Saturday, December 20, 2008

Coming soon...

Ok, Facebook has stolen all my blog time.  But I have resolved to update and refresh my blog shortly!  Stay tuned...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Gloucester Day 1

I'm off to bed now, and don't want to get caught staying up late writing a blog, but if by chance anyone reads this who is going to Gloucester tomorrow, can you do me a favor?  Your cheers were awesome and inspiring today, but could you shout at me when it's the last lap, so I know when the finish is?  (duh, right?)  I can't believe I thought we had one more to go today.....  Not smart on my part.  It's kind of, um, important to know when your finish is in a race, no?  

(Now that I've written that, I'm afraid I shouldn't have publicly admitted to it, and I am really regretting that I said anything to the reporters post-race.... )

Okay, I'm psyched for more Gloucester tomorrow!  I'm feeling pretty good, although not in top form yet.  I felt like I had a sort of "governor' on the gas pedal today.  I will race well tomorrow.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Racing My Body

Today was the Amesbury, MA cyclocross race!  Today was the season opener before next week's season opener at Suckerbrook.  The morning's heavy rain let up by our 2 pm start, so the mucky spots on the course grew tacky as the race progressed.  Lots of damp tree roots lurked in the woodsy sections.  No big mud, which I regard with mild disappointment.  I need mud practice and the warm rain felt good.  I really enjoyed the course, it had a good variety of terrain and challenge, and good "flow," too.  It was great to see so many friends and acquaintances again, once of the reasons I love this sport so much.

At the start, Mo and Amy jumped out ahead.  I had no snap in my legs to get a good jump, but I wasn't worried about being in third position.  Mo basically rode away.  She appears strong and poised for a
 great season.  I wasn't worried about staying with her because I knew that today I was out to ride my own race.  Amy and I stayed together for at least the first lap.  But like I said, I wasn't really racing against them today.   Today I was racing [against] my body.  I finished second, and I don't think I have ever been happier to finish second.  I was happy just to be riding my bike at all.

As I pushed and suffered around the course, I heard so many voices cheering me on.  Riding past them, I thought about how none of them knew that just 7 days prior, I was lying in a hospital bed, unable to eat or even drink.  I had a food blockage last weekend, a result of my Crohn's, but indirectly so.  I did not eat for 4 days and lost 5-6 pounds.  I have had 6 surgeries in the last 10 years, resulting in a lot of scar tissue in between and around my intestine.  My intestines are now catching on this scarring, and kinking, causing complete blockage and enough 
damage to the tissue that I could perforate the bowel.  There is no warning that the kinking might occur.  

So my competition on the course today came from within.  I would be insincere if I were to deny that I harbor a certain amount of anger against my body.  Today my legs felt incredibly weak, and my own body is the cause.  Before last weekend, I felt very strong and in a good "groove" with my training and mental focus.  I worked hard for that, and I feel robbed.  I'm determined to get all my strength back and more.  This isn't a ploy for sympathy, or to say that I am deserving of any special treatment - almost everyone has something they have to deal with, emotionally or physically.  
I just wanted to tell my story.  
See you at the races next weekend.

Thanks to Geoff Martin for the fabulous pictures!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

New Ride

I've discovered an easier way to bike to class!
Ward and his dad have matching 1980 Hondas.  Its got a little 125cc engine, 4-spds, and I got it up to 45mph on the way home on Mystic today.  Although there's no clutch, you do have to shift with your left foot.  I've got my motorcycle permit, so I'm legal, and I rode to class today.  I loved cruising over the Mass Ave bridge with the sun out, the boats on the water, the wind blowing me.  The bike needs a tune-up, though.  It kept stalling on me when idling, so I had to keep the throttle on while stopped in neutral to keep it going.  It died on me probably 8 times on Mass Ave in the traffic/lights between Porter and Comm Ave in Boston, and I had to KICK START it right there in traffic to get it going again, no pressure.  It was a lot to handle my first day riding the bike, but alls well that ends well, I made it home JUST before the thunderstorm.  So forget about new bikes... now I want my own motorcycle!  ;-)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

My Commute

So in another attempt to make riding to TBC with my saxophone possible, I discovered that my soft leather sax case fits INSIDE my backpack with a little creative help from some caribeeners.  I think the pack weighed around 30 lbs, but after almost an hour of riding, I think it grew to around 100 lbs!  
Ooga-booga!!!  Me strong!!  Look out busses, trucks, pedestrians, car doors, dogs, potholes, sewer grates, road construction, skateboarders, and anything else that gets in my way!!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Fitchburg Criterium

Here we are: Team NEBC!

The crit: my favorite day!  I woke up pretty groggy after a poor night's sleep.  Despite being tired and having a headache last night, I just couldn't fall asleep.  My mind wouldn't stop churning even though my body was exhausted. Tossing and turning, sleepless by 12:15 am, I was fed up.   I took a melatonin and a Tylenol PM.  Yeah, after midnight.  And yes, I did finally fall asleep, but you can imagine how I felt in the morning....

To counteract this before the crit, I drank a Dr. Pepper.  You know I mean serious business when I down a whole one of those!  First of all, I don't drink soda, and second of all, I don't drink caffiene.  So one 16 oz Dr. P and I am ready to rock!  If you think I'm usually a little uh, energetic, let's say, you should come say 'hi' when I've had some high-fructose corn syrup and caffiene.

So check this photo out.  Where does this piece belong?  Hmm... While we were staging, I pushed my shifter to put my chain on the big ring and SNAP!  It flew off and almost hit another racer in the face!  Crazy, but whatever - who would have needed anything but the 53 today anyway?  This is why I love Campy, I can replace that part and rebuild the shifter.  I can't wait to see how many years I can get out of my equipment.  2 seasons so far, and hopefully one or two more!

Ok, so I'll admit, my first couple of laps were not pretty.  The crew cheering for me at the tavern around the first turn definitely sounded nervous. "Go, Rebecca... Move UP!"  I'd hear them urging me.  Of course, they were right, and I had no intention of staying there any longer.  In a 50-rider field like this sometimes I get complacent because it's usually pretty easy to move up.  But you miss all the fun being at the back! 

So the plan: I'll tell you, but then I might have to dispose of you.  After Cheerwine or Kenda wrapped up the sprint points, our team was hoping to get Sally into a break with Dale from HUB Racing.  Dale is a New Zealand TT champ, and Sally has an awesome motor, too, so we were thinking without either being a GC threat, it just might have a chance.  Although, of course we realized that Colavita and Cheerwine would both be looking for the W.  But it was well worth a shot.  So I moved up and surfed near the front for awhile, going with some moves, but nothing got away.  Then came the bell for a $20 preme. Peter had told me he was going to put this preme up, and he wanted me to sprint.  Bless you, Peter.  So, I hear Brooke shout from the sideline, "That's your preme, Rebecca, go get it!"  Ok, I moved up the right going into the first turn and got into line about 6th wheel  - it got fast, and we were strung out.  Luckily, things stayed fast into the last turn.  I think since there were no points on the line, less people were interested in this one.  I was 5th wheel or so at the 200 meter mark, and I moved up the right of the train and jumped to take the preme, which had ballooned into $50 from crowd donations during the course of the lap.  I felt like I was uncontested for it.  I felt no-one around me.  Passing the pit, I heard Brooke yell to go, so I quickly glanced back to see if I had a gap and if anyone was with me.  Well, I had a big gap, and unfortunately, I was all alone.  All alone with 15 to go.  I'd like to imagine that I was just so fast that nobody could follow me.  15 to go?  Yikes.  Well, I thought I might as well follow through.  

I had about :13 on the field for 2 laps, from what I heard from friends in the crowd yelling at me, and knew there was no chance lonesome me would hold this for 13 or 14 more laps.  I got some raceweek sprint points, which meant nothing to me, but that meant Verge green jersey sprint was coming next lap.  I actually felt relieved - I knew they'd speed up and catch me next lap.  I didn't want to waste any more energy out there!  As they caught me, I hopped in near the front and tried to stay up there for the sprint because I didn't want to miss any move that might counter if it looked like a good move.  I'm not sure I could have gone again right then - I was feeling good, but not spectacular because I haven't had any consistency in my life or training for a few weeks now, and that's something that tends to affect me a lot.  After nothing went, I had to sit in a rest for a lap or two.

As I sat in, Sally ended up off the front solo.  I saw no NEBCers up at the front from where I was so I hauled myself back up the front to "patrol" - I don't like to call it "blocking," that sounds really passive and negative to me.  Mary got up there with me.  Sally also stayed away for 2 laps, but HUB wasn't with her, I'm not sure what happened there.  Let's see what happened next?  There's more in there, but it's all hazy now.  

I remember hearing 2 to go and moving up the right side before the first turn, all the way to Tina's wheel and the sea of Cheerwine and Colavita jerseys.  I stayed up there nicely through the lap and into the bell lap.  Coming around the first turn in the last lap I was positioned right where I wanted to be about 5th wheel, behind Tina, and alongside Laura, who wanted the same wheel.  We went down the backside, and I was psyched for it to be really fast, but it just wasn't.  I heard Tina yell "GO GO!!" to her leadout train, but it just wasn't fast enough.  Then the swarm came on both sides.  I don't know at what moment I lost her wheel.  I do know that I should not have stayed on it, I should have moved left and up alongside the Colavita girls and pushed the swarm left as it was coming on my left.  I didn't for whatever reason, and hind-sight is 20/20.  Wait!!  Time OUT!  I want a DO-OVER!!  I lost my super awesome position and went through the turn maybe 15th or even 20th.  I wish I had seen how Tina got out, because I know she was stuck in the middle.  Freakin' Houdini.  So I accelerated out of the corner and passed a bunch of girls in the straightaway, whoop-dee-do sprinting for a pack finish.  I had a good sprint that I didn't get to use.  I don't know how I finished yet - maybe 23rd???  (See my previous post.)  

So, back to life.  I've got lots of reading a schoolwork that I neglected the past 4 days for class tomorrow, so time to get to it.  I can't believe how many people were cheering for me.  I almost felt famous today.  :)  Thanks.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Fitchburg Circuit Race

Hard to believe, but I was 23rd in the circuit race, RR, and TT.  I was also born on the 23rd, but not in July.  I was hoping to hop in a break today, but the break that stuck went early and I just didn't suspect that it would be the one!  I didn't think it had the right mix of riders for Colavita and Cheerwine to let it go, especially with sprint points on the line.  So, I was just in the field the whole time.  The New England Raceweek Sprint Points were offered every other lap with stage race sprint points, so the tempo stayed pretty high.  (We can talk later about how I feel about "NE Raceweek" and its yellow jersey even though only 3 of the 5 raceweek races had women's races!!!  Or maybe we don't need to talk and you can just guess how I feel about it.) Back to the circuit race...
The hill on the course is really a great hill for me, and I enjoyed powering up it each lap.  Good for the legs!  Going into the downhill on the last lap, I wanted the outside line into the corner, so I moved up the left side.  My teammates Mary and Sally were on the left, so I went by them and they grabbed my wheel.  I pedaled up next to Tina and her Colavita leadout train with Sally and Mary on my wheel.  I churned into the hill but lost juice about 1/2 way up since I had been out in the wind grinding on the whole descent.  Sally finished 7th, Mary not far behind that, and I was - of course - 23rd.  Good day, but always looking for better.  My legs and lungs are still opening up, and I will feel even better tomorrow.  

Friday, July 04, 2008

Fitchburg RR

I hate to say I think of this race as the "necessary evil."  Gosh, what I'll do just to get to race a crit.  The first time through the feed zone I was almost certain I would not finish the race.  I led into the climb because I was unsure how I'd feel.  I found out the devil was in my legs.  I could not believe how much it hurt, and for goodness sakes, I am a bike racer and I am used to pain!  I had to push through to the other side.  Would I find the other side, or would I be dropped and DNF?  The devil was whispering very negative thoughts into my ear through the first 3 laps.  Very naughty, negative thoughts.  But I knew it was going to hurt, and for some reason, each lap I seemed to feel better.  I could see and feel many girls around me suffer more each lap up that torturous climb through Princeton, but I could feel myself getting stronger and stronger.  Heh heh!  The tables turned on the devil!  I shoved him off my shoulder.  By the last lap, I was finally able to respond to tempo changes up the hills and though to the feed zone.  Colavita put the hammer down, and caused a split.  I was too far back to make the first group, but I stayed very comfortably in the second group.  I must have found Jesus' draft!  I saw the first group not too far ahead and even thought, "I can bridge that!  Go!" but thank goodness wisdom took over for my "eyes are too big for my stomach" ambition.  That would have been suicide with the final climb looming.  We accelerated into the Wachusett access road.  We were moving fast toward the point where I have never "raced" beyond: the left-hand turn into the "down" road.  I was still there, and still had enough juice to stay with other riders.  I was together with my teammates Mary and Sally, which felt so comforting.  I couldn't believe it, this was going to be my best ascent of Fitchburg yet.  Boy did I want more gears, though!  I wish Campy made a 27.  Even ONE more cog would really have been nice.  The soles of my feet were burning as I was churning over the 39x26.  But I was still able to turn it.  Finally, the right-hand turn into the last 200 meters came, and I got out of the saddle and cranked through burning legs to the line.  I made it!  I hope I am opened up now and back to feeling like a bicycle racer. Thank you, Jesus!  ;-)

Thanks to everyone cheering for me out there!  It was awesome to hear my name all around the course.  

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Fitchburg TT

Today was the opening stage, the TT.  What a tough course.  Only 6.55 miles but I found it just impossible to get into a rhythm.  The course rolls uphill almost immediately, and is a series of rollers with some short flat and downhill sections and a downhill last 2 K into a flat finish.  The pavement is awful, so if you aren't jumping left and right to dodge potholes and seek out smoother pavement, then you're shifting and trying not to get bogged down on the hills.  I didn't expect to ride well since I haven't been feeling good on the bike after just getting over Crohn's issues, a virus, and starting my new program at school has me unable to train effectively, at least until I settle into my schedule better and can better make time for it.  I finished 23rd with a 20:41, which was actually :19 seconds better than I did last year.  Unexpected, given that my "opener" ride yesterday consisted of dodging traffic and pedestrians through Central, Harvard, and Davis Squares with a 20-lb backpack on my back and a saxophone hanging off my neck... but I do feel I am riding with more power this year than last.  Congrats to Silke who finished 6th with a stellar ride - you are riding so strong this year!!

So I had one bad snafu today which left me really in a foul mood after the race - sorry to those around me when I discovered that I had destroyed my expensive and beloved Specialized Ruby carbon handlebars by clamping my stupid aerobars too tight!!!  I KNEW better!  I was very afraid to clamp them.  Last time I used them for the Charlie Baker, they took a nick out of the clear coat of the finish, so I wrapped electrical tape around them thinking I was protecting them.  But that was really stupid because that made the bars slip, which encouraged me to tighten them more, and then I crimped them!  No body to blame but myself for that one.  Ugh. Not cool, especially since I am now a poor college student with no paychecks...

Anyways, I'm all fixed up with new bars (albeit cheap aluminum ones) and ready to give it my best on the hardest stage tomorrow.  I always get to the spot up the mountain after the left turn entrance to the park, after passing under the chairlift, and then just approaching the left-hand turn up the summit ascent, where I turn into a pumpkin, race over for me.  I hope to make it further this year.  But if not, oh well!  I'm really looking forward to the circuit race and the crit!!!  Those are good events for me and I will have fun playing!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Okay, okay!

I can't believe how many people have commented about what a deadbeat blogger I am.  
So here's the scoop:

School ended and I began classes at Boston Conservatory just 2 or 3 days later in an intensive summer program.  I have been adjusting to a new schedule with a commute to Boston and lots of work to do!  I haven't figured out how to train, get to class, get my assignments done and eat well all, and get to bed before midnight all in the same day yet.  
First I was bummed that there was no women's race at the Cox Crit this year, then I was bummed that the women's race was cut at Boloco on Sunday, last night I was bummed that I missed the race in CT, and I am now bummed that I can't make it to Exeter tonight.  I've got class in Boston until 4:35, so there's no way I can make a 6 pm race in NH.  And the Wompatuck training race tonight was cancelled, so guess I'm on my own for an opener for Fitchburg.  Really, I hate to say this, but it's true.  Cycling is actually on the back burner right now.  Yikes!  That's why I have been such a deadbeat blogger.  My program ends at the end of the first week in August, though, so then I will be able to get racing hard again.  (Why can't Superweek be in August!  Boo, hoo.  But I will be mackin' it for cross with all this taking it easy in July!!)

Ok, I'd write more, but I really have got to get some work done before class.....

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Wilmington and Long Island

Time to update this puppy again! Wish I had some pictures for you, I didn't think to pack my camera this weekend.

Lessons learned from the weekend (most of which I already knew but clearly I need reminding):
1. Never eat spaghetti while wearing a white t-shirt.
2. My Look pedals don't clip in the same as my Eggbeater 'cross pedals.... (DOH!)
3. I can't react to attacks in the race when I'm sitting on the front for no good purpose.
4. Be top 3-5 into the last corner of a crit.
5. If I'm not moving up, I'm falling back.
6. When times are bad, and you feel like crap, it's just a valley, and the high hills aren't far ahead.

Here I am in the passenger seat of our Element, somewhere in CT, on the way home. Ward is a rockstar for driving. I luck out when he just kind of naturally goes for the drivers' seat. Usually a couple of miles down the road he'll say, "Wait - why am I driving again?" Lucky for me we can't switch seats while driving 75 down the highway.

Saturday was the Bank of America crit in Wilmington, DE. I'd never done this race before, and I think it was only in its second year, maybe first with NRC status. It was a big clockwise rectangle with the finish line being about 3/4 of the way up the uphill, long side. It was about a 3% steady grade the whole way, but with a tailwind. The backside was downhill screaming fast but with a strong blow-you-off-your-line headwind. At first look at the course I'll admit, I was a little nervous about doing that fast 3rd corner in a pack, but once we got going and things strung out, I felt comfortable and loved how I could shoot around people on the left by taking a wider line and better anticipating shifting down before the hill so I could save my momentum.

The usual race to staging took place 15 minutes before the start. As usual, I didn't care to partake in the pushing and the attitude, and just sat at the back and used those minutes for a final trip to the potty. So, I'm at the back, and the anouncer (Joe Jefferson - calls most of the big Mid-Atlantic races) starts calling up riders in no-such order I could distinguish. I wasn't really paying attention, I was at the back and just thinking about the race and when I'd be able to move up. Then I heard "Rebecca Wellmans" called - or some such variation on my name. Huh? How did I earn a call-up at my first NRC race of the season? Well, whatever. Sweet - I'll take it. Anna joked with me afterwards that she was waiting for him to say "winner of SUCKERBROOK cross race" like Fries did to me for a year after winning that in 2006. Ha! So I took the last really available spot on the front line, but then Laura VanGuilder got called.... hmm... think maybe she deserved a front row start? We made room.

Well, I was thankful for the call-up, but looked so amazingly NOT pro when the whistle blew! I had been running through mental imagery about flipping and clicking in my Look pedal (right always, I have to start with my left already in) fast and clean, but must have been nervous and for some crazy reason when the whistle blew, I tried to step in the pedal like my Eggbeater 'cross pedals, and I slid right off the pedal and landed my crotch painfully hard on the nose of my saddle! I went from the front row to the back before the first corner, and I couldn't sit properly on the saddle for the first two laps! I was still sore in my race today, too. Ugh. Not exactly the way I wanted to start the season, but I'll recover.

As usual, I did too much in the race, and spent time at the front for no real purpose. Then I missed being able to follw Jen McRae when she attacked first. My immediate thought was "Where is Laura?" And my next immediate action should have been to get my behind off the front and find her wheel. But of course I didn't, and I missed the opportunity to follow her when she went, too. I was actually kicking myself (quite the feat while pedaling). Then I got upset at myself and tried bridging because they were only about 5-10 seconds away at one point, and without full teams in the field to chase, it was clearly going to stick, but I couldn't take the downhill fast enough in the wind. All 128 pounds of me was getting blown all over the place. It was really a wall of wind.

There was a split in the field, and about 8-10 of us became a chase group. A Juice Plus rider made it with them, and right now I can't remember how or when she got there, but she ended up winning, I hear she is an accomplished track racer. I just don't know some of the riders and teams yet this year. Our chase group eventually slowed and we got caught by a big group of riders that included a bunch of lapped riders and created some confusion in the final laps. I should have just sat at the front into the last corner, but not wanting to be in the wind too early, I ended up maybe 10th through the last corners and had to slow up, so I missed going with the two girls who took the front of the field sprint. I felt great but had to settle for third in the field sprint. I was happy that I felt great during the race and finished 6th with more juice left in my tank, certainly a good solid result. Good for my confidence to see that I am strong.

Sunday we raced on Long Island, sort of on the way home from Wilmington, and a nice change of scenery. Sam, Brooke, and I lined up for the open women's field with about 20 women, and some strong local riders, including AnnMarie Miller. The race was a loop in a park with a 270-degree left-hander and a short rise on the back side before the last turns into the finish straight with a tail-wind. After sitting in for 10 of the 20 laps, they rang the preme bell, and Brooke and I attacked up the right side as the road curved left into the headwind. We got a small gap, and won the preme, but the break was not to be. With about 5 to go, Sam attacked up the left, the pack chased, Brooke countered up the right when she was caught, and the field was strung out. I attacked 1/2 a lap later, through the start/finish, to get a gap going into the 270-degree turn. I got a gap, and AnnMarie and another local rider went with me. Perfect! I buried myself for a lap, then AnnMarie came around and took a short pull, but seemed pretty spent. I had to drive it again. I had to goad the other rider into taking a pull bacause I was pretty maxed. We had to work hard for a few laps because we didn't have a huge gap, CRCA was chasing, I think. Sam and Brooke helped control things at the front. Finally with 2 to go, it seemed certain we wouldn't be caught, and I tried to work a little less. I ended up on front up the little hill the last time, which I didn't really want, so before the final turn into the finish straight, I pulled off right and sat up fast, hoping to force the others to the front. AnnMarie seemed to want to lead it out from there. I got on her wheel and then came around for the win. I was in my 53x12! Felt great.

I didn't get a cool-down in because the men's race started immediately after, and Brooke and I were racing again. And naturally, it started to pour after just a few laps. It was a rather slow race, I thought, and kind of boring but good speed work to just sit in. Frustrating to be stuck around guys cornering slow in the 270 and having to sprint out of that corner every lap to close gaps! I have never spent so much time in my 53x12! It was fun except for the poor visibility in the rain and eating road sand. I had a muddy goatee at the finish. I just rolled in with the lead group, kind of disappointed that I didn't get my butt to the front and sprint it out with the boys - I'll bet I would have beaten a bunch of them, and I need the practice.

Well, we're almost home now, I can't believe how long it takes me to write entries! No time to proofread, I can't wait to curl up in the covers and fall asleep.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wompatuck and Spring Cleaning

Tuesday night = Wompi Time! Ward and I headed south to Wompatuck State Park for a fun Tuesday night training race. I felt pretty good, but when I tried bridging to a break at one point in the race, it became painfully obvious to me that I have a ways to go in building my stamina.
I love training races with the guys. So much fun: tons of attacks, bridging, chasing, sprinting, all the good stuff in bike racing, and all in the spirit of good competition. None of the negative racing New England women have to suffer through so often. (I guess men have to deal with it sometimes, too: I heard the men's P/1/2 at Myles Standish last weekend was pretty much the bottom of the barrel negative New England racing.) So that is why I love training races.
Looking forward to Wells again this Sunday.

So I've been spring cleaning this week! What amazing weather! And now a clean house to go along with it. Time to head out for a few hours on the bike, and then I have a late afternoon/evening audition and interview at the Boston Conservatory. Wish me luck!

Check this blog out:
Some cool reports from the spring classics - I miss Belgium! I'd love to be there in spring.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Rocky Road

Finally, yesterday was the first time I've felt good on a bike yet this year. It's been a harder struggle this year getting though the transition from 'cross to base training and working towards race form, which hopefully will be coming along soon. Fatigue and low motivation plagued me, Crohn's hit me while I was down. A diagnosis of anemia along with a Crohn's flare at least gave me some concrete biology behind my fatigue and really feeling like I'd never pedaled a bicycle before. I got dropped multiple times in local training races with the guys. Every day felt like that first ride out for the year when you are spinning squares and have no juice. Like the bike beneath you is a foreign object, not an extension of your body. My coach encouraged me to keep going and I'd get through and feel good soon.

I saw a light in the distance yesterday at Wells Ave. Just an ordinary combined A/B training race with the guys, but most of my teammates were there: Brooke, Sam, Susanne, Sally, and Nat. A CCB woman and Harvard's Anna McLoon were also there, too. Our team intended to use the B race to practice some team tactics, but the A & B fields were combined because Battenkill and Miles Standish provided other race options for people, and although Brooke gave me a great lead-out for the women's preme, we weren't really able to send off attacks and counter at the high speed the race maintained.

I thought Sunday would be a bad day for me on the bike. It was supposed to be a rest day. Saturday's Battenkill was tough, and I didn't get home until 9:30 pm after a long day of racing and driving. I enjoyed Battenkill in the sense that it was good training for me. Other than the hill ride I did Wednesday, it was the first time I'd seen any hills this year. The course was beautiful, and I tried to take it all in, especially after I was left in a chase group after last long, dirt climb.

I don't know how I would have done if I had had more gears. I rode my usual 12x25 cassette that I always ride for races with hills (I have a 39x53 up front). There was one dirt climb that I came close to having to walk, but my stubborn pride forced the cranks over in an agonizing grind reminiscent of a struggle through thick mud in cyclocross. I must have been doing 10 or 15 rpms in the loose dirt. Really. Well, the girls in front were clearly turning their pedals over much faster than I, so despite the unbelievable effort I was able to muster, I got separated from the group. Luckily, I caught on at the bottom. I made a questionable tactical move on the rollers that followed after Sally bridged to a duo off the front and brought an Advil rider with her. Okay, I admit, chasing was a mistake, and I feel really sheepish about it. And in making this mistake I also wasted a bunch of energy in the wind and put myself in the red heading right into another climb. Not knowing the course, I didn't know the climb was there. Again, I chased back onto the field.

The biggest climb was long and the soft dirt made it tough. I just popped about 1/2 way up when again, I could barely turn the cranks over. Luckily, I can always count on my self-preserving stubborn ego not to stop pushing with everything I have inside. I think it was a multi-step climb of several miles, but it's a little hazy in my memory. I felt pretty certain most of the field was up the road at the top. There were lots of tough rollers following. We eventually formed a group of 5, my teammate Sally included, and worked together and rotated the whole rest of the way. I thought we were maybe racing for 20th place, so really, I just wanted to get it over with and go home. Enjoy the ride and some scenery along the way. I had no idea we were really racing for 9th - still in the money! There was my next mistake of the day.

The last dirt section might have been the hardest part of the day. Loose dirt with only one or two clear packed down lines to ride on, dropped stragglers from earlier fields to dodge, the junior field pace car wizzing by us and then the field passing us in a blinding cloud of dust, hard vibrations on the rocks and dirt causing my feet to go numb, legs aching, and lungs coughing up muddy phlem. I love to ride off-road, but if I'm not on a mountain bike, I want my 32mm tubbies with less than 35 lbs of pressure in them! I was last in my group of 5 through this section. I had slipped from the harder-packed line at one point trying to avoid a dropped rider, and almost washed out my wheel. I ended up last in the group. If my brain had been in "race" mode, I would have gotten on front at the start of the dirt, just as if it were a cross race. Dumb move to end up at the back. We hammered, and it was all my stubborn pride that kept me glued to the wheel in front of me. I made it though to pavement again.

I didn't know where the finish would be. How much further? I could gauge only generally because I had recognized part of the course from our drive into town earlier that morning. I imagined only a couple of miles. Now how to play the sprint? I figured 20th place really made no difference. I thought about either Sally or me attacking from about 750 meters out and forcing the others to chase then the other counter-attacking and taking the finish. But we didn't know when that was going to be. I kept looking for markings. I saw a banner - I guessed 1 K to go, but there was no distance marked on it. Decoration or 1K banner? I had no idea. Finally, I saw people and the white official's tent up the road. Why didn't I attack? Complacency, maybe. I don't know. My pride checked out at an important moment, maybe. Then there were the train tracks. Once we crossed those, the sprint began, and I was 5th wheel about 300 meters out. Not cool. I could not come around, and I think I remained last in the group. So much for my first sprint of the season! Oh well, it can only get better from here.
Congrats to Anna for winning such a tough race!

Oh! I've digressed! My stream of consciousness has meandered. I was talking about Wells Ave yesterday and how I felt good on a bike for the first time this year! So back to it. I thought I would be exhausted from Battenkill and a lack of sleep. I got up at 7:30 and left with Sam at 8:30 to ride to Wells. When we got there, I actually dozed off in the grass waiting for the race to start! The race began fast, and it took me a few laps to get going, but I had a blast racing. I was able to be active in the race, bridging across to breaks a couple of times (sometimes with the help of the amazing draft offered by Skip Foley's wheel - great to see him back on a bike!). I found myself hurting but still able to actually race, not just sit in and roll around in circles suffering, which is what I had been resigned to up until yesterday. I made it up into the breakaway with one to go, but we got swarmed around the last turn into the final straightaway. I had lots of fun! I love it. I honestly think I could be happy just racing Wells and Wompatuck for fun. And it always feels good to be out in front of the field in a break and have a guy look over his shoulder and blink with surprise when he sees a girl on his wheel.

Rest today - Wompi tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Thought of the day:
In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years. -Abraham Lincoln

Monday, March 24, 2008

Back in the Spin of Things

Wow. It's really been two months since I've updated! After recent prodding from my dedicated readership (guess that's you, Dave) I'm finally updating. Really, though, how many blog entries about me snowboarding and tele skiing could you all handle?? I'm sure I have some pics to post... I'll have to hook up my camera and see what's on there.

I did my first training races this weekend, Charge Pond on Saturday, and Wells Ave on Sunday. What a shock to the system! I was really happy to just be out there again, though, and now my motivation is back and firing again. Teammates Mary and Sam were there with me in the A race on Saturday, and Ward rode with me to Wells on Sunday. How wonderful to see friends again at the race! Finally, this decent weather is elevating my motivation. I'm a little behind where I've been in recent years in terms of training, but a couple of weeks and I'll be back. Although the process of building is rewarding, and just being at the races is fun, isn't it just that much more enjoyable to ride when you feel really strong? Much of what keeps me going is remembering those moments when I've felt really strong and imagining those moments while training. I tend to daydream a lot while I'm riding by myself. I'm looking forward to the days coming soon when I don't have to imagine anymore.

Lots has been going on outside of cycling for me, though. I've found out I'll be hunting for a job for next year. Since I don't have my master's degree yet, my school won't hire me back again. How's that, huh? 8 years of solid teaching to positive reviews and a degree from one of the best music schools in the country and it means nothing now, at least in the state of Massachusetts. I swear, "No Child Left Behind" is really "No Teacher Left Standing." So, if anyone knows of any jobs out there give me a call. On the optimistic side, I'm thinking that maybe I can turn this into my chance to race as much as I've wanted to for years now! Since I've never had the guts to quit my job to race, now I'm being thrust out. We'll see how this goes.

Speaking of guts, my Crohn's Disease has been causing me some trouble again. I was happily in remission for years now, but the sleeping beast awoke, and I've been wrestling with it while trying to get back into a rhythm with my training. Ah, who needs to be able to eat? As long as I can pedal...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Feels like I'm in limbo. Cross season is still on for those lucky enough to still be racing. My roadie friends and teammates have of course already been training for asphalt. Me? I'm sitting on the couch eating pie, hoping I don't get fat, and wondering when I'll be "chomping at the bit" to begin training again for road. I feel guilt that I'm not riding, but I don't think that's appropriate motivation on which to base my training plan.

Went cross country skiing at Waterville on Saturday. A hard first ski of the season - 2.5 hours and a good amount of climbing. Sunday I did less. Went on a short snowshoe in the morning, then took some turns on the snowboard at Black Mtn in Jackson, NH. Uninspired by the conditions at the small ski area and feeling it wasn't worth the long, slow chairlift ride in the single digit air, Ward and I left. He and Sven did a big backcountry adventure beginning early Saturday, skinning up Wildcat in tele gear and skiing down the backside on the Wildcat Valley trail down in to Jackson. I wanted to join, but didn't have appropriate gear and I wasn't sure I had the skills. I got lucky and picked up some tele boots on consignment in the bargain basement of the Rugged Mtn shop in North Conway. Now I can tele ski this weekend!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Blauberg in My Dreams

I dreamed last night that I had the chance to head back to Belgium, and of course I went! Then I was back in Blauberg, but was upset that I couldn't stay long, and then I was late for the airport and had forgotten to pack my two bikes, and OH NO: I was going to be late for work.

A BIG part of me wishes I was still there racing. I want to go back, and for longer than 10 days.

I've been thinking about everyone over there still racing, and I hope you're enjoying.
I will probably think about Belgium at least for a little while tomorrow while I'm gliding over the trails at Waterville Valley on my skate skis tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What's a Cyclist to Do These Days??

Sunday was an amazing day for a hike in Franconia Notch! Temps at the summit of Mt. Lafayette rose above freezing with the sun out until clouds finally rolled in mid-afternoon. Bill, Charlie, Gene, Loraine, Ward, and I met at Einstein's bagels up in Concord and carpooled up to the notch, where we parked at the Canon Mtn tram lot and found the Greenleaf trailhead for the Lafaytette ascent. We wisely brought crampons. The snow was hardpack after the warm weather and there was a good amount of ice above treeline. The trail was steep and somewhat challenging (for a cyclist) and well worth every step!

So after 10 months of doing pretty much nothing but cycling, I decided to join some friends in ascending a 5,200 ft peak. I'm young and fit, no problem, right? Ha! Lesson in sport-specificity. It's now Wednesday, and I can still barely walk. I cannot begin to describe the muscle pain in my legs. I can't even cross my legs while sitting because the weight of one leg atop the other hurts too badly. I am young and reasonably fit, right?? Yeah, fit for cycling, not for hiking. Well, I'll have to do several more big hikes and some weightlifting to get my tendons and muscles stronger. It can't be good to go without good weight-bearing exercise for so long.

Ward and I will be up north again this weekend, probably skiing or snowboarding, but maybe a hike if I can lift my legs one in front of the other.

Thanks to Loraine for that great shot of such a rare clear day on Mt. Washington (the first pic in the post).

The ridgeline from Lincoln to Lafayette as seen from below.

I-93 cuts south through the wilderness.

Canon Mtn had to blow snow after the recent sad streak of warm weather.

In the final half mile above the treeline.

Sunlight through the trees.. follow the light.

There is a radio tower on a hill outside of Littleton. It's visible in this pic if you enlarge it. At the base of that tower lies Ward's 6 acres, and hopefully, the future site of a house!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Back to Life

I'm back in the swing of things, work and play, although isn't it hard after a particularly good vacation? Not only did vacation end, but so did my race season and 10 months of training and racing. If I weren't exhausted, I might feel depressed, but I don't think I even have the energy for such self-absorption. Life feels flipped on end.

Ward and I bought a new car, a Honda Element, picked it up Friday afternoon and promptly stuffed it full of ski and snowboard equipment and headed north to the mountains. Might as well test its versatility in our lifestyle immediately. We visited his parents, our friends Matt and Martha and their cute new baby, then went night snowboarding at Bretton Woods Sat night and spent all of Sunday on the mountain. So, I am left with a dilemna: do I prefer skiing or snowboarding? (Life is tough, eh?) I think it comes down to the conditions, really. Powder = ride. Firmer = ski (I like the "comfort" of two edges on ice.) Packed groomers = either! The snow was great at Bretton Woods this weekend, and I split my time between one board and two. I've got a pair of used tele skis on loan (before purchase) so all I need is some boots, and I'll be good to go. Talk about strength building: doing lunges on skis all day. Look out for my sprint this road season!

The season's over, but every night, bike racing somehow infiltrates my dreams. Last night, my dream had to do with getting my bike assembled before a 4 pm race start, and I needed a part for the threaded headset. One of my collegues at work said confidently they could fix it, but he ended up ripping it apart with a huge adjustable wrench, and then I feared I would miss my start. (Strange from many angles, and when was the last time I rode a bike with a threaded headset??) Somehow, and for some reason, cycling is a part of my dreams every night. I think I seriously need to unwind and release and have some fun for awhile. Time to ski and eat! I plan to spend at least another week off the bike, although I'm getting nervous since I've relaxed a little bit (ok, more than a little bit) in my eating habits and have gained a few pounds.

I made a new dish tonight, it's called Tzimmes. I found it in a cookbook, and it is savory! Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and carrots, simmered with prunes, cinnamon, ginger, orange zest, and brown sugar. The cookbook said it is a traditional Jewish dish, usually served on the New Year. It's going in my book of favorites. I'll send you the recipe if you'd like.

I never write much about work, after all, this is supposed to be a bike racer blog, but I'm starting something new at work that might be worth mentioning. I'm teaching world percussion to my 6th grade music classes. We have a whole set of percussion including congas, talking drums, hand drums, shakeres, agonkua bells (I know I spelled that wrong), and other goodies. It's going to be a fun new challenge, and it'll liven things up in the work end of my life. (As if teaching 5th and 6th grade music wasn't "lively" enough!) I'm enjoying it so far, and I think I might even attend a monthly drum circle for extra fun.