Superior Morgul, one of the best three day race weekends on the Front Range, is a tough staple in the CO racing scene. But luckily, our ladies are tough cookies. Brittany shares her experience over the weekend including a 1st place finish up the infamous “Wall!”
Throughout the duration of the Superior Morgul Omnium, I learned that while my teammates are as obsessed as I am with creating and instituting plans, they are also remarkably adaptable, resourceful, and quick-thinking. They are very strong women, capable of winning races in their own rights, but they are more than willing to figuratively turn themselves inside out for someone else’s win. To say that sort of dedication to the group is “admirable” doesn’t really do them justice, and when I became the focus of that dedication this weekend, I was taken aback.
I wasn’t particularly looking forward to Friday’s Time Trial; I knew I was at a disadvantage with my road bike, clip-on aero bars, and borrowed TT helmet, particularly since I’d only previously used aero bars once, about a year ago. It went as well as could be expected, not terrible, but not nearly as good as I needed it to be. Katie Harrer, on the other hand, demonstrated (for merely the first time over the course of the weekend) what a phenomenal powerhouse she is by finishing third.
Saturday morning, five of us checked in for the crit, warmed-up, and discussed the pros and cons of several possible plans. Katie, Emily Zinn, Jamie Arispe, I, and our fearless leader and schemer, Amanda Bye settled on one we all liked and lined up.
This race changed the game, or rather, put me back in the game after my less-than-stellar showing the day before, and my teammates did everything in their power to get me there. They all worked so hard the entire race and they were always where I needed them to be. Jamie dragged me up to the front for the second points prime. And, on the final lap, Katie absolutely buried herself leading me out. And we were successful. We ended the day with Katie and I both in the top 5 for the GC.
Sunday’s road race was a feat of remarkable quick-thinking, adaptability, and unbelievably hard work for everyone—all the racers, the promoters, the sponsors, the town of Superior, and Boulder County. The fencing company that was contracted to supply barriers, cones and signage for this iconic road race—which flies down highway 93 in the midst of vehicular traffic—abruptly closed its doors without any forewarning. Without Limits Productions worked closely with Superior and Boulder County to change the course, so that it would be safe without the expected supplies. What was a circuit became a repeated out-and-back course. I have a feeling that very few people involved in this set-up slept much, if at all, Saturday night, and as far as I’m concerned they pulled off an impressive feat and gave us a course that might have been more challenging than the original.
Amanda, Emily, Katie, and I lined up ready to suffer up the wall three times. Katie made the first move, attacking on the rollers towards 93. She took everyone by surprise, and they had to work pretty hard to reel her back in. Once they caught Katie, I took off up the last hill before 93, and was pulled back by the turn-around point. The rest of the race was a series of pulls (definitely too many and for too long), hiding from the wind, and pulling people back.
As we started up the Wall for the third and final time everyone got a little tense. I had moved to the front. Finally, one of the women jumped. I picked up my pace, and two other women went with me. The first woman faded; we passed her and at the final pitch, the top of the Wall, I managed to eke half a wheel across the line first!
And after a long weekend of hard work, my team moved me from 9th overall to 5th, to finally end in 2nd place. I’m incredibly excited about my first place finish, for myself, but also as my contribution to the team’s efforts.
Kimberley, though one of our youngest, shares her vast knowledge of cycling experiences. She’s wise beyond her years! Read if you want to learn how to become a better racer!
After a somewhat strange spring, I am finally allowing myself to hope that the days of spending hours on the trainer might just be a thing of the past! (at least until next year…). During the month of April, nearly every week we had snowstorms that made it impossible to ride outside, first because of the actual storm in progress, and then, for the remainder of the week, the accumulation that refused to melt. Right when it did melt and showed promise of an outdoor training ride, the pattern would repeat itself. And this happened for 4 weeks straight!
Let me say that, living in Colorado, trainer time is both expected and accepted… during the months of November through March, I will likely put in more hours on my trainer than the road, but April?! It was a month where I had to dig up a little extra mental strength and focus to stay motivated, partly because at this point, I was going on five months of trainer time, and also because with my bigger, target races coming up, this was no time for shortened training sessions (my coach usually has my cut my time down by about 1/3 when I have to do them on the trainer… thus a 4 hour ride becomes 3… which still seems likely an impossibly long time to ride in one place).
Now that I’ve done a little retrospective ranting, I’m pleased to say that I’ve been riding outdoors since returning from my race at Gila. After a few days completely off the bike to give my body a boost in the healing process, I got right back on track with my new training plan. This month is all about maintaining my form through Nationals, doing some longer rides to keep the endurance and some shorter, harder workouts to keep the speed and the strength — but not so much that it puts me into a state of over-training.
A well-respected racer once told me that she did much better “off the couch” (under-trained) than she did over-trained. This is not to say that it’s best not to train, but rather illustrates the importance of finding balance as an athlete. The majority of athletes (myself included), especially endurance athletes, have a greater proclivity to doing more not less. For me, the value in having a coach is just as much to tell me when to rest as when and how to train. The planning my coach and I did to put me in my peak condition for Gila ended up being timed near perfectly, and so now the difficulty is in maintaining that. Typically, a true peak can last only about two weeks, which is why it’s important for racers to identify key target races. Very few people can win elite-level races all year long, but it is possible to do reasonably well all season, and very well at select, carefully placed races (unless, of course, you are a superhuman species, of which there are a few in the peleton).
Now that I’ve gotten slightly off topic discussing my current training, I will return to what I originally intended to write about: lessons learned from winter training. I know you may be thinking, “umm… this is a little late. It’s beautiful out, and I’ve relegated my trainer to only pre-race warm-up purposes.” I wholeheartedly share your excitement for trainer-less training, but if any of these five nuggets ring true for you, tuck them away for next winter
1. Mental state is huge. If you approach the trainer like an enemy to be reckoned with, every minute will be excruciating, and a three hour base ride nearly impossible. Instead, find a way to make peace with it and accept the hours you will spend on the trainer or rollers, and the experience will be much more pleasant (note: I say “much more pleasant”… not completely euphoric and joy-filled… I have to be realistic here!)
2. Trainer time is a perfect excuse to watch the kind of shows you can’t justify watching otherwise. I, with only minimal shame, will admit to you that this winter, I went through all 8 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy (I somehow missed the craze as a teenage girl, but don’t worry, Meredith and McDreamy still managed to find their way into my adult life), 4 seasons of Gossip Girl (similar story here), and several other random shows I started but didn’t find catchy enough. This is a time to indulge in shows with minimal to no redeeming value… because, hey, the redeeming value is coming from the work you’re doing on the bike, yes? The more brain power I have to use absorbing a show, the less energy is available for my workout. I realize this logic may be fundamentally flawed, so, feel free to watch Ted Talks if you prefer.
3. This one parallels #1. The toughest months, in my opinion, are December through mid-March. For me, this is because I usually take the month of September or October (whenever my racing finishes) off the bike, and do other fun, active things as a kind of physical and mental “reset.” So, when I do start riding again, it’s because I’m really missing my bike and am excited to ride again. This unadulterated excitement typically lasts through December before some rides start to become tedious, and some mornings I feel tired and would rather read a book on the couch than slop through the snow to my “training shed” (Marcus insists it’s a training studio, to try to make me feel more hard-core… it’s a shed). It’s far enough from both the post-season rest month and the first race that it can be hard to stay motivated. But this is the time that it’s most important to refocus, recenter, and push through the fatigue or boredom. I once read a cheesy ad in a bicycling magazine that said “races are won in the off season,” and although I can’t remember what they were trying to get me to buy, the phrase stuck in my head.
By the middle of March, the excitement of upcoming races starts to build, and I see each training session as a chance to prepare for the season. I picture myself attacking, chasing, bridging… there is purpose that will be seen in a relatively short amount of time. My point here is this: if it is past March (which is now is) the hardest part is done. And, in the future, when you find yourself in that few-month period where focus and motivation can wane, you at least have the knowledge that it is not forever. Knowing that hard times are inevitable can actually help them to be more bearable (and this is true not just in cycling, but life…but that’s its own post). If December rolls around and I wake up not wanting to ride, and I had expected and accepted that kind of inevitable dip, I can move past it and do what I need to do despite not loving that one ride. In contrast, if this lack of passion for the sport I love hits me as a complete surprise, I am at risk of internalizing it as some fundamental character flaw: “I must not be a very good athlete”… “What if I NEVER want to ride? How can I do this 6 days a week for months and months?!”… “I’m going to have a horrible race season… I don’t want to train today, and it’s only December!” My point is, that this negativity is avoided when I accept occasional lack of motivation as a normal part of any athlete’s life, and can use it as an opportunity for developing mental strength.
4. For those rare winter rides that can be done outside (minimal to no snow on the ground, but most likely still bitter cold), don’t underestimate the power of winter gloves (or the misery that the lack of them can bring). I can say that during winter riding, I have never said, “man, I really wish I would have had thinner gloves!” but I have, on multiple occasions, ended up struggling to ride with painfully numb fingers that refuse to shift. In the same way, clothing choice can make or break a winter ride. I know it’s a hassle to have to carry more clothes than you might need for the entire ride, and especially in Colorado, the weather can be hard to predict. But, unless you have someone at your disposal to pick you up in a warm car at any point during your training ride, I’d suggest bringing more than less.
Being cold has a strange way of turning an independent, logical and intelligent person into an irrational, miserable, whimpering primal creature who’s actually wondering if she will die here on this mountain (I say “she” because that primal creature has been yours truly several times in my riding “career”). Even if you’re an experienced rider, it can be hard to predict what level of clothing will keep you comfortable during your ride. One thing that I started doing was keeping a “clothing log” as part of my training journal, where I’d write what I wore, what the temperature was throughout the ride (including any inclement weather I faced) and how comfortable I was. This way, on those days where I still go back and forth on whether to bring the heavy or light booties, I can look back and remind myself what has worked well (or not so well) in the past under similar conditions.
5. Although winter, for me, is not an “off season,” I still see it as a time where I strive to add balance to my life, both on and off the bike. This is another aspect that helps stave of the physical and mental “burnout” (both acute and chronic) that can inevitably come up during your life as a bike racer. Since graduating from college, I’ve realized how much I miss using my brain on a regular basis. I don’t have anything specific to study for, I’m not doing research and writing papers, and as silly as this may sound (especially if you are one who currently finds yourself in the trenches of college or grad school), I miss that. I am constantly exercising my physical body, pushing it to its limit, but my mind is so often fighting off boredom. So, during the winter, I consciously add “balance,” both physical and mental. This past winter, this came in the form of: yoga, knitting, nordic skiing, cooking and baking (I got really excited about homemade raw bars, juicing, etc), practicing my violin which I previously hadn’t picked up in months, reading books in Spanish, studying for my GRE, and tutoring a few hours a week for both extra money and to keep myself sharp. My point here is that if ALL your life consists of is bike racing, sooner or later you’ll hit a breaking point. I’ve learned that for me, whether I’m at a place in my life where I can train 20 hours a week or 8 hours a week, balance is crucial, and without it, everything falls apart.
So, with that semi-coherent rambling, I give you five tips for winter training success. But for now, it’s beautiful outside, so enjoy the sun!
I am absolutely thrilled to see the growing numbers in the Women’s Cat 4 fields this season! Kudos to all who have helped raise awareness of women’s racing opportunities. BRAC’s mentoring SW4 races started the trend. Racing teams are welcoming novice racers and showing them the ropes. BRAC’s fantastic 1-day racing camp hosted by Sue Lloyd, Cathy Zawadski, Katie Macarelli with volunteers had 50 women attendees. I hope we see all these new women racers for the rest of the season!
The other focus is retention. In a big move this year, BRAC supported Cat 3-only fields for women. Many racers upgrading from Cat 4 to Cat 3 in years past were immediately thrown into Pro-1-2-3 fields. From personal experience, I know how intimidating this is. Seeing pros I follow on Twitter chatting about my first P-1-2-3 race the night before took my race nerves to a whole new level. Of course, the positive of racing those much stronger and smarter is climbing a steep learning curve quickly. But in my opinion, knowing that the next step was racing pros kept many Cat 4 women from wanting to upgrade. The women’s Cat 4 fields have become top-heavy with experienced, strong racers who are racing Cat 4 at a Cat 3 level. The higher speed of the Cat 4 races can discourage beginner women racers from coming back.
A recent trend that I hope will continue is that more Cat 4 women will begin upgrading based on experience, not only points. As a Cat 3, I welcome larger fields with experienced steady wheels. Racing in larger fields is more exciting and provides more opportunity to employ tactics. As the new Cat 3 gains strength, there is always a role they can play in any race – which in turn increases their strength.
With all the avid women cyclists in Colorado/Wyoming, I firmly believe that we can double field sizes within the year. I envision a day when we are all pre-registering to avoid field caps. BRAC and the race teams have started the momentum, and we all have a personal responsibility to continue the build. If you see a new face in any race, introduce yourself afterwards and tell her how glad you are that she is racing. Invite her to the monthly pot-luck (started last year by Leslie Resnick, Sharon Madison and others). Connect with them on Facebook. Some positive, friendly words after the race go a very long way. This goes for the higher categories as well. Welcome newly-minted Cat 3’s and Cat 2’s to the field. Congratulate them on their hard-earned upgrades.
While I absolutely love the challenge and competition of the actual races, the most valuable aspect of bike racing is the friends I have made. These strong, beautiful women have added such joy and inspiration to my life. I hope that we can recruit as many others as possible into our crazy, fun lifestyle!
Kimberley finished one of the toughest and hilliest races around, Tour of the Gila, with the Pros (guest riding for our friends I AM THE ENGINE). Despite getting tangled up in a crash on the second day, leaving bone exposed, she finished all the stages and in a better time than the year prior. Read about all 5 days of racing on her blog:
Racing with a plan is amazing when it works. And that’s just what our Cat 3s did at Wheels of Thunder over the weekend, taking the primes and a 2nd place spot! Kat breaks it down for you…
I (Kat) have been racing my bike for some 8 or 9 years, way too long to recall exactly. After many long lonely seasons, 2013 marks the first time I have teammates. Women’s cycling in Colorado has grown tremendously over the last few years, and it’s no longer uncommon to have teams of 10+ women and multiple teammates in a race. When I first started racing, it seemed that women’s racing was much more of a sport of lone racers, which was great for teaching street smarts and how to be cagey in a race, but not so good for camaraderie, learning team tactics, or quite frankly keeping women in the race scene past 1 or 2 seasons. To be fair, I did have 3 teammates a few years back (2 of whom are now also Naked women), but it was few and far between when more than 2 of us could make it to the same race. So imagine my surprise when we had 8, yes you read that correctly, 8 Naked women line up for the Wheels of Thunder crit this past weekend. With numbers on our side, we formulated a plan to be aggressive. Sorry, no, I won’t be revealing the exact plan here. If you want our team secrets, you’re going to have to bribe me with something pretty special. I could use a new frame or some wicked race wheels, or a new power meter. Anyone?
Starting fairly early in the race, we threw out a lot of attacks. I think the whole field was as shocked as I was when early in the race Amanda Cyr launched a decisive attack, got a decent gap very quickly, and managed to stay away for a full lap. This was Amanda’s first race as a Cat 3 having just upgraded the week before. She very loudly put her stamp on the race and showed everyone that she is clearly ready to be a Cat 3. Up until this point, Amanda has been known as Amanda 2.0, or just simply “2.0,” based on her twin affiliation with Amanda 1.0. Well, that attack earned Amanda a new nickname. No longer 2.0, everyone please say hello to Amanda THE HAMMER Cyr. Keep your eye out for great things from that one during the season.
A little later in the race, Susan caught the field off-guard and attacked a few hundred yard from the finish line to snatch the second prime of the race. As she crossed the line, the bell was run for another prime lap. Does anyone else feel like the promoters really hate us when they run back-to-back primes? It must be fun for them, because it certainly isn’t fun for me to spend two laps sucking wind on the rivet barely able to breather. We caught Susan halfway up the hill after the first corner, where I promptly yelled to Lanier “Lanier, go now.” And boy did she! Lanier took off and no one could keep up with her. She got a huge gap as the rest of us worked hard to block the field from chasing. Lanier easily grabbed the prime and managed to stay away for 2 laps. Once she was back safely in the pack, with only 3 laps remaining in the race, we all tucked in to recover a bit. We checked in with each other and determined that Lanier was recovered from her flier and on fire and would have a go at the finish. She tucked in behind Susan, who got a very untimely flat. Ever the magnificent bike handler, Susan held her bike upright without an issues, but unfortunately there were no more free laps so Susan was out of the game. But in an amazing display of selfless teamwork, Cathy, who was right there when Susan’s tire blew, tried to give Susan her wheel, and when that didn’t work, offered up her WHOLE bike so Susan could at least finish. Teammate of the race award definitely goes to Cathy for that one. Good thing Susan didn’t have to jump on my bike as with about 4 inches separating us in height, that would have been quite the comical last lap for Susan. Coming into the finish Mama Madison sat on the front driving the bunch, which was enough to launch Lanier into second place. Every member of the team contributed to the team result and worked together. Team work accomplished and podium spot achieved! Look out world, here come the Naked Cat 3′s!
The Tour of Gila is a 5-day stage race for the pros and upper categories, and a 4-day road race for the lower ones, including the SW 3/4. It is a UCI stage race, meaning that UCI pro teams can race it, and is infamous for steep climbs and winds. I was intrigued by its reputation as being one of the toughest stage races in the US, but originally decided it was not worth a 10-hour drive for all that suffering. Then I met Maria Santiago of Durango at our Moab training camp. Her passion and commitment were contagious, and within 5 minutes of talking to her I was back on board as her domestique. Getting a ride for the 10-hour drive from Denver with Drew Galloway of RacerX sealed the deal.
In our race, the NM Spokettes brought 4 strong racers and were clearly a force to be reckoned with. Laurel Rathburn, the 16-year-old phenom from Exergy21 was riding alone, but we knew to watch out for her after Dan Wouri’s Twitter post. She skipped her prom for Gila, and was clearly hungry for the win! There were many other wild cards in the field, but Maria remained confident. She is a talented climber, had dialed in her training and was mentally prepared.
Day 1 – Inner Loop Road Race
The first day was 61.3 miles with a climb at the beginning and one towards the end before a downhill led to a finish on a slight uphill. As we climbed out of Palos Altos, Maria went to the front to warm up, unknowingly putting many in the pack in some difficulty to keep up. That definitely included me! Halfway up the climb, I was trying desperately to send her telepathic messages from the back to slow it down. I managed to hang on, make it down the technical descent and reconnect with the group. Maria was still in front, so as soon as possible I moved up so she could take my wheel. The middle part of the course was a gradual incline to a middle sprint on the Continental Divide with bonus time to be gained for 1st/2nd/3rd. As we approached the sprint, I made sure I was at the front with Maria on my wheel so I could give her the leadout. With 500m to go, I picked up the pace gradually with a NM Spokette alongside, picking up the pace steadily until we were at top speed. I then left enough space for Maria get around me for the final kick and it came off perfectly! The Spokette got 1st with Maria inches behind. Any bonus points meant time – mission accomplished!
Immediately after the sprint, Maria and several others attacked and kept the pressure on. The field shattered. Maria was in the lead break with 3 others. My mission for the day complete, I found two other riders and worked with them to the finish, sprinting for 11th. Maria finished 2nd on Day 1 and with over 2 minutes ahead of the next group, putting her in great position for the time trial.
Day 2 – Dan Potts Memorial Time Trial
The Gila TT is 16.1 miles with over 1000 feet of climbing, which suits Maria perfectly. Her mental toughness was essential. She knew where she needed to suffer and was ready to do so. Thanks to her sponsor LAAF of Albuquerque, she had a great TT setup. She smoked it, finishing 2nd. Sarah Lough, a NM Spokette who won had about a minute on her, and she was very close to in time to Laurel Rathbun.
Day 3 – Downtown Silver City Crit
The crit course at Gila is a 4-corner course in downtown Silver City, NM with a hill on the backside and a fun fast descent around a couple of corners and a long flat finish. It’s not quite as technical as I like, but it certainly had potential for speed! As in any crit, positioning and energy conservation are essential. We stayed towards the front, and went for one of the primes as a tune-up. We were not able to get Maria the time bonuses for 1st/2nd/3rd, but finished with the pack and did not lose time.
Day 4 – Gila Monster Road Race
The final day of Gila is the hardest stage, 68.9 miles with two very tough climbs in the last 19 miles. There were two middle sprints with bonus time to be gained. The pace was very slow through the second sprint, when Maria and Laurel launched an attack. The NM Spokettes quickly chased to protect their leader and Maria and I found ourselves at the front. For the 15-mile downhill, I led the pack with Maria behind at a very moderate pace with everyone conserving energy for the climbing to come. At mile 50, the road went straight up. I turned to Maria, said “OK, go get ‘em”, and left her to do her thing. Five were in the lead climbing group: Sarah, Laurel, Maria and two others who were not in contention for the GC. A wild card racer from Phoenix attacked up the climb, and since she was not in the running, they let her go. She ended up winning the stage, but was not on the podium for the GC. The 3 leaders finished together: Laurel, Maria next, then Sarah who was caught up in a minor crash with a guy at the end.
What an incredible feeling to see Maria on the podium for 3rd! We had both worked hard, but Maria hardest of all. For a year, she trained, studied strategy and planned for success. She arrived ready to win, and she raced smart and tough. She is also a natural leader, and a very effective coach. I arrived with very little experience employing team tactics, sprint leadouts and following attacks. Thanks to Maria’s 4-day racing boot camp, I returned to Colorado a smarter and more confident racer. Gila was an invaluable experience, and I can’t wait for next year! Who’s with me???
Another great post from the newly crowned Cat 3, Amanda Cyr. Maybe you shouldn’t have gotten that “4 4 Life” tattoo? There’s something in this post for everyone, so enjoy because these are the best years of your life. Go make the most of it!
When I was in high school (just a couple of years ago) people would come up to me constantly to tell me how “these are the greatest years of your life and make sure you do ____ and don’t do ____ and this is how you should _____.” The only thing I remember from high school is acne, trying to fit in, drinking Boones Farm out of a Sonic Route 44 cup, and listening to “Tiny Dancer” on repeat. I don’t consider those super awkward years to be the best years of my life. They definitely served their wallflower purpose but I wouldn’t call them “the best years” by any means… I mean who really loves holding their friends hair while they return the wine spritzer they bummed off of you onto your Converse?
While in college people had more pearls of wisdom about how “these are the greatest years of your life and make sure you do _____ and don’t do _____ and this is how you should ______”. Wanna know what I remember from college? Acne, trying to fit in, drinking PBR, and listening to “Tiny Dancer” on repeat. BTW, I would also not call these years “the best.” Sure I went to a great school (GO GATORS) and made great memories but again who cherishes holding another friends hair while they ralph the last round of beer pong onto your Tevas?
Last weekend I got the pleasure of volunteering for the BRAC women’s clinic. 50 women came seeking bike skills, information, and ultimately other friendly females to ride with. It was an awesome day of cornering, cackling, and camaraderie. This past Friday, I got the pleasure of being a part of another way to give back. Our team hosted its Ride for Reading book delivery where nearly 3,000 books were delivered by bike to two lower income elementary schools in Denver. Another incredible day getting to give back to the community in a practical and yet hugely important way. And then Saturday at Wheels of Thunder I got to give back in yet another way. I was able to help strategize, encourage, cheer, congratulate, high five, and share in the excitement with all the new cat4’s who rocked their first race!
All of those people from high school and college were wrong. THESE are the best years of my life. I am getting to play a small role in something that is making a difference. Women’s cycling is growing. Women’s cycling is giving back. Women’s cycling is changing. There is a new tide rolling in and it is good. More hands helping out in the community that we ride through, within the community of fellow riders, and within the community of future racers.
It is a very exciting time to be involved in women’s racing from the jazzed up Junior level to the nervous newbie Masters racer. Be warned though blog post reader: people are watching us and our words and actions make huge imprints on the future of our sport and community. I am sure we have all had some less than friendly moments in races where people were just *#$#(*&$ and then we reacted or thought negatively about racing because of it. Good news though, it doesn’t have to be that way. We can change the vibe and perception that is out there. There is new blood that wants to make racing accessible and fun for every woman that comes out to play. We all work hard and we want to do our very best. We can do those things while remaining good people and helping each other… don’t ya think?
I want to help women’s cycling grow but need your help. Come play and let’s be the change we want to see. I promise I will even hold your hair after a TT while you purge all the lactic acid build up onto my bike shoes.
Vive la revolution y allez allez allez!
This needs no description, only a pull quote from the below: ”People have asked if I was disappointed with the race. My response was, “Not at all. I learned that the best part of racing is having teammates who truly care more about how the team does than themselves. This was never more apparent to me than today.” Here’s Amanda 1.0′s story.
NOTE: Photos by Shawn Curry
Most people have the one race that they want to do well in during the season. My race this year fell on Cinco de Mayo and was the legandary Koppenberg, which is another stellar race put on by Without Limits Productions. It is a road race consisting of a 5 mile circuit of which half the lap is dirt, with a brutal 17% grade dirt, two track ‘berg’ (hill) and a fast pavement descent. The Cat 4 Naked women always have a pre-planned race strategy, but execution is always the tough part. That day the plan was for my teammates, who are either cyclo-cross racers or bad ass power houses, to get the hole shot with me and then to tow me to the finish line. I was to sit in as much as possible. Early on I started to inch up to the front and 2.0 motioned for me to sit on her wheel, no words had to be spoken as we both knew that I needed to conserve energy. Apparently, we were not the only women that morning with a plan. Two strong riders attacked from the start. I tried with the help of my teammate, Brittany Jones, to stay with them but alas I could not hold the pace and I told her to go catch them. 2.0 worked hard to catch me on the descent and then to pull me the entire downhill portion and back onto the dirt.
Two laps of the same pattern, working very hard on the dirt and hills and then being pulled half the lap by 2.0 and Amy Thompson. Third and final lap, this is it and I am sitting well in what I thought was 8th place. I am pushing with everything that I have and feel like I am going to vomit, then my front tire starts to bump around more than usual. No way did I puncture. Within one more pedal stroke, it is completely flat. 2.0 is there within a few seconds and asks what happened. I let her know that I flatted and for her to continue going. Without a moment of hesitation, she does the unthinkable, brakes and tells me in a firm voice to take my front wheel off. I don’t even have a second to respond and she has placed her wheel on my bike, tells me to take a deep breath, pushes me to start up the hill and says, “Go get them. This is YOUR race.” The remainder of the race I push to the limits of my heart rate and come in 7th place. Brittany got 2nd place and both Emily and 2.0, among many others, did not finish due to flat tires. 2.0 did have a tube and fixed my flat but then got another one. People have asked if I was disappointed with the race. My response was, “Not at all. I learned that the best part of racing is having teammates who truly care more about how the team does than themselves. This was never more apparent to me than today.”
I am ashamed to say that I would never have thought in that high-intensity moment to give a teammate a wheel but 2.0 gave up her spot in the race for me and did so without a moment’s hesitation. My other teammates worked very hard to put me in a good position and for that I am grateful. The teamwork is more important to me than what place I ended up in, what category I race or how my fitness and training are going. This will forever be a moment that I remember and cherish but please don’t tell 2.0. She does not read my race reports and I don’t want her to know how important she is to the team.
PS – all was not lost, my placing did get me an upgrade point towards becoming a Cat 3, here I come ladies.
Alert! Berta is suffering from an identity crisis, but no wonder! She’s a marathoner, bike commuter, ironman (woman), biathlete, bike racer, trail runner, modern pentathaloner, black diamond skier, and hardcore….knitter?
2013 so far has been a year of personal crisis for me. I turn 40 in less than 30 days and that crisis started early. Ever since my USAC license showed up with 40 listed as my race age I have been thinking about where my life has been and what I have accomplished thus far and what do I want to do for my future. I think I may have had a few glasses of wine on January 1st when I decided that to celebrate my 40th birthday it would be fun to run the Steamboat Marathon AGAIN.
Let me back up and explain WHY the Steamboat Marathon. Back in 2003 when I had my 30th birthday crisis I decided it would be fun to run the Steamboat Marathon. The thing about this race is it generally falls directly on or just before my birthday, June 2. This year the race is on June 2. Back in 2003 I was a “marathon runner”. I had run several marathons already and jumping into the Steamboat Marathon didn’t seem like a big deal. I will never forget that race. I think the weather can be summed up by the quote from my friend Ian Wagner, a Steamboat local, when he proclaimed, “It never rains in Steamboat in the morning.” I slogged through puddles of water and my cute running outfit never made its debut until the rain slowed at approximately mile 20 when I took off the Hefty trash bag I was wearing until that point. I entered my 30’s sore and tired and swearing that I would never do that race again.
Yes, it must have been the wine talking when I clicked the “confirm entry” button on my 2013 race registration. I thought “For old times’ sake, who needs to spend their birthday at a spa”. Alas, here I am training for a marathon again but it is different. 10 years ago I defined myself really as a runner. Yah I rode my bike, skied, swam and did other sports but running was my passion and I was a runner without doubt. Since that time, I have entered the world of triathlons, cycling, and biathlon and have devoted many weekends to racing in these different disciplines.
On my last 15 mile run on the Highline Canal, I wore one of my “vintage” triathlon t-shirts. At the end of my run, there was a guy that asked me how far I ran and I let him know. Then he proceeded to ask me if I was a triathlete. As a cyclist I was offended, but then I had just identified myself as a cyclist. I had done a bike race just the day before so should I say “No, I am a cyclist.” But then I had just run 15 miles so that made me a runner. I haven’t run a marathon since 2009 so am I a runner? I stood there perplexed. This self-identifying crisis felt more fatiguing than the 2 hour run I had subjected myself to. I had to answer this guy something. What was I? I wanted to tell him that although I was a cyclist, I have run over twenty marathons, done 2 Ironman triathlons, and was the 2012-13 Colorado biathlete state champion and I like to swim.
Why did I need to label myself? Does it really matter “what” I am? It would not have taken away the fact I had just done a long run had I acknowledged one label over another. On my way home I could not shake it, what was my label. Then it came to me that whenever I do a sport, regardless what it is, I am sore afterwards. Whatever sport I am doing, I feel good that I am doing it and grateful that I can. Whatever sport I am doing I am usually going to have to take an ice bath afterwards to recover. Does it really matter what I am? Then it came to me, I am an “Athlete” an all-rounder, a jack of all trades a master of none. With my label settled in my brain by the time I got home, I proceeded to pull on my compression tights and thought, “does this make me a triathlete?”
One bit of knowledge the Naked ladies have loved passing down and enforcing….ICE BATHS! Some can handle better than others. You know who you are:) Lanier and Maria on the other hand, look to have it down!
Maria finished 3rd in the 3/4 race with a lead group of 4, 2:30 ahead of the next group. She is going to tomorrow’s TT in a great position! I stayed with the group long enough to lead out Maria to 2nd in the middle sprint and am happy I was able to play domestique!
Hats off to Kimberley in the P/1/2 race for picking herself up after a nasty crash, soloing for 45 miles injured and finishing within the time cut. Impressive and inspiring!
In stage racing, the most important factor of success is proper recovery. In the past, I have learned many lessons the hard way: a) do not climb 5000 feet the day before a race, b) dieting should be saved for the off-season to avoid bonking during races and c) margaritas are never a good idea the night before a race, even if that race is in the afternoon.
Doing recovery right is a big focus for Maria and me for Gila, and we actively sought as much information as we could find. We ate bananas and bars and rehydrated with recovery drinks and water immediately after the race. Then we warmed down with a 60-minute spin. We ate lunch, bought 2 bags of ice and headed back to Charlie and Charlotte’s house, our wonderful hosts.
And what was the ice for, you ask? Ice baths, to reduce inflammation and speed recovery after hard efforts. Armed with Joan Oreldinger’s famous ice bath recipe and Sharon Madison’s “encouragement” (strict MMM orders), we began preparations for the ice bath. Charlotte offered up the “big tub” in the master bath, so we could suffer through the ice bath together, and Charlie quickly followed with an offer to take photos. What a great idea! Misery loves company, and after all we are teammates! We instantly agreed. We made hot tea, put on 3 layers of jackets and sank gingerly into the cold water. We added the first bag of ice, then the second. Legs can’t touch or it defeats the purpose: I only had to tell Maria “no snuggling” once. With all the laughing followed by a good race debrief, 10 minutes flew by, and we hopped out. Our legs felt completely refreshed, but Maria (ace climber that she is with the requisite complete lack of body fat) was visibly chilled. I told her to take her hot shower first. True teammate that she is, her first response was that we should share the warm shower so that I wouldn’t be cold! While we are clearly completely bonded as teammates, there are still limits. Naked Women Racers take baths together…but not showers!
After a nap, dinner, massage and a second dinner, we are ready for anything the Gila TT can dish out tomorrow. Stay tuned for the results!