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.....