Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Redlands Bicycle Classic

I was looking forwards to Redlands Bicycle Classic, having some more racing under my belt with the past weekend in San Dimas. Redlands is a gorgeous area, about an hour east of LA, and we were fortunate to have amazing host house families for our team for the week as well. This was my first actual NRC race, and I was pretty excited for the stages later on in the weekend.

First up was the uphill prologue, 3.1 miles, on Thursday afternoon. Not my best strength in any means, but gave it all I had. I put in a good warm up, but about 1km into the race, up the first steep hill, my legs weren't very kind and decided to 'blow up'. From there on out, I didn't seem to have any power, and I was pushing a smaller gear than I had previous days in practice. The false flat uphill was really tough, and the course progressively gets steeper until the end. It was over fast and was time to focus on the next day. We luckily had Katie 4th on GC!

Saturday was the Beaumont Road Race. I was really relaxed before the race, and it started off fairly slow, with a good tailwind- my heart rate barely went above 100bpm. The race got tougher and tougher when the uphills started, but I was still able to stay near the front. Once into the park when the KOM climb started, I started to really suffer. My ribs were nearly good, and I just didn't have it. I cracked fairly fast, and wasn't able to continue.

The rest of the weekend went by slowly, and now I am in Oxnard, Cali for a couple weeks- before I head up to Monterey for Sea Otter Classic (which I am super stoked for- probably my favorite place I've ever been).

Its pretty quiet here- but I like it. I have a lot of time to ride and focus on everything I need. I basically ride all morning and early afternoon and spend the rest of the day lying on the beach, playing soccer in the sand or attempting to surf. It's fairly cool by the water, but lying in pants and a hoodie is still comfortable on the warm sand. It's so relaxing and it's nice to be left with my thoughts while I only hear waves. The house I am staying in is about 50 meters from the beach, walk able distance in bare feet.

Looking forwards to this next month block of training. I have my race confidence back, feeling like this will be a great month ahead, and hope to a great season as well!

Miss everyone back home, hope you all are having fun in the blizzard today..ha ha ha!


Monday, March 19, 2012

San Dimas Stage Race

It was time to get down to Southern California, away from rainy San Francisco, I jumped on a plane Wednesday afternoon to Ontario airport. Original plans were to take the Amtrack train to San Dimas, but with a 12 hour train ride, and a 1 hour shuttle to get there, it seemed like a much easier decision to hop on a one hour flight.

I had never been to LA before, either than driving through at 3am coming from Tucson, and to be honest, I wasn’t looking forwards to it overly much. I got outside, and my first question to the shuttle driver was “Is that smog or fog?” I thought I was supposed to be submerged in the middle of the mountains wasn’t I? I couldn’t see anything but smog in the air.

I headed out for an easy spin that evening to clear out my ‘flight legs’ and to grab some groceries. I got lost, frustrated and confused with eight streets in a row starting with a ‘C’, and everyone around only spoke Spanish. Riding around with 40lbs of groceries on my back was not ideal, but I eventually found my way back to our host housing. Headed off to sleep in Dora the explorer sheets and princess pillow, I was sure to have a good sleep.

Thursday the rest of FCS Rouse p/b Mr. Restore team arrived periodically throughout the day, but I headed over to the tt course/climb to pre-ride- about the same time as every other team. I had a fabulous morning pre-riding the course, which got me a little bit excited for the race- me excited for a hill climb tt- I know- hard to believe!

Friday came fast, and I was one of the last Pro 1/2/3 Women to go. I started right behind Kristin Armstrong. I knew this stage was going to be mostly a leg opener, but wanted to put in a decent time as well. I was feeling great warming up on the trainer before my race, and looking forwards to seeing what I could do.

The first half a kilometer was false flat, and then kicked up for the rest of the 3 miles. Of course I sprinted off the start- and blew up about 1km in, almost maxing out my heart rate. It was 3.8 miles long, and about 15-20 minutes total- of pure climbing suffering. I didn’t feel great in the mental sense during the climb- but it was the first time trial of the year- and I have lots to learn/train and focus on to improve my strength with events like this one.

Back at the house Friday evening, after a good dinner and lots of recovery, The Weather Network was the most visited site on everyone’s laptops. There was 100% chance of heavy rain and strong winds for Saturday’s road race. Everyone was nervous, but I couldn’t have been more excited. Harsh conditions are my favorite- work to my advantage!

It was a lot earlier of a morning Saturday, with our road race start time at 10:10am. The rain was already heavy in the morning, and the winds fairly strong. All my rain gear packed up, we were headed over to the race course at 7:30am after our Starbucks coffee run. I didn’t get dressed until about half an hour before my start, trying to stay relaxed, warm and dry inside the van. I thought- today was my day- rain, wind, a great technical road race course with a 1km climb, and a long drag flat sprint finish. I was riding on a strong team with lots of talent, FCS Rouse p/b Mr. Restore, and had a rider sitting in 3rd in GC we were out to help protect and move up.

The race started out fairly fast, and an attack went on the first climb. I was sitting comfortably in the group, always at the front trying to escape any trouble. The legs and mind were feeling fantastic today. The group slowly started losing riders one by one, with the wind, rain and on the first climb. The rain was coming down so heavy, I couldn’t see anything. Glasses fogged up, water pouring down from my hair and helmet into my eyes and sand and water spraying up everywhere made it impossible to see. I could barely see the wheels that surrounded me, and I must have hit ten major potholes, almost losing my grip. I was able to de-fog my glasses with my gloves every now and then, which helped periodically, but other times it was like looking through a plastic milk jug.

Onto the second lap, after the feed zone hill, there was a small descent and a sharp, narrow right hand turn at the bottom. Paint covered the roads, and the rain made it worse. A Tibco girl locked up her brakes, and slammed right into the side of my bike, taking me down, as well as about four others. It happened so quick, but I was up before I had time to think. I had shooting pains through my ribs, what felt like a torn calf, and no skin left on my bum, but I grabbed two random water bottles that were the closest to me, stuck them into my bottle cage, straightened out my bars, tried to pull my ripped shorts down, and started to hammer as hard as I could to catch back up to the group. I was by myself, mashing my gears as fast as I could up the climb and down the descent on the other side. The group was back in sight, and for a moment I had a slight sigh of relief...until I noticed my wheel was rubbing. I had done a good number to my front wheel in the crash- and my rear derailleur- I had about 3 cogs to use for the rest of the race. I tried to open up my front break, but the piece had broken off- then BANG- flat tire. Just my luck...and the Sram wheel pit was still behind at the crash scene with the stragglers lying on the ground. They eventually rolled up, and I quickly got a wheel change.

I had lost minutes at this point, at one point over 4.5, but at no time I had ever wanted to stop chasing. Joanie and Ally, involved in the crash too came up behind me and we chased as hard as we could...for 40 miles. 60km/hr winds, sideways torrential down pour rains and an all out suffer fest describes this part of the race best. We were all pulling through, killing ourselves to stay within time cut. We whizzed passed many women who had been popped off the back of the group in hopes of gaining time. Within the last 4km to go, we saw a group crest the top of a hill- “Are those the Women??” We all yelled at the same time. Hammering through the follow cars and neutral wheel car, with 3km to go, at the base of the final climb, we finally (miracle) made it back onto the group. I pushed as hard as I could up the climb, knowing I had to be at the front in hopes of any chance of a good finish.

Us girls who crashed didn’t know what was going on in the race, and were told there were 11 girls up the road in the break- who we after found out was only four- but everyone had rain jackets and vests on, so it was difficult to see who was who for the officials.

I was right up at the front, sitting in top three with 1 km to go...500m to go...top 2 with 300m to go...it was so perfect- and then I jumped- well- tried- This was the first time that I tried to jump, and sat right back down. I was spent- the 40 mile time trial off the back and after crashing took everything out of me. I ended up in 14th- not the result I was aiming for going into the stage- but a good result none the less after a breakaway ahead, a crash and flat in such horrible conditions.

After all the adrenaline passed me, and I changed into some dry clothes- I tried to put it in the back of my mind crashing and start to focus on tomorrow- but I ended up with two cracked ribs and some road rash. An epic day on the bike- but all I can hope for is that my ‘one race crash, crash’ is out of the way for the season.

I wasn’t able to start the crit today due to my ribs and some smart decision making, which was hard for me- especially being my favorite discipline- but now it is time to focus on Redlands.

I want to thank FCS Rouse p/b Mr. Restore team for letting me guest ride with your guys- was great to ride with all you talented girls. Looking forwards to a great weekend coming up in Redlands with you guys!

We have a TT prologue first up on Thursday!

Stay posted.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Lorax

This week I've moved from Monterey/Carmel, CA up to San Francisco (Pleasant hill) area for a few days. The scenery is very different, a little more inland but it is still gorgeous everywhere I ride. I must say that Carmel, Pebble Beach and Monterey are one of my favorite places I've ever been. The quiet, small town beach feel was ideal for training and relaxing. I had a fabulous week there! The scenery riding along 17 Mile Drive was as breath-taking as riding in Hawaii- especially seeing all the surfers in the 20 foot waves.

I don't know if I will get the chance to go check out actual San Fran and see the famous Golden Gate Bridge, which I would love to be able to do, but I am sure I will be back in this area sometime in the near future! Thanks to some extended family for giving me a place to stay as well this week, and to relax. I love living in the same house as young kids too...gummy worm vitamin C, and I got painted a lovely picture that reads "I like you" in multi colored paint that I will keep tucked away in my travelling journal! Thanks Briana :) I also got to watch a fabulous and hilarious new Dr. Suess movie- The Lorax! Who knew you can learn so much from Dr. Suess!

Like Dr. Suess says;

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go....
Oh! The Places You'll Go!

Figuring out logistics as a cyclist can be stressful. Who knew only half the trains with Amtrack take checked baggage and bikes, halfway to somewhere is no good! Everything however always works out, and now I can settle back into resting before the weekend. I am enjoying travelling and 'living the life' right now. I guess it's the Gypsy life? Never a home, always on the go..but I love it!

Check out http://sdsr.info/ for race results for this weekend. I will be racing for an amazing team, which I am honored to have the privilege to race with, FCS Rouse Bicycles p/b Mr. Restore. Follow me and @FCS Rouse on twitter for race updates! Looking forwards to helping achieve some great results with their girls for the team for the next two weekends!


Monday, March 5, 2012

Merco Cycling Classic 2012

Well, the first race of the season is now past, and it went fairly well. This past Sunday I was at Merco Cycling Classic in Merced, California. What a beautiful area, I'm in love with California! (Dad if you bought a condo here you could ride your bike every day when you retire- just a hint:p).

I feel much more at ease this year heading into larger races, than years past. I know I have more confidence in myself as I have been able to expand my miles over the winter, but I also have a lot higher expectations and goals for all the races as well. I got changed about half hour before my race, jumped on my bike, and cruised down to the start line while eating my ritual pre-race half a banana.

We had a large field, about 75 women in the Pro 1/2 category. The course was one of my favourtie race course I have raced on before, reminded me a bit of racing in Holland; flat with rolling sections, some narrow sections of road with horrible pavement, and some short popper hills. The race was really aggressive, and I felt great the whole time. I was able to sit in most of the day, but also got into a short break which opened up my legs.

The sprint was fairly interesting, as there were many strong teams with lots of fast riders. I was able to float on wheels in between riders to the finish, and just gave it all I could. There were some large tactical errors that I made setting up my sprint, but for the first sprint of the year, not too shabby. I ended up 4th overall, and missed third by a milimeter! I look forwards to bigger races this year, and hopefully I will keep improving.

Back to a couple weeks of training now in California before I head down South to San Dimas, then Redlands the following week. Lucky to have gorgeous weather as well too train!

Hope everyone is enjoying the snow back home, dont worry I'll continue to enjoy +25 and some sun :)