Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Bird Prime and Other Stories

This week has been jam-packed with exciting things, though hardly the model for pro recovery of abundant sleep, stretching, and couch-lounging with book in hand! My model for bike racing is that of the multi-dimensional life, but I am guessing most of us can relate to the feeling of having dodged a bullet with recovery when you really extend and still pull off a decent race, don't get sick, don't leave your bike wheel in the race parking lot as a result of sleep deprivation, etc. For instance I've been helping some of the undergraduates in the environmental policy class I TA craft research papers. Their curiosity, optimism and work ethic is so motivating. Sometimes more is more. On Friday I ended up in Boston, went for a ride on the once-familiar terrain of the bike path, Concord Ave, and out past Hanscom field. I had somehow forgotten Boston is a major city - there is so much traffic there - and compared to New Haven there are so many cyclists that convention seemed to be not to wave at other riders. I actually got into a argument with a driver this week in New Haven: the car flew by me from behind scarily close, then almost rear-ended the car ahead, they were really driving crazily. I was so scared I was mad, so I chased them down (rarely a good idea) and yelled "you almost hit me!" But we were all too worked up and the driver was yelling "you are on a bike, you can avoid me!" and "you are on the wrong side of the road, you are supposed to be riding against traffic!" both of which are obviously insane. And now the funny part: I was screaming at them "be careful, I don't want you to kill someone!" And they were screaming at me "be careful, this is a very dangerous road!." I think under different conditions we could identify some common goals... Anyway, I showed up at Sturbridge dragging (glad I was racing since if training I would have gone 10mph). But we had a pretty good race on a cool new course. Racing without teammates, my hope was for us to have a selection that resulted in a small group forming, to prevent a scenario of my needing to cover everything if one team (Terry or Radical Media) decided to fire off attack after attack, especially on the run into the finish. I was not strong enough and it was so windy that we ended up with I think eight in the final group, but I embraced patience on the final climb, sat in, and was able to pull it off. I definitely got lucky since the 34-11 was not the optimal gear for the downhill sprint at the top of this climb. I had to sit down I was spinning so frantically! I heard later 2nd place finisher Denise Ramsden dropped her chain - this bad luck comes around, goes around. Now for the best part: I picked up my world-traveled bike bag from Tom Stevens, which presented an opportunity to inquire about what had been tipped as the best Tom Stevens story ever: the BIRD PRIME. One year, Tom was racing one of the Quad Cities Criteriums, Moline Illinois, a .4-mile loop on a 100k race. And there was a bird drafting the field, flying up, then dive-bombing back down right on the shoulders of the riders and into the draft when it lost ground. Well, the crowd and the announcer starting rooting for the bird. And they passed around a hat for a crowd prime. After the race, it was announced that Tom had won "the bird prime," with a photo showing Tom just edging out the bird. $180! Today I am going to ride 10mph. I am glad it's cloudy because my eyelids got sunburned yesterday. Does Tifosi make goggles? On Wednesday I start my crit-racing extravaganza in Walterboro, South Carolina. Attached is a photo taken by Barry Koblenz at Battenkill, when I was being patient on the first real climb, following Kathleen and trailed closely by Mary Zider and Natasha Elliot.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Watch Out, Santa Boulderuscon!

Would anyone say to you in Boulder, at the top of a climb (or should I say small hill) where you have been doing intervals, "Nice job! You're good at this!" I ask. New Haven pretty much rocks.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Training by feel, priorities and the lucky bed, oats, tech tip, and PEI

Be careful what you wish for with this animal training model because the Powertap is in the garage in Wisconsin again. Please reps let me know if you ever need equipment tested, because I seem to be surprising hard on it. I did this week’s “train my weaknesses” workouts by feel, sprint accelerations and those standing climbing intervals, after which my legs were so wrecked I set a world record in showering speed (shower jersey here – the one jersey Alex Wrubelski doesn’t have). On Friday I experienced some horror when in the first hour of a recovery ride I averaged 10.1mph, no joke, getting passed by commuters on full mountain bikes with nubby tires. I was wisely reminded about priorities, namely that I am looking ahead to Joe Martin, Battenkill a stop along the way. So now that the legs rallied and I had some good luck at Battenkill, the same applies: look ahead to Joe Martin. I will also note that I stayed in yet another mansion for host housing. I wonder what my hosts would think about my Spartan New Haven apartment! I slept in the same twin bed as last year’s winner Heather Labance – go figure. One of these days I will do a tribute to oats and the many strange oat concoctions I have been introduced to through bike racing: raw oats with milk, walnuts, raisins, and an apple sliced with a julienne mincer; oats with cheddar cheese and maple syrup; oats with egg whites; oats with whole eggs; oats with apricots; oats with yogurt; or my own one-time unintentional disaster I did not have the heart to throw away: oats with raisins and cumin. And a tech tip: really I am a big fan of the third-eye chain watcher – get one! Not to mention the drivetrain set-up of 34-50 compact with SRAM 11-26 cassette (works fine with Shimano drivetrain). Finally, zip me an email asap if you might be interested in racing PEI in early June with my team. Awesome race though Gilbert Blithe is fictional. Pictured: Rice Mansion Inn; post-race with Zoe, host Christine, and Andrea; Elisa and Rebecca.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Do you ever get bored?

Sometimes people ask me this and I am usually pretty puzzled. (Ok trainer maybe!) But there is a lot to think about on the bike, such as: that our Advil kit looks exactly like the CT license plate or what all these people outside now that it's spring do all winter. And today, spinning along to clear out my legs, I was imagining myself as a hummingbird, and I wondered, what if your coach communicated the training by way of animal icons? And you would have a weekly schedule of say tortoise ride Monday, cheetah Tuesday, ox Wednesday, hummingbird Thursday, sloth Friday, mountain goat Saturday, gazelle on Sunday. I think it would work just fine. I raced Bethel with the men this weekend, there to witness Jacob Hacker my favorite health care economist seal up the series. Then I rode around that area, sky changing every five seconds from ominous grey to crisp blue, and it was oh so nice. Hats off to Andrea Myers and Ann Marie Miller who have taken the women's series by STORM this spring. I missed some good battles but am really fighting the "steady hard" fitness this year. This week my training is the ultimate in training my weaknesses. Wish me luck on the standing climbing intervals!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Redlands: The Infamous Sunset

Missed opportunity on Sunset today. The race starts with 3 miles of positioning-war race-pace "neutral" climbing followed by the Sunset climb, part of a 10k technical circuit that twists up and down through residential neighborhoods. The first time up the climb is QOM plus a time bonus. Read: field-shattering selection in the first 25 minutes of the race. I came off the front group just before the QOM, then caught a group of five that bridged back into the first group. Right when I caught, at the goading of some Aaron's riders, I tried to jump across to Meredith Miller, who would be the ideal breakaway companion, but did not go cleanly enough and had the group on my wheel. Then, after the descent and preparing to enter the climb, sitting second wheel, I dropped my chain. I NEVER do this! Even shifting into the big ring wouldn't get it back so I got off the bike. A second group caught just then so there was some hope but it rode through me as I was stopped and I couldn't bridge up on the climb. Kathleen Billington and I rode pretty much 8 laps together. (Thanks for the water!) I am already plotting my return, because I came to love that course yesterday. There's isn't a single steep section of climbing and the descent, once you nail the corners, is so fun. One of these days... Betina and Kirsten missed that crucial first selection. They are capable of much more and well, it's only early April! Brenda did what she wanted, finished the day in lanterne rouge. At the front, Webcor's Alex Wrubelski took the time bonus and the stage, snatched the leader's jersey, climbers jersey, and I think sprinter jersey too. CRAZY. Mara was the strongest climber but this year that wasn't good enough. Redlands is a different race without the long finishing climb on Oak Glen.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Advil's first NRC podium of 2008!

Redlands crit today and Brenda pulled off 3rd place! HOT DAMN. In the morning she was talking about sitting in the "sprinter lounge" all day then making it first to the corner that mattered. And she did it, full time job and non tip-top fitness and rough day yesterday. Rock on. Kirsten finished the race looking like a coal miner from all the soot. Betina had rockstar positioning all day only to be held up by a freak crash in turn 1 on the last lap and perhaps get time gapped. Bitter given that she and Kirsten can do some major leap-frogging in the gc tomorrow. Me, I wallowed for the first half of the race, just not far enough up to do anything, then found my legs. And here's the funny part: with 8-to-go I jumped (following the attack spot of one Amy Dombrowski) for what I thought was a $225 prime, got a gap and went solo for 1.5 laps, then stuck on a couple who tried to bridge before we got resorbed. Maybe I really should have saved the effort for the finish. I just need more guts. But the punch line... the prime was for Rock Racing jeans. Mara held the lead, Alex Wrubelski snatched the sprint jersey from Kat, and you can bet that Sunset will be a battle, starting with the neutral. And in other team news, not to steal the thunder, Laura Bowles won her first time trial ever! It's a huge accomplishment given her habit of getting distracted by thoughts of passing butterflies during time trials.

Redlands Photos

Friday, April 4, 2008

Redlands so far...

Wednesday: 4am wake-up, fly to CA, preview the course, move into the host house (check it!), procure some food etc, and then it is 10pm Pacific time and I am dead. But I raced up that hill, obsessing about wheel choice, opting for two deep-dish Carbones on a road bike with clip-ons. Ideal would be light TT bike with proper climbing gearing and deep dish front plus non-tank rear disc - that is my take. But I rode hard and finished 25th and given this winter and three days of racing training crits, I was pleased. Today I got a flat 3 miles into the new circuit race, exploded tube wrapped around my cassette and brakes, resulting in a painfully slow wheel change that had me out of sight of the caravan. My chase basically killed me, and my teammate Kele who dropped back to help. I was dying after that. I love bumper-hopping in the caravan but not that much. The tube yanked the brakes off-center and I ended up getting off the bike before the second QOM for some bike wrestling. So a 40mile tt with two others to make the time cut. I'm exhausted, sunburned, and disappointed. Betina and Kirsten led the Advil charge, finishing in the second group. Kele had a race-ending mechanical, Brenda and Megan will live to fight another day. It's awesome to be racing, even though today was so short-lived and painful.