Welcome, Ryan and Becca...
We would like to welcome our good homies Ryan and Becca to the blog world. Although they have been around for a month or two, we just found out. Thanks for nothing, Sunshine.
Welcome, Ryan and Becca...
The cool kids track is for anyone that was down with IVS (the ill vibe squad)..what it is DNC.
Five Years Ago Today...
it didn't even cross my mind to buy digital images of my wedding pictures. So this is one of the only digital pics that I have, courtesy of my MIL. Look, Rob with hair and me without facial scars.
I just read that the fifth year anniversary is the wood anniversary. How lame is that? Nothing says I love you like something wooden. Next year is candy or iron. I guess that's a small step up, but seriously, who decided these? What I need right now is a carbon fiber anniversary. Rob would probably appreciate a Porsche anniversary.
One of my favorite wedding day memories was on our car drive to our honeymoon hotel after the reception. The song "So Happy Together" came on the radio, and we turned up the volume and just started busting out singing on the top of our lungs. This is where I am very tempted to get sappy, but I will spare Rob of publicizing too much of that. But I will say that the past five years have involved all the random bursts of singing and laughing I could ever want. Over and out.
I just saw a commercial for the Tour De France, you know, the one where they show the wrecks. And a guy says "Next time you're out driving in a car, strip down to your underwear, and jump out the door. That is what it is like to crash in a professional bike race."
I have so much to say about this last week of racing at the MABRA crit championships and Super Week, traveling around Pennsylvania, Chicago, and now Milwaukee, and all the events surrounding it that I probably should just write a few bullet points about the latest things on my mind, lest I end up with a novel. Here we go:
- This crash sucked.
- I am sore and bruised and road rashed all over. And nauseous and headachy from a concussion. And I drip blood from my tear ducts. Sweet.
- Poor Spanky, my trusty steed, is now a "portable" bike.
- My helmet is cracked in multiple places, and sanded from the skid on pavement. My sunglasses saved my right eye from being sanded off.
This happened on my fifth race within the week. After feeling cracked and not right on the Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday races, I finally felt good again. Much better than good, actually. Suddenly past feeling cracked from all the racing and into GOOD form from it instead.
- I had a VERY strong feeling while warming up on the course, going through turn two, that I was going to have a bad crash there in that exact spot, in the draft of the peloton.I tightened my helmet tighter than I have ever tightened it for a race. And decided I would break away from the peloton early on in the race so that my feeling would amount to nothing more than a feeling.
- I also knew I could win this race. FINALLY a course with some climbs! This one was mine I thought.
- I raced aggressive from the gun. Put in three attacks in less than 10k, the first one off the front solo for the first several laps, then the third one being a bridge up to a Kenda and Revolution girl for what turned into the winning break. We lapped the field, but dangled behind them for over 20 laps so that we would not have to deal with the havoc and danger of a field sprint.
- Then the race announcer called out a $40 prime just for the three of us on the next lap. Not much to get too worked up about, but the perfect opportunity to have a "dress rehearsal" of how to grab the win in the real finish. I won the sprint handily.
- Bad move. Apparently, the Revolution girl did not like the way that "dress rehearsal" turned out and decided after that to join up with the field that we had been avoiding for so long, because she did not want to duke it out with Kenda and I one-on-one-on-one anymore.
- That made me angry. The feeling I had before the race about the crash in the field draft in turn two hung over me like a shadow. Not racing in the peloton on that course was my number one motivator for being in a break in the first place. Not to mention the simplicity it takes out of the tactics against two competitors when we were all now mixed in with everyone else.
- With less than a mile left in the race, after going around turn 2 fast and safely 48 times before, my wheel suddenly felt light in the draft of the peloton, lost traction, and down I went. I don't know why this time was different than any of the other times, except that now I was in the group and didn't get to pick my own line through the off camber turn. And we were going FAST because it was heating up to the finish.
- Luckily, my first instinct was to keep moving with the flow of the crash landing, and I twisted and barrel rolled with the skid. Thus, a nice distribution of sores everywhere rather than any major injuries.
- Too bad Spanky didn't have the same senses.
- I took out some other women as well, and for that I am really sorry. I was feeling a little smug just the day before (when caught in a pile up crash, but not injured) about how in all my years of racing I have never been the cause of a crash. Now I caused one that included my teammate Jeanette who is totally ROCKING this race series and WAS sitting in a podium spot for the GC before I ruined her finish. Luckily, I think I was the only one to hit it really hard and everyone else is racing again today.
- I am bummed I am sitting here blogging instead of racing today.
- I am most bummed that I didn't get to finish the race.
- When I used to play games with my little brother Russell, and he thought he should have won when he didn't, he would say "I don't care, I know I really won in my heart". It drove me crazy! We were so competitive. But now I love it and think it to myself with a smile when these things happen. Miss you Russ.
- I asked Jeanette after the race, in all seriousness, if they would still count my race and put me in third since the crash was within 3 km of the finish. She told me I'd been watching way to much Tour de France.
- Oh, I saw Sterling Magnell of Rock Racing, who is in the leader's jersey in the men's pro race, in the ER room as I was leaving. I made a joking comment to him about our battles, but he just sat there stone faced, angry, and too-good to acknowledge me back. Come on, Sterling, my crash ruined my modeling career too, give me a nod!
- Mama's recount here. Who could ask for a better traveling/ER companion then someone who has earned the nickname Mama? It is her birthday today, so give her a call if you're friends!
I was so proud to be a part of HPC p/b Altarum last week at the Tour of Fitchburg! This season of cycling just keeps getting better and better. I know it's not everyday that one has the chance to have an Olympian come guest ride with their team, and so I wanted to take full advantage of the opportunity to race with Sue Haywood and try to go for something. "So cool" doesn't quite do justice to the whole experience, but yeah, it was so cool. When Sue wasn't giving me a pull, she was right next to me up front for so much of the races, and I learned so much from her. For someone so famous for her mountain biking prowess, I couldn't believe what a head she has for road racing. She always knew exactly what was going on, where we should be, and how she could help me. I still can't believe SHE was helping me. Beyond her amazing cycling palmares, she is a lot of fun and the six of us girls laughed our heads off together in our down time at the house.
Above: Lesley, Sue, Jeanette, Lorena, Genevieve
Below: Sue and I discuss tactics after the race
I should also say what a "brilliant" and "lovely" addition Genevieve Whitson, our guest New Zealand rider, was as well. She is a rollicking good time and excellent racer to boot. Anna and I spent half the drive home entertaining ourselves by trying to talk like her.
Back to the race...after the Wachusett Mtn road race, when my team mates saw that I was in the running for the green jersey, they immediately decided to put themselves out there for me the next two days to chase points. And that they did. Jeanette, Sue, and Genevieve all took many, many trips to the front of the field to lead me out for the sprint on the points laps. I couldn't believe how easy it made it for me to do my job! I've never had lead outs like that before. I felt so lucky to have team mates who would sacrifice their own results like that to get me in the green jersey. It really meant a lot to me, and made me work harder than I could have otherwise. I didn't want to let any of them down when they put themselves out there for me like that. And somehow, it worked that we won the green jersey on the third stage! I was actually tied with Kelly Benjamin of Cheerwine on Stage 3, but got the jersey because the tie breaker went to the person with the most wins. So we were tied in points going into the final stage and we really battled it out. But she came out ahead quite handily, winning most of the sprints on that stage while I just kept racking up second place points. Overall, she won the points contest, and I got second, surprise, surprise. It was fairly flat, and more of a true sprinter's course for her. My skinny little toothpick legs measure up better on a hilltop sprint like the day before. And I think she was smart and capitalized off of our leadouts. It seemed like she just kept popping out from behind my draft. It wasn't any secret what we were doing with our leadout. In hindsight, we realized we should have had someone on my wheel as a sweeper. Oh, but then there would still be the little problem about her being really good, so who knows, really! (3rd picture: my first call up at a national race. Yay.)
Oh well. It wasn't like that points competition was even the main event. It was just our little sideshow. Just something we were having fun going for. In fact, we kept going for it even after her first place and my second place were already set. Then it was mostly just for pride. And I was having a blast with it, getting in the best training intervals EVER (it felt like my stomach was coming up my throat after the last two sprints), and just wanting to play the game. And wanting to get some respect. I wasn't sure if the other ladies thought it was respectable that we kept going for it even after Kelly clearly had the lead, or just stupid. But Kelly was nice and we even got some props in Cyclingnews (scroll down to the women's race here)- that was nice! We were out to play and I think were the only other team out there to organize ourselves for anything besides Cheerwine and Colavita, who dominated every other aspect of the race. (4th pic: Genevieve (?) giving me a lead out...even though I clearly botched this one. I am WAY off her wheel. Don't know what I would be doing way out there.)
Lesley mostly saved her legs for the finish (it was a good thing that at least one of us was still fresh) and landed herself a top ten finish at BOTH of the last two races! Nice. She really knows how to finish a race off. And Anna also got a top ten finish on the same stage in the 3/4 race. Way to go ladies!
Another noteworthy part of the trip was meeting and hanging out a bit pre/post races with Kathryn Bertine, a racer who has been writing for ESPN about her chase to make it to the Olympics this year - going a round about way by gaining citizenship in the very small nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis and trying to gain an Olympic spot for that country. Clever and gutsy! She didn't quite get the UCI points she needed to gain an Olympic spot, but said she had a wonderful time trying. Funny stuff. She wrote a book that I have read as well, so it was fun to meet her in person. She was so friendly. I love the sisterhood in cycling.
And lastly, I can't help mention having participated in my first race with a pee break. Some of us newer on the big scene found it highly fascinating. On really long stages, sometimes nature calls. The pro men who are really skilled have a way of peeing while still on their bikes. They get a teammate to put a hand on their back to keep them rolling for a minute while they do their thing off the side. Women clearly don't have such a luxury, and so if it is a really long race and everyone is still rolling along all together without any breakaways or much happening, then if you are an IMPORTANT person (example: GC leader, non-example: me) then you can just yell out "PEE BREAK!" and everyone pulls over, and those who want to pee quickly stretch out the leg of their spandex shorts over far enough for an opening, and go on the grass on the side of the road. Susan Hefler had just recently taught me how to do this when I had wondered how to do it quickly in bib shorts (think overalls - you can't just pull em down), so I was excited to try it out, and wanted to get rid of any extra weight with all the climbing still left in the race. But I just couldn't go. Someone next to me said "think of waterfalls", which made me laugh but didn't help me release any weight. On a funny note, there was a girl who obviously had not been mentored in how to perform a quick pee break. She went a few steps further off the road, took off her jersey top so that she could undo her bibs, and then there she was over half undressed on the side of the road when the IMPORTANT girl (the race leader) was done peeing (the fast way, out the leg), back on her bike, and the rest of us followed suit and raced away. Funny cycling etiquette. I hope she caught back up!
(Next to last pic: Jeanette, Lesley, Genevieve, and Sue. We are out cheering on Anna.
Last pic: Amanda, Christina, Sara, Anna - we Mid-Atlantic women bond together when we are off home turf.)
Lorena has the sprinters jersey at the Fitchberg-Longsjo Classic. See the report in cyclingnews.
What a good time I am having for the second year in a row at the Tour of Fitchburg! I had a great time last year with Anna, but it was a different kind of good time. It was the laugh-like-crazy-about-how-crappy-things-are kind of fun. We are positive we took at least 5 years off our life by staying in our mold infested dorm room at Fitchburg college, driving around in the Anna-Sauna (that rhymes, her name is Ah-na) truck w/no AC, and eating all of our meals from the college dining hall buffet (food was good, but I am pretty leery of the germs that lurk in buffets).
But this year we are pretty pimped out. Now we are here with a full team, including two guest riders about as cool as you can get (Sue Haywood of Trek/VW and Genevieve Whitson from New Zealand), in a huge host house pretty much just turned over to us for the week, and eating from a full kitchen our own good, healthy, home-cooked meals. It also feels a lot different because I am in better shape this time around, and after racing through all of NV with stomach problems, I have things a lot more dialed in. I feel ten times better before, during, and after racing.
The first stage was the time trial. Or as one of the funniest blog posts I've read would call it, the trial-of-time. I hate time trialing, and there is not much to say about it. You just go as hard as you can for 7 miles. End of story. I decided to do this with my Powertap so that I could just ride the watts I know I can hold for a 20 minute interval. Unfortunately, this did not go so well, as trying to hold the same watts that I could put out a couple months ago (when I last did a 20 minute test while training) was somehow too much for my body to handle now. I couldn't even hold the same watts as I did back in February. In fact, it was my worst of the five 20 min tests I have now done. Bummer. Don't know what that is about. I wasn't holding anything back, and I would think in a race situation I should be able to produce even a little more than just out training. Perhaps taking a full week completely off after Nature Valley served me well in the rejuvenation sense - I feel great - but left me a full 7% weaker in my 20 min watts. I certainly don't feel weaker, but numbers are numbers and that's why I love my power meter. On the plus side, my time was still almost two minutes faster than when I blew up on this course last year! So that is a major improvement I can smile about.
Sue rode really strong and of course had the fastest time on the team, and poor Lesley missed her start time because of a hold up in the bike check line. Bummer! Everyone was helpful with letting her through, except for one girl who wouldn't let her go ahead (even though it wouldn't have affected her start time at all). Luckily, she was still within her 30 sec slot, but it still shaved off precious time.
Yesterday was the Wachusett Mountain stage. It was a blast! I knew after my time trial that I wasn't going to be able to pull off anything impressive on the killer mountain top finish on this stage, so I decided to try for the points contest. It was a 69 mile race of 6 laps. The first five laps had a points contest to the top of the mountain. It made the race so so so much fun to go after these points. In the past I haven't bothered because I was less confident about finishing the race, let alone accumulating sprint points in the interim. This time it turned one big long race into six mini races. I loved it. Plus, it meant that I had to get myself to the front of the field, and it was a lot more fun to be up there in the mix where the race happens. Sure, I wasted a lot more energy up there, but it was a lot more fun. I ended up winning two of the sprints, got 4th two other times (which counts for nothing) and got totally boxed in on the other so couldn't go for it. That put me 3rd in the contest, and close within reach of the green points jersey, but there are still two more days of racing and a lot of points still out there. The points are still anyone's game and I might not even be in any kind of running by the end of today. But if not, it won't be for lack of trying.
The whole team was GREAT in this race. It was great having Sue in the mix helping me out and reminding me that I was an idiot (my words, not hers) the time when I bridged up to an attack by Cheerwine when Colavita wasn't there and would chase it down anyway. She helped me chill out a bit. Speaking of chill, when we drove up to this stage there was this big Forth of July parade going on in the roads we were supposed to take to get there. So in our detour route, we got totally behind schedule and totally lost. I thought we would miss the start. We made it to the race by the skin of our teeth, with just enough time to put our clothes on, get the bikes and go. Normally I would turn into a stressed out wreck in such a situation. But Jeanette and Sue were both so relaxed and chill about it that I felt like we were okay. They are the perfect race companions. I hope more of that attitude rubs off on me before this trip is over. Sadly for Sue, during the race she ended up with not one but TWO flat tires! Jeanette is one of the best team players, and both times went back to the support car with her and helped her chase back on. The second flat was on the last lap and they were back with the field so fast I seriously couldn't believe they were ever gone. Unfortunately for the both of them, their huge efforts chasing back were almost immediately before the course turned uphill and the intensity turned equally up full tilt all the way to the finish. They had just bridged back up and had no time to recover. They still passed so many people that I wonder what damage they would have done if that had not happened. Sue has a great attitude about it though - she is just out here racing as training for mountain biking anyway, so she just chalked it up to a couple extra good training intervals.
Pictures above are after the race (I loved it when I saw Jeanette at the hot dog stand for her post race recovery fuel) and our 4th of July BBQ. Nothing like steaks after a long race! And this is what happens when you give Jeanette the camera.
What would a unicorn do? This question was the start of a most excellent road trip to the Tour of Fitchburg. Anna successfully broke into my car and left this most coveted gift - a unicorn folder to hold directions, the race manuel, and special unicorn rules for the rest of our trip.
The first unicorn rule is to enjoy the drive. Driving all day cramped up behind a steering wheel can be such a drag, unless you are willing to let loose a little and pass the time in leisure. Playing the WWUD game, knitting, eating, reading, and napping - all excellent ways to take the edge off a long day behind the wheel.
Only when you are as skilled at knee driving as I am, are you ready to become a true Unicorn.
A second, lesser known rule of the unicorn is to only eat bananas that been kept safe and secure in a banana case. Bananas eaten any other way are SO 2007.