Tag Archives: criterium

Cat 4 State Criterium Championships! Naked on top of the podium!

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Katie started racing this year and she’s now your Cat 4 State Criterium Champion. Amanda, Emily, Tami and Jenny did everything they could to get a win for the team and whadayano – it worked!

If you told me at the beginning of the race season that I’d get on the podium in a crit this year I would have laughed at you.  My first race ever was four months ago, it was a crit and it was a mess.  It was fun, but I had no idea what I was doing.  Luckily, I landed on the best team ever.   From that first race I’ve had teammates generously sharing their knowledge and strategy, giving me pointers and feedback.  “Don’t be the sacrificial lamb”, “Don’t burn all of your matches”, “Feather your brakes”,  “Look through the corners; wide, apex, wide”,  “Stay in front but don’t lead”.  I was listening but it took me a while to execute because I like to learn things the hard way.

The crit is a tough race in general because there is strategy involved, it’s fast, it’s crowded, it’s technical and position is everything.  The crit is a tough race for me mentally because all I want to do is attack, and that’s not how it’s done.  I continued to ride crits all season specifically to improve my bike skills not because I was particularly good at them.  Along the way, I learned how to be patient.  It wasn’t until Dead Dog that I finally “got it”.  I had no cat 4 teammates at that race and I had to rely on what they’d told me in the past.  I won a prime that race and finished 4th. I was pretty proud of that performance because it was finally a smart race.

Fast forward to this weekend.  Tami, Jenny and I showed up to race the Firestone Crit on Saturday.  As we were warming up, Tami commented on how strong she thought I was and instead of brushing off that compliment maybe I started believing it.  I surprised myself with a 3rd place finish that day.  Whoa.  How did that happen?  That gave me a little boost of confidence going into the State Championship.

 

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Tami, Amanda, Emily, Jenny and I were all prepared to ride Longmont.  I was feeling very fortunate to have that many teammates present.  The race started and I dropped to the back.  I like to start crits this way so that I can watch how everyone else is riding, I can get a feel for the course, get comfortable and get rid of the nerves.  I said to Tami at one point, “What’s going on here, are we racing?”  I was joking…of course we were racing but I was feeling pretty relaxed.  She fired up and pulled me into the pack.  “Here we go…” I thought.   I found myself in the middle of the pack and I hate being in the pack. So, I did what any smart rider would do and I looked for Amanda Bye.  She is arguably one of, if not the best technical rider out there.  I knew that I was not going to get in trouble if I could stay on her wheel and follow her lines.   When I could find her, it worked.

Prime lap.  There was a free week of cross fit on the line.  We were approaching the line and no one was going for it so I thought to myself, “Hey, I like cross fit!” and made a last second effort.  I thought another rider edged me out but she did not.  I came away with it.  I was planning on getting reeled back in by the group, but another rider attacked and I was not about to let that happen.  It was on.  We had a gap and we went with it.  We rode together for a few laps and that’s when I realized it was too early.  I looked back a few times while we were out in front thinking, that this was not a good plan.  I started to soft pedal and was relieved when we got caught.  It was a mistake I’d made all too often in the past and this time I knew better.  During the middle of the race I tried to sit back and recover as much as possible.  It takes every ounce of self-control I have to sit back and let someone else do the work.

3 laps to go.  I had Zinn to the left of me and Bye in front.  Zinn says to me, “We have to get organized” and by organized she meant “I’m going to run everyone into the ground”.  She and Amanda took off and the pace quickened.  I was not in good enough position to go with them, or I would have.  They lead for a few laps, putting the hurt on the rest of the field.  They successfully tired a lot of people out which was key going into the last lap.  I knew I still had some gas left but I’m not sure very many other people did.  Emily and Amanda had done an amazing job and I seized the opportunity that they had just created.

Last lap.  Part of having a good strategy is knowing what your weaknesses are.  My weaknesses are cornering and descending.  Not that this crit had any big descent, but there was a downhill with some turns that were just enough to make me uncomfortable in a pack.  I knew if I had any chance at all I’d have to be in front and alone, picking my own lines without dumping speed.  If I could emerge in front after that section, it might be enough to power down the flat and up the hill to the finish.  So I decided half way through the race that I needed to try to lead the last lap, and luckily my teammates set me up beautifully for this purpose.  When I went, it was no longer a crit in my head; it was a time trial.  After all, if you’re going to go, go hard.  I was still in front at the end of the downhill, as planned but still a surprise.  At this point, I fully expected to happen what usually happened to me in almost all previous crit races.  The Woosh.  The Woosh is what I call the sound of multiple riders flying by me going into the finish after coming off of a downhill.  But, there was no Woosh today.  I jumped out of the saddle and started the sprint.  My bike was rocking back and forth so hard that I almost dumped it.  I could hear someone grunting behind me and I could hear someone screaming at me from crowd to go, and all I could see was the finish line.  I realized I was going to win it if I could hold on.  I crossed the finish line and heard my name called – in shock.  Are you serious?  Did that just happen?  Where are my teammates?  Surely we have one more lap to go…

The girls started calling me “State Champ.”  That’s weird.  I won a crit and it happened to be a big one.  That’s not my win that’s the team’s win.  Thank you ladies, for everything!

 

 

 

City Park Crit Race report: Tiny victories of a late bloomer

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Cathy‘s expertise is in endurance but she can shake it up in a crit or two! Here’s her recap in the stacked Women’s 3 field.

My race season thus far has taken a while to warm up.  Read: I was becoming the queen of reverse breakaways!  My brain knows exactly what to do, but my body hasn’t been listening.  Have you ever had that frustrating disconnect?  I was beginning to think that I forgot how to race.  I can only imagine what my teammates thought.  Well, after racing City Park I was so happy to call my husband to report that I remembered how to race!

My goals for the race were to stay with the pack, and do something, anything that resembled racing.  A few laps in I thought, “Wow, this pace is nice!  I can do this all day.  And it’s so much more pleasant than time trialing a crit course by yourself.” It turns out that sticking with the pack works really well for drafting!

There were surges, and primes, and geese that almost got run over.

At one point a Natural Grocers racer motioned to move in front of me. I let her, and as I did I heard the telltale sign of an impending attack.  So I grabbed my chamois and went with her.  It was a short-lived attempt at a break, but I was so excited to be in the right place and to take a stab at that break with her.  The pack caught up shortly after, and I spent a lap calming my heart rate, fighting off the urge to throw up, and praying that there wasn’t a counter attack until the next lap.

I was dropped the last lap.  I came in dead last, and it was one of the best races I have had!

I had the honor of racing with my some of my teammates: Susan, Lanier, and Megan – all who took turns controlling the pack, and sprinting for primes and finishes!  I am proud to race for Naked Women’s Racing, and I can’t wait for the next opportunity to fight the urge to throw up so one of you can win!

hasta,

Cathy

 

CSU Oval Criterium Race Report

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Racing isn’t always about trying to cross the line first. Sometimes you have to take risks to become a better, more skilled racer. Kimberley did just that, and we guarantee it will pay off. 

A few days ago, I welcomed the arrival of a long awaited day… the first race weekend of the season. I raced both Saturday and Sunday in Fort Collins, and was absolutely thrilled to win the circuit race on Saturday. Any time I can make back a bit of the money I spend on racing is a day well spent, not to mention it was a wonderful, confidence-building way to begin my season. However, in this race report, I want to focus more on the second day, where I did not win. This may seen counterintuitive, because, after all, who wants to read about, and why would I want to write about, losing?! The simple answer is that no one wins every race, and so losing is just as integral a part of bike racing as the wins we hope to get. Winning is fun, exhilarating, ego-boosting, but in losing races we get stronger and tougher, both physically and mentally.

In the criterium on Sunday, I didn’t do as well as I would have hoped for in terms of finishing placement (another win would have been lovely, but I got 5th), but it was definitely a good ‘personal growth’ race. I took more risks and raced more aggressively than I have been comfortable with doing in the past, which is something my coach has encouraged me to do more of this year, especially in early season races where the potential consequences of those risks matter less than in later, more important races. It is much easier, safer, and more comfortable to just sit in and focus on following the wheel in front of you, and had I done that, I quite possibly could have placed a bit higher. I would have conserved more energy and had a full stash of ‘matches’ to burn on the final sprint leading to the finish. However, that is not how I chose to race on Sunday.

After the first few laps (which were fast) it was down to me and four others. Someone attacked, I chased/bridged, someone else attacked, etc. Then I attacked, and when the other four bridged up, I ended up staying on the front because no one would pull through, but then before I had a chance to recover, Amy from Vanderkitten girl attacked and I got popped (I congratulated her later for her excellent timing). It was really windy, so once even a small gap opened it was nearly impossible to catch back on alone. At that point I my goal became to hold off the riders that we had originally dropped and not get caught, so I settled into a hard, but sustainable pace for what ended up being the rest of the race. I stayed focused and basically turned it into a twenty-minute time trial.

Like I said, I would have LOVED to win again, but I felt good about my risk taking and more aggressive racing, and then that I was able to stay focused, not give up, and keep going hard and not get caught. I’ve been in previous races where I got dropped off the lead group, and then basically eased up because I just assumed I would get caught anyways and didn’t want to be blown up when that happened. So I think that’s some positive growth. As I mentioned earlier, I may have finished better if I had just sat in and hung onto the lead group (and didn’t bridge, attack, etc) but ultimately, that’s not what will make me a stronger rider. I know I am rambling a bit, but I think it’s important for every racer, whether you’re just beginning or racing with the goal of eventually getting on a professional team, to be able to celebrate the little victories and areas of personal growth. This is something that can be tough to learn, especially for those of us people/athletes with perfectionistic or mildly OCD tendencies. This race reminded me that strength comes in many forms, and is not always reflected in the race results.

Weddings and Bike Jams

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Veteran crit racer Kat Garner travels to Baltimore to sport the Naked name and brought back a podium finish! Read how the Kelly Cup Bike Jam Criterium played out.

Summer is bike-racing season.  Summer is also wedding season.  And sometimes the two meet back-to-back, as was the case the weekend of May 19/20th when I flew to D.C. with high heels, party dress, and helmet and bike.  After a fun evening of celebrating a childhood friend’s wedding, I woke up the next day to take on the Kelly Cup Bike Jam.  Assuming that a “bike jam” was some sort of bike race (maybe I could win myself some fancy southern homemade jam?!), I packed the cooler and my #1 fan and supporter, Mom, into the car and made the hour drive north to Baltimore, Maryland.  A chance to race on a new course and against unknown competition is always exciting and nerve-wracking, but at this race I would be racing not only against my fellow Category 3 women, as well also the Cat 1/2 women.  Sprinkle on some extra nerves.  Not to mention the humidity would add an additional challenge, which, although fairly mild for the East Coast, was enough to remind me why I had moved to arid Colorado nine years earlier, and to make my face sufficiently beet red on the start line (see photo evidence).

With a big prize purse on the line and a winding crit course with a slight uphill finish that was just long enough to hurt, the race was game on from the gun with a professional rider from Kelly-Benefits Optimum attacking literally from the start line.  For what seemed like an eternity the field was strung out chasing her back.  The course was in a large park in Baltimore, just a mile or two east of the Inner Harbor.  It was winding with only one real corner, a left-hander that was greater than 90 degrees and which led into a slight climb to the finish line.  I was certainly thankful to have altitude training on my side.  Despite the fast pace, my lungs felt like I was hooked up to my owner personal oxygen tank.  Having altitude on your side may help you breathe easier (literally), but it doesn’t do anything to save you from lactic acid buildup, and with the attacks going off left and right, my legs were starting to scream just 10 minutes in. They went a little something like this:

My Legs:    “Ouch, ouch, this hurts please stop….please stop NOW!”

Me:               “I’m not listening to you!”

Legs:            “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUCH”

In every race, the goal is to have a good result, but I also look to learn something from each race and to work on various skills that I will need when I hopefully move up to a Cat 2.  A race in a new State against racers I did not know and on a course I had never ridden was the ideal opportunity to work on my bike handling and pack-riding skills.  So through my screaming legs (“OUCH!”) I concentrated on moving up through the pack.  Not around the outside of the group, but through the middle where the draft is greatest and space is a rare commodity.  About 20 minutes into the race, a break of five finally formed off the front of the race.  Thank goodness!  I was pretty confident that based on how fast we had been riding, no Cat 3’s had made the the break.  And if there were, then good on whoever she was…and may she be automatically upgraded after the race for the sake of all Cat 3 women in the Baltimore/Washington D.C./Virginia area.

I had read on the flyer that the race was also the championships for the Mid-Atlantic Bicycle Racing Association, or MABRA.  As it turns out, I had missed the words “age-grade” on the flyer, and the race was only the championships for the masters racers, not the Cat 1, 2, or 3 women.  But I didn’t learn that until after the 50-minute crit had ended, so through much of the race I ignored my screaming legs by thinking about how cool it would be to return to Colorado as the MABRA Cat 3 Champion.  Technically you had to be a member of MABRA to be eligible to for the championship title….minor details.

With 6 laps to go I had finally figured out the course and how the group was moving and taking the corners, and had moved up toward the pointed end of the group.  I was comfortably sitting 5th or 6th wheel and holding my position around the course, through the sharp left-hander and up the hill through the start/finish line.  I could hear my mom screaming on the sidelines……”Goooooooo Kathryn!!!”  But then with 4 laps to go, I found myself quickly drop back 15 places.  My mind was telling my legs to work, and my legs were trying to work, but 1+1 was not equaling 2 for some unknown reason.  I tried to move up over the last few laps, but never managed anything more than 5 riders from the back of the race.  When the finish line approached for the last time, I did what I could to jump from the back of the pack and hope I could pick off a few girls on the uphill finish.  But my typically very poppy sprint was uncharacteristically flat.  Was it the thicker air in the sea level?  Was I having some sort of bad reaction to all of the extra oxygen available in the air?  I rolled around for a cool down lap with the other girls wondering what in the world had gone wrong.  It was only after my legs finally quit their aching that I realized my back tire was going flat, very flat.  So flat that when I hopped off and pressed my thumb into the tire, without any effort I pushed straight through to the rim.  Problem solved.  In 8 seasons of racing, that was my first flat tire during a race. At the end of the day I called myself lucky. Thank goodness I hadn’t crashed.

I had still managed to come in 3rd in the Cat 3 women’s race, which was scored separately from the Cat 1/2 women, as only 2 other Cat 3’s had been able to hang in with the main group of Cat 1/2 women.  It took Mom and me a while to make it back to the car with me walking barefoot pushing my bike (remember the flat tire), and the three other racers that stopped me to ask if I rode for “That Naked Team From Colorado” (why yes I did!) and to check in on how their track buddy Vera was doing.  It was a successful and fun weekend of flying the Naked team flag for on the East Coast.  The only disappointment was that I didn’t win any homemade jam in the Bike Jam!

E-rock ATTACKS!

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Susan‘s take on E-rock. What a fun course with lots of support from fans and the city!

I woke up feeling odd; a bit on the dense side. I don’t prefer to race late in the day, but I guess when you run or shall I say bike with the big dogs that is how it goes. As the day progressed a storm front approached from the mountains…yuck who really wants to do a criterium in the rain or wind. However, none of us really knew what the weather was doing in Castle Rock. I got a text message from Vera asking if we are still a go and I said I was “in”, so I packed up my things and headed to her house.

Since it was raining, we opted not to take our sweet team car provided to us from Prestige Audi and instead took my van.  Rachel, Vera and I loaded everything and headed down south. In route, we got a text from our teammate, Joan, saying that she was not going to make it, because she had spent all day volunteering at her son’s school.

It is hard at times, to juggle full time demanding jobs, parenting, household chores and spending time with our spouses. Usually we are able to squeeze it all in, but there are times when we have to say no I’ll sit this one out…which is really hard because we love to race our bikes. Joan was the teammate we were to “work” for today, but since she wasn’t coming I was now the elected one….ummm okay. I wasn’t prepared for it and like I already stated I was struggling with mental sharpness today. But we are not a one women show, which is what is so great about being on Naked Women’s racing; we care more about creating bonds then winning every race. But we end up on the podium nearly every time, so that says something. The race itself was a great experience. My teammates attacked, attacked and attacked. They made sure I was in the main pack, telling me to hop on their wheels as they pulled me to the front.

The finish did not go quite as we had wanted, but races often don’t go as expected…one small mistake can be a game changer.  In the end, I did not end up on the podium (my teammate Kimberly did), but that is was not what it was about for me today…it was something much more cherishing….it was about teammates willing to sacrifice their egos to help me succeed and overcome some personal fears. For me, this day, this experience, will last a lifetime.

Denver Fed Center Criterium/Circuit Race

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The Denver Federal Center’s SW 35+/45+ race had a solid showing for the Naked Women’s Racing team with 5 members (me, Vera, Susan, Sharon and Renee) strong in attendance. It was the perfect early season opportunity to try new things. Prior to the race, we set up our trainers together in the parking lot and got some good bonding and planning time in, not to mention the helpful tips from other racers who stopped by to chat after their races.

Given our numbers, the rest of the field was waiting for us to make the moves. As a result, we were able to control the pace and keep it reasonable. This gave us a chance to try attacks, but also to recover from them once caught. The course was a series of turns and long straights, with no protection from the headwinds. It was mostly flat with a couple of pop up hills. While not too technical, the turns were frequent enough to interrupt the flow of any good paceline. Because of this, it was actually quite difficult to be out in the front with one or two other people, and get a flow going. It took a few solid attacks before anything stuck.

We focused on attacks and immediate counter-attacks, and (the hardest part of teamwork in my opinion) solid blocking. It’s hard to resist the instinct to chase when everyone is going, but we kept our cool and let the other teams do the work to reel in any breaks. Finally, 3 off us got enough of a gap that it stuck. Given that two of us had solid teammates in the pack, I was pretty sure that if we worked hard together, we’d stay away for the rest of the race.

Being in the break was really hard, we were away for 4 of the 6 laps of the race. While we rotated in a pace line, the turns and headwinds made it quite challenging and made for little rest. In the end, I just missed the podium with a 4th place finish, which was definitely a bummer (especially since there was some debate as to how the 4th person bridged up to us). While my jumps and attacks were solid in the beginning of the race, my legs (and heart rate and lungs) were screaming by the end. However, despite the lack of podium, this was by far one of the best examples of an organized, well-communicating team. It was the most fun I’ve had in a race this year. Looking forward to many more with such a great team!

Oredigger Classic and Pioneers Criterium

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Kimberley put her legs to the test racing two days in a row and somehow managing a ride with 8,000 feet of climbing. Perfect hardwoman training for the Gila! Here’s her recap of the weekend’s sufferfest.

Women’s 1/2 Race Report – Oredigger Classic and Pioneers Criterium

For me and several other Naked teammates (I’m still getting used to our new sponsor, and have been assuring friends and family that yes, we will indeed still be wearing clothes), this past weekend marked the first race weekend of the 2012 road season. Saturday was the Oredigger Classic, a hill climb time trial up Lookout Mountain. We had a strong presence, with Rachel, Joan, Susan and I in the women’s 1/2 field.

 

Although I had decided with my coach ahead of time that I would only be “racing” at around 90% of my all out effort pace in order to get in a solid three hour training ride in the mountains after, it was still very valuable to participate in. Doing the 4.5 mile effort helped me to gauge where my 90% was at compared to the other girls in the field, and, as it should be, I came in dead last. As this will be my first season racing in Colorado, I have yet to get to know the local women’s peleton, and I was encouraged to see some strong riders.

 

The next day was the DU Pioneers Criterium at City Park, which both Vera and I raced in. With the combination of it being my first true race effort and my tired, protesting legs from the 8000 feet of climbing I did the day before, I was a bit nervous as I began my warm-up. The fact that Cari Higgins, (a racer who’s claimed medals from National, Panamerican, and World championships) would be lining up at the start with us did not exactly calm my nerves.  The field was small, but contained some strong riders, which helped to keep a fast pace and make up for the size.

 

Pictures from Dejan Smaic-www.sportifimages.com

After waiting at the start line for well over a half hour past our start time, we were finally off.  A solo attack went off the front within the first few laps, and we worked to steadily bring her back over the next few laps. A few attempts to get away were made, but the extremely windy conditions made that quite difficult.  The race ended with a field sprint to the line, which landed Vera and I in 2nd and 3rd place respectively, with Cari Higgins taking the win. Overall I felt good about the race, and it was great to have Vera and I finish in the top three.

 

All in all, I was happy with my first race weekend of the season, and definitely helped to build my excitement for the next few months of racing. It was a great time to test out my racing legs and get to know a few of the other riders in the Colorado peleton. I look forward to the upcoming season, and feel quite confident that the Naked Women’s Racing team will have a strong presence in all categories of the women’s races.

You gotta start somewhere right?

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Race report from Amanda Cyr-one of Naked Women’s Racing p/b TriBella’s newest addition. Amanda selected a HARD crit as her first race, not only of the year, but ever! And the best part is that she had fun! Megan and Renee also competed in the Women’s Collegiate B and Senior Women 1/2 races respectively. Megan earned herself some upgrade points too with her finish! Go team, and way to represent in the first crit of the CO racing season.

Warning: Drinking an entire pot of coffee while watching a stage of Paris – Nice could make you sign up for a race before you know what you have done.  I had no intention of racing the CU Stazio Crit when I read the course description, nope not one single thought of it.  Then, I got all juiced on coffee beans and Jens Voigt ripping the legs off of another rider on tv.  10 minutes later I pushed the confirmation button and was now racing in 4 days.

The following days my awesome teammates sent tips, tactics, and encouragement that kept me feeling pretty positive.  I was just so ready to get my maiden voyage going though that reality hadn’t set in.  Weather?  Course? Time?  Nutrition? Legs?  Nope didn’t even think about this stuff.

5 a.m. came really early since the time change was the night before and I spent it  tossing and turning and having dreams/nightmares of being an amazing sprinter but with no wheels… yeah I don’t know what that means either.  Reading up on the race I heard there would be a hill and it could cause problems.  Since I hadn’t pre-ridden the course I used my warmup to do so once I stabbed myself an adequate amount of times trying to pin my race number on while wearing my jersey.  On my preview ride that hill I read about seemed more like a bump and nothing to worry about.  I thought “geez what is the big deal… that thing isn’t so bad I bet I could manage to hang with the group and heck maybe if I change into my big girl pants I might do pretty well”.  Aren’t I cute?!

You can probably already see where this is going.  First lap: yeah holla boom boom pow I got this!  Second lap: hmm well that was different but yeah ok.  Third lap: umm mayday i’m losing them.  Fourth lap: where did they go?  Fifth/Sixth/Seventh/etc lap: so far away.

I did finish though.  It wasn’t pretty.  But, I finished my first cycling race.  I had a blast and am still laughing over the hill/bump that smoked me and how I never saw that coming.  I cannot wait to get better and do it again!

North Boulder: My hair’s on fire!

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Race Report from Vera Divenyi

North Boulder Park Criterium

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SW Pro 1/2: Pack finish

I couldn’t wait to come back and race this race as this was the first crit for me since June 5. On the way to the race, I was really worried about the weather as it was dumping so hard on 36 that the road flooded and there was a 6-car accident in front of me.

Over the past 2 weeks, I have not had the best luck. My track bike was stolen, I lost my iphone and then last weekend, I got a blow out on 25. Since I have an all wheel drive car, I had to put back all my winter tires so that I did not have to go out and buy all new summer tires at that exact moment. Well, today, I felt pretty lucky to have my winter car tires for the drive as I was driving through 6-12 inches of rain! Arriving in Boulder, the roads were dry and the sun was peeking through the clouds. I guess the bubble over Boulder helps contain the weather, too!

The course: Go straight and slightly up, turn left, power down a hill, get in a good place for a left into a driveway/alley, turn left over a curb, avoid the hay, right, left, left and power as hard as you can on the straight/power climb back to the start finish. Don’t hit the tree in the middle of the street, either!

I met Rachel to warm up and we went and just road a little around North Boulder Park. We were both running late and I managed to misplace my number. We got all sorted and lined up for racing.

To my left, Cari Higgins, Kori Seehafer, Megan Hottman. To my right, many more Map My Ride team mates, a bunch of Vitamin Cottages and THE Alison Powers of Team TibCo.

I was told by my coach that if I didn’t want to work out at the track, I needed to race North Boulder like my hair was on fire. OK, hair on fire. Last year, the break went in the second lap. So for the first 17 minutes, I chased everything thinking one of the breaks may stick – - and I was still trying to race like my hair was on fire. I saw a map my ride go and then I had nothing left. Cory went, too.

Now, have I ever mentioned how much I love my team mate Rachel? We had talked beforehand about whether I was feeling good and what we would do. All that chasing down breaks that didn’t stick had made me quite tired and the course was such that there was really no break anywhere. Since only two people were in the break, the race continued at a lightning-bolt pace and never relented.

Rachel was in a better position than I was and she had unsuccessfully gone with one of the breaks that got caught (this was the one time I didn’t chase!) Rachel made sure that I was still on the pack and a few times, I really thought I might just let go. She was encouraging and made sure that I was in the group. How awesome! I was also a bit starry eyed and at one point, ended up in the gravel heading towards a nice bale of hay! I had to stop and restart and get back on a very fast moving group through the S turns. I knew I was sort of spent as I had goose bumps that started about 20 minutes into the race. It was not cold; in fact, the sun came out and beat upon us.

With 15 minutes to go, I pulled out a Vanilla Powerbar gel and squished it all into my mouth a little too quickly as I couldn’t figure out how to breathe for a second! I got it down and was able to grab my water bottle and wash the rest down. This was a welcome moment as my tongue had been stuck to the side of my mouth for the last 20 minutes.

In the second to last lap, I found myself in 3rd position on Cari Higgins’s wheel. This would have been ideal had it been the last lap. In the power climb/straight away to the start finish, the group bunched up and I found myself in a horrible position into the little downhill before the turn into the driveway/alley. Yes, this course is an odd one.

In the end, I was almost last in the final turn and just decided that sprinting for one more spot really didn’t matter anymore.

The mixed berry Mix1 after my race tasted better than a croissant in Paris. Maybe this was because a croissant right after the race would have most likely made me throw up. But, nonetheless, I love my Mix1’s no matter what! And congrats to our other sponsor, Prerace.com for Jorge Espinoza’s win in the Pro 1/2 race!

Rachel and I continued on the recovery beverage streak with a beer at the beer tent and watched the Cat 3 men’s race until the rain began to fall. Next week? Colorado state Criterium championship and some master’s state championships at the track. I’m already tired thinking about it!

Superior Morgul Classic Race Report

Race Report from Rachel Scott

Superior Morgul Classic Crit and Road Race

5/28/11 and 5/29/11

SW 3- 1st place and SW3-2nd place

CRIT-Let me preface this post by saying this: I have the most selfless teammates ever. From Vera giving me her gloves in the snow for the Cherry Creek Time Trial to all our ladies coming together for our Ride for Reading event to this epic race-which I’ll go into detail later about Joan saving my race-our women are top-notch on or off the bike. I truly mean that and am so thankful to be on this team…

So for those reading this post that aren’t aware of this course or have yet to see American Flyers, here’s the synopsis from the website:

The Superior Morgul Classic is two days of bike racing culminating with the historic Morgul-Bismarck road race. The Morgul-Bismarck is a well known 13 mile loop that was originally featured as part of the Red Zinger and then the Coors Classic in the seventies and eighties. This well loved and respected course is a favorite of local riders and will be featured in the Omnium for regional, national and international riders to experience.

This was a must on my calendar to earn some upgrade points since scoring the women separately, not to mention getting a discounted entry via the Handlebargains deal the month prior. Beginning with Saturday’s crit, I had no idea how many(or few) Cat 3 women would show up. As usual, our field was combined with the SW1/2 women with several big players including Cari Higgins of PB & Co.Twenty12, the MapMyRide.com/Primal pro team and several other strong staples in the CO racing scene-which is pretty much everyone. I wasn’t feeling the greatest having had only 3 or so spotty hours of sleep the night before and general fatigue from an insanely busy work/social week. Rolled up two hours prior and completed my typical race prep routine: get registered, grab safety pins and hunt out an innocent bystander to pin my skinsuit, eat a banana, and pee at least 5 times prior to my warm up. I found Berta and Kat of RockyMounts and warmed up with them, moaning incessantly about my prerace nerves and asking myself rhetorical questions as to why I race each and every weekend if I get such anxiety. I’m sure I was pretty annoying but they seemed to tolerate me.

Determined to get a great spot considering I’ve started 3rd row in each of my 123 crits, and of course, missed the group coming around and lined up in the 3rd row…again. Starting on a hill, this would be interesting to see how quickly the ladies in front would clip in to give me a halfway decent start. Not the best, but I grabbed a good wheel and slowly navigated up near the front. Clearly not soon enough because before I could even catch my breath from the first few laps, a break had formed off the front of 3 never to be seen again. WTF?

So instead of chasing using (wo)manpower from the bigger teams present, with the exception of a few good attacks thrown in there, the pace didn’t pick up as much as the previous week’s Sonic Boom. I know this to be true because I actually spent some time up front instead of sucking wheel. I also didn’t burst any blood vessels in my eyes this week or suffer from incredible ‘track hack’ as Vera puts it.

The course started you on an uphill, which is the same one we finished on, and through a series of what appeared to be a giant S of driveways and alleyways through a neighborhood into a bombing descent out of a right-hand turn into a right-hand turn up the hill to the finish. Fun course, not too technical, nor too flat either. A little bit for every strength. There were some sprint, QOM points and cash thrown in for primes, which I didn’t focus on due to the fact I wanted to podium to get my upgrade(which I didn’t get points for my USAC races dadgumit!).

So when it came down to the final three laps, I made sure I conserved and moved up on the downhill and in the corners where I felt comfortable. Coming into the last sprint, I really just needed to make sure I was the first Cat 3, so I went for a l-o-n-g sprint and came out 9th overall of the 23 starters and 1st Cat 3. I was happy with my placing considering all the 1′s and 2′s in my field. Joan also helped by keeping me out of the wind and surfing through the crowd to get me a good placing.

Time: 52:30
Place: 1st in my cat(9th overall)
Starters: 23(4 in my category)
Finishers: 23
Winnings: $65, 5 extra sprint points for the omnium and the race leader’s pink jersey
Points: BIG FAT ZERO considering we were one girl shy of having a large enough field to earn some points.

ROAD RACE-I’m still unsure whether to be happy or upset with my performance. But the focus for this race shouldn’t be on my performance, rather my teammate’s incredible knack for putting other’s first. Joan and I lined up together since they were starting our group of six Cat 3′s with the 1/2′s again. Some girls came out with fresh legs, but all in all, it was the same key women who dominated the day prior.

The 13.3 mile loop has 750 vertical feet of elevation gain with significant grades and the finish at the top of the ‘Wall’(which we actually did 5 times) for 4 laps. This was the first warm day of the year, and I paid dearly for it despite my southern blood. The day before, I was exhausted from the effort and lack of sleep, not to mention running a few errands post race. I didn’t really rehydrate at all nor eat anything significant for dinner-just wasn’t hungry and simply too tired to eat. NEVER again. It’s much better to force something, anything down than to experience the pain of leg cramps.

We started out and I wanted to stay near the front for the wall. I made it up with the first group with all of us still together. I pulled probably a little too much and the sun started to burn the clouds away. After feeling pretty comfortable on that first lap, we hit the hump and then came up to the wall again. This time, things started to shake up a bit. Three girls broke off the front and a chase group comprised of some super strong 1/2′s and me the lone 3. Joan wasn’t there, and I was shocked. She’s a helluva better climber than I am. My group worked together but not harder than the three girls in front of us apparently because their gap grew, and we were caught by a few other stragglers on the descent before the hump. Luckily, Joan was there but so were a couple of strong girls in my category.

Lap 3-that’s when things started falling apart. My cleat was loose on my right foot and I overcompensated with my left leg to keep from pulling my shoe from my pedal. That combined with the heat and lack of hydration, my legs started to disintegrate. It started with my left calf and then spread to my left hamstring. I had hoped it would go away after the wall, which I fell back on and luckily Joan waited to pull me up to the group. I told her that I didn’t think I could finish and she would have none of it. If I just simply finished, I was in the money. I didn’t want to look like a loser, failure, or anything of the sort, especially since I’ve never had a DNF not to mention how embarrassing would that be in the freakin’ leader’s jersey!?

She kept telling me to sit in and hydrate, which I began to do and shove Powerbar gels in my mouth. The pain never went away as it usually does and eventually migrated to my right hamstring and quad. Crap. My pedal stroke was completely unpredictable and cornering was ridiculous with my quads locking up each time I put weight on a leg. But Joan was there and wouldn’t let me quit.

Round 4 up that stupid wall. I cracked. Joan saw it. And while she had the legs to keep going, she didn’t. She waited for me and PUSHED ME UP THE WALL. Literally. Not only that, once over the punchy hill, I thought the group was gone. They looked so far away and my legs were toast. Joan told me to eat and sit on her wheel. She pulled hard and I could barely hang on. We ended up catching Anne who was just off the back of the main group. They were in our sights and with Anne’s descending skills and Joan’s strong pulls, we were able to catch up to the group coming into the hump. Joan also grabbed a powerade for me in the neutral feed because I could only grab a water with my placement. Shortly after the feedzone, that’s when we dropped the other Cat 3, and I managed to stay with the group coming into the last climb. I knew I’d fall back but I was there and was nearly done. I told Joan she better go if she had the legs after hauling my lame ass around, and she made her way up the front. And then Joan did what she does best(on the road that is), and hit the wall hard. She held onto it too and got a 5th place finish in the P1/2 field!! I could see Amber, the only other Cat 3 in the field, looking back at me and realizing she had the V, so she fell back a bit too. I limped in about 1 minute behind the field and my legs immediately seized. I have ridden through cramps but never for over an hour and a half at the speeds that we did. This would NOT have been possible had Joan not been there. I would have had to pull out or finish at minimum 1 hour back assuming I could even finish.

I still am in awe with how selfless Joan was to potentially sacrifice her race to help me finish and accomplish my goals. That’s what teammates are for and I cannot wait to cat up and help her in upcoming races(assuming I’m strong enough to do so). I can think of no one else more deserving of praise than Joan that day. She had an incredible race. I on the other hand, after drinking 3 large electrolyte recovery Powerbar beverages, 3 bottles on the bike, a 32 oz nalgene, a Mix1, and three beers, I peed once following the race. Clearly dehydrated, and probably not smart drinking those beers or going for a 3 hour mountain bike ride the next day. But you live and learn. Next time, my nutrition will be much better and I’ll get that wall next year! I just hope it’s me leading Joan out for a big V!

Stats: 19.02 mph average
Time: 2:48:44
Distance: 53.5 miles
Place: 2nd in my cat(16th overall)
Starters: 23(6 in my category)
Finishers: 23
Winnings: $75, $90 for the omnium(if I got 1st, still not posted)
Points: 2 points towards 2 upgrade and BAR Points but unsure just how many