville for the USGP Derby City Cup. I would love to continue the good results. I can only do my best and whatever happens from there I will soon see and so will everyone else!

Monday, October 5, 2009

October Cx fest

So October is jam packed with lots of sweet cyclocross racing.I'm actually thinking that I should store up all my work vacation and just take October off next year from work so I can travel around to the cross races in the RV.Hmmm, I will have to think about that one during the winter trainer months.
Anyway, last weekend's cross installment was a kick off in L'ville as OVCX race weekend #2. My teammate Josh Johnson and I made the crazy trip down to the venue at the crack of 430am to hit his race at 1120. Even though it was hard getting up that early, it was nice to have plenty of time to scope things out for my afternoon race. Josh wasn't so lucky since he misjudged his start time and did not even get to pre-ride the coarse. He still killed it for 4th, which is pretty sweet with no warm-up.
My recon of the coarse had me not getting good vibes. It was hilly and more hilly. It's no secret that I hate hills with a capital H, so I was hoping to just make it out alive without blowing up. It also didn't help that the Katie Compton of ovcx, Nikki Dalliere, loves hills and that she is one of my main competitors. Not to mention, Terri Meek, Amanda Mckay, and Bridget all have a pretty good track record of holding their own on the elevation gains. I was also a little anxious and excited to try out my new single chain ring set up with a Paul Components chain keeper for the first time in a race. 
At start time I was feeling better about my warm-up from my previous weekends. We had a strong field and I was pumped to just get the race under way. I managed the hole-shot thanks to the BMX days, and went back and forth a bit with Nikki on the first lap until she got a small lead on me. I was feeling pretty decen
t and was surprised how I was able to not hurt too bad on the hilly portions, so I decided to kick it up a notch on the second lap. Well, just as I did that a tree limb decided to kick up into my rear cassette. I thought it was the new chain set up at first, so I just rode through it, which caused the stick to become comfortably lodged in several cogs. I was forced to stop on a steep climb and claw and pull it out, and with that I watched 1st position walk away. I finally got it going and was thankful to have a pretty good gap on 3rd, so I tried to make some gains towards 1st, but it didn't happen.  I was happy with how my last 2 laps played out, I was able to focus on some cornering speed and I was happy that the hills didn't really tire me at the end of the race. I take that as progress in my fitness level.
Even though I may not be posting any wins  lately, I know I am getting better every time I step up to the start line. I get a little bummed with sometimes always coming in 2nd, but I am trying to be patient and remember that I can only do my best and I can't control other riders around me. I know a cyclocross win is in me somewhere, I just have to trust my training and hard work to deliver me to that point someday. 

Regardless, I still had a great time, and actually thought the venue was a lot of fun. It had some great elements that I thought encompassed the thrill of cyclocross racing. The weather was perfect and it was nice to race in a little cooler temps than the last few weeks. Fall is in the air and that means it is october cx fest time!

Next stop- 3 days of big time UCI racing in Cincinnati, OH area. Maybe I can bag a few more UCI points for my trick or treat bag.