Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Seven Weeks Until Cross

After Toona I am very psyched to race some crits, probably even Green Mountain, but the mind is also drifting to cross. Just went to this goldmine: http://race.cx/.

Sunday - Crit

Actually raced the bike in this super hard crit. Felt wedded to attacking at 2-to-go as planned but given getting in a small quickly-caught move with 5-to-go this was a BAD idea. I checked in the windows of a building to see if I had a gap and it was a no-go!! Have you ever attacked up the other side of the field and found you are going the same pace as the person leading the train on the other ride? Not good. Designated finisher Heather got 11th. She evidently suffers from my problem of coming in everything plus 1, that is 11th, 21st, that just-out-of-the-money place. Lipton killed the race, but LVG got the stage. Tough race this year. The TTT made it hard for the little teams like Advil to break into the gc. I was strong but wish I had done what it took to make the climbing selection on Tuesday, whether that was better recovery from the TTT or training climbing even at the expense of some horsepower. Then I might have been racing at the end of those climbing days, rather than the beginning. But all in all it was pretty awesome, the field was super deep and people raced their bikes.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Saturday - 98-Mile Johnstown to Altoona

This race-deciding course rolls and winds for a 20-mile loop before a sprint line, then rolls again until the big Blue Knob climb at mile 60, then two more hills before a flying 10-mile descent. We almost pulled off an awesome day, and all in all it went pretty well. Everybody rode to the limits. The plan was to have me and Kirsten go up the road in the early break and have me drive it while she sat on. The head start would allow Kirsten to meet Heather at the top of the climb, help her out there. Elisa would be our third climber, Natalie would look out for Heather, and Laura would be a utility rider and save her legs for the crit. I got in a small break on the first loop, Kirsten tried to bridge, but the break got too big and got pulled back. After the sprint it was attack-attack-attack. Again, I was having fun being aggressive but not wanting to kill myself senselessly. It was tough to coordinate well with Kirsten on attacks (not specific to her - I think it's a real learned skill to go in attacks deliberately with another person). We were almost at mile 45 and still no break had gone, almost to the point that it wasn't worth getting one started. But then Laura and I got in a break of seven. It wasn't exactly what we wanted, but we rolled it. We had 1 minute going into the climb. Anne Samplonius rode tempo up the climb, I came off just as Kristen Armstrong and Mara Abbott came flying by. The mistake I made was to think too much about where Heather was, not just ride my own climb and try to make it to the top. Laura came off at the bottom, then recovered whereas I started decently then completely cracked just shy of the top. Heather caught us right before the QOM - but I had not made it far enough. Laura latched onto Laura Van Guilder and Kat Carrol, just behind Heather for the steep kicker. I was alone. I made it up the kicker maybe 300 m behind (a lot of time on a steep hill). I did not think I could chase them down, there was a lone rider maybe 30 seconds back, so I rode easily to wait. There were another four behind her. But this was not really a motivated chasing group. We rolled it, but then got caught by a huge group and the pace making stopped. Forty minutes later another huge group caught us and we were officially the laughing group. Elisa, Natalie, Kirsten, and I were all there. Up the road, Laura, Kat, and LVG caught Heather, Laura hung on for a while, then Heather and Kat caught the front group (minus the first two). Heather clung and fought her way through the caravan. In a tough sprint of team racing, isolated Heather mustered a strong 15th. Laura rode 35 miles solo in a superhuman effort. Kristen moved into first on the overall, Mara second, then Kori. Tomorrow is the crit. The GC is not super close, unlike some years where a time bonus will change it, but the sprinters will be battling, and who knows, maybe some teams will race for the GC podium. Lipton is down to four riders, so they can expect a tough day. As we all can!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday - 80-mile Martinsburg Circuit Race

So this is now the third year I have made the break at Martinsburg, the third year I have gotten no result. AY. I think I need to overhaul myself, become a super climber or something and be able to get results by simply being strong, no savvy involved. The course is four loops of a flat and often windy circuit. I was probably the most gung ho about riding in a break though Natalie and Laura were also game (and probably would have finished better). We raced hard in the beginning two laps to get in a break, so much so that I almost could not close the deal and make the break that finally stuck off a counter to a move I had been in. It was a weird break because of the presence of some highly placed GC riders in Chrissy Ruiter from Cheerwine and Katheryn Curi from Webcor. Also in the break were Catherine Cheatly and Bettina Hold from Cheerwine, Laura Yoisten from Webcor, Kat Carrol and Kristen Sanders from Aarons, Lyne Bessette, Marisa from Tibco, Meshy Holt from Expresscopy, Annette Buetler from Colavita, then Meredith Miller and Lauren Franges from Lipton. Because Chrissy and Katheryn were highly placed on GC, Lipton and Aarons sat on. Lyne Bessette was working hard to get the break established, Cheerwine was driving it for Chrissy, and I rolled through for a while. I wanted to work, but not to the point that I would get myself dropped when all those people who were sitting on finally started racing. I sat on almost the whole last lap - not going to get dropped like last year. I felt I did not have the legs to attack early. Meredith went as a decoy mainly, and I found myself at the front, not wanting to close the gap, but I backed off and then I was swarmed, out of the mix. Lauren Franges won, then the very strong Catherine Cheatley, then Meshy Holt. I finished a lowly 12th. I really do think that in NRC races I need to adopt the sprint tactic of "when in doubt, lead it out." I also feel bad because I chopped Kat Carroll in a corner, in a moment of bad judgment no doubt spurred by desperation over my positioning error. The rest of the team had a mellow ride once the break formed and avoided the many crashes that took place. The GC is now Kori Seehafer, Felicia Gomez, and Katheryn Curi. Webcor lost out today in a sense: Katheryn moved closer to the top two spots on the podium, but the team lost places 3-7 on the GC. Kristen Sanders, Lauren Franges, and Chrissy Ruiter all moved ahead of the other Webcor riders. Nice to see that the overall won't be completely decided by the TTT. Heather is our top rider in 28th. Tomorrow is a big opportunity, a long hard race with lots of climbing.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thursday - 60 Mile Circuit Race

I am not very pleased with myself at the moment. I was impulsive on the road today and made a bad decision that got me dropped in a race where I could likely have been there at the end and fought for a result. We wanted a break. I wanted to ride in a break. Laura and I were active from the start jumping in breaks, and the race was super hard. Heather and Kirsten were struggling from the efforts of yesterday. Elisa and Natalie did not have a ton to spare, but covered some breaks. I had good legs - I should have given that I did not race up the climb yesterday - and I was having a ton of fun racing in an aggressive race. Approaching the end of lap 2, I had just followed an attack, some good one with an ever-aggressive Lyne Bessette, and there was that lull when a break is caught, the time when an attack should go, so I attacked (and this was actually my only attack of the day, besides this I just jumped in stuff). But no one followed! And so I was off on my own, probably just for a few minutes but it was hard, Lipton eventually chased, and I began to realize this was dangerously close to the QOM-sprint combo. I eased up to get caught, but when Webcor drove it up the climb, I went backwards on the first part. I recovered on the second half, but just could not close the gap. I caught one other rider, then we were caught by a group containing Laura and Elisa, then we picked up Natalie. Heather was the only Advil rider who made the front group, and she mustered a strong 12th on a day that began with her fearing she would be dropped. Kirsten had a very off day. Sometimes I just do not think while racing my bike: there is no way, unless under command on a big bad cycling team, that I should work so hard to make a break that I get myself dropped from the main group (as though if I am this tired I could ride in a break anyway). Laura van Guilder won, then Alison Testerote, then Kat Carroll. Good job to them all. Tomorrow is another day and it's good to be feeling better as the week goes on. Here's a photo from cyclingnews of my suicidal break.

Thursday - 98-mile Point-to-Point

Raced in the beginning of the race jumping in breaks, then one stuck at about mile 30 with Heather in it - excellent. The field rolled easy as the break gained time. A lot of teams - Aarons and Lipton- had two in the break and used one rider to drive it and saved one rider for the climb. I wish I had been there. Felicia Gomez and Kori Seehafer killed it on the Blue Knob at mile 70 and rode away. Lyne Bessette, Dotsie and Chrissy Ruiter were next. Heather made the next selection with Laura Van Guilder and Robin Farina (three of the five riders who had been driving the break - Lyne had also been working). Hard to climb as well as possible when you have been driving a break, but Heather was a star. With three miles to go, they got caught by a big group. Kirsten climbed well, Elisa too. I got a flat at a bad time and lost the chance to try to do a good climb. I flatted on a high-speed downhill corner, the wheel flip-floped, and I rode off into the grass. This happened just before the 3 or 4 miles of flats heading into Blue Knob just as Webcor was driving it. I chased hard but couldn't even make it into the caravan. At that point it wasn't about doing a good climb, but about helping to position others, but I couldn't make it back. I just rode in. Kori seized the race lead, Felicia moved into second. This race is turning out to be interesting!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

2007 New England Verge Series

October 13th - Grand Prix of Gloucester 1
October 14th - Grand Prix of Gloucester 2
November 3rd - Chainbiter 9.0
November 4th - Cycle-Smart International
November 24th - Gearworks Bay State Cross
December 8th - W. E. Steadman Grand Prix
December 9th - Caster's Cyclo-cross
I am also working on a big scheme to go to Interbike in Las Vegas Sept 25 or so. I need to finagle an entry into the crit, then I can race the crit and the cross race, maybe even test a sweet new mountain bike! How to fly with three bikes...

Tuesday - 49-mile Point-to-Point Road Race

I got killed. It was a disappointing day. The new course was super hard, but I believe I could have made a key split that instead I missed. I was perfectly positioned, made the first split of the group on the early part of the 2-mile climb that started at mile 10, then came off on the last steep pitch. I was caught in the middle, chased for a while with my group of four but just did not have the legs. Probably I was the last person dropped who did not make it into that front group - talk about tipping point - all I needed was 10 seconds more of super hard effort. Eventually a big group caught us, including my other teammates, and we became the laughing group. The course was extremely challenging - up and down and very technical in driving rain. Alison Powers soloed to yellow, flying those descents. Kirsten and Heather made the first split, rode very well but narrowly missed the front group. Shared sentiment seems to be we can do better. Don't dwell, move on and race the race but here are the thoughts: Did the TTT kill me? Why couldn't I sleep Monday night? Why did I wake up super hungry? Did I not eat enough after the TTT? I don't have time to be making silly mistakes. Today is a new day.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Monday: Prologue – 17k Team Time Trial

Elisa pointed out that after a TT we always think of all we could have done differently. My list would entail: clipping in like a rock star off the line, not starting too hard and gapping teammates up the hill and rendering myself useless at the end, and not making silly mistakes like over-gearing out of turnarounds. All this seems likely to have covered the five seconds we fell short of Bike Hugger. But I am sure that TIBCO two seconds behind us is thinking the same thing. Heather was a super-engine, maybe could have pulled more, Natalie was smooth and powerful, her collegiate TTT experience evident, and everyone gave everything. All in all we rode pretty well. But next year, if this event matters, don’t mess around: you practice, you plan, you burn riders and you bring disk wheels. Webcor pulled off the win, Lipton second, Colavita third. Expresscopy was not so fast, will likely be seeking some revenge. Before the race, we had wondered whether Lyne Bessette would drag her young Quebec team for the whole TTT. Turns out no, she is here as a teacher (not to say she won’t ride superbly). Those riders on her team – such as Catherine Hogan, the gutsy triathlon convert who outfoxed me last week at the Owasco crit and is not afraid to race her bike – stand to learn so much. Because being a director is so demanding, so unmatched by compensation, there’s a “hang your shingle” phenomenon, so to see someone with so much expertise running the show is just fantastic. It was also great to see my former Targetraining teammates and to alleviate concern of awkwardness and hard feelings permeating the race environment. Here's a photo from cyclingnews.com. This is what not to do...

Sunday: Stage 0 - Settling In

We arrived at host housing Sunday evening tired from a long drive to a surprised and angry host. It was a horribly uncomfortable situation, unfamiliar to all of us. At that point it did not matter where the responsibility lay: It was 7pm, we were exhausted and extremely hungry, we needed housing, and our director was on a plane. Without going into the details of three hours of making phone calls and driving around Altoona, suffice it to say that the team showed remarkable fortitude and calm in this challenging situation. You do all you can to avoid such situations, but when you find yourself in them it’s just a matter of dealing as well as possible. This season has spurred a lot of thinking about leadership, what it means and how one does it, especially in the hierarchical setting of a cycling team. Leadership happened and we have a place to call home for the week.

Friday, July 20, 2007

2007 - Pre-race Q&A

With admitted trepidation at my lack of listing on bikereg (I'm filling in for Jen McRae - maybe she can loan me her sprint), it's with great excitement that I prepare to race Altoona with Advil-Chapstick. It will be a reunion with some excellent teammates and mechanic/soigneur Randy, who directed/did everything for my Lipton team in 2005. Now to be a pundit (my main career aspiration):
Q: How will the team time trial change the race?
A: The TTT could well be the decisive factor in the overall and in the team gc. It could also mean that the powerhouse teams that rock the TTT could try to leapfrog riders up the gc by way of breakaways.
Q. Who will win the TTT?
A: The favorite is Lipton, with World Champ plus depth. Rumor has it Webcor has whiled away the time in Pennsylvania between nationals and Toona practicing this event, and no doubt they will be well-drilled. I would throw Expresscopy into the list of favorites, given Meshy Holt and Ann Samplonius, plus the fact they raced a TTT at Tour de L'Aude, probably learned a lot from it. Colavita will either be flying or dead after the Giro. Other teams such as Aarons bring more evenly-distributed horsepower and could win if super smooth. I have an inside tip this Bike Hugger composite will be smooth. Quebec? They have at least one engine... And of course, my team - Heather is super strong and probably wants TT revenge after a Nationals mishap!
Q: What will happen in Tuesday's new stage?
A: Interesting, Altoona has become predictable because the courses have stayed the same year after year, but this is totally new. I would say field sprint, that the gc riders will be waiting for Wednesday's Blue Knob day, but there appears to be a 1000-ft climb in the race... Sounds like a fierce fight for the sprinter and climbers' jerseys, then attack-o-rama by the non-climbers from strong teams, or from good climbers from teams that tanked the TTT who need more time to win than they can gain on Blue Knob days.
Q: Who are the riders to watch?
A: The usual suspects, plus those with motivation: Kori Seehafer and Erinne Willock have both found their legs after early season injuries. Look for Mackenzie Dickey in the sprints - she's a much better sprinter than her results so far this year have shown. Mandy Lozano and Robin Farina are also ready to go. Emily Roy is flying, and .... Lyne Bessette is back!!!! She must be looking toward the New England Verge Series in cross. (Or the Olympics.)
Q: What are the other competitions going on?
A: Well, team GC is going to play a lot on the TTT, unfortunately. Aaron's Rebecca Larson has the Prestige Series sprint jersey - Brooke Miller wants it, maybe Kori Seehafer too, and surely Cheerwine and Colavita. Wow, this will be a war. QOM, probably some Webcor/Lipton battle. I usually don't see this one.
Q: And my team's plans?
A: May surprise and underdoggery work to our advantage!
Ok, going to race a crit today...

2006 - The Unexpected Yellow Jersey / Cardinal Sin of Bike Racing

I guest rode last year with Advil-Chapstick. Mike Engleman, whose commitment to supporting women cyclists is matched by few, was directing us, bringing on rising star Alison Powers. Alison, hands down the best descender/cornerer in women’s cycling (coming from downhill ski racing at international level) shocked us all by winning the gazillion-corner alley-diving prologue. Yikes, gulp! How were we going to defend this? We did the best we could and Alison held her own on the climbs, eagerly absorbing and learning and performing in her first big stage race. (Note: Alison just rode a fantastic Giro d’Italia last week!) At Martinsburg in a driving rainstorm, a dangerous break got away with Webcor gc riders. Heather and I killed ourselves chasing with Colavita. We caught the break and I was headed out the back when instead I made the break, disbelieving my misfortune at such a good opportunity in such a sorry state. I survived much longer than I thought possible, but then committed the cardinal sin of bike racing: getting dropped from the break. Dead. Gone. Cracked. My bike broke a few miles later, so I might not have made it to the line (where Brooke Miller smoked them all), but not good. I seem to remember we were rather exhausted, injured backs and shoulders and lots of Advil and ice packs, plus some of the wear and tear of a long season. This is also the year one of my teammates took a sleeping pill Friday night and could barely see for most of Saturday’s stage. Cooped up in the Penn State Altoona cinderblock doom rooms, late in the week we discovered a lounge with cable tv and The Daily Show, gold for my mind that could no longer read. Sort of like the time I did a stage race in Quebec and discovered the last day due to my horrendous French that our host director was a massage therapist.

2005 - The Year I Hit the Log

At Johnstown on Tuesday I ran over a log that flipped up and whaled me in the knee, destroyed my rear wheel, and caused me to slam my hand on the bar. The log was caught in my bike for a while, dragging, but somehow I didn’t cause a major crash. It was one of those times when people commend you for not crashing. I had that exhilaration that comes with sudden crashing pain and narrow avoidance of something far worse, got a wheel change and caught back on, but had messed up the bike to the point I ended up getting a neutral bike. It was Campy and my thumb (which turned out to be broken) hurt a lot so I could barely shift. Besides the log incident, which kind of shaped the week, I made a lot of attacks (many of them stupid, but they probably helped somewhat in springing breaks, which was the point), Meredith Miller made a good break at Hollidaysburg and got 4th (and went for a ride in our host's British sports car), Liza made the break at Martinsburg, Elisa played the piano (and raced well), we spent time in the host’s amenity-laden tour bus, Kristen and Katie each had some great climbing days, and Mackenzie drank mass quantities of Carb Pro-Optimizer and made me laugh a lot. We embraced the ice bath recovery strategy, one of those masochistic musts of stage racing. We continued to try to give away mass quantities of tea, usually passing on the "Tea can do that" slogan.

2004 - Staying Home

I wasn’t picked for the Rona Altoona team, which was disappointing but both understandable given my relative inexperience and merciful since by July I had cracked magnificently. My breakthrough season had basically ended at Nature Valley, and I wouldn’t recover for several months, maybe even 12. Perhaps there is some truth to the conventional wisdom that one should take a break between cross and road seasons… But I remember that Katheryn crashed hard, that it was very rainy, and that Erinne Willock was in a break on Blue Knob from which she might have won the overall but instead rode for the team. She will have her day(s)!

2003 - Starting to Race / The Regional Racer’s Revenge

Tom Stevens, cyclocross guru/course artist/musician/frame builder/my longtime coach/seen-it-all racer, took a group of New England riders to Altoona with the Gearworks team: Zoe Owers, Katheryn Curi, Marianne Stover, and me. He was super-human as a director, if hard on clutches. We didn’t have many matches to burn, pretty much rode to survive. Not to say we were not fighting – Zoe tenaciously contested the Johnstown finish for an impressive 11th, , setting the tone for all of us, Katheryn had at least one top 10 on the tough climbing days, and I made the break at Martinsburg. This was also the year I finally rode a good crit, positioning myself well, only to have the race canceled in a dramatic thunderous downpour. But we were starting to race! Another theme of the race was the regional racer’s revenge: Genevieve Jeanson attacked early on Wednesday’s 100-mile stage, splitting the field. All of us except Katheryn missed the split. The other regional riders and I, here to race for gc even if it was 40th place, wanted to chase, and grew frustrated with the resignation of the pros in our group. Meshy Holt cheerfully offered me a cookie, responding to my question “Doesn’t Genevieve need you?” with “she doesn’t need anyone.” And we noodled, painfully so, and my worry over caffeine consumption in gels grew as we were on track for a 6-hour stage ending past 6pm. Ina Teutenburg marshaled us on the climb, ordering us to slow down. After the race, my friends and I were stewing at being bossed around, about having our gc hopes dashed. In another stage, Zoe had Ina’s wheel coming into the sprint, Lyne Bessette said “That’s my wheel,” and pushed her off, and Zoe’s stubborn ire grew. On Saturday, I made a decent group on Blue Knob, Katheryn made a great group, but Zoe was in the group shaping up as the laughing group. Ina once again ordered the riders around her to assemble and slow down on the climb, and Zoe attacked right out of the bunch, rode the remaining 50 miles of the race in a small group. Another regional friend, Laura Schmidt, reveled in the revenge (as we all did), exclaiming: “Zoe was my hero!” Now that I understand the “pro” perspective, the delegation of roles on a team, the huge volume of energy wasted in riding solo off the back, the idea that not everyone is racing for gc, and that Ina is probably the best bike racer out there (and can climb as well as anyone when she feels like it), this story makes me laugh. This might also be the year I realized that the Jaffa Mosque where Saturday's road race is staged is not a beacon of cultural understanding in easily-stereotyped rural Pennsylvania, but a parody.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

2002 – My Teammate Wins (not that I helped)!

I raced this year on a composite with Idaho rider Heather Albert and the savvy young rider Leah Toffolon. The race conflicted with Canadian Nationals and some other big event, so the field was not as crazy strong as usual. Heather showed up and said “I want to finish on the podium. I need a big lead since I know you are not a strong team and will not be able to defend very well.” Very true! She was going to attack early in the first 100-mile stage, on Wednesday. She almost dropped me when she did, 8 miles in. It was ungodly hot – mid-90s - and everyone just watched her as she went, and then accepted resignation as her lead grew to a whopping 8 minutes. Holy cow! She rode away with the stage and seized the lead – how is that for follow-through? The rest of the week was a death march, close to 100 every day and constant feeding from the cars. Heather ate plain pasta and Powerbars and a good-luck piece of chocolate every night. Leah introduced me to exotic things to do to oatmeal and coached me in field positioning, how at the start it needed to be almost constant conscious self-talk “how can I move up now? Where is a hole?” We stayed with a host family with 8 kids, restored our legs in their pool each night. I consider myself as having made a neutral contribution to Heather’s win: I inadvertently drank one of her ultra-specific feeds, but then made up for it by covering one break on Saturday.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

2001 - Clueless

My heroes in New England cycling – Brenda Bahnson, Heather Peck, and Katrina Davis - made the trek each year to a fabled race in PennsylvaniaAltoona - where every stage was epic in length, the weather was insanely hot, and the crit was brutal and cruel, able to erase you from the whole gc. Ambitious and clueless, some Cat 3 friends and I decided to go. Hiroko got her local shop to loan us jerseys, Lisa’s mom made us mussette bags, we assembled all the water bottles we could find, and others rented a musty house on Blue Knob and volunteered to provide support. Blue Knob sounded sort of like a vacation to them…
I was a nervous wreck in a field of 100+ riders, not helped by the fact I had adjusted my own headset and messed it up. On the first day, after getting dropped and riding a 50-mile time trial in 90+ weather, I got heat exhaustion and spent a few hours throwing up and generally feeling awful. Brenda brought me Pedialyte, trusted friend of the depleted bike racer, but it was an ominous start.
Every day during the race, Hiroko and I would look over at each other, look back, see we were dead last, and ask “what are we doing here?” I was horrendous at field positioning. My goal each day was to make it as far as possible with the group. And every day I would get dropped and time trial in, usually picking up and dragging other dropped riders. They would say “you are really strong,” stopping before adding “and really dumb to tow us all this way.” Each day I survived felt like a heroic effort. I don’t know I’ve ever been as exhausted during a race as I was then. On Blue Knob on Saturday, I got dropped 10 miles in. The amazing thing is not that I missed the time cut (which I did) but that I barely missed it. Hiroko survived the crit. I had learned as much in one week as I had all season! When can I come back?

Tour de Toona is Here Again

My favorite sufferfest is almost here – the Tour de Toona starts on Monday! This stage race in Pennsylvania lasts seven days and there is something for everyone: climbers, sprinters, all-arounders, and teams. The courses are huge loops, superbly marshaled by literally hundreds of dedicated volunteers, many of whom take a week’s vacation from work just to volunteer at the race. Altoona is the one race where women and men race the same distances for the same prize money (and the one race that doesn’t follow the law of the inverse relationship between the difficulty of a race and how much money you can win). All of a sudden I realize I have been racing forever (good thing I love the journey, right?), and have a bunch of stories that could be fun, maybe even informative.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Discipline prevails as I pass on the "Lobster Dog Ride"

So my friend Marc, who has a long history of bashing parking lot crits, went to Belgium and France to race and ended up concluding he was a "cycletourist." So now he lives in the Pyrenees and rides his bike a ton. I sometimes wonder about myself. Skipping a big money crit last weekend in Philly in favor of riding my favorite rural roads in the Berkshires certainly reflects the cycletourist urge. I'm skipping Nationals right now - at this point I don't need to do big races for experience, and I am not strong enough to go and really give it in either the TT or RR - so I am staying home and getting ready for Altoona. But this leaves a lot of time for training and I almost caved to the cycletourist urge, joining some friends for a 106-mile ride along the CT coast to buy and consume (yikes!) a "lobster dog." I also resisted the urge to attend the mountain bike festival Pedrosfest, where I could have gone and crashed a ton and had equal volumes of fun. But instead I went to a bike race, the Owasco Stage Race, and I am glad I did: it was good training and a reminder of all I love about grass roots racing. I raced hard and remembered what it is to call the shots myself, to do a decent job with this after Fitchburg. I have reservations about my racing in a women's open field (ever since I showed up to a crit as a cat 4 and raced the New Zealand national team), but I think it was ok. Many thanks to the promoter, Dean Furnia, to my last-minute host family the Carrs, and to the racers in our small but determined women's field.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Anybody Want an Armwarmer?

Black, size small. Evidence mounts for one former teammate's conviction that arm, knee, and leg warmers be sold in sets of three. Of course, she also raced the Fitchburg time trial with one aero bar one year, and once catapulted herself headlong off a classic Tom Steven's drop-off during a Deven's cross race, having exclaimed beforehand how rather than scrub speed, one should actually sprint into it ... Wow we had some good times on Gearworks! In other news, I am returning to following world events such as wars and bombs as well as connecting with friends, one of whom is badly shaken as a result of being violently mugged outside her San Francisco apartment, both of which restore cycling drama to its rightful standing as rather unimportant and self-indulgent. Going to a wedding in Brooklyn tomorrow: a childhood friend is marrying a leading libertarian thinker/New York Post columnist. Perplexing world.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


I am leaving Targetraining, going to uncharted territory. It's the right move, one I have been considering for a long time and thought about carefully, but I am sad: I feel no joy in reneging on a commitment and in letting people down, especially my awesome teammates. Thanks everyone. See you out on the road. I think I will bury my sorrow in GIS.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Thoughts on the Race

Ok so I got some help on this one:
0. Overarching mistake was not taking charge of my own racing.
1. Big big big mistake was not going with Katie, and forget relying on teammates - I should have gone with Katie. Just because I am being patient and leading the race does not mean be an idiot.
2. Next mistake was not sending a bridge asap.
3. Next mistake was dithering with the chase. Terry had no obligation to chase.
4. Other mistake was not providing leadership on the road.
Today was crit: Arielle, Yardin, Hiroko, Nina (prior to crashing), Rebecca all rode spectacularly, Kathleen too in procuring the sprint jersey! Mishap and confusion at the end might have cost 3rd place.

Debrief our Wachusett Road Stage Debacle

I am going to lay out the facts, avoid commentary. You provide the comments, ok?

We entered the race with me in 1st, 20 seconds ahead of Kathleen (in the sprint jersey), then Megan Gaurnier of Terry, then Hiroko 9 seconds back, then Rebecca 28 seconds behind her. Goals were to keep the leader’s jersey (I think but am not entirely clear that we wanted to keep it for me), keep the points jersey, and win the stage. The plan was for Nina and Arielle to cover moves in the first three laps of the race, then this role would fall on Rebecca and Hiroko. Kathleen would get the sprints. If the race was still together late, Rebecca and Hiroko had license to attack. On the final climb, ideally we could ride it together, not take responsibility for driving it, and try to win the stage if we could do this without jeopardizing the leader's jersey. Rebecca was calling the shots on the radio, with Greg in the caravan. The race started slow slow, 15mph slow. I was chilling out, not super well positioned, maybe 20-30th, Kathleen too. Arielle and Nina covered one early attack, ending up in a little group that soon came back. They covered a few more attacks. Arielle told me she was dying, wouldn’t be around for long – fine, all anyone can do is her best effort. On the second of six 11-mile loops, a Cascade rider attacked and got a gap. (Hiroko told me later she could have gone with it, or at least jumped across, but didn’t because Arielle and Nina were in charge of the first 3 laps.) I said on the radio “That is a dangerous rider.” Greg said “Chill out.” Tibco rider/friend/former teammate Katie Lambden went across. I radioed that we had two riders up the road. We rode 15 mph for at least 5 minutes. The gap ballooned to over one minute. By this time Arielle and Nina were gone. Rebecca went to the front and started riding moderate tempo. The gap grew. Greg tried to get us to get Terry to help chase. They would not. He called on all four of us to rotate through. I was basically floating, everyone was. It was a calm chase. NEBC helped, as well as a few others, but it wasn’t well organized. Kathleen took one long pull up the Princeton climb, which was very strong, but which prompted one strong New England rider to say to me “people will help with the chase but you can’t kill us on the climb,” which was entirely right. The gap did not come down. Meanwhile, Greg was getting mad at Terry, telling me to yell at them - give me a break, I do not yell at people on demand. I was mad too, especially when they started attacking us: they were going to lose third place, and it seemed they were racing against us rather than racing for the podium. I actually did yell when Terry rider Kerry Litka attacked again as my team was chasing, not because I was doing as I was told, but because I was frustrated with their tactics. It just didn’t make sense, I mean she is a strong climber – did she think she would stay away or was she just trying to make things difficult for us? She should be waiting for the final climb, not attacking on a flat. I did something also that seemed sort of like a good idea, but I guess wasn’t: when then men’s pro field passed us, I slipped ahead, thinking it was pretty likely no one would notice I was off the front. It was kind of risky to think I could bridge from 30 miles out, but in retrospect maybe not a bad idea. So I was off the front, and the motorcycle official assured me that what I had done was kosher, that I hadn’t drafted off the men, but then an official car came and told me to return to the field. The moto official didn’t agree with the call, but I sat up and went back. Another distraction for the chase I guess. Meanwhile Greg was getting more and more frustrated with Terry and with their attacking us – he started calling on us to attack rather than chase. Was the point to accelerate the chase, or actually send someone across? The gap was well over two minutes. I asked both Kathleen and Hiroko if they could go the distance and they said no. Hiroko followed orders and launched some attacks. Hiroko has exquisite long-distance time trial fitness (she calls herself “one-speed Hiroko” and said about Thursday time trial – “you know me I could go that pace for another half an hour), but attacking efforts will kill her. I had some doubts about the merit of having her attack on flats. With a lap and a half to go the gap was 3:30. I started chasing harder, took it up the Princeton climb, knowing I was compromising my ability to do the final climb. I wasn’t sure what to do, but at this rate we were definitely going to lose the leader’s jersey - we had to do something fast. Rebecca had killed herself in the chase, was gone; Hiroko pretty tired. Two considerations came into my mind at this point: how are Kathleen and I going to measure up against each other on the final climb, and who can drive the chase better? Kathleen identifies herself as a climber, has had some great climbing results in the past, better than mine. I consider myself a strong all-arounder, in a regional field I can climb fine. For sure Greg considers Kathleen to be climbing much better than me, and sometimes people’s expectations of you can become a self-fulfilling prophesy, in both positive and negative ways (in this case negative). In the team environment you need to be careful not to let this sort of thing get to your head, to let yourself get pigeon-holed. It’s not as though Wachusett is a 20k mountain. And I had a 20 second head start. But that said, I felt pretty awful, which contributed to doubt, and maybe I also shied away from the responsibility of needing to deliver. I was having one of those days where I felt bad to the point that I kept feeling like my bike was broken, brake rubbing (which it was for a while), compact crankset feeling pretty bad, etc (but in retrospect I think this was just a result of our going so slow). But we did not have a plan for what to do if Kathleen or I needed to be sacrificed. The question of who could climb better was kind of mute given the second consideration of who could drive it better to bring the gap down: this is something I know I can do. So I got on the radio, with a little over one lap to go, asked Greg explicitly if he wanted me to drive it, knowing it would kill me for the climb, and he said yes. So I did, and I don’t mean rolling through, I mean driving it. We were going fast! I actually love doing this, though not necessarily when I am losing the lead in the biggest race I’ve ever led, and when I feel like tactical bungling got us into this situation. Hiroko took some good pulls but she had spent a lot of energy already. I thought I would blow before the Princeton climb but I drove it all the way up (Hiroko did blow), over the top, into the turn into Wachusett, then blew finally as the pitch turned up. I sat up, and it turned out there were maybe 12 riders left, out of probably 30. That was satisfying. In just over one l lap, the gap had gone from 3:30 to 1:30. Would it be enough? Unfortunately not. The phenomenal breakaway of Genevieve Gauthier and Katie Lambden (yeah Katie!!!!) stayed away for 1-2 on the stage, followed by young Charlottesville climber Rachel. Kathleen didn’t have her best climb, and when the math was over, she was in 3rd, 38 seconds out of the lead, behind Genevieve and Katie. Because the field had been shattered by the chase, even though I was crawling up the climb, I am surprisingly still in 9th place, 2:00 off the lead. What a debacle. I have some ideas about where the key mistakes were made, about what I could have done differently, how about you?

Friday Circuit Race

Race went quite well. Kathleen got the points jersey; I stayed in orange and got second on the stage. The team helped out with the sprint lead-outs, felt they wasted a lot of energy. Communication was definitely lacking between sprinter and lead-out train. It’s that period of team racing resulting in you all doing worse than you would if racing alone, until it clicks.