Monday, October 31, 2005

Speaking of photos...

So apparently someone I used to know submitted a photo he took of me at Fitchburg last year in this week's VeloNews photo gallery contest. It was a bit of a surprise to see it online. Kinda cool. Hope it wins.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

NE in its Glory

I love Gloucester cross, the quintessential New England race weekend. Fierce international competition, screaming fans, never a dull moment.

We raced in a 'Nor Easter on Saturday then donned the shortsleeved skinsuits the next day. I love it.

Well, okay. The snow and mud I liked. But I admit I didn't enjoy the hypothermia that pretty much killed my race on Saturday. With a little more than a lap to go, it all went to hell for me. I was sitting pretty around 12th place, but knew I would have to defend it with everything. I couldn't deliver. I made all the mistakes in the book and got passed by 4 girls. I think my core temp got low enough that my body kind of went into survival mode. I actually started hyperventilating. I couldn't brake or shift because my hands were frozen rocks. Shifting worked unreliably at best with my fisted hand banging against the lever. Visibility was nil, and as Shopgirl said it best, my feet were so cold "I felt like I was running on my ankles!" When I crossed the finish line, I collapsed on my handlebars and shook, hyperventilating, and incohesive.

Kneewarmers aren't so warm when it's 33 degrees out and they're stuck to you, soaking wet. Neither is a skinsuit. I did have my favorite long-sleeve Craft base layer on, but even that couldn't keep me going. I shouldn't complain, though, because I heard that after my race, 3 women went to the hospital to be treated for hypothermia, one in an ambulance. I was just REALLY COLD. They wereDEATHLY COLD.

Sunday was awesome. The churning 'nor Easter spun off into the Atlantic, parting the clouds and leaving crystal skies. The inches of snow melted the ground into mud, which drained and dried a little by the afternoon races. The course was fast and fun.

I started in a perfect position in the second row. At the gun. I shot between the girls in front of me and charged 5th up the road. I lost a little in the first few turns, a mistake that's becoming a habit for me now, and after passing a group of 3, I ended up in 9th place through the first lap, watching the "big girls" just a few seconds ahead of me. I felt tired and feared cracking. I defended my position until a lap and a half, when I cracked. My bike also stopped shifting properly, and I had a hard time getting in my mud infested cleats. I went for a bike exchange, knowing that I would probably concede one place to the strong NE rider just a few seconds behind me. I couldn't catch her, I felt I had nothing left to burn. Thankfully I only had to ride my awful pit bike for 1/2 a lap.

After that I got caught. :( It was the two of us, alone, for the last lap. I was spent, but I could tell she was as well. I remembered that I out sprinted her twice this season at cx finishes, but knew I couldn't take that for granted in the least. Besides, I was so tired, and one mistake could open a gap I might not have the legs to close. It came down to the chicane before the road finish. She passed me coming into it, but I knew I had to be the first coming out of the 180 degree corner after that section. I glued myself to her wheel through the off-camber chicane, but she went high coming out of it, and I cut the shorter distance, going underneath her, surging ahead and hitting the 180 first. I was where I wanted to be, but realized, DAMN! It's a long way (uphill) to the finish from here!!

I gunned it, clunking gears and all, up the hill. The sun cast our shadows upthe road and I saw her lurching shadow beside mine, creeping closer. I went as hard as I could, leaving nothing behind. My heart rate was as high as I ever see it. I beat her by a foot, totally spent. For the first time ever, I actually heaved over my handlebars when I stopped. I was nauseous for at least an hour.

I finished 13th. A great result for me at a Grand Prix race. To put this weekend in perspective, I finished 27th and 29th at these two races last year. Now I'm knocking on the top ten's door. I can't wait for nationals. I just hope I can last without cracking... I've felt so tired, and I really need to focus on recovery. I want to travel and go to big races... can I last and continue to progress?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Recalculated Rankings

On my way up. Little by little. :)
Yay! I'll have a call-up for Gloucester this year!!

I Thought I'd Seen it All...

...I was mistaken!!

Cycle-Ball is a World Cup event!!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Wissi-where? (It's near Dela-where)

So when we drove up, I said to myself, "OMG! It looks like a dirt crit!!" And once I prerode it... I decided I had underestimated. The course served a refreshing complement to the mucky course with serious elevation change that we saw yesterday. Although I'm growing pretty fond of the mud and rain, today's crystal blue skies and warm temps also felt refreshing. I even donned my short-sleeved skinsuit!

When I woke I feared racing. I felt so tired - like last weekend - that I feared cracking and suffering another disappointment. My resting pulse soared all week, often seeing rates 10 bpm above my normal 40-42. This morning my legs felt heavy, but I know that never forecasts my race performance.

I had a decent start up the long road stretch, but found it difficult to take the muddy switchbacks as fast as I needed to, and I got passed. I guess Barbarella did, too, cuz she BIT IT right in front of me on one of the corners. Luckily I avoided the carnage and continued along. I just couldn't quite hold their pace though the lap. They slowly pulled away from me.

Have you noticed that the start of a cross race really continues through most of the first lap? I always thought of the start as up the road (if it's a paved s/f) and through the first couple of turns. It's much longer than that. It lasts all the way until "the selection" is made. I need to be able to push harder through that whole interval, but without blowing myself for the rest of the race.

I was in a group of 4 on the last lap. And I sooooo want to do it over!!! I was really suffering, and a little afraid that I wouldn't have anything left for the sprint. That's crap - I'm never holding back again. I knew I needed to lead up the hill barriers on the last lap, and I didn't. I didn't push through the suffering. I hit the road gapped, and lost out on the sprint, which I KNOW I could have won, cuz I felt like I blasted up the finish straight. I know what I NEED to do, but I need to practice execution. Learn from every race.

Overall, I was psyched to finish only 2:49 down from Lyne! (Forget the fact that she was probably only going as hard as she needed to maintain her lead and I was suffering like a dog....) I had a blast racing. I wasn't slogging around in misery alone on the course, I was actively RACING the whole time. That's the thrill in all of this.

After this much needed rest week, I hope to be refreshed and aggressive out there.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Wooden Wheels - Granogue

Something much larger than bike racing happened today. No matter what happens in my races this weekend, coming down here was awesome.

When I finished Granogue, I dismounted my bike and stood in the pouring rain to catch my breath. I heard a familiar but distant voice say "Becky?" And I turned to look right at a ghost. My best friend from college stood looking at me silently in the pouring rain, her toddler son I'd never met happily perched upon her shoulders. She's from very near the race and made the trip over to see me, unannounced. I can't explain how much it meant to me to see her again, and to meet her adorable little son. We used to be practically inseparable, and now have drifted apart, so far from that time in our lives. Yesterday gave me fresh perspective for reflection.

So, yeah, about the racing...

Looks like this is destined to be a muddy season! I fared pretty well today, squeaking out a 10th place, after a less-than-stellar start. I didn't realize that there was a separate starting chute - different than what I prerode, so I was in for a surprise after passing a lot of people on the long road start. The course turned uphill to the left in the grass and I went too wide right, allowing a bunch of people to come by me on the left. Oops. But I steadily worked to pass people, and blasted up the pavement every lap, finally managing to finish 10th. I rode decently despite the mud and pouring rain, even though by all accounts I am still exhausted!! I wish I could be up front with the fast girls so I could see what lines they're taking, where they're accelerating, etc. I want to know where I need to be to be competitive with them. I hope by next year I will be there. All this mud is good practice for me. I was amazed that I could still clip into my pedals when I saw how much mud and grass was lodged into them. Yay Time pedals.
I had fun racing today!

Negotiating the muddy off-camber.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


OMG I am tired. Could barely train tonight...
Hope I can recover for this weekend's trip to Delaware/Philly...

Thick as a Chocolate Milkshake!

Check out the pics on J.S. McElvery's website - if you weren't there, you won't believe how muddy it really was!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Recovery Day 2

My job is going to be the end of me. I took on the job of coordinating our private lesson program this year. I did it because I wanted the extra income, and because I thought I could do a much better job than the chick who had the gig before me. It sucks. I am incredibly busy at school now... so much so that I hardly have time to plan for my classes, eat lunch, or even use the bathroom during the day! I've been wrecked at the end of the day. So much for recovery...
I guess that's tonight - time to relax with friends and have a couple of drinks at Tuesday night's dinner party!

Monday, October 17, 2005


Recovery is
a grilled veggie super burrito at Anna's,
a nap,
a kick-ass oreo milk shake
made by my one-armed bandit. :)

I'm not minding it being Monday so much today...

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Torturous Mud Slog Day 2

The fact that I couldn't sleep because my legs were aching so deeply should have been an indication that racing the next day might not be a great idea. But I was already prereg'd, and staying only 25 minutes away, so I went back to Pineland Farms, hoping the course would be different and the rain would stay away, and that I would be able to sit properly on the saddle despite my "injury" from yesterday. Well, none of these things panned out. The mass start was a bit chaotic, but the only real fun I had during the whole race. I found I was able to ride much of the course, even the long off-camber stretch of the "gauntlet" section (the course went the opposite direction through it today), but I only had two laps of that kind of riding in my body today. Then I just broke. I crawled through the course. It was so painful. I couldn't jump on the saddle properly, either.

I spent much of the night beating myself up over yesterday's result. So now, instead off beating myself up over today's ride, I'm going to think about all the factors that may have led to it... why is my power so poor right now? I felt it starting on Wednesday at cross practice when my legs felt like cinder blocks. Nights of poor sleep due to coughing from the post-nasal drip from hell that has been with me for 3 weeks... long, stressful days at work this week... all this has led to poor recovery. I just can't sit still. I always need to be doing something. Even when I'm sitting, I have to at least be knitting. I think I have two switches: on and off. I need to find the off button so much more often. Usually I can't even sit long enough to watch a movie. I need to rest more to recover better. More sleep. Speaking of that... it's time for bed. Gee, thanks for letting me work all this out in my blog. ;-)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

New Gloucester Day 1

Welcome to monsoon season. When I woke this morning in Somerville, the gale force winds and driving rain should have been a sign. Hoping the rain hadn't moved north to Maine yet, Rock Star (aka One-Armed-Bandit) and I hopped in the car and headed north. When I saw what I was in for, I took a deep breath. The mud was ridiculous. Reminded me of Nationals last year, where I didn't have a great ride. I'm just not experienced in the mud. And I lack that kind of power to grind through that stuff. My legs were so sore when I woke, from what I'm not sure. This also should have been a sign!

So I prerode the course and decided it was going to be a slogging run-fest. Much of the course was just completely unridable. I just simply died. I didn't have a good start, but I caught some people in the second lap. Then I died.

Oh!! And then disaster struck. OOOWW! I had exchanged bikes at the end of the second lap (we only did 4 laps, I think... each lap was a 9-10 minute slogfest). I was taking my favorite Stevens steed back, and when I went to mount... my soggy wet and muddy ass slid right off the back of the saddle, and I landed full force on the rear tire by the brake!! I yelped in agony and curled over my saddle, thinking my race was over. I was so stunned by the pain and the surprise of the situation that I hunched over and moaned for a few moments. I figured that was about it for me. I got back on the bike (the SLOW way, by straddling the top tube, clipping in one foot and lifting myself onto the saddle as I rolled forward) and pedaled a few strokes. My crotch so much pain I couldn't sit on the saddle properly for the rest of the race, and FORGET about jumping on to mount. I was double hopping or just lifting my legs over the rest of the race. I was too far back to chase. I ripped the crotch of my favorite and only long-sleeved skinsuit. :( Get out the needle and thread. So, to add insult to injury, I got passed by someone I know I am stronger than. Richard Fries said it all when I crossed the line... "She wishes the conditions were drier today! She usually rides with speed, but this is a power course today."

So should I race up here again tomorrow? I don't even know if I'll be able to sit on the saddle.. serious damage was done.... :(

Friday, October 14, 2005

A New Craving

I'm not a milk drinker. I don't think I've been able to drink milk since the unfortunate episode in preschool when I puked school milk in front of everyone. But after my last forced liquid diet, I discovered I have quite the affection for chocolate malt frappes. (Yeah, well, I reasoned that it was liquid... damnit I was HUNGRY after not eating for 48 hours!!! ) Anyways, I've been craving chocolate malt frappes consistently since July. So the other day I decided to try and make the leap from chocolate shake to chocolate milk. I bought chocolate milk in deference to my low sugar diet, and I found cocolate flavored malt, too! So, I mixed it up in a glass and drank it down. Yum yum! No repercussions, no gagging, no heaving. Nice. At some point I will try to wean myself off the malt, but maybe it's not bad for you. It is, after all, wheat flour, malted barley extracts (whatever that is), milk, salt, and soy lecithin (which is not apparently a bad thing). Adds sugar, but that might not be the end of the world.
Can't get enough chocolate...

Monday, October 10, 2005

Highs and Lows

What a crazy two weeks I've had! I continued my yearly tradition of getting sick around the time of my birthday by acquiring a nasty sinus infection last week. I had a great time with teammates at the races in Long Island, but just didn't feel terrific. I had two respectable 5th places, though, despite that my nose was a fountain and I couldn't sleep at night. I have to say, the ferry to Long Island is definitely the only way to get there. The weather was spectacular, and we just relaxed on the top deck in the sun and enjoyed the ride. Very expensive, but to combat costs, we fit 5 bikes and three people (and gear) in to a Nissan Xterra. It was quite a feat accomplished easily with the spacial intelligence of our team's resident artist.

While I was away, Rock Star attempted to race his very first cross race... unfortunately, he bit the dirt hard on a rough descent and snapped his right collarbone. :(

I felt sicker through the week, actually taking a day off on Wednesday! I even went to the doctor and got some antibiotics (even though sources have informed me that almost all sinus infections are viral and antibiotics are basically just a placebo to make me happy). Anyways, I raced on the Cape on Saturday. Luckily, the rain avoided the Cape, even though the rest of the stae seems to be stuck in monsoon season. It was muggy and warm. Loved the course! Tough and technical, totally non-legal, great stuff. The kids races, cheering crowd in the beer pavillion, and swooping setion through the picturesque pumpkin patch gave me the warm fuzzies. The virus took a lot out of me, though, and I had nada. Had a good start, but couldn't chase when I got passed. No motor. So, I took third. I had fun, though, except for the coughing fits after the race when I couldn't breathe.

I questioned whether or not I should race Canton on Sunday, but decided to for several reasons: I was pre-reg'd, Rock Star's team was helping promote the race, and it was less than 30 minutes away. There was also a strong field pre-reg'd, and I wanted to come out and play. I actually thought I'd get trampled in the race, but I guess I was feeling better. I enjoyed the changes they made to the course from last year, too. I was able to practice a little race strategy at a couple of moments in the race. Off the front with just one other rider, I felt nervous about leaving it to the finl sprint, since she is a damn good sprinter. But I think her tank was empty by the end, and I beat her by a bike length. I still had plenty in my tank and felt that I could have ridden faster much of the race.

It really rocked to hear everyone cheering for me on the course, especially at the run-up. I like being the underdog. Oh, and my dad was there. I didn't even know he was coming, but surprise! I saw him just as we were staging. My biggest fan, he comes to many of my races, but for some reason, never the ones I win! Yesterday, he finally saw me win a race. :)

More good news! CyclingPT, won his race, too! It was his fourth cross race ever, and he won the C race decisively! Yay!!
We all went to Redbones and gorged ourselves on ribs (and good beer) to celebrate. :)