Thursday, August 23, 2007

Rest Week

This has been a much needed rest week. I feel like my body is really tired, but maybe without good enough reason. Well, maybe I'm being unjust - my last real rest was when I needed a break after Fitchburg, and I was sick during that time, too. It's definitely time.

I have been really low-energy all week. I laid down this afternoon to try for a catnap, but just couldn't unwind enough to fall asleep. I felt like my heart was pounding, I often feel this, and that kind of internal bodily-awareness is sort of unsettling. At least when all is calm and quiet, and I'm trying to sleep. I don't usually lie on my left side for long because it feels like my heart is beating right up against my ribs, and it's uncomfortable. I felt this again while desperately seeking my catnap this afternoon. I felt my pulse quicken slightly with a deep breath and slow with a long exhale. Lying there attempting to fall asleep, my heart would quicken as I thought about certain things -- and get your mind out of the gutter, it was all bike porn! I contemplated about what drivetrain I want for my new cross bike! Anyways, guessing my pulse was higher than usual, I decided to count beats. It was 40! Strange how askew my perception can be.... Maybe I really am rested and this week has been good.

I didn't write much about [Hell]towns, but basically, it all came down to salad. Or rather, what I ate for dinner after Wednesday's Witches Cup. I waited WAY TOO LONG to replenish after the race, and several hours post-race, dinner was a beer and a salad. The salad had fish in it, but this still was not the best choice for recovery. I needed more carbs, and not empty ones like beer. I also didn't sleep well that night. I was truly exhausted by Friday, and considered not racing. But naturally, I went anyway. I stayed with the leaders most of the way up Hawley Rd, but got bogged down and needed another gear or two at the steep right hand bend near the top. When my cadence drops that low, I know it's over for me and climbing. I know that several of the women in the break had compacts, which allowed them to sit longer than me. (Note to self.)

After madly chasing with rapidly deteriorating legs, we were diverted off course due to a downed tree/powerline, and we did this crazy 20-minute single-lane dirt road/gravel descent!! Crazy! You should have seen us plow through there like a circus: pace car, police car, Merlin in the red SRAM volvo behind us! Just comical. It was wild. A few cars trying to actually drive UP the road while we were descending found themselves in ditches, and one irate driver apparently threatened Merlin's life, and the cop car had to go back up in his defense!! Circus! Then there was no more dirt. We just stopped at the end of the road. Pace car stopped, the officals got out. They had no idea where we were! Merlin recognized a landmark, a car for sale in the grass on the side of the road he saw on his drive to the race, and said we should take a right. Ha!

Now for the abbreviated conclusion: I got dropped from the break because of the aforementioned salad. I was just empty. My legs felt unbelievably awful. The wind was relentless and blew the determination right out of me. I rode a really, really, long way alone uphill to the finish, bonked, lonely, exhausted, and ravaged by steady 20+ mph winds. I almost stopped at a BBQ on the roadside, since I knew the whole field was god knows where off course and nobody would be catching me, but decided just to try to get it all over with asap. I only finished 8:40 back from the lead group of 7 who pacelined all those uphill miles that I struggled through! So I was still 8th. But no more salad. At least not as a major post-race meal 3 hours post-race!

My teammates and I stopped in Northampton on the way home and I had the most awesome, most enormous cone of ICE CREAM I think I've ever had!! A big, chocolate-dipped Heath Bar candy waffle cone with mudslide icecream (coffee with hydrox cookie crumbles and fudge swirl) and REAL CHOCOLATE jimmies!!! It was just heavenly bliss. I LOVE ice cream, which is awfully convenient, because it makes much better recovery food than salad. :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ridley Factory Team

My new colors for cross season! I'll be riding for the Ridley Factory Team. I've been training hard and can't wait for the season to start.

Also, I'm running a beginner women's 'cross clinic the morning of the Suckerbrook race. Come on out and refresh your skills or learn new ones!

It's only 2 1/2 weeks until the cx race in Milford, NH...
Now that's a psychocross smiley if I've ever seen one!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Take Me Away and Love Me!

(Not me, silly, the bike.)
I get attached to my bicycles and hate to part with them, but poverty grabs hold with its smothering hand....
So, behold, my Voodoo Wazoo cyclocross steed, yours for the taking.

53 cm c-c, 54.5 top tube C-C
853 steel frame and fork
Ultegra shifters & front and rear derailleur (9 spd)
Froglegs brakes
FSA Octalink crank, 38x48
Bontrager X-Lite Wheels, tubular
Time ATAC pedals
Grifo Challenge tires (32) front worn but ok, but rear has plenty of wear left
King headset!
Thompson seatpost
3rd eye chain watcher

Today's Voodoos are made in Taiwan, but I believe this one is old enough that it was made in California. It's got great elbow and shoulder clearance and way more character than an out-of-the-box special. The parts on it are 'cross-specific and alone are worth a lot. It is in good condition, just some usual scratches and a couple of chips in the paint from use. Ridden in quite a few USGP and Verge series races. This rig is ready to race!

$700 firm. I would prefer not to ship, if possible, I can deliver to races in New England, and the bike is available for your viewing and test-riding pleasure in Woburn, MA.

It has a skull on it! What more could you want??

Also for sale:

A new set of brakes. Brand new, in box Shimano 550 brakeset. $50

Specialized Helix Sunglasses. Brand new in box. Blue, adaptalite lenses, scratchproof. $100

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Witches Cup

What a cool race! The Witches Cup revived bike racing around the common in Salem, Mass. I wanted to sport a big black witch hat for this one, but didn't get it affixed to my helmet in time!
What fun to be racing a short drive from home on a warm Wednesday night. We parked close to Willow Park, and the beautiful evening sun glistened off the water and all the moored sailboats. What a great setting for the race.

After the atmosphere, the next best thing about this race for me was the field! New England favorite Anna Milkowski resurfaced on the tail end of her summer pro road campaign, and Lyne Bessette was called up to the line! My NEBC teammates Cris, Tami, Nat, Sam, Amy, and Cathy were all there, and Brooke handed her beautiful baby off to dutiful husband, Jim, and continued to be an inspiration to us all.

So Anna's rumored reputation as a "go from the gun" racer is fully substantiated. No sooner did Richard Fries say "go" than Anna shot off like a bullet and stretched the field out behind her leaving riders missing their pedals in surprise panic. Great start practice for 'cross season, huh? Although I did, in fact, get into my pedal fast, I immediately found myself about 2/3 of the way back, forced to close gaps with stiff legs. Man, I really kicked myself for running the previous day! (But it's almost 'cross, and isn't that why everyone is racing in August, anyway? Training for 'cross! ;-) Well, things soon snapped up front and Anna, Lyne, and another rider who at the moment I can't remember (sorry) got a gap. And I was still closing gaps and moving up. I tried to stay relaxed and just move up to where I could actually do some racing. My rockstar teammates pulled like mad. It looked like Anna and the other rider popped, and we advanced on them. All alone, Lyne now had a gap of maybe 8 seconds. I sat about 5th wheel as Tami was about to make the catch, and the field was tired and strung out. Perfect timing. I launched up the right side of the start/finish straight and set my sights on Lyne. I caught her in maybe 2 laps. From there we worked together, each taking pulls. Our gap on the field grew, especially after the half-way $150 preme, which I did not contest. Maybe my rationalle was askew, but I feared she might attack me right after the prime if I went really hard. There was a lot of racing left, and I wanted to save all my matches, so I simply stayed glued to her wheel as she sprinted. To be honest, I was a little sore that I let her get $150 richer so easily, and I sat on her the next lap, but that was of little consequence.

At some point after the prime, we had around 42 seconds on the field. Darcy was out there screaming time splits to everyone - thanks! The course had the added challenge for us that the field could see us all the way around. The common was a flat, grassy park, and a break would never be out of sight unless its riders were close to lapping the field on the triangle-shaped course. However, the converse also was true - we could see them, and this helped us gauge our effort. We felt safe and let up for awhile, but the pack chased and cut the gap back down to 22 seconds with only 5 laps to go. Clearly time to boogie, we shared the work of picking up the pace.
On front with 2 to go, I thought I'd be taking my last pull. Well, no dice. As we came through and heard the bell, Lyne simply said she would not pull through again, and she let up behind me. Great. Super. Really, folks, what would you do in the last lap of a crit with this woman on your wheel and the charging pack only 20 seconds behind you?? Better think fast. The corners were wide and fast (although a bit bumpy), and the distance from the last corner to the line felt short, maybe 175 meters max. I was a little short in the experience corner here, having never been in the position of trying to outfox potentially the best female road cyclist in North America. I could only think of one thing to attempt, which (I'll spare you the suspense) did not work in the slightest. I jumped very early, but as a bluff to see if I could get her to start the sprint too early. Well, that was useless. So, it felt like fate took over: there came the final corner, and right after she jumped around me. I got on her wheel, but there was not enough time to come around her again, and certainly not in the ridiculous monster gear I selected for such an endeavour. Why did I not just jump hard before the last corner and charge for the line with every muscle fiber in my body? Besides swerving and slamming on my brakes, gunning it really was the best bet. Well, I certainly wasn't the first to lose to Lyne Bessette, so I am happy with second place. And on top of that, I actually learned a lot, too!

Anna won the field sprint for third! I hope this is a foreshadowing of a spectacular cyclocross season!!!

Mad props to Paul Boudreau and Dan Shuman for reviving the Witches Cup!

Super-duper photo results from Velocity are here!

Thanks to Cathy Rowell for the photos ;-), and congrats to Mike Rowell for his win in the 4/5's!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I Have the Urge to Learn Danish

I've been thinking about learning Dutch for awhile now, but these photo sets make me yearn for Copenhagen! Never been there, but it sure sounds nice.
Every time I get honked at rudely and almost side-swiped by some angry driver on a beautifully sunny Sunday afternoon on a totally deserted country road 40 miles outside of the city, I imagine there must be better places in the world to live.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Tease of Cool Air

That cool air we had Saturday night into Sunday morning just screamed of fall and CYCLOCROSS! I got so excited until I realized it's still weeks away. Oh! But I need to get my equipment squared away! I have no money right now, so get ready to see some "for sale" ads from me soon.

I raced Saturday in Nashua, NH, at the Race for the Gate Crit. The race looped around Holman Stadium and included a short climb and a fast downhill to the finish.
We had an unfortunate crash in our race, which sent Leslie to the hospital, and decimated our field. Leslie looked BAD after going down and hitting a cement post that was part of the fencing that lined the inside of the course in that section. (Said fencing is visible in the pic to the right.)
I hope she recovers fast.

The field was neutral for several laps while the ambulance was on the course, then there were only around 5 laps to go after that point. Our team practiced the lead-out, with Sam on front with 2 to go, then me taking Susanne around the last corner. We got 5th and all had a good learning experience.

Our team leader Brooke RACED just 6 weeks after delivering her baby!!!! And it didn't look like she missed a beat. Unbelievable. What inspiration!

After our team meeting, I decided to hop in the men's P1/2/3 race. It was a good course to do this on, not too technical, a loop with a hill and a chicane, and the field wasn't too intimidating to me. After racing Wompatuck with the guys for a few weeks, I know I can stay with them, even be competitive. I wasn't feeling good, though, so I thought I'd get shelled quickly. Not so. Oh, and I got a call up. Skip Foley in his stars-and-stripes was called up to the line first, muscles bulging and everything. Ok, a little intimidating. Then little ol' me. Ha! I thought Richard was going to tell that story about how I won SUCKERBROOK 'cross 2 years ago, but he refrained, watering it down to "winner of several cyclocross races." Oh yeah, I belonged on the front line. The best part was Ward was called up next, and I got to stand on the line and share a kiss with my sweetheart before the race. I wonder if someone got that on film - I would LOVE to have that picture.

So the first couple of laps I spent at the front, even ON the front once. Ward said he was hurting with the blistering pace I was setting of over 26 mph, but I think he was just trying to make me feel good! A break of 8 got away, and that was that. The race was slow. I just sat in to finish. As soon as it was over, and I saw that the field sprint wasn't out of my reach, I wished I had moved up and contested the finish. I actually think I might have gotten in the money! Ward won the field sprint on a day when he felt AWFUL on the bike. That's my man. :) He started a new job in pharmaceutical sales this week, and it's like "bye-bye bike, bye-bye life as we know it." But we will work through this and find a way for him to train with all his traveling and eating out and working, and he will be Captain America again soon.

On Sunday, Ward and I made a last minute choice to just do a long ride. We drove out to my parent's house in Maynard and rode from there out to the Wachusett summit and back. Only 4 hours ride time, but LOTS of climbing. We brought my dad's canoe back with us (part of the reason we drove there to begin with) and hope to get it out on the pond soon!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Thoughts go out to Kimberly Geist

...and her loved ones.
Let's hope she can recover fully.
See the last news feed.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Back to Racing

Last weekend was NHCC's Concord Crit and our team's Central New Hampshire Road Race. Brooke and her beautiful new baby, Claire, were there to help direct us. We kept the race hard, sending attack after attack, but nothing stuck much longer than a lap. I think I attacked 6 or 7 times in the 20-lap (20-mile) course, and launched a counter after one of my teammates was caught just before 2 laps to go. I wanted to keep everything strung out into the finish, to avoid the typical group cluster sprint. It worked, and Susanne did a nice job finishing 4th. I had a pretty good workout, and it is always fun to race with the team! Check out the red-white-and-blue NEBC train with Amy on front stringing out the field!

Sunday was HARD. The course was changed due to construction on a good part of the old loop. Now the course included a tough climb right from the start, the hardest climb of the course, then a short decent allowing hardly any recovery before beginning the long grind into the nasty QOM hill. The course was 4 laps of just over 10 miles a lap. There was no flat, it went either up or down, offering little time for rest. In a nutshell, I ended up riding 30 miles alone, often within sight of Mary from IBC, the woman in 1st place. The climber-extraordinaire was about 30 seconds ahead of me the whole race! I left my chase group in the dust, thinking I could catch her, then road a long, nasty, TT. At least the weather was beautiful and the course was good training. My teammates will no longer accept my "but I'm not a climber" excuse, even though I'm still not convinced. :) Tami threw down an awesome finish sprint to hold off the field for 4th! I wish I had a video of it!

I hit Wompi on Tuesday, but drove there. I was tired, and in retrospect, probably should have skipped it. I wanted to just sit in and focus on practicing the finish, but when a break went from the gun... how could I not jump on it? I sat up after 30 minutes over threshold with hardly any warm-up, burning from the blistering pace of the break. I decided to wait for the field and sit in for awhile, but the hard charging field was going even faster than the break at this point and my tired body quickly got gapped off and dropped from the strung out wheels. Not the most successful Wompi for me, but good training again, if it didn't wear me out.
All in the name of CYCLOCROSS!!!!

Friday, August 03, 2007


I can't believe how many people responded to my last entry, either through comments or directly emailing me. I got so many long and thoughtful responses, encouragement, advice, and even just sympathetic "I know how you feel" emails. I love the bike community! Thanks for keeping me rolling.

I've been having lots of fun again on the bike. Doing training races is like tricking myself into training because it's social, I enjoy it so much, and I push myself much harder than I would alone. I've done the Wompatuck training race the past two Tuesday nights, and Wells Ave training race on Sunday. I really enjoy racing with men, especially those at these races, who tend to be experienced masters racers. Ward and I met with some guys at Landry's on Comm Ave in Boston and rode down to Wompi. It took about 2 hours to get there! After the race, we bummed a ride home, but still got a solid 76 miles in. Sunday we rode to Wells Ave, raced, then did a short errand in Lexington on the way home, so that was another 75-mile day with a 30+ mile training race. Yesterday, after our hour easy spin, Ward revved up the motorcycle and we headed down to Mystic so I could practice motorpacing. Fun! We thought it might be illegal, so we were a little worried since a lot of cops patrol the area, but we got passed by 3 black-and-whites, and none of them seemed to care that I was glued to a roller on the back of an old Honda pedaling 32 mph with relative ease. Judging from all the crazy looks people shot our way, I guess we were quite a spectacle. I'll bet everyone was simply admiring my long hair, which must have been unfurled behind me at that speed. Today I need to go get my motorcycle permit so I can return the favor and pace Ward. We also need to find a good, long stretch of road to do it on. Roads like that are scarce around here.

This morning, after dropping Ward off at Logan airport at dawn (he's off for Charlotte for the Presbyterian Healthcare Crit - a.k.a. Bank of America - show me the money, Babe!) I met Caroline (NEBCer and trombone player extraordinaire) and a friend of hers for an easy mountain bike at the Fells. Wow, I miss mountain biking!! I will definitely be doing more in the next month or two.
How much fun can a girl have in a week?

Well, I'm going to tell you. I also stripped and refinished this table, which was nasty old cracked white over spraypainted army green color. Now it looks super-cute as an end table in our living room and matches my favorite candles. I am so Martha Stewart. Ward and I are also working on refinishing a dining table we got at the Crate and Barrel outlet for ridiculously cheap. Really ridiculously cheap. A $550 table for $19. No kidding. So, it was a little scratched, but a very solid table, so we sanded down the top, and we're in the process of staining/polying it now. Fun! I've been back into my jewelry-making again, too. I'm particularly proud of a necklace and matching drop earring set I made to wear to an anniversary dinner for Ward's parents, a dinner cruise on Lake Winnipesaukee, NH. (see pic)
I might quietly mention that my cross bike has seen the light of day again, too, as have my running sneaks... (shh!!)
I'm also working on my next blog post, which will be a spotlight on our basement, or more interestingly, the 12 bicycles that inhabit it. :)