Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Pushing the Limits

Liberty Classic went well. I joined the BMW-Bianchi girls for the weekend. They were awesome! Made me feel right at home with them from the moment we all met.

I admit I was nervous about this race. It was a crashfest last year, and my rear Zipp 303 fell victim to the carnage. Luckily, my body remained intact, but my race was effectively over before we ever hit Manayunk. This year was much better! The field was smaller and perhaps more select, although it was far from crash-free.

I was so excited to climb with the field each time up the wall. It wasn't really as bad as I thought it would be. I mean, it hurt, don't get me wrong. 17% hurts. And the worst part is the last block after the really steep section. It flattens, but is still a few % grade, and it's just a grind. But Manayunk really is a short climb, and I was never in any danger of being dropped. In fact, I think I moved up on the hill each lap. The really hard part was over the crest, though!! The right hand turn when it flattens out and the decent over the next couple of miles are all-out as hard as you can go. The whole pack strings out into a whip, and you'll get caught closing gaps if you aren't near the front. I chose to use my 12-25 cassette for the hill, so I only had a 12 for the descent, and I completely spun it out. I really needed an 11. I didn't really need the 25 up the hill, I think I used it on the last lap, maybe I got tired. If you're in a 25, you're going too slow!
I found it relatively easy to move up in the pack, but staying up there was difficult. It took serious guts. Everyone was so aggressive. I am embarrassed to admit that I let some German Nuremburger rider push me aside at one point. I'm just not used to the aggressiveness. I can only imagine what a World Cup race would be like! I took a drink at one point and fell all the way to the back of the pack in a matter of seconds! Every moment had to be spent working on moving up, finding a hole, pushing myself in a spot, or else I was moving back. I found it really mentally tiring, much more than I was expecting. By the last lap, to be honest, my head just wasn't in it anymore. It was clearly going to be a pack finish. I got complacent, and sat towards the back. I underestimated how fast the race would be in the final kilometers over Lemon Hill. Everyone got very aggressive looking for good position leading into Lemon Hill the last lap, and I just lost my focus. I didn't want to take the risks some of the other girls seemed to be making to move up. I thought I'd be able to move up on the flat and wide roads in the last kilometers. My legs felt good. I totally misjudged. I went into Lemon Hill at the back, and scrambled trying to get through everyone. Everyone strung into a line and gaps opened in front of me. BIG gaps that I motored through to find the pack. I knew what a big mistake I had made, but hoped I would still have something left for the sprint. At 1.5K to go, I was just catching back on and there was a crash to my left. Iona Wynter-Parks went down with Brenda Lyons. This for some reason, maybe because I stopped pedaling for just a moment, maybe because the pack accelerated as they heard the crash, made it impossible for me to catch on. The pack was literally 30 feet in front of me. I just buried my head and chased all the way to the line, hoping nobody would come around me. What wasted effort! If I had simply kept my head in the game and been in better position up Lemon Hill, I have no doubt that I had the legs to be top 25 on the day. Another lesson learned. The strength I have. I need to work on my aggressiveness in the pack and holding my position. The rest will come.

I pushed my limits a little too far, though. All this working Mon through Fri then traveling to PA, DC, Baltimore, etc on the weekends caught up with me. I drove home alone and exhausted Sunday night. I awoke at 3:30 in the morning with my throat so sore and swollen I could not swallow. I went to work and felt pretty bad all day. Tuesday I got myself up and went to work even though I felt awful (because I feel so horribly guilty about calling in sick -and I had two private lesson students after school that I was really looking forward to seeing). But I didn't make it though the day. The nurse took my temperature and I went home with a fever like I was one of the kids. Today I called in sick. The aches and pains and nasal drainage and pressure are now turning into a cough. It has happened every time I've had a cold since I was a little girl. Getting a cold = bronchial infection. And the same pattern is happening again.

I hope to race with my NEBC teammates at Crystal City (Arlington, VA) on Saturday and the RFK Crit (also in Arlington, I think) on Sunday. We'll see. Another long drive after work on Friday, another late return home Sunday night, another day of work Monday. This will be my fourth weekend in a row driving to DC/Baltimore/Philly. And will I race well?? I obviously won't have ridden this week....

(And yes, lest you are about to suggest it, at this point I am very seriously considing MOVING to the Mid-Atlantic region!! I don't understand why there is no elite road racing in New England!! Plenty of regional races, but not a SINGLE NRC or ProTour race!! The cross scene is great. But it's also good in the Mid-Atlantic, and I travel to DE, PA, and NJ for UCI cross races in the fall, too.)

Okay, time for some TheraFlu and beddy-bye. School will be over a week from tomorrow, and then I can play PRO BIKE RACER for the summer!! I live for it!! Yay!


Heather said...

Sorry to hear you're sick. Sometimes it's a well-deserved rest time! We live in Vernon, NJ and there's GREAT riding here...lots of hills :)
H. Labance

megA said...

oh, might I add to the pot?

they pay their teachers more in the Mid-Atlantic

way more