Saturday, September 19, 2009

New in 2009

I could not be more psyched about racing on / Joe's Garage / Independent Fabrications this year. That's that. Fantastic people and the best of sponsors, based right here in New England. Feels like home. Now to race the bike fast.

Bedford Cross - Sept 13

There is nothing quite like a race to jolt one into cross season! You can roll around on the cross bike but it's just not the same. Hard to know what to expect emerging from over a month of training without racing, then the always-chaotic/tiring first week of the school year. Sustainability across the board, and zipping out to Bedford and my other life was a key step in the quest for balance. Weather was HOT; course was a dry grassy slog. According to others, the slog is my specialty, so I was supposed to be psyched for this course. Hopes of anonymity dashed at the line with Mo, Sara B-Z, a fair number of ringers! Holeshot off the line (evidently I can clip in even after switching back to Time from Crank Brothers) and leading then following Mo but AYA then my seat was coming off. Many thanks to JD and Matt Roy for help in the pit (left-hand bike change in the first race of the year!?), new bike but then AYA my handlebar was loose, so another left-hand bike change. Inexcusable equipment laziness, but point of race 1 is to blow out the cobwebs and eliminate glitches. I clawed my way back into 5th but definitely tired by the end, though closing a bit. Smoothness needed but hopeful about the legs and season. Mo rocked, and Anna/Anns were well-represented on the podium, taking 3 of top 5 spots. Way to go name. Photo courtesy Brad Jurga. Next up, Suckerbrook Cross.

And September!

Eeking in just under the one-month-between-posts limit. Much to report! Transition time as I moved, started a new job, got a haircut... My brother returned from his e$%# ("epic" is now under quarantine) two-month canoe trip on Alaska's Yukon river so I no longer need to worry about him disappearing into the Bering Sea. Big news is I am teaching again, hoping I can successfully integrate environmental science, biology, and public health into a tip-top high school's curriculum and ethos while sustaining a strong racing life and making the most of the academic calendar's opportunity for expeditions and adventure. The pace of life is high, but whose isn't and ideas and energy and people should carry me through. Grad school felt like a lot of absorbing, now it's time to see what I can do. You run what you brung. New Haven was surprisingly great, but I am so happy to be back in the Boston area again.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

August Update

Quick update before I go pedaling, to end the blogging neglect! After Cascade and Nationals I wanted to rest and retool, return to the root of biking joy. Enjoyed some epic rides in the Berkshires with friends, including the famed Greylock Century loop, featuring the repaved climb (awesome except the rumble strips) and the spectacular roads of the Deerfield Randonee. Tinkering with my bike fit and saddle position had reached a point of disaster and confusion, so I immersed myself in the project of setting that straight, compulsively coming to understand bike geometry - the interratationships of tube lengths and angles and stem lengths etc - and learn the tricks for measuring various essential measures of fit. Curse those crooked old floors! By necessity, I suddenly had to conduct some bike tinkering myself, and lo and behold in spite of my ridiculous mechanical inexperience I seem to have absorbed a lot by osmosis. One project was prepping the cross bike for Deerfield's 25 and 27% grades on dirt roads. I had to chalk up the hours - no days - of time invested as a crucial investment in my summer goal of learning more about bike repair. In spite of Leonard Zinn, it's still unclear whether or not the SRAM 9-sp XO mountain derailleur will work with Red shifters, because in principle the hallmark of each is that they are both 1-to-1 in ration of cable pull. At any rate, the eventual set-up was the 10sp SRAM bike with a hand-crafted 10sp 12-30 cassette, masterminded by Bob of College St. Cycles. It consisted of the big plates from my 9sp mountain cassette and the little ones from my 10sp road cassette, with 10sp road spacers inserted. And it turns out the Force derailleur works fine with a 30, in spite of the published max of 28. It's also August, which of course means we are now allowed to think about cross! In other news, a friend is searching for a speedy woman cyclist to compete in the bike leg of the legendary Berkshires event, the Josh Billings RunAground triathlon, Sunday Sept 13. Zip me an email if you're interested.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bend Rocks, Junior Racing, and Cross Natz Recon

Last post I promise. Waiting for my red-eye here at the Redmond airport where after meticulous weight-reducing packing to get the double bike bag to 58 lbs (still 8lbs over - tough when the double Pika weighs in at 22...) and even a trip to Fed-Ex my bags didn't even get weighed! First to the Deschutes River with its trails and volcanic rocks, then we went to Bend's Old Mill District to watch the Junior Nationals crits and scout the 2009 Cross Nationals Course. As if the $8000 bikes ridden by 12-year-olds in Friday's time trial were not enough to turn me off on junior racing, holy cow - I could have made tip-top mockumentary a la Best in Show of the ridiculous parents at the course today. The pushiness, the screaming, the excess, the competitiveness - it was revolting. I could not understand how the officials could tolerate this! I compare this admittedly snapshot image of junior racing with collegiate racing and it just does not compare. The comraderie and spirit of collegiate, with people racing junker bikes and with time trials run "cannibal" style to minimize the ability to buy time trial speed - now that is the purity of cycling. That said, it was fun watching the 13-14 year old races (shutting out parental shouting, or laughing at it). One interesting aspect was that some riders are literally twice as big as others in the same field! Most importantly, the venue was the same as the 2009 cross nationals venue. Hard to say much given that we might have snow or icy ruts or mud but the venue looks awesome, with less elevation gain than in Kansas, though I am sure it can be found. The crit course could form the basis of the paved start-finish stretch. Some photos included.

Bye Bye Bend

Got to pack the bikes. Bend is sort of a paradise (note urban riverfront), but after two weeks I come away thinking there's no way I could live here. East Coast is a pain in the neck but I like it. Psyched to get home, rainy and cold as it is. Last night Nils (the man behind the camera) and I went walking downtown, out for some food then stumbled upon this antique car show. Those ratty shorts of mine are getting trashed. Seems kind of metaphoric.

Nationals Time Trial - Roastarama

The 35k Nationals time trial course included the 15-mile out-and-back up and down Skyliner Drive (the Cascade TT course), plus an additional 6-mile rolling loop. Once again temperatures were in the 90s. I'd spent the week practicing going fast on the descent - I really wasn't sure why I felt so ill-at-ease on this - but I felt like a runaway truck with failed brakes just waiting for the escape ramp on the highway. I'd figured it out that if over 2 miles I went 30 instead of 40mph I would lose 1 minute. I picked this because the math was easy and it's an exaggeration since speeds were actually higher but that's a lot of time! The extra loop was good, rollers and corners and smooth fast pavement compared to Skyliner's cracked and bumpy surface. I considered the course in thirds: strong and patient on the climb (just try not to lose too much time), attack that descent (make up some time), then fly through the fast loop (best section here). Seemed like a good plan...
I warmed up riding around, having ridden in the morning and not wanting to overheat. Doused myself in water and zipped up the torture implement of my black skinsuit. I had Kori Seehafer - a very solid time trialist - chasing me at 30 seconds. Seemed to be going fine, roasting aside. I caught my 30-second person and Kori caught me about 6.5 miles in - but after the turnaround she disappeared. Just after the turnaround there was a kicker to climb and my labored ascent of that might have been an indication of things coming apart. But I went much better than at Cascade down the descent, caught a few people, and entered the loop. I was barely hanging on, smoke coming out my ears, never finding that smooth powerful feeling. Finished and wow I got killed. I came in 4:38 back of the winner Jessica Phillips. Kori got 7th. I was 2:28 behind, which to me indicates that I went out to hard because I should have lost the most time on the first section, since it was my weakest link and since it was the slowest section of the course, one-third of the distance but much more than one-third of the time. But instead I lost less than one-third of the time there. Just another way of saying I combusted. Or that Kori is a very smart pacer, which she is. Less good ride than at Cascade, relative to others. Ah well. Evie Stevens missed out on the jersey by one-second. AY. Awesome and a small heartbreak I imagine. WOW for her though!!!! Alison Powers finished third. Suffice it to say people are riding FAST. Pictured: At the line, offical telling me about his Polish last name. Entering the loop - the still photograph conveys the labored effort remarkably well. What will I do without photographer Nils?

Nationals Road Race Notes

Bit more about the road race since I made some mistakes and since I find the race interesting... The final finish was: Meredith, Chrissy, Kristen, Amy, then Kori (not Kat). As it turns out, the group launched to Kori before the feedzone climb (not on the second steep climb). I think Kristen (solo) followed Chrissy (VAC) and then Meredith (TIBCO) followed Amy (Webcor). At that point team racing came into play: Meredith was sitting on the break, with her powerful team stacked with sprinters Brooke Miller, Kat Carrol, and Lauren Tamayo, not to mention powerful all-arounder Amber Rais, waiting in the field. Kristen deemed this break her best chance for a result, racing without teammates and not a sprinter herself, so she drove it in spite of Meredith sitting on. Webcor, with only three (albeit very good) riders, was in a similar place, Amy-in-a-break a better shot than a bunch sprint. Chrissy was likely VAC's best chance, and also contributed to the work. But evidently when Meredith attacked, neither of the other four (including Kori after her long break) had the legs to respond. Meredith sealed the deal for TIBCO. I definitely had some underdog sentiment going during Cascade, rooting for Webcor agains the TIBCO assault, but Meredith is a very deserving champion. She's a terrific team rider who for a long time has been the engine behind the glorious results of others.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nationals Road Race

Once again I'm writing more as a journalist than a participant with a great story to tell. Hum... I did not believe I could make the selection so I went in with an all-or-nothing strategy of making an early break in the hope that the field would misjudge and give it too long a leash. I was alarmed to learn at the start that there would be no neutral feeding and was all the more recklessly inclined. OK my fault for assuming but come on - for an $85 dollar entry fee and a 110k race with temps forecast in the mid-90s!?! Rolled off the front at mile 1 and we had a nice group for a second - Nicky Wangsgard (Colavita), Brooke Miller (Tibco), and Sam Schneider (TT1) (pictured) - but then some actual contenders like Andrea Dvorak appeared and that was that. I sat in for a while then attacked around mile five. Three riders bridged up - Tibco plus Liza Rachetto plus another Value Act plus TT1. We got it rolling and lasted to the top of the feed zone climb at mile 11. I got gapped up the Archie Briggs climb at mile 17, chased back on, but it wasn't looking too good. Lap 2 the field was not going that fast but I was not going fast either up that feed zone climb. Up Archie Briggs I came off the back and hate to say it but sort of gave up. With the TT tomorrow I entered the race unsure if I would finish - but it's sort of a self-fulfilling negative prophesy that doesn't sit well. There really wasn't any point in flogging myself for 50th, but it's easy to second guess and ask "well, maybe if I had sat in I could have made it." Because as it turns out..... the uber-climbers did not kill it like they needed to to whittle the field done and the final standings came out of a group of almost 50 riders! My old coach Tom Stevens once gave me this salient piece of advice, that when I was strongest on the hills, even if I did not want to get away it paid to make others suffer by going hard. I would have expected this from Mara Abbot, the strongest climber and racing without teammates. Evie, also riding alone, seemed to be shadowing Mara. The two of them could have really put the hurt on the field. Following on twitter from the host house, seems like Robin Farina, then Amber Rais spent some quality time off the front solo, the field chilling, then after the catch Kori Seehafer launched a powerful attack. In the middle of the second climb on the final lap, Meredith Miller (TIBCO), Amy Dombroski (Webcor), Kristen Lasasso (Independent/Mellow Mushroom), and Chrissy Ruiter (VAC) launched off the front of the field. They caught Seehafer. Within 5k to go, Meredith attacked and got a good gap. Meanwhile, it seems that Mara Abbot launched across with Evie Stevens and Kat Carrol. Meredith Miller 1st, Ruiter 2nd, Lasasso 3rd, Seehafer 4th, and Carrol 5th. Dombroski wins U-23! Way to go Lasasso!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Nationals Road Race Preview

Tomorrow brings the 111k Nationals road race consisting of four laps of the final stage of Cascade - technical with two notable hills per lap, positioning at a premium. We start at 8:30am so it won't be in the 90s until the end of the race. Nationals tends to play out as either full-out-hard or conservative-to-point-of-slowness, and everyone wants to win so teams fall apart, especially with no race caravan and no directors. What's going to happen on this tough but non-climber course with a flat finish? Are the powerhouse teams going to ride for a leader, or suffer infighting? We shall see! I'm guessing Mara Abbot is the strongest on those hills. If she wants to win she needs to get to work fast whittling the group down to a manageable size and getting rid of all sprinter-climbers. If not, riders like Shelly Olds, Kori Seehafer, Alison Powers, Meredith Miller, or Cat Carroll will rule the day at the finish. Never count out Katheryn Mattis and her Webcor crew - they rode hard for Evie last week but this week is totally different. Evie's no longer an unknown and will be marked heavily. Can she ride away again? Will a tip-top climber (Evie? Lasasso?) cling to Mara's wheel over the hill and win in the sprint? Will the teams muster a chase or will individuals hesitate to work? For me the writing is unfortunately pretty much on the wall that I won't make the selection on the hill when the attacks really go down - will see what I can do!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cascade 6 - My World is Flat

Stage 6 brought the most exciting course of the week, a rolling circuit with some tough hills and little recovery. A break went early with Lipsmackers rider Kirsty Broun, challenging Tina Pic's green jersey (pictured). I could just sit in and float in the field. I felt solid and smooth -best of the week - good with positioning and on the hills. The break reshuffled early in lap 2 and this time Lipsmackers had missed out. They drove it into the Archie Briggs climb in an attempt to launch a rider across. In spite of excellent positioning I got dropped. For once rather than back off early then claw my way back I held on then blew up right at the top. I pretty much rode the perfect race for me, I just wasn't strong enough at that one critical moment. So I am pleased and not pleased - pleased to put together a good race, not pleased my fitness was not good enough to make that selection. The frustrating part is that I am not unfit, I just have a flat fitness that is not well-suited to road racing. I need that extra gear asap, or it's really time to switch sports. This is wearing on me. At the front, lap 3 was a slugfest. Value Act's Kristin McGrath soloed from 1k to win; Evelyn kept the jersey, and my teammate Marisa sealed her GC in spite of having her wheel taken out in the final roundabout. Cascade is a great race - Northeasterners take note!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cascade 5 - How Many Laps to Go?

Felt like death in the morning but went out for a ride and caught up with the TT1 men thanks to much-missed former New Haven resident Chris Jones. Sat in their excellent draft around Sunday's challenging circuit race course and got the legs ready. Crit was a very long rectangle, raced aggressively by TIBCO and others but rather conducive to a field sprint. I was in the mix a bit and generally had a lot of fun and felt good on those flats. Timing was CONFUSING to say the least, a 50-minute race with time clock counting down and lap cards counting up - until the last two laps when they started going up - and I basically had no idea when the finish was, and neither did our tip-top sprinter Tiffany (shown in picture with me). Silly on us but race could take a lesson from cross with the lap cards. Junior Coryn Rivera won! One more chance today - a very challenging technical circuit with two tough hills followed by false flats rather than restorative descents. If I position well I think I can make it, but when the climbers go on these it will be super hard. Race is 3 loops / 50 miles and I expect such a slugfest I don't even know that there will be pause enough for a break of total non-threats like me to slip off the front.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cascade Stage 4 - And Then I was Done

Stage 4 was an awesome race, not so much for me but in terms of team racing and battles on the road. As I mentioned, Webcor entered the day with Evelyn Stevens in the jersey and IBCO with five riders in the top ten overall. We had QOM at mile 2 of the 71-mile stage, and TIBCO went from the gun. That first QOM climb was brutal on cold legs but I hung on. DFT had missed a break of eight that went up the road. I tried to follow a few bridgers across but it wasn't happening. It was time to sit and rest. Webcor (especially Katheryn Mattis) rode tempo on the front governing the gap. The rest of us enjoyed a very smooth ride on more of Bend's spectacular roads. As it turned out, TIBCO wasn't too happy with the break - their rider was not highly placed on GC or the strongest climber in the break - so in a sense their aggressive tactic backfired. They tried a few times to bridge across but as it was the break came back around 40 miles. For the next ten miles we had some aggressive racing and I followed moves. One stuck without DFT in it - not a disaster coming so close to the final climb - containing GC threats Cath Cheatley (Colavita), Jo Kiesenowski (TIBCO), and Alison Powers (TT1). Webcor drove a hard chase (there was a lot of dangerous horsepower in that break) and brought back the break over about 5 miles. We were all together entering the rollers around 60 miles in, pace very high. Then after feeling solid all day I just drifted off the back on a roller and that was it, dead long before my time. Clawed a bit but then I just rode it in with Katheryn Mattis (evidently I can climb on par with my old New England rival once she has ridden tempo on the front for 100k). She was getting reports from the radio - Evelyn at 25 seconds, 30... I remembered that feeling of how great it is when you have done your job and your leader is sealing the deal. Being psyched for them dissapated some of my extreme disappointment in my own climb. Webcor had ridden awesomely in the face of enormous pressure from the TIBCO gorilla. Evelyn won the stage - remarkable given the windy and long flat sections of the climb - with Amber Rais (TIBCO) and Alison Powers (TT1) behind. Teammate Marisa had a great climb and moved into 13th. Interestingly, although I got shelled before the climb even started, I will note that our East Coast climbs are much steeper (though shorter), and that we rarely (if ever) have courses as flat as the course leading into the final climb. The racing really feels different. Pictured: final climb up Mt. Bachelor.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Cascade Stage 3 - Room for Improvement in the TT

The TT was a 16-mile out-and-back up Skyline Drive, gaining 1000 ft. I have a long list of all I can do differently for the Nationals course that includes this loop. Of course getting stronger would help too! Needed a super long warm-up after the previous day's finishing climb, since in spite of a brutal ice bath my legs felt like death. Did not really factor this in. Plodding at the start, rode my way up just tried to stay positive and not get bogged down. On this course my strategy would be to minimize losses to uber-climbers up the hill, then roar on the downhill. Simply needed more guts and more gears on the way down. 27th, 2:20 back of surprise winner Jessica Phillips! Marisa moved into 16th on GC. Tibco stacked the GC, with five riders in the top ten. Evelyn has a one-minute lead - will it be enough to withstand the imminent onslaught? Today's 71-mile stage with a finish climb to Mt. Bachelor will hold some answers.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cascade 2 - Trying Hard for the Break that Wasn't

Temps in the mid-90s again for the 80-mile stage. Marisa and I both worked hard early to try to make the early break - only it didn't happen. I spent a few matches but it seemed worth the risk. Tibco and Webcor were both aggressive early but nothing went. Finally, after the QOM at mile 52 (of 80), a powerhouse break went - Kat Carrol, Anne Samplonius, Stacey Marple, Erinne Willock, Andrea Dvorak, someone else - and none of us was there to follow. It was frustrating because quickly the field swelled across the road and the gap ballooned to three minutes. We had missed out. As it turned out, the break worked for some teams and against others. We came into the final climb through the town of Three Creeks and into a long windy false flat drag. If I had more confidence in my climbing right now I would have ensured better positioning. As it was I sat out the first surge up the steep pitch at 72 miles, then clawed my way back up to a group of support riders from the big teams as the grade eased. The grade was such that drafting played a big role. Of course I wonder if I had saved energy whether I might have weathered that first pitch and made a better group but honestly I am not so sure. This was definitely my best climb of the year, and it was quite tough even riding just a steady pace. A lot of excellent climbers struggled today, with surprising people falling out of the break or just not doing the climbs they are used to. The heat appears to be taking a toll. Marisa rode a great climb, finishing 15th, just over a minute back. I am almost six minutes back, 48th. Lindsey, Tiffany, and Ambre all rode solid climbs. And the winner.... Evelyn Stevens again! Northeastern racers, we should feel vindicated. Picture from Nils: team, landscape (!), start of finishing climb, and near the finish (me second from left).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cascade Stage 1 - Energy Conservation or Doing Nothing?

Stage 1 done and this epic race is on! Hot was the word of the day - 90 and basically no shade - and for a while the field wallowed at snail pace. We heated up for the sprint, then a QOM hill followed by a regrouping, then some hard sections of attacking on flat windy terrain, then a straight run into the finish. All in all it was kind of a mellow day and I felt fine on the single hill. Maybe it was mellow since I should have helped teammates cover moves more, but I went through a small period of feeling like death from the heat. It seemed destined to stay together, so sometimes it's a hard call to know how vigilantly to patrol the front. Because the racing at the front was super hard, but riding in the field was largely a very easy ride (HEAT ASIDE). There were a few moments when I thought a strong team could have split the field in a cross wind - PEI style - but the racing was just not that tough. I think everyone viewed the stage in the context of the stage race. Team is a great group, everyone rode well. Of course then when you see that rockstar Evelyn Stevens (this time guest riding on Webcor) attacked with 1k to go and WON, you think, DANG, I could have at least covered that. But ah well, on to the next mission: today's epic stage - a long flat drag into a 10-mile finishing climb on a 73-mile day with 90-degree temps. We will be aiming to place a rider in the early break and hope to do something cool! Photos courtesy Niles.

How iPaw Found my Wheel

On Monday before the race our director/mechanic/soigneur picked up my bikes to make sure they worked. So cool, except during the loading process we left my front wheel leaning against his truck without noticing. Once we realized what had happened, hours later, host Niles and I scoured the street outside the house. We imagined fantastically how far it might have rolled. In the meantime, one of our host's three beloved indoor cats had gone missing. The cat was iPaw - a Christmas gift years ago instead of a coveted iPod - famous for hiding but known to freak out if outside. Karen scoured the house many times over, growing increasingly worried. Of course I feared that I had left the door open and the cat had somehow escaped and was in grave danger. Tom set up my bike with a replacement wheel and we readied for the race with a spactacular team dinner prepared by teammate Tiffany. Niles went out to walk the neighborhood one more time for iPaw. He saw his neighbor standing on his porch holding my front wheel, then returned home with the wheel to news that Karen had found iPaw! Thanks iPaw - I owe you one.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Hi from Bend, Oregon. Sometimes when I visit these Western outdoors sports meccas I wonder why I live in the East. This place is cycling and nordic skiing paradise. This is without even mentioning kayaking, which seems fair since I don't kayak... Anyway, staying with wonderful hosts who happen to be land use planners. Psyched to get dialed in with the new team. Rode the TT course and well, it's basically a 7-mile climb and a 7-mile descent. My biggest challenge is going to be going fast downhill - I am not well-practiced with high speeds on this bike. Pictured: plane to RDM, TT course (going up). Now for the next pre-race activity - food procurement!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Go West!

Set aside my Fitchburg exasperation and am moving forward with plans to race Cascade and road nationals in Bend, Oregon. Hitting these races in tip-top form had been the plan all along, but I had not anticipated so much struggling up to this point. When I get as frustrated as I did at Fitchburg I come close to wanting to pull the plug - do a 100-mile mtn bike race and ride the 120-mile dirt-road Deerfield Randonee with friends - after all this is supposed to be fun! Maybe I am overly hopeful but I feel so tantalizingly close to being strong and so here I come! Can't stay mad at bike racing. Cascade is going to be epic - 6 days in the mountains at elevation racing in a 120-rider field largely self-selected for climbing prowess and with many going super strong in advance of nationals. I expect to struggle on some epic climbs, but absolutely plan to make intermediate climbing selections. I will be racing with the Colorado-based team DFT p/b Treads and hope there is occasion for my beloved long breakaway, maybe on the day with some ridiculous finishing climb up Mt. Bachelor. Hum... better check the race bible! Psyched for the time trial at both Cascade and nationals - this event actually capitalizes on my lopsided strength profile. Bike is supa fast so it is up to the rider. Pictured: my disk wheel (and other things round)! Too bad it's only 6-speed... In other news my brother just launched on a six-week paddling trip of Alaska's Yukon river. Craziest part is that in order to write they have the laptops packed up inside the canoe!

Decathlon Weekend

Notes to self: don't underestimate the toll of moving, don't mess with your whole bike position prior to racing a technical crit, and Philadelphia really is far. What was supposed to be a good confidence-building and cash-cow weekend at the Iron Hill Crit and Union Vale was instead, well utterly exhausting (getting lost on the way to races is a key indicator of mental acuity and I was a disaster!) and a horrendous crit in which I simply could not corner. I am holding out it was good training... plus a friend's excellent birthday party where I caught up with many missed racing friends who've graduated to new endeavors, plus a visit with my aunt and cousin. Have I said before "less is more?"

Fitchburg Wrap

Not good enough on the Princeton climb and I plummeted in the GC. Pretty disappointing since I should be able to make that modest selection. Sure it was hard, harder than past years due to the absence of the finishing climb, but it was basically a bunch sprint of 50 riders. I am quite strong in general power riding but when it comes to drilling it up a short climb I am sorely lacking - and this allocation just doesn't cut it in road racing. Thus the fitness trading concept... I will trade you some power on the flats if you can give me some zing for the hills. Voluntary exchanges and everyone is better off, efficiency maximized. Worked for a complicated problem like SO2, why not fitness deficiencies? Suffered from demoralization in the crit - I wasn't going to get dropped but when I made one attack and saw how windy it was then I gave up on breakaway ambitions and pretty much wallowed in 50th place. When I heard the motorcycle right behind me I would move up lackadasically. Not good. Lip Smackers kept Evelyn in the jersey and Tina Pic took the stage win again. The men's crit was astonishing - local hero Will Dugan procured the sprint jersey and the second-place gc rider bridged to the break in the final laps of the race (leader Zirbel's team having combusted in the chase) to seize the overall win. Wow! Great racing for Fitchburg's 50th!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fitchburg CR

11 laps of the 3-mile circuit with a stair-step hill gaining 100ft per lap. Lackluster race by me with energy wasted due to mediocre positioning but mission accomplished - mostly (small time gap to front 3) - still 8th in the gc, legs saved, and now I get to race today! Without the Wachusett finishing climb, and with Evelyn Stevens in the lead over Alison Powers by 1 second, the race promises to be a slugfest! See what I can do.

Ftichburg TT

I was motivated for this one. Getting good at the TT had been a project for this season that got postponed with my early-season "fitness emergency," but I got on the bike as much as possible during the last two weeks and was ready to give it a go. I have a sick fast position and bike - it was just a matter of getting used to my position and pacing. Pre-rode the course four times this week which was probably good given that we raced in dense fog. Rode the race and maybe I went out too hard because I was pedaling through mud on the way back, at times the speed dipped to 17mph - yikes - but made it to the finish. But it was good enough for 8th! Two seconds out of 6th so of course I wish I pulled that off - because you could find two seconds just in the turn-around - but exciting. Alison Power won, with Evelyn Stevens just four seconds behind. Good to know that the woman who has been killing all of us this season in the Northeast is actually phenomenally fast!

Housatonic, East Hartford, Exeter

Backlog of races to report so quick! Dead at Housatonic and Evelyn Stevens killed us again. Made that mistake of thinking I was totally out of the race after the first selection when in fact it was very close up the road. East Hartford - back to my wreckless racing self for a day - wahoo finding legs! Exeter was cool cool though I needed to follow that fast Nicole Freedman up the right side at the finish rather than get caught behind a near crash!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Home Again

Stopped in the Berkshires for a few days - hard to say how much I love riding here. Evidently it rained the entire time I was in Canada so it is very green! Got to ride with my mom. I know her seat is a little low - she likes it that way. Now back in New Haven, where it's been raining non-stop. Trying to hold onto the sensation of being a real bike racer that I rediscovered at PEI, valuing recovery for instance and not buzzing around constantly. Doing some work on a land conservation conference taking place at Yale next week- trying to prepare for the storm, excited for a New Haven festival called Arts and Ideas, and liquidating tons of excess bike possessions. An imminent move promises streamlining. I'll miss New Haven though. Back on the bike getting ready for Fitchburg. Hoping now begins a new phase of the season where I am competitive in races. Housatonic Hills on Sunday.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tour of PEI Stage 5

Missed opportunity in the crit today. Unclear objectives and I underperformed. Bridge to winning break went and at that point I was actually sitting second wheel and just did not make it happen, having tried to go across minutes before. #$*%! Team did not make the racing as in previous days but so it goes. Overall it was a very positive week: 3rd on team gc, QOM, 6th, 10th on gc (and me 16th), three top tens in stages. Such fun racing, and extremely meaningful for me to find my legs again and to race with a strong team where aggressive racing made sense. Still astonished I went from last place last week, off the back every day but one, to riding solidly here. These last two weeks testify to the merit of the sink or swim strategy for fitness adaptation through hard racing, that is for sure. Montreal tomorrow, home Saturday, Fitchburg in the future. Speaking of which, perhaps I should make some plans...

Stage 4 Correction

In the spirit of accuracy, quick clarification: Race leader Tara Whitten (battling on the road for yellow with Australia's Bridie O'Donnell) was in the break, driving it. So MTN would have taken second on GC. When Whitten crashed (along with the others) and needed mechanical service, that spelled doom for the break.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tour of PEI Stage 4

My adoptive team MTN Energade almost won the race today. I can't tell you how exciting it was. After some hard racing that included pressure by a long break of Natasha Elliot and a Quebec rider and some attacking by others teams including us, Carla and Marissa got away on a QOM. They were in a small group at first, then another few came across to make a force of about 10. For maybe 20 minutes the gap was hovering around 30 seconds. Chase was full bore but teams were getting fried, and honestly, the elastic had snapped. I even overheard as much from another team director. Then suddenly, just as it looked like the break was gone - 50 seconds and Carla would have moved into 1st on GC - Carla and another rider crashed in the break. The field saw it on a hill. And just like that the gap came down and the break was caught. Raced hard to the end but it ended as a bunch sprint. QOM won. So close but a great day of racing, with the notable exception of losing the team's sprinter to a crash (her second in two days). Still in disbelief I have legs. Hard race but nowhere near as hard as yesterday. Long portions of the race spent sitting on the chase, then some hard parts. But no echelons and no time riding in the caravan, much less steep and less incessant hills. Could actually take the hands off the bars to drink and eat. Lobster feast after the race and now we are in Charlottetown for tomorrow's crit. Time for a non-Euro to win a road/crit stage - how about a South African or at least a North American!?

Tour of PEI Stage 3

Stage 2 brought a 120k road race contested in very windy conditions. I had heard PEI was FLAT but constant up and down would be a better description. The plan was to go for it to try to split the race and advance top rider Carla on gc, plus win QOM. Maybe it's that question of picking your battles. I was hoping to get in the early break because of my diesel fitness but the field would have none of even the most suicidal of breaks. Race leader Tara Whitten - an unknown to most - was super strong, helped impressively by two teammates. Australia took quite a lot of control of the race, and it paid off when Bridie McDowell, 2nd place on GC, won an intermediate sprint bonus that put her in the yellow jersey. I felt great for 50k, tried to cover some moves but then the legs turned to mud. After that I was basically surviving for 70k. My team killed it on the QOM, with rider Marissa escaping in short breaks to take the jersey. A big downhill crash occured when a rider who had ridden into the gravel shoulder tried to hop back up but instead catapulted herself into the field. MTN rider Cherise landed on her head, shaved the lens off her racing glasses - very scary. Hanka Kupfernagel got a chainring to her forehead. Totally unecessary. The crash followed by a QOM split the field into echelons but the front did not ride hard enough to stay away. Quality time in the caravan. Managed one attack to try to split the finish but I was basically useless. I had eaten 2 gels and 1 bottle all day. Stupid but the race was so windy I felt I could barely take my hands off the bars. After that it is all about recovery, as today brings another day of more of the same: 120k of wind and rollers.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tour de PEI Stage 2

Stage 2 featured a time trial across the Confederation Bridge from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island, the world's longest bridge spanning ice-filled waters at 14k. Our director as well as the astute Cascades director Max (who had studied the previous year's worth of wind data on the bridge!) advised a few riders to sit up in the sprint yesterday so they could start the time trial early. Unfortunately I have been time gapped so many times before that I finished a respectable 35th on Sunday! We raced with a fierce cross tail wind that turned into a pure cross, then cross headwind over the course of the starters. I was satisfied with my ride - with my current diesel fitness a 14k flat windy time trial is probably my best event - and the team did great: 6th, 10th, 18th (me), 27th, then the sprinter. Because of the strange results, there is unquestionably a lot of aggressive and very hard racing to come. The team of surprise winner Tara Whitten of Atlantic Cycling Center is going to have its hands full.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Tour of PEI Stage 1

Today brought 10 laps of a flat and windy 10k circuit with intermediate sprints. Avoided a big early crash in the wind. Totally different race from Montreal so far, just not nearly as fast. Felt a bit like some of the flat circuit races at Altoona. Wasted some energy jumping into a few splits destined to return but important to be part of the team effort and priceless to remember I actually can race a bike. Sprint finish won by Bronzini. Hoping to do a solid time trial tomorrow - I sure got enough practice in Montreal.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Tour of Prince Edward Island

Hello from Summerside, Prince Edward Island, start to the Tour of PEI and home of Anne of Green Gables. Arrived last night after a nap-filled bus trip and enjoyed a very leisurely recovery day of sleeping, building up the bike, 1:30 easy spinning on the race course, taking care of some logistics, and the opening race banquet. Still missing my race wheels but they should turn up. To my relief the team I am riding with, the South African team MTN Energade, though surprised to have a guest rider foisted upon them, is extremely welcoming and a great group. They/we could win the race. I really hope to have some fitness and contribute to the effort. Hard to know what to anticipate. The field will be less strong since big gorillas Cervelo and Colubmia and smaller gorillas Nuremberger and Webcor went to Philly, replaced by new teams and some ringers flown in. German National Team will be a force. Courses are mostly flat with wind a major factor that will cause splits in the field. A 15k TT across the Confederation Bridge (bridge is 14k long....) on day two will shape up the GC and make room for breaks. I sure hope I gained some fitness from my rough race in Montreal. It is going to be a very fun week if I am strong enough. Pictured: view from the bus window, the bridge we time trial across (from the bus), and Summerside near tomorrow's finish line.

Stage 5: Mt. Sainte Hillaire

Promise to add some photos soon. Final stage, this one featuring the novelty of a hill. Five loops with a 1k hill with QOM followed 3k later by the start finish sprint line. Much better with positioning. Cervelo controlled the race for yellow jersey Kirsten Wild, with World Cup winner Emma Pooley motoring at the front at 40-45k/hour the whole time just to ward off attack. Positioning war into the turn into the twisty bike path section preceding the hill. Finding my legs powering the flats but now how about a hill? Not so good - needed to chase back into the group even on the calm first lap. Second lap kaboom and thus I completed my max-time-off-the-back reintroduction to fast stage racing with 65 of rolling on my own and for a while with a couple tired riders. Moved up almost every day but and managed to secure the Lanterne Rouge. Um ahem... at least I finished! Finish the race at 8pm, then to a banquet, back to Montreal, home at midnight, pack the bikes, up at 5, get lost driving to Elisa's, drop the car, get a ride to bus to PEI, on the bus to PEI for 14hrs. Now today, short recovery ride in Summerside PEI. Legs this week. That is the plan.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Stages 3 and 4: Lachine TT and Little Italy Crit

Rode the bike path the 3k TT. Did not invest too much in this event, given that I was feeling rather wrecked from the previous day, was 27 minutes down on gc, and that even when fresh I don't excel at this length of event. Time trial is done without aero bars or TT bikes given all the Euro teams having flown in, a short out-and-back on a spit of land in the Lachine Canal (maybe?). Scrubbed too much speed in the first set of corners but fine otherwise - 68th place and 29 seconds back. Others are just so much fitter. The winner averaged 53k an hour. Times like this I just realize that is a whole different league. After the TT, Cascade mechanic Gary identified and fixed my binding heatset - and suddenly the bike felt great - wahoo! Maybe I had not just been a freaked out scared rider these past few days, but my bike had actually been slightly unstable. Home for a nap and food. My teammates ate horse (pictured) but I passed... In the evening, we rode urban guerrilla through Montreal (past its bike-sharing stations!) to the Little Italy crit. Fast but non-technical four-corner crit. Riding on the outside you don't even have to stand up. Luckily missed a crash and was comfortable in the group for the first time all week. A bunch of riders caught behind the crash tried to chase rather than take a free lap, but it's nearly impossible to catch this field once gapped, and were sadly cut from the race. So hard to think clearly at times like these. Time gapped at the finish - silly as I had legs to have gotten myself up further. Cascades lost Joanie to the crash/chase escapade. Another got gapped when a plastic bag blew into her wheel and she needed to stop once free laps had ended. Today brings the big stage: 130k with a real hill, preceded by a 5k sprint/positioning war on a curvey path the width of one bike. Wish me luck. We've got one rider 26th on gc. Hope to position well and help her move up.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Stage 2: Granby

I am very edgy in the pack these days and it's killing me. 11 laps of a 10k circuit last night, with QOM on a moderate big-ring rise and sprint laps on a finish line preceded by two fast left corners. For a while I was up there, in the racing mix and even jumping into the action once. I remembered the positioning strategy of following someone good (the alternate to just filling every small hole in sight), so I was riding for a while on the calm wheel of Hanka Kupfernagel - good fun. But then early in the race after feeling totally fine except nervous, on the lap where a QOM immediately followed the sprint, through the sprint I got gapped off and that was it. I was chasing hard for a few k with World Cup winner Emma Pooley, who had been riding on the front for almost the entire preceeding lap, but then she skipped into the caravan and I just couldn't. So it was another 60k alone. I hope I can ever guest ride again. My teammates are impressively solid and fearless (one a Montreal bike currier turned fashion writer, I learn...). Today we have a 3k tt at 11:30, then a crit in Little Italy at 7:15. It should be a calm day in a way - short super hard effort but then a crit that is uber-fast but a simple four-corner affair. The fans at this race are amazing - every lap last night there were probably at least a hundred people cheering me. You would have thought I was the winning break. After the race we eat dinner in a community center or school, with all the teams and race volunteers and organizers. That would be great if only I had not left my toothbrush and toiletries bag there last night. Onward to the race! Today will be better and I will definitely come out of this stronger.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Stage 1: Chataguey

Stage 1 done and I am in 96th place over 10 minutes back! As always, there's a story: The course was a flat, four corner 5k loop raced 15 laps with intermediate sprints for time and finish bonuses. We raced at 5:30, mid-50s and rain threatening. The race was fast and nervous from the start, people pin-balling up the sides constantly to improve positioning. I started out positioning well enough, but by lap 3 had settled into about mid-pack. Suddenly the riders ahead of me crashed and I went down, easily but tangled in someone's bike. The crash delayed the whole caravan. I chased too hard too soon, and could not even hope to jump on bumpers when team cars came flying by at easily 35mph towing their respective riders on their bumpers. Burned myself to the point I even fell off a Colavita bumper that would have been my ticket back into the pack. And so the joke that I will go out of my way to do steady hard efforts continues, since there I was riding with two tiny riders not strong on this power course, riding a long sustained effort in the rain for the time cut. Later we picked up Mary Zider, someone I am always glad to ride with but not when it indicates we are both off the back. We jumped into the field for three laps (evidently this was ok), then finished on our own. Four teammates finished in the group, one came out of the crash as though kicked by a horse, and finished solo behind my small group. On the plus side, my legs felt the best they have all year. Today will bring a 110k route with some moderate QOM hills and a technical finish, with time bonuses bound to be hotly contested. Highly unlikely a break would go, let alone stick, unless Cervelo sees that as there best defense of the jersey. This race is pretty much for sprinters - though Thursday's race is a tough uphill sprint - and decided on time bonuses plus tomorrow's 3k TT. Positioning is the name of the game today. Side project is identifying German cyclocross star Hanka Kupfernagel in the bunch.

Monday, June 1, 2009

And on to the Next

Transition between worlds and here I am Montreal for the Grand Tour of Montreal! Made some fitness progress in the last few weeks so here I go. At least I am fresh and motivated and on the way up not on the way down. Racing with Equipes Cascades, a great team of young talents based in Montreal. I am super psyched. Maybe I will even learn some French. Super hard four-day five-stage race with some of the best Euro teams. Generally an exercise in survival, but the team could have a few cards to play. Then on to PEI. Taking a vacation from e-life except maybe I will tend to the blog.

Finishing One Endeavor

Memorial Day this year brought not Somerville but graduation. What a pageant - there was even a scepter on the podium intended to confer some sort of divine right of Yale. But ceremony can be good in how it brings closure, plus my Forestry School has a proud tradition of cap decoration (orange flowers pictured), complete with steel drum band to accompany marching. We certainly seemed to be having more fun than other schools. Great to see my mom and my brother, in from Alaska. Training at odd hours brought delights such as early morning rides in cold rain and lightning, only to have the day clear completely shortly after. I'll miss New Haven!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Baby Steps in Wilmington

I was pretty frustrated with my ride at Wilmington, because I actually had some legs and did not get the most out of them, absolutely a step backwards in my quest for the holy grail of savvy bike racing. I was surprisingly nervous, even scared, about my first NRC race and first crit in a year, one with some fast corners that threatened crashes even though they were straightforward 90-degree bends. I had not expected this fear and did not welcome it - suddenly it added a whole new dimension to the already tough process of trying to get myself back into the mix. So I frittered energy at the front early (mistake 1), embarrassing to say even went for a prime (mistake 2), then moved just slightly too far back (mistake 3) and narrowly missed crashing when some people decided to have a big pile-up on a downhill straightaway. Instead of the calmness advisable in such situations, I was a picture of panic. I did think to lay the bike down with my forced un-clipping, then cut the course to the pit (where was it? - mistake 4) through an ally containing an inflated jumping carnival game (name?), causing moms to quickly sweep up their children playing in my determined course. I arrived at the pit, so worked up that I did not even realize when I leaped back in that I had forgotten my free lap - just cut off half the course. No wonder there had been so little time! Back in the race but edgy and with worse positioning. A rider gapped me off and that was it - I could not close. In a group that could not rotate effectively and honestly not feeling to good, having blown up. Officials kept us in the race since we were still in the money, but when we got lapped a few riders from my group of fifteen or so leaped back into the race, and I got stuck with those who sat up (mistake 5 - got to know my crit rules, be alert in such situations!). Then I blew up and rode in, just annoyed with myself and wishing I had been able to get a result and win some money. Places 14 and up were lapped riders! I was 26th. Action looked exciting at the front. LVG and Lassasso riding great together for the win. Looking on the positive side, if I compare to last month not last year I should be rejoicing at my improvement, and maybe I got some fear over and done. Skipped BikeJam Sunday and rode an epic hilly ride in the Berkshires - Bash Bish and new favorite Oxbow. Two weeks to get ready for some HARD racing. No joke here. It's going to be tough. At least school is over!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Looking Ahead

Yesterday I finally gave the ix-nay to the computer (finishing school has involved catching up on all sorts of neglected tasks/new projects and I have been crazily busy) and enjoyed nearly a whole day of bike tinkering and adventure. In the morning I went for a small dog-walking hike with a friend up East Rock, the New Haven park I often extol. Then I was off to the bike shop to test ride a frame. It would be good to ride before the training race later in the day, since the past two days I'd been wasted and ridden at a snail pace. Riding out to East Rock through the campus on undergraduate move-out day, we found a student's wallet in the road. We stopped at school to email the owner and headed out again. Next up, approaching the top of East Rock we encountered plumes of smoke crossing the road, a pile of leaves on the roadside ablaze (probably from a cigarette). My friend called 911 as I used my bike water-bottle to try to put out the edge of the fire (maybe the size of a queen bed), and flagged down cars to get water from them. A construction worker with a big cooler of water stopped and quelled the fire. Then oddly, as he hopped back in his truck after this good Samaritan dead, he tossed an emptied plastic water bottle out the window. Ok, save the park from a big fire, then litter... Police and a fire engine came. Back to the shop, wallet reclaimed, then I dropped my chain leaving the shop. Turns out my derailleur pulleys were totally wrecked. Bob replaced them and I rode home then jumped in the car to drive to Bethel to race the summer series crit. The weather was awesome and the atmosphere of the race is like a big picnic, with families watching and music. SO FUN to race with the guys and in such a smooth field! Plus I was feeling starting to feel like a bike racer. I followed one guy over the top on the 3rd-to-last lap (the break already long up the road), and the next time up the hill I blew royally. But it's really good to determine the breaking point incrementally in a practice setting. From here, it's on to Wilmington for my first NRC race of the year!

Racing Roundup

The blog got relegated to the status of reward as I was finishing up my thesis, and now suddenly a month has passed! Perhaps I’ve accumulated some substance. The journey through uncharted fitness territory continues. The golden opportunity is to emerge a much improved racer by learning how to do well even when I am not strong, but getting clobbered in regional races is demanding some patience. Next after Battenkill was Quabbin, a gorgeous single loop of rolling hills around Boston’s water supply. The field was not as deeply stacked and the hills were longer and more gradual. The selection occurred about 9 miles in on a gradual climb. I missed the split but when it started to look like it would stick I was able to go across by riding steady hard. From there I was doing things like focusing on pedaling as little as possible (actually I coasted for a quarter of the race – how unlike me!), delighted to be in this front group. I wasn’t too sure that I’d be able to force a break later in the race, and did not want to invite a slugfest of attacking when top end is my major fitness limitation and when the Anthem team had three or four riders in the group. In retrospect it might have been good to try to stealthily break the legs of some of the riders in the group who were well-suited to the final uphill sprint but were struggling in some of the windy power sections. Coming into the finish I thought I just might be able to win, weathered a single hill surge, but when I stood up to sprint there was nothing there – I just have no capacity to recover from a top-end effort. I was off the back in the sprint for 6th place. Ann-Marie Miller did it again. Next up was Jiminy, my hometown race that is now disappointingly a mere 60k and a women’s open field. It was windy and the field was squirrelly. Jiminy was the first race I did that was specific Cat 4 field when I was just starting (after getting killed in open races). I used to identify the Cat 4 race fantastic first race for beginners who are wary of corners and technical course features. The outcome was exactly the same as Quabbin (except there had been no selection prior to the finish) – I had conserved a ton of energy and entered the finish with tip-top positioning, even backed off Evie Stevens’s early surge, but stood up to sprint and went from 5th to probably 40th, pedaling through mud. Next up was the double, Sterling and Bear Mountain. With this fitness, Sterling’s steep hill is my nightmare finish. It would be good training. The field was stacked with seven (or more?) NEBC riders and to my great surprise, cyclocross star Mo Bruno! Concerned about blowing up, I rode a steady tempo up the climb the first time to ward off attacks, then backed off all subsequent surges, such as Mo’s bounding attack on lap two. I was afraid to even stand up on the hill until the final lap. When a Colavita duo launched a terrific attack even before the turn into the hill, I backed off so much I was off the back. Climbing up that hill, under the bridge, I had to bridge all the way back into the main group, let alone the break of three that had gone up the road. Interestingly, I was racing with the Powertap and that time the break went the numbers were significantly lower than on the first two trips up the climb – I had completely sold myself short. After that I was not so sure what to do. Here I was rolling around through the wind in a group packed with NEBC riders sitting on, most of whom would dust me in the sprint. I made some attacks that weren’t great but that also would have been more effective if other independent riders had recognized it was in their interest to let me (and each other, generally) go off the front, leaving the work to NEBC. Finally I got the gal to attack under the bridge on the second tier of the climb, on the second-to-last lap, and it was effective but too late. After that I was too collaborative with the group because I was feeling pretty strong and since getting off solo or even in a smaller group was going to yield a better finish than my sprint. But I got 3rd in our sprint, 5th. Congrats to Rebecca Wellons! I raced home to eat some food and leap in bed before leaving at 5:30 the next morning for Bear Mountain. I was very tired warming up. Down the fast descent the first time, I got a bike wobble – no good – but the first time up the climb was fine. I had some hope I could make it to the finish (which suits me) since it was super windy and strongwoman Evie Stevens wasn’t attacking but riding a hard tempo, but no. On the third time up the climb, immediately out of the downhill corner, I stood up to follow a small surge and that was it – done. Mildly frustrating to not have the confidence to descend on the front, which would have helped me weather the climb. I basically just rode it in from there, very tired.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Dogs and the Bright Side of Battenkill

When I put "first dog" on my gmail tag last week, everyone kept emailing to ask if I have gotten a dog (no, the Obamas did). But suddenly this was in the realm of the possible. How crazy if I had up and gotten a dog last week!? Anyway, here are some recent dog photos. The one in the truck is at the Stewart's Shop at the junction of NY-22 and NY-7, Hoosick Falls or so, on the drive up to Battenkill. German shorthair in Tucson; Great Dane in New Haven. Looking on the bright side of Battenkill: no crashing, excellent training, overcame hesitancy in the pack post-crash, riding epic roads and an awesome race, seeing friends... Hum, what else? I do not enjoy racing with zip top-end. The first steep hill and I was going backwards FAST. I should have raised my arm to alert the other riders in the field. Chase chase chase chase finally caught but I was so hopeless I attacked and then got shelled, which seemed inevitable. Then I worked as hard as I could in my group without getting dropped, just for good training and as an outlet for all the frustration. It was ugly though, I was dying on every hill, upper body "chopping wood" and basically gasping for air. Eventually I was so tired I basically rode off the road by mistake into a gravel shoulder and had to get off my bike. The group rode away and I just rode in. Excellent riding at the front of the race, or so I heard.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Battenkill Ahead

As far as pedaling, the approach is different: Pilates and a slow wind-up, free-lancing it as far as team, and targets later down the road, but I am still here! Photo of beloved Mt. Lemmon, shelved in memory as I returned to winter in the Northeast, to be snowed on as recently as last Thursday. At times it feels I am swimming against the tide, especially during this rough winter that inhibited group rides and has resulted in fitness better suited for brevets than racing, but I am excited. I have a few new projects in the works, including improving at time trialing, and am really looking forward to racing the Tour of Prince Edward Island this June. Yesterday I was struck by a bolt of inspiration to mountain bike race. We’ll see about that since I do have road plans and goals, but there might be something to this idea of finding huge new challenges locally, spinning the challenge of no team into an opportunity to branch out (to borrow the cliche). Battenkill this Saturday and the race has gone big-time. It will be a huge challenge to play my hand right and to keep the experience in perspective. Last year I was coming off Redlands; this year I am coming off a single day at Bethel. The combination of the deliberate slow-wind up in training and the weather’s impact on the usual incidental development of top-end will demand some patience and perspective, especially given the background of doubt of returning from injury. But what an awesome race!

April Update

Apologies for the lack of update - at least this blog cannot be confused with Twitter. Twitter’s amazing if it fosters democracy in Moldova, but do you really want to know that I’ve just woken up in New Haven, am having a cup of coffee while waiting to talk with my thesis adviser who’s at JFK, about to fly to London, before dropping my visiting college roommate at the train station, then picking up my bike from the shop? What is the consequence of Twitter for anything not online, not in the present? This is a “file drawer” problem if ever! The environmental field, or at least my experience of it, seems so flat these days with reference to history. Climate change pictured, 12,000 years ago at Murray Springs mammoth kill site from my trip to Tucson last month. Forcing myself to stay focused as I finish school in this next month, considering spatial and temporal heterogeneity with reference to biological and social processes in cities, contesting the inevitability of tragedy of the commons, drinking in a talk by Bill McKibben and a workshop on starting a non-profit AND so excited for future endeavors namely trying to do something not just think and a GET EDUCATED summer reading campaign. Not just the instant news I get sucked into – Politico, the first dog, and the astonishing role of pirates in the present – but real books. Alaska in August.