Monday, June 04, 2007


Boy, do I have a lot of catching up to do!

I have a lot to tell about the weekend. I had two good races, but failed to convert in the end both days.... I'm knocking on the door, I can feel it....
FAST. HARD. My favorite crit. a short 1K course with 6 corners and a 250 meter finish straight out of the last corner. Oh, and thousands of screaming spectators! I have to find the balance of being active and sitting in. I decided to conserve and sit in and wait for the finish. I did too much last year and spent myself for the finish. Only a few laps in, Laura Van Guilder and Rebecca Larson got off the front and the field seemed content with that - the chase wasn't organized, much to the dismay of Colavita and Brenda Lyons of Lipton, who was racing with no teammates. I was right up there top 10 with 3 to go and 2 to go.... pack swarmed around from the left, I didn't defend my position well enough, and it was so fast it was too hard to move back up in the last lap. I ended up 25th (not Rebecca Much, as the results list on BikeReg - I guess they confused us - I was 25th, at least that's what they told me when I checked posted results) and disappointed, since I had a lot more in my legs. I'm trying to feel out how much to do in a race. Last year I did too much and then was spent for the finish, I'm trying to sit in more and work on my positioning every race.

This was the first of the Triple Crown series which includes another crit in Reading Thursday afternoon and the big circuit race in Philly on Sunday. The field was a little smaller than last year, with the World Cup in Montreal conflicting. Ina Teutenberg was there, though, so it was going to be FAST. The course is a basic rectangle, but with a hill on the third side, and the pavement was so bumpy it was almost dangerous. I lost both water bottles and even rebroke my cage that I had epoxied back together after Somerville. (Some of you saw it snap.) So I had nothing to drink in the race! Anyways, I started too far back, and played the miserable "closing gaps" game for the first few laps because it started out wikkid fast and moving up was excruicatingly hard, especially when I had to close gaps before I could move up all while dodging ripped up pavement and flying water bottles. The pack let up momentarily, after the inital several-lap flurry of attacks, and I moved up all the way to the front. I decided that I was going to race with my gut today - to try and be smart, but also not tell myself I couldn't chase or bridge or be active. Laura VG attacked on the back side and got a gap immediately. I jumped to her wheel. She looked over her shoulder and looked a little confused -- who the heck was this? I'm sure she was expecting Ina. Although this may not have been tactically correct, she wanted me to take a pull, and I did. A short one, leading into the start of the hill. Then Ina caught us and attacked up the left side on the hill, and I followed. Laura and I were right on her wheel. We had a gap (I could't believe I was with Ina and Laura and we had a gap on the field!! My heart was pounding, and not just from the hard effort!) Then single riders from other teams joined us. Yes! Cat Powers (Aarons), Sarah Tillotson (Colavita), someone from Targetraining (Robin?), Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Verducci, national crit champion), maybe one more I'm not sure. I couldn't believe it. I was pretty certain the break would stick because Aarons & Cheerwine would control the field. I was unsure what Colavita would do because Tina Pic was not there (at world cup), Mackenze was their sprinter for the day, and she didn't get into the break. I later heard that the HUB team chased like mad.

I couldn't believe it. I was so excited and having so much fun riding with those women. I could ride hard and smooth through the corners, and Richard Fries was announcing, so you know I got some mic time. ;-) It was a very exciting moment for me. But they clearly did not want me there. I felt like Ina did not want me there. (But why would she care?) I was nervous being at the back of the 7 riders because I felt any one of the riders could gap me off the back to get rid of me. I wanted to actually rotate through so I could stay in the mix, but I didn't want to take any hard pulls. I was on Laura's wheel and she pulled off and flicked her wrist for me to pull through. I did, trying to maintain pace but not expend much energy, we turned left into the hill, and I swung just a little wide so that I could get off the front. Big mistake. Ina attacked from a couple of riders back and went up the left side, away from me, just as I was allowing the rider behind to pass me. I tried so hard, with everything I had to hold onto the break. She passed me going quite a bit faster, and I just couldn't hold onto the last wheel. Maybe she was trying to get away from Laura, but the timing right after my pull made it feel like it was to get rid of me. The break strung out for a minute. I dangled just seconds behind them for the whole next lap, but i just popped, couldn't catch the wheel. I couldn't believe it. I was going to finish top 6!!!! (Targetraining flatted so 6 were left) I was going to get to try to sprint it out with the best!!! And it was all slipping away! No!! I rode another lap in no-man's land, with the pack only 5-10 seconds or so behind me, so I had no choice to let them catch me and and try for the sprint, but it was speeding up, and I was dead. I stayed top 5ish for the next 2 laps, but with one to go, I simply didn't have the juice to defend my position as it got ugly in the corners and the rough pavement, and I slipped back. I finished 21st in the pack, and naturally, the money went 20 deep. From the highest high to low in one race. I wanted to stick my head in the sand. I got dropped from that break - I felt I had failed. But then something even more important happened, and put it all back into perspective for me.

Richard Fries congratulated me after the race, said I rode an awesome race, and then said, "There's someone I'd like to meet.... come here." So I did. He introduced me to a 12-year-old girl and her father. She had just been diagnosed wtih Colitis (often accompanies Crohn's). She was so excited to meet me. She was so excited to see that someone with Crohn's/Colitis could race like that. So was her father. Her dad was also a middle school teacher like me, and the girl, Molly, had a bike. They wanted to know how I dealt with some symptoms of the disease and still competed at such a high level. Her dad took a picture of the two of us together. I hope that seeing the race inspired her to pursue sports and physical activity (maybe even cycling) to keep strong and that if she has hard times and feels sick in the future, she can look at that picture of us and know that she can get through it and be strong. I go through day to day thinking of myself as an ordinary person. I hadn't imagined that I might inspire others in this way. I learned lessons during the race, but I think talking with Molly was the most important part of my day.

On Saturday night, Ward's team and I stayed at our friend Greg's place in Pennsylvania. I really enjoy staying at Greg's! He's working on remodeling his house, and I can't believe how cool his bathroom is going to be!!! Check out this tile job he designed and finished himself!! Greg is also quite the bicycle lover... he's got a bike from about 1897, in amazing condition, and he plans to ride it 100 miles someday soon.

To top it all off, I got to sleep and wake to the birds chirping and the fresh air of the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside.


Dan said...

Hi Rebecca,

I am the father of the 12 year old girl you so kindly spoke with after the race in Lancaster on Sunday. First off, I want to say great job in your weekend of racing. I was so focused on having my daughter meet you that I don't think I ever said what a great job you did. I truly enjoyed reading your comments and perceptions from within the race. Very cool.

Secondly...THANK YOU VERY MUCH for being so gracious to talk to us just moments after finishing a tough race. What class! The generous giving of your time tells me that your students are very lucky to have somebody like you for their teacher.

Molly (not Kristen :) ) and I were inspired by you and very touched. I mentioned to you that my other daughter Claire (7 years old) was also diagnosed just weeks ago with Colitis and possibly Crohn's too. My wife suffered with Colitis for 20+ years until having radical reconstructive surgery and colon removal. So you see, this disease is a big part of our lives, but it does not define our lives. I want our daughters to have positive role models who have Crohns/Colitis but lead normal and successful lives; you are just the type of person they can look up to. I don't want to lay any heavy pressure on you, but please realize that you have some great new fans down here in Wilmington, DE who will follow you and cheer for you--all because you took the time to say hello!

All the best to you, Rebecca!

With deep thanks,
Dan Conlin
P.S. Please pass along my gratitude to Richard Fries for introducing us to you. It must have been karma that we were right there when he mentioned you suffer from Crohn's.

JanetR said...

Hi Rebecca,
Congratulations on being able to hang in there with some of the strongest pro women in the United States at the CSC race. Eventhough it seemed that your race did not go as planned you had a pretty sweet victory by hanging in that break so give yourself a big pat on the back for that - you are my hero.
Janet (NEBC)

Il Bruce said...

"I learned lessons during the race, but I think talking with Molly was the most important part of my day."

That is why you are a champion.

Have a great season