Kim shares her season wrap up, finishing strong and prepping for a fun off-season.
After over a month of blogging silence, I’ve decided to share a bit about my season wrap-up. I finished Cascade (my last posted race report) definitely bummed; I had wanted so badly for it to provide me with some solid results for my race resume, and instead it did the exact opposite. Read the rest on Kim’s blog.
Between floods and a serious home life issue, Cathy had a rough Friday the 13th. But she hung tough and showed that unlucky day who’s boss!
September (Friday) 13th was a terrifying day for me and my husband. So, when I arrived to the Zero gravel course in Littleton I was terrified in a whole new way! After all the rain, floods, and trauma folks had gone through, a little mud was fine – right? After a warm up lap and crash course in bike handling in mud, my nerves subsided. The second warm up lap was still slippery, but fun! I hosed off a layer of mud before riding in circles to keep my mind clear. Did it work? Nope.
The morning prior my five year old daughter had a seizure, and all I could think about was her tiny frozen body. She was back to her typical self a few hours later; chasing her brother and instigating a wrestling match. I wavered back and forth as to whether I’d race and decided it would be better to ride my bike rather than stare at my daughter all day. Still, I had to force myself to get ready and carry on with some semblance of normalcy. Normal for me is pinning on a number and doing some crazy race. It’s the best and cheapest form of therapy, and I’m learning that with cyclocross you get more for your money!
With tears on the verge of exploding from my eyes, I lined up and took off with my other crazy peers. I figured I could harness my emotions for power. Each lap was harder, more fun, and faster as the sun dried up some of the soggy mud. I finished with a nice coat of mud and big hug from my daughter!
Izzy (my daughter) is back to her normal shenanigans. She’s acting and feeling fine. We had a neurology appointment with the Children’s Hospital, and will do an EEG next week to see what’s going on in her busy brain. My heart goes out to everybody going through their own tough times right now, and hope that the sun helps with all the floods.
See you at the next CX race!
After two years of injury, Susan has come back strong as ever. Great to watch her thrive in the dirt and on the road this season!
It’s the last race of the Winter Park series and I’m barely hanging on, suffering from burn out. I need to take a break from racing and I know it, but I decided use this final race as a way to better myself in the future. It was cloudy and cool, but the sun was starting to come out the closer we got to the starting area. Today’s start is on a three mile dirt road section…
3-2-1-go and we are off.
I quickly tuck into the middle of the pack, bits of gravel are spitting up in my face and dust plumes are being kicked up by the mass of women racing down the dirt road. At the first incline the group splits up and I find myself dangling off the front group at my limit and I can’t hang. I’m quickly joined by a few other racers; we work together to catch another racer who fell victim to the fast pace set by the Pro Women.
Somehow, I end up in the front pulling the pack right before the left hand turn onto the singletrack. While being on the front is typically a great place to be, the problem was I had spent too much time on the front and was tired. Every rider in my pack passed me as we started the climb up Morse pass. Trying hard to not beat myself up; I told myself to ignore the little devil in my head, keep pedaling (even though I wanted to stop) and find a rhythm. I actually reached the top of the pass in a decent time. I planned to stop at the top to let some air out of my rear tire. Before I stopped, I practiced it in my head how I was going to do it so I would not lose a lot of time.
I pushed myself on the Blue Spruce descent to make anytime I possibly could and was able to catch a racer. Next up was Flume and Chainsaw, two of the more technical parts of the course, and I rode it well. I pushed myself a bit too hard on the last part of Chainsaw, which is an energy zapping climb. I had enough left to get me through the Elk Meadow climb, but I was getting tired and starting to ride sloppy on the downhill part. The course was wet and muddy, with lots of puddles.
Right before the D2 climb there were two huge puddles and no way to avoid them. Right after that, I had to quickly downshift as the steep part of D2 was right in front of me. Unfortunately, my chain got stuck. It was jammed in there pretty bad, but after a few hard yanks I managed to get it unstuck. This really deflated my mental state and I found myself unable to fight any longer. Typically, I can continue to persevere, but not today and not right now. I finished the race and thought I was going to die a few times during the last few miles or so and of course I knew I certainly wasn’t going to die, but I wanted it to be over. I crossed the finish line with a smile. It was a victory smile, as I was proud of myself for sticking with it and never giving up (even though I wanted to many times). I finished 2nd overall in the Expert class 40-49 for Winter Park Series, not a bad way to end the mountain biking season.
Coach Cathy is getting her new bike dirty and testing the mud of cyclocross for the first time. Here’s her account of her first practice race with the Back to Basics CX series.
This Saturday will mark my third week since my first stab at cyclocross. The first day was spent figuring out how to clip in to new eggbeaters, falling, applying arnica to all my new bruises, and smiling – a lot. Aside from the time in 2008 when I tipped my precious daughter over in a bike trailer while pulling her on a MTB trail, I have not ridden on dirt since 1996. So, I was pretty excited that my fabulous husband cleaned up a used CX bike he found for me on Craigslist!
Fast forward through a few weeks of neighbors looking at me like I’m crazy for riding in my yard in circles to yesterday, the first practice race in the Back to Basics CX series. I showed up to a course I was vaguely familiar with from the four hour clinic I had done the weekend prior (thanks to Joe Strandell and crew). I did one wobbly lap to warm up, and headed to the start. Ten minutes should be plenty of time to warm up, no? It turns out no amount of warm up would have prepared me for what was to come!
I was called up first because I preregistered first, an advantage for about the first lap. The official called 15 seconds and we were off. The first lap was crazy fun! I quickly realized exactly who the mountain bikers were, and I was not one of them. I corner like I’m in a criterium, which doesn’t bode well with loose dirt. I crashed at least once. My husband informed me that “If you’re able to get up and keep going then you call that a ‘get off’”. OK, so I unintentionally got off my bike, which meant I lost a bunch of places. Sorry to fellow teammate, Sara Clark, for doing that in front of you. I carried on, made up a place or so during a dismount, and promptly gave that back during the remount. As the race progressed I got sloppier and slower, but realized that I was having so much fun I was smiling. Dead last, super clumsy, but happy, and covered in dirt! I had random racers who I’d just met cheer me on. I’m not sure how they could speak while riding, but I thought that was nice.
After the race I realized a few things: 1) I need lots of practice in the dirt and remounting 2) Cyclocross is hard work. TTs are pretty hard, but your mind cannot wander at all in ‘cross. There’s always something to do and watch out for on the course. 3) Practice remounts (I know it’s listed already – I just need lots of work)
Congrats to Sara for staying upright and finishing in great form!
I’m off to figure out how to remount, corner, run, and add 15 minutes of fitness to an insanely fun event. I hope to see you at next Wednesday’s race, and (gulp) at a weekend race too!
Endurance racing is a test of the mind as much as the body. Roberta shares what many of us go through this time of year. Why do you keep coming back to endurance racing?
Ever since I helped to pace my friend Janey Bell in the Leadville 100 trail marathon I had been thinking I should blog about endurance. What drives us to endure? Then just the other day Diana Nyad had her successful 110 mile swim and the thought of endurance came to my mind again (along with the urge to get back in the pool). Then this past weekend I was thinking about how I have mentally gotten myself through 2 Ironman races and 2 LOTOJA rides and how did I possibly do that?
When Janey and I were running over Hope Pass, just past the 50 mile mark in her run, I was amazed. Here I was huffing and puffing, I started to get a blister on my toe, the circulation in my arms was being cut off from carrying two camelbacks (hers and mine) but I didn’t have it in me to complain. I knew I had to endure. She was going strong and I kept pushing her to run just a few more steps. We were close to the time cutoff and I did not want to be the reason she would have to stop running. I was at a loss as to what to say. She looked great, the other runners kind of looked homeless. She wasn’t seeing leprechauns or in a state of deep mental thought. Only she could motivate herself to keep going. I have had many times when I have played the role of the encourager and helped many of my athlete friends achieve their athletic goals. But it was truly their spirit and their mental strength that got them through.
Wikipedia defines endurance as the “ ability of an organism to exert itself and remain active for a long period of time, as well as its ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds or fatigue.” The fact that as athletes we have thoughts that can occupy us for a 54 hour swim, a 30 hour run, a 13 hour bike ride is amazing. But, as I experienced a few times this year, once your mind gets an inkling of a negative thought, it can spread like the Ebola virus and kill your spirit. You are suddenly not immune to defeat and it stings.
On my last race, I was thinking about the poem by A.E. Houseman ( ok how I remember this is all because of Miss Miles my 8th grade English teacher) “ To an Athlete Dying Young”. It is kind of morbid and it talks about an athlete who dies at the top of their game.
“ Eyes the shady night has shut./ Cannot see the record cut”. “ Now you will not swell the rout/ Of lads that work their honours out,/ Runners whom renown outran/ And the name died before the man.”
Is it better to go out at the top of your game? When you see your records being cut how can you endure anymore? These are thoughts of the burned out cyclist and one that cannot endure. How do you turn yourself around from this downward spiral? I think we have all been there before, saying we are going to quit.
Strangely, I find myself coming back for more. Why is this? Well I have given that some thought too. Distance helps (not doing more miles) but taking a break. Time off the bike to reconnect with things you haven’t gotten to. This is what I intend to do for the next few months and turn my sites from cycling to biathlon. What I found though is having your cheering crowd does make a difference. My husband, Paul, is great at that but so are my Naked peeps. They know me. They know it is not the end, rather a beginning. They send you an application to reapply for the team. It makes you think of the goals you achieved in the past year and the goals you want to set for the next. They are the ones that encourage me to endure. They are who make enduring fun and it is because of them that I will be back in the cycling saddle again!
- USACycling’s Club of the Year
- 1st place in BRACs Rocky Mountain Road Cup Team Competition for Cat 1/2s, Cat 3s, and Cat 4s
- Many individual series wins in road, mountain and track. I’m sure cyclocross will be the same.
- Several state champions among us.
- Mountain bike, track, road and junior nationals competitors among us (and cyclocross if you count last season).
- We collected 3000 books and delivered to two different elementary schools in need for Ride for Reading this year.
- Bannock Criterium was hugely successful and saw some of the largest women’s fields to date.
- Our first year of having a club was a success and only will continue to improve and introduce more women to the sport of bicycle racing.
- We started in 2010 with 6 women and are now close to 100 with club and team combined. Wow. Just wow.
- Too many stories to recap, but it’s great to go back through our blog and see what was accomplished. We’re so impressed by all our teammates.
Katie did her first race only a few months ago…and now she cannot stop! She also can’t stop winning! What a beast! We can’t wait to see what she’s capable of next year.
As the season is winding to an end I am beginning to realize how much I’m going to miss racing. Rock the River Road Race was cancelled the week before the Best on Hess TT and I was going through bike racing withdrawal. So in a moment of delirium, I decided to time trial twice; first in the Retro Women’s Open category and again 90 minutes later in the SW4 category. No big deal I thought, I’ll treat it like time trial practice. The race is in Castle Pines and the terrain should be relatively flat. Well, in case you were wondering, there are hills in Castle Pines and they are not insignificant. There were four hills over the course of this sub-10 mile TT, one big one reminiscent of the Superior Morgul “Wall”. I hadn’t previewed the course so I had no idea what I was getting myself into until the Retro race was underway.
My first start time was 8:27a for the Retro Women’s Open Category. Marlene Zandell was racing as well. I saw her during our warm up on the frontage road, though we didn’t have much time to talk. Marlene has been a constant supportive presence this season, especially at time trials, and it’s always reassuring to see another Naked rider before a race! USAC ranking was employed for start time order. I was second to last right in front of Julie Jermyn – who is super fast! She was going to be chasing me and there was no way I was going to be able to hold her off. This race in particular was cool because they had a start ramp! In no time, I was up to speed off the start but still a little nervous because of who was behind me. My heart rate was too high so I focused on breathing to calm myself down. The first hill came quickly off the start. I was amped up and took it without any problem. The road turned into a flat and then a monster downhill. I was going 47 mph down this thing, and it was super fun and fast until I realized that I’d have to turn around and climb it on the way back. Coming out of the turn around, I could see Julie closer to me than I wanted and I knew I had to push it home. Soon enough I was climbing. I kept recycling the advice of super climber Melissa Langdon through my brain: fast feet, dial in the right gear, pain cave. The time trial is already a suffer fest, a climb in a time trial is torture and I did the best I could to suck it up. I focused on trying to pick people off every few minutes knowing that if I wasn’t gaining ground I was losing it. The climb turned into a flat and I was on the home stretch. I had no idea where Jermyn was but I fully expected her to pass me at any second. There was another small climb to the finish and at 200m I got out of the saddle and tried to sprint though I didn’t have much left. I continued down the frontage road for a cool down, my lungs were on fire and my legs hurt so I knew it was a good effort. Then I realized that I did not get passed. After the race, Julie found me and told me she thought I won which was a great surprise and very flattering coming from her – of course I didn’t believe her. It took a while for results to post, but I had won by nearly 30 seconds. That’s a fantastic start to the day, but I still had one race left.
I was ranked third for the SW4 race in front of Jo Ellen Walden and Barb Lotze. I knew these ladies would be chasing me and again I was feeling the pressure. I was nervous because I’d intended the Retro TT to be a bit of a warm up, but I went out harder than planned and now I was hurting a little bit. Barb and Jo are amazing time trialist. I had been victorious over them earlier in the season, but Barb has gotten stronger with every race and she’s a very good climber so I knew it was going to be tough. I felt a bit sluggish over the course of this race. The climbing was much more difficult on my TT bike. At the turn around I could see both of them battling it out, again closer to me than I would have liked. I maintained my composure up the big climb but I was feeling slow. I hadn’t been passed yet going into the home stretch. On the last downhill, I could hear someone with a disc wheel coming up on me and it was Barb. WOW. She was hauling. I passed her up the final hill sprinting to the finish, which didn’t mean much because I knew she had already annihilated me. It was also a sign that I didn’t ride the second TT correctly, if I had that much left to sprint, clearly I hadn’t worked hard enough. Oh well. Back at the results area I learned that unfortunately Jo Ellen suffered a mechanical – total bummer. Barb won the race handily, beating me by almost a minute. Had she been racing Pro 1/2 she would have come in 3rd. She had an epic race. I was happy with second, especially with that being my second race of the morning. Two podiums in 2.5 hours, I can’t argue with that!
Thanks to RMHP for putting on such a great event. It was a lovely way to spend a Saturday morning!!
Anna is one of two super star juniors we have on the team and brought home a couple state championship jerseys to boot!
Today I raced at Junior states. I woke up at 5:30am to get to the track by 8:00. My family came to watch since this was my last track race of the season. We got to the track at 8:15 and went straight to registration, I signed up for the sprints. Pat (the owner) said that the day was to start off at 10am. I got there extra early to make sure what happened at nationals didn’t happen to me again. I went to set up and the juniors from BlackSheep cycling invited me to set up with them, so I did. I had to build my bike because I haven’t ridden my track bike for a month. After I was done with that, I started to warm up. I can’t tell you how happy I was to be on my bike! I started out slow then did a few jumps and was ready to go. The 200m TT was first I got to the ready area with two riders in front of me and was ready to race. As the guy was holding me I just thought about how this was my last track race of the season and I wanted to go out with a bang. The official gave me a push and I was underway. I moved up the track immediately. I stayed on top of my cadence and managed to get an amazing time for me. I rode a 13.22 a hole second faster then when I started this season! I’m very proud of this time! I ended up getting 1st place in this race.
I had to race Kimberly Nuffer as a match sprint so we could do some extra racing. My brother Arie was my holder. He gave me a push and Kimberly and I were racing. We were going around 10mph on the top of the track for just about the entire race. With 200 meters to go I started to sprint. Kimberly managed to inch me out but I was ok with that because I was able to keep up with her.
My final race of the day was the 15 lap scratch race. I didn’t know I was going to do this race until 20 minutes beforehand. The women were to race with the Master 55+ men. There was about ten men on the rail and three women including me. The eve started out with a neutral lap and I made sure I was on a good wheel. With 12 laps to go Kimberly went off the front, I decided to go with her. After she realized I was on her wheel she slowed up so the group could get back together. One of her teammates attacked and we were all on his wheel. Mrs. Lawrence got dropped with this attack and so did Kimberly. So it was me against the men. At two laps to go the men started to sprint they managed to drop six men and me. I kept my speed for the next two laps and came in 4th overall and 1st in the women’s.
I have to say I’m very proud of my two state championships and how the day played out! Here are a few photos from today.
Lanier was a pretty big supporter of the Littleton Criterium, rallying our team and half the women’s peloton to come to the race…so she could hurt them!
I put the inaugural Littleton Criterium on my race calendar as a target race at the beginning of the season. Littleton has been my adopted hometown for 15 years, and I have always thought it would be a perfect crit course, with all the cute shops, curbside patio restaurants and bars along Main Street. Located in historic downtown Littleton and billed as part of Western Welcome Week, I knew it would be one of the best crits of the season, and it did not disappoint! Pedal (our LBS) and the Cannondale Development Team were organizing, with a strong focus on safety and partnership with the community. Spectators showed up in force, their numbers growing as the day went on. I volunteered as a course marshal in the morning, and the local residents and people on their way to brunch kept stopping and asking questions about racing. What a great opportunity to showcase our sport!
The only slight damper to my enthusiasm was that my race would be a women’s open race. That meant I would be racing not only fellow Cat 3’s, but also the elite Cat 1’s and 2’s. Naked had numbers, with my Cat 3 teammates Susan Hersey, Sharon Madison and Brittany Jones preregistered. After finishing my volunteer shift, I rode home to change and eat lunch (what a luxury to prep at home!). I returned to see that several elite racers had signed up, including our own Ingrid Alongi which was a welcome surprise! And after asking the patient registration volunteers to check for the umpteenth time, I found that we had a field of 23 racers. I was relieved that we would have a big enough field to make the race exciting, but with a pro and some formidable elites in the field, I mentally prepared myself to be dropped.
I had the most relaxing warm-up of the season, riding with the ever-cool Brittany on the part of the Platte River bike path I know best. I even bird-watched! Was that a white heron fishing in the Platte? OK, this was getting weird. I am never that laid-back and blissed out before a race, and this wasn’t just any race! So I went to the coffee truck, grabbed a double-shot of espresso and drained it. By the time we lined up, I was feeling appropriately shaky and nervous. Then Susan reminded me it was race official Tim Madden’s birthday. We decided to sing Happy Birthday, which lightened things up and embarrassed Tim sufficiently!
Then the race started. Our goal was to hang on to the big girls (except Ingrid, our uber-experienced elite who knows her way around a crit or any other race). The course was fast: an 0.8 mile loop on smooth pavement, with 8 corners and flat as a pancake. The section to watch was on the backside of the course, after a turn led to a narrower single-lane section. There had been a crash in this section during most prior races. Despite several forays into the gutter, we managed to avoid any crashes. I did my best to stay in good position, follow attacks and most of all stay upright. I watched Ingrid carefully, and followed her wheel as much as I could. There was a little rainshower halfway through our 50-minute race, so my attention was occupied for a bit with watching back wheels slide around on the corners. This was a useful distraction, because it didn’t ever seem to slow down, with many attacks between prime laps. A 2-rider breakaway stayed out for a few laps before it was reeled in. The pace was relentless. I thought I was a goner, but Sharon encouraged me to hang on.
Finally, the lap counter showed 5 laps! I moved up, waiting for attacks. A couple of racers moved up in the next few laps, but I kept my position towards the front. 3 laps, 2 laps, the final lap! Into the last two corners, Meg Hendricks and Laurel Rathbun picked up the pace, and I managed to stay with them. By the time we hit the final corner, we had good speed. I clipped the pavement pedaling through the final turn, but stayed up and went as hard as I could to the finish line, with family & friends cheering! I could not believe I had raced to 3rd place! It was incredibly exciting. I am still thrilled, and not a little surprised!
Congratulations to Ingrid, Sharon, Susan and Brittany for their strong finishes in our race, and to Katie Harrer for her 3rd place in the Cat 4 race. We had a great showing in the 4’s race as well, with Melissa Langdon, Caroleanne Williams, Tami Burke and Jenny Lucke also racing in the 4’s. My family, neighbors, teammates, fellow racers, coworkers – thank you for cheering! I heard you this time!!! And finally, special thanks to Pedal and the Cannondale Development Team for partnering with the city of Littleton to put on a fantastic race. Here’s to many years of Littleton Crits to come!