Tag Archives: Ingrid Alongi

Fat Tire Flurry Recap

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Ingrid participated in the first (annual?) Fat Tire Flurry as a fundraiser with Cyclists For Jamestown. While it was a cold one, she and many others braved it in support for one of our favorite areas to ride that was destroyed by the Boulder floods in September.

I recently got the chance to pin one last race number for 2013 on, and for a good cause. I participated in the “Fat Tire Flurry”, a fun ride from the base of Lefthand Canyon to Jamestown. The roadway and much of the town was devastated by the recent floods, and as a result, closed to cyclists and non residents. The route up Lefthand to James Canyon was opened for cyclists for a few hours on Sunday morning, December 22nd for the brisk charity ride to raise more funds for Jamestown.

Only mountain bikes or CX bikes were allowed, so I dusted off my 1997 aluminum Raleigh, and stuffed my pannier with gear for the descent. It was about 25 degrees when I started, so I knew the descent on snowy and icy roads would be the most challenging part of the ride. A really nice guy in the parking lot offered me a few extra hand warmers which I gladly packed for later. I ended up placing them in between my bootie and shoe right above the foot vent for the descent. What a great idea that was! I’ll remember that trick for later.

Despite being really cold, I had a great time on the ride. I made a new friend on the way up, saw a lot of old cycling friends that I’ve known since I was a teenager. I also got to chat with Jamestown’s Mayor, Tara Schoedinger, an old co-worker of mine, and catch up a bit. Although my strength is track racing, the ride to Jamestown is one of my favorite rides, and has been since I was young. It was sad seeing the state of the roads. There were times when I’d look over and see some of the road paint peeking through the snow cover, noticing the normally center line yellow was now the edge—the entire east bound lane had been washed away.

It was great to see so many people braving the cold and coming together in support of both the residents of Jamestown, and showing respect for the roads we share.

If you’d like to help any of the communities affected by the floods, please visit the Community Foundation of Boulder County.

Time for Some Good Old Fashioned Classic Skiing

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With the forecast turning sharply south (like -16 later in the week) some take to the trainer. But Ingrid prefers to take to the snow!

Even though I get to race with them, I am not a pro. And because only my ego, not my livelihood, depends on me having tip top spring fitness, I really enjoy getting into different sports when it’s cold outside in winter. Sure, I’ll hop on the trainer a few times a week for some interval training, but getting outside to Nordic ski keeps me happy and excited about the bike come spring and summer.

A lot of cyclists take to skate skiing in the winter, but I happen to also love good, old, classic technique. I have a great pair of waxless skis with “fish scales”, making it easy for me to just get out there and go without the hassle of applying kick wax and getting that wrong. Sure, they’re slower, but sometimes it’s just about getting outside.

Skate skiing is absolutely great, because it gives you a chance to use muscles that you may never use on the bike–but that can be a bit hard on your body until you’re trained for it. Additionally, skate skiing is technique-heavy and can take quite some time to learn how to do it without flailing around (I’m still a bit of a flailer). Have you ever watched the women skate skiers in the Olympics? Their middle sections look like tree trunks (in a good way)–they’re using all kinds of core strength. Until you get the proper technique going, you’re likely to use a lot of upper body and arm strength. A few skate ski days in a row can wreck you.

How can you keep yourself fit in the winter with plenty of variety and not over do it? Enter good old classic skiing. While you can certainly go very fast while classic skiing (I may enjoy keeping up with skaters while classic skiing), it is also a lot easier to keep your heart rate down as needed. Classic skiing is a great way to have an outdoor recovery day or to have a good interval session with the proper recovery periods in between.

I’ve definitely found a new appreciation for it. So, give it a try some time! Hope to see you out there.

Elite Track Nationals – Omnium Style

Flying Lap

Once upon a time (last weekend) in a land far far away (LA) a Naked trackie (Me) walked off a plane from Denver into a land of expensive taxis and smog filled skies. Ok writing this in third person is hard so forget that.

Ok here is the quickest version of this past whirl wind weekend that I could muster up.  Such an intense weekend has left me feeling like I have an insane hangover… not that I would know though what that feels like. Anywho.

Tape Fashion LA Bound

Travel Day:

Land at LAX. Take shuttle to rental car company. Company X oversold their fleet of cars and my reserved car was not available and they didn’t have any additional. Ok no worries I’ve lived in a foreign country where they don’t speak English so LA should be no problem. Must keep breathing. Call cab and head straight for the track. Driver tell me during ride that he is gong to charge me double for transporting my bike box. I tell him he can pull over and I will walk my bike the remaining 9 miles but I am not paying double. He stops all conversation but delivers me and Roxie (bike) to track for the original agreed upon amount. Dang straight fool. Thanks again China, I owe you!

Get all my stuff (luggage, wheels, and Roxie) into track, make besties with the manager of track (Matt) and head down to the infield to start building my bike and pretend like I know what I am doing. When I went to open the door to the infield for the first time I froze and heard every mental demon screaming in my head “you don’t belong here, you are not good enough, what a joke to even walk in, go home before you embarrass yourself, you’ll embarrass everyone.”  My head said turn around and call another cab but the heart wanted to know what was on the other side of the door. Deep breath. Go now.

LA Track

Once inside I found my Coach (Cari) and she slipped me a verbal Xanax. Bike got built about the same time my Team Sprint partner (Stephanie) and her big legged fiance (Geoff) roll in. Perfect timing. Coach tells us how to get on the track and what to avoid.  Sidebar: this is a much steeper, smaller, slicker wooden track.. it is very different from Colorado Springs… just trust me on this one.

As we are about to roll out Coach grabs me and says to keep your space from each other because if one of us goes down we shouldn’t take each other out.  Just about the time I get rolling I hear KAAATTHHHUUUUDDDDD. Team Sprint partner goes a sliddin’ and comes to a very hard stop on the deck.  She was basically ok but managed to take home some wooden souvenirs in her skin and saddle.  This set the tone for the rest of the weekend for us LA Velo newbies. Note to self: crashes happen even if you are by yourself.  After crash crash boom I spent the rest of the afternoon getting used to the track from the sprinters lane all the way up to the rail and then trying to swoop back down at “high speeds”.  This track ain’t no joke.  Go too slow and goodnight Irene it’s a slick and hard ride to a sudden stop. Go too hard up the embanking and it is like short punchy hill repeats every single half lap.

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Day 1: Omnium – Flying Lap, Points Race, and Elimination

Flying Lap: (solo 3 laps to wind up speed and then timed on the last lap around the track). I mentally was most confident about this event. In the Springs I really like the flying 200 so this was only 50 meters more right? Oh wait this track is different and I don’t really know how to wind up slowly so I don’t completely zap my legs before I am to sprint and punch the %&*# out of my pedals.  As soon as Mark Tyson pushed me onto the track I was like a bullet.  No gradual, no breathing, no anything but pure gas. When it came time for me to jump my quads locked up tighter than have ever before and I basically collapsed onto my saddle from my standing sprint.  Thankfully I didn’t fall completely off of my bike like I really thought was going to happen. Somehow I was able to not have the slowest time. I got lucky. These people can sprint.

Points Race: (80 laps with points awarded every 10 laps for the first 4 across the line each time). I was most worried about this event because well I don’t cycle 80 of anything. Ever. 80 is a very big number and with the depth of this field I knew I would be in pure pain cave from the beginning until I died (or finished). I told myself to not look at the lap counter until I was really hurting. To my surprise I thought when I did look at the lap counter it would be much much much lower than the 74 laps to go that I saw. Blerg. Did I mention pain cave? Yeah, I really want to say hell here and other sailor type words. These people have endurance.

Elimination: (Hunger games on bikes. Every 2 laps the last person across the line is cut until 2 riders left and then they duke it out. Lots of sneaky trickery goes into this one)  I like the sneak attack in this race the only bummer is that if let’s say your COACH can push the pace from the front the entire race it makes this technique very difficult.  I was able to pull this “devil” maneuver off for a little while but after match numero 3.2 million was burned I got cut. These people are smart.

Cube Besties  Scratch Start

Day 2: Omnium – 3k Pursuit, Scratch, and 500m

3k Pursuit: (Just like TT but this time a gate is holding bike at start) I’ve actually never done this event before and have never been in a starting gate either. The Boss is actually a  beast at this event and to be honest I can’t make myself want to hurt as bad as she does. 12 laps of fun fun oh wait nope wrong story, there was no fun in this. Mark Tyson gave me my cues each lap with lots of “ok maybe try to pick it up, yeah I mean it this lap, hello can you hear me, ugh are you deaf, or maybe dead, yep you must be dead” as I rolled by him each time. I think I will keep letting the Boss have her “fun” all by herself. These people are tough.

20k Scratch: (40 laps and whoever crosses line first wins) when I did the math to figure out how many laps this race was going to be I literally almost cried. We get so little sleep between the omnium events and my body was already on shut down mode from all of the other endurance events. This crap ain’t for the weak. I actually tried to work the pack a bit during this race and closed down a very early attack. I’d like to blame that for the fireworks in my legs that happened later but ummm that would be a fib. These people don’t stop.

500m: (held start and 500m go all out sprinter style) This was my second most confident race because I have done these a couple of times. My start was pretty good for me and my time wasn’t too terrible considering that this was the 6th and final event. Ouuuccchhhh from the beginning till the end. For a brief moment in time I was in the lead of this event. VERY BRIEF.  These people are sick.

This concludes the Omnium portion of our program.  Coach Cari Higgins won and racked up her 15th National Title. BEAST! I didn’t die. AMAZING. These people are inspiring.

CO Buddies

Day 3: Team Sprint

TS: (held start, 1st person leads and ramps man 2 up to speed and then peels off at the appropriate place and then man 2 wants to die while racing another lap to complete the 500m) My Team Sprint Partner is 99.99% of the time a much better starter than I am so our biggest concern was that she would drop me at the beginning and I’d have to really burry myself to catch her and then be zonked for the final lap. For whatever reason I had the best start I’ve ever had and Steph had the worst she has ever had. This made for a very panicky moment of “oh god I know I HAVE to drop behind her by some point on the track but I don’t exactly know where that is but if I slow too much I may slide down the track on my wattage cottage and take her out with me”. Thankfully Steph was able to rally and I tucked in behind her.  We finished the Team Sprint with lots of “ugh that never happens what happened” comments. These people are savages.

Cheers to a killer season!

Overall: I had an amazing time and am so glad that I got to go to Elite Track Nationals. I learned more in a weekend than I feel like I have learned all season. Also, I feel much more confident going into future racing, traveling, clutch time type situations knowing that I don’t crack under stressful situations. Who knew?  Even though I royally got “it” handed to me this weekend I am more determined, motivated, and dedicated than ever.  I know I want this no matter what. The mental demons will not dictate where I go or what I do.  My heart says go open the door and see what is on the other side.

But more than anything I am thankful. From the beginning I have had these key people who have filled a giant gap for me trying to crack into this sport.  Without their support, direction, and encouragement there is absolutely no way I could have gone from complete track newbie to elite track nationals racer in just 1 season. I owe everything to them.

Thank you Naked for allowing me to fly the flag this season as a distant roadie and a junkie trackie.

Teammies thank you for all the facebook, twitter, and email love. If I did hugs I would give them to you. From Sharon’s bike box to an in person “hello I am here if you need help” via a friend from Maria you guys made this so much easier. It means so much to know a group of people back home are stoked you are even playing with the big girls no matter what the outcome is.

Katie Kackler Macarelleli you are a jerk face and I love the hell out of your stupid guts. You have given more unconditional support than an underwire bra (i will explain what this is later Kackler) and have stood by all my crazy crazy moments this entire season. You are a great friend but I’ll never admit that.

Cari Coach Higgins I blame you and thank you for all of this nationals omnium jibber jabber. You make my legs hurts, my lungs burn, my heart pound, and my spirit fly. If only I could be half the racer, coach, and person you are. Let’s try ok, just not today.

Ingrid “The Boss” Alongi. No words. Too much. Seriously. You helped put the training wheels on, got me rolling, watched me take them off, and supported me in every single way possible. You are the reason I got to go explore this track dream and for that I am forever grateful.  I found my passion on your/our/my orange bike and because of you. Thank you.

2014 Elite Track Nats watch out. I am hungry for more.

-Amanda Cyr

RMSG – Track Edition

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Rocky Mountain States Games on the track took place this weekend and our trackies were out there en force. Read more from Amanda Cyr!

After racing against the big girls Friday night, slinging each other in the Madison, and a late night of adrenaline rushes The Boss and I headed back to the track to compete in the Rocky Mountain State Games.  On tap for the track edition was the flying 200, scratch, points, and 500 meter. Just in case you haven’t been reading our other blogs here is a super speedy run down.

Flying 200: 2 lap wind up to speed and then timed over the last 200 meters. Fastest time makes you winner

Scratch: 10 laps and whoever crosses the finish line first is winner winner

Points: 20 laps with points awarded every 5 laps for the first 4 people across the line (5,3,2,1). Most points is winner.

500: Held start (like a TT) with opponent across track, gun goes off, you go real fast for 500 meters or until you die.

Ok, got it? Great, it is about time.

I decided to go big or go home with my gear for the flying 200 but to be honest I was scared I wouldn’t be able to even turn the pedals. With the Boss starting right behind me I have to say the pressure was on. I ended up taking a not so desirable line coming out of the last corner but was still able to set a PR. Next up… the Boss. I knew I had the lead up to her ride but wasn’t sure I had set a good enough time to fend off the beast. We ended up taking 1st and 2nd!

Overall up to this point: Amanda 1st, Boss 2nd.

Next up was the 10 lap scratch. The pace was definitely manageable and no one was feeling any wild spurs to attack too early thankfully. As we were coming out of turn 4 heading into the start of the last lap the rider in front of me swerved very dramatically forcing me to either let off the gas and kiss my placing goodbye or make an aggressive move and come up and over 3 riders wide. I jumped hard but who was right there in the sprinter lane not giving up any daylight? The Boss. I kicked and came down over her. We finished the scratch 1st and 3rd.

Overall to this point: Amanda 1st, Boss 2nd with her best event up next.

Points races are not my favorite. You gotta do math and sprint and they are long and keep track of who has what and where and god I am exhausted just thinking about it. I knew the Boss would be out to put her hurt on me and everyone else there. I made sure to keep myself in the points but what can I say, she is a much smarter and more aggressive racer! The Boss took 2nd and I took 3rd.

Overall to this point: Amanda 1st and Boss 2nd but only 2 points separated us which meant the overall win would come down to the very last event. Also, 2 other girls were very close to us and are both great 500m racers. Choke choke choke.

My worst fear of having to duke it out with the Boss across the track from me was now a reality. To make it worse everyone was trying to really psych me out before we went off. Thanks “friends” I was very aware of who I was lining up against, don’t need your help!

Standing starts have not been my strength so having to get off the line and up to full speed in 500 meters is extra hard if you don’t really get off the line. We both got to our positions and got all clipped in and ready to box. 5,4,3,2,1 we were off. The Boss in her aero bars and me praying for death we finished without knowing how either person had done or our times. I knew I had pushed myself because my legs were on fire…wait correction more like FI-yah. I ended up setting a PR and getting under 40 seconds which was something I never thought I would be able to do.

Overall: I LOVE LOVE LOVE racing my teammate, mentor, friend, and boss. She pushes me in every way and yet takes the time to teach me while she makes me hurt.

Naked had a great podium day at the track today with a 1st and 2nd! More importantly we had a blast with lots of laughs and encouragement for each other.

Amanda Cyr

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Racing with the Big Girls

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Ingrid was invited to race track at the US Grand Prix of Sprinting last week (along with Amanda) to race not only national champions, but world champs too! Read how the races went down!

Last weekend, Amanda Cyr and I got the chance to compete amongst the world’s best track racers at the US Grand Prix of Sprinting track cycling event in Colorado Springs. In attendance was an all-star line up including , Sarah Hammer, Katie Compton and Sofia Arreola.

I entered the Omnium, which consists of 6 events, where racers get points for placings in each event, while Amanda entered the Sprint and Keirin events. Amanda and I also entered the Team Sprint together, in which we set a team PR for ourselves!

It was pretty audacious for me to enter the race and I had to remind myself not to spend time or energy feeling like a I should not be there! As a result, Amanda and I made a pact that we would not spend the two days talking about how under prepared we are, or how beginner we are, or any of the other self doubts that can creep into the infield conversations. Track racers spend the entire day together in corrals under shade tents in the infield where they warm up on rollers, eat, hydrate, and chit chat between races and heats. There’s nothing worse than having an annoying “Debbie Downer” in your corral complaining while you mentally prep for the next event. Unlike other kinds of bike racing where you can retreat to your car or a quiet spot to warm up, track racers spend the entire day together in close quarters. You can’t really move once you’re parked with all your stuff; rollers, cooler, etc., so there is some etiquette to being in your corral. Keeping yourself from being annoying is one of the best ways you find yourself with options for sharing the next race.

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There were 12 women in my Omnium, including teams from Mexico, Canada, Guatemala, other parts of the US, as well as some other young local up and comers. I was completely thrashed and the Omnium was more grueling than any stage race on the road that I can remember. The intensity combined with hot temperatures during the day–not to mention and the high calibre of racing–took its toll on me and I found myself working hard just to make it through the event. While I held my own with top 10 finishes in a couple of the timed events, the mass-start races tested my high intensity endurance and let’s just say–I got schooled.

Having had a few days to reflect, I am really thankful for the opportunity to participate in such an event. While I have some natural talent on the track, it was great to see firsthand what it really takes to compete at the world class level. Sure, I can fantasize about how much better I’d be if I had more time to train instead of squeezing workouts in between my duties as a Co-Founder and CEO. To be a world class track racer takes more than just “more time to train”. It’s a huge commitment not to be taken lightly, it’s coming back day after day to make improvements that amount to fractions of seconds. While I was able to have fun and enjoy the races no matter where I placed, the other competitors had expectations, pressure, goals, and disappointments. I left the weekend with a humbleness and respect for these professional athletes. They give us all something to dream about.

Track Tuesday Naked Style

Point a Lap

This past Tuesday night there were 12 women who raced the Tuesday Track race with 3 of them being Naked ladies.  The Boss, The Junior, and myself have never all raced together so I was pretty stoked and also super intimidated.  Both of my track teammies are fierce experienced track racers and I really am just faking it.  I made some goals for the night and here are a couple.  1) Don’t be a complete mess 2) Don’t embarrass my teammies and 3) Don’t lose my job.

Sounds pretty easy for most but I was in zone 5 just driving to the track and was told on the way down “you have a job tomorrow unless you beat me tonight”.  So yeah, there is that.

Now for most of you I am going to assume you don’t know what the different races are for track so I will explain a wee bit.  Note: I always have to wikipedia the race flyer the morning before I race because I still don’t know what all of them mean. Oh and also note that there were 4 categories for this night of racing.  “A” (very very fast), “B” (very fast), “C” (fast), and Women.  Because The Boss signed up to race with the “B” group AND Women’s group of course The Junior and I also did.. can’t look like a slouch when she is around.  The Boss, The Junior, and I raced all 5 races but to spare you the time I am only going to give the play by play for 3 of them.  You are welcome.

Race 1: “A/B” 10 Lap Point-a-Lap

Neutral start where everyone stays together for the first lap around the track and when the gun is fired and after my heart explodes out of fear from that sound the group takes off.  Both A’s and B’s were combined to make for a bigger field and really scare the ba-jesus out of me.  This was by far the biggest track field I have ever been in and it was definitely intimidating.  When the gun went off so did the big boys… oh and The Boss.  As she is pulling around me she says “let’s go Amanda”.  Blerg.  Who invited her?  It is not the easiest thing to get to your position, work your way up, move around the group, pick the right lines, and also find the best wheels when you are flying in circles with no brakes.  With the command to “go” I had no choice though.  Time to try to just stay on her wheel was my thought.  Again, who invited her?

How the winner is determined you ask?  Points are awarded each lap with 1 point for the first person across the line per lap.  Who ever has the most points at the end is the winner winner.  Not only do you have to sprint every single lap but you also have to be good at math.  Yes, this should be a good fit for me but these races are so fast and your brain is so oxygen deprived that I never have a clue if and how many points I have.  The three Naked trackies finished with the lead group thanks to following The Boss but I couldn’t tell you who had what points even if you paid me.

Race 2: Women 1km Scratch

This time the 12 women lined up together to play a little cat and mouse game.  After the neutral start you have 3 laps to be the first person across the line.  The game comes in because if you make the attack early and someone is able to stick on your wheel they can sling around you at the last minute since they got a free ride and you’ve just used up a lot of your energy.  Lots of looks, measuring up, and positioning happened during the first lap.  “Who was going to make the move, where were certain people, how am I feeling compared to her, how long could I hold this pace if I jumped here, etc…”  I am not sure exactly who made the big jump but it was quickly down to one lap to go with Kirsten Williams, The Boss, and I coming into turn 3 hot.  I decided to try to spread my wings a little and attempt to come around The Boss and hopefully catch Kirsten.  I wasn’t sure if this was going to work at all but in a last second effort I came up the banking a bit to then use that momentum to swoop down into the sprinters lane.  Cool moment: The Boss said when I passed her it made a “wooossshhhh” noise… yeah, that made my day.  Best moment: I realized I couldn’t catch Kirstin at the line so I looked around and didn’t see anyone so I decided to save a little energy and not fully sprint.  Right as I am approaching the line I see an oh so familiar face out of the corner of my eye.  The Boss had been on my wheel and saw my “sit up” moment and pounded LIKE A BOSS… so sneaky and so smart!

Race 3: Women Unknown Distance

This one should be pretty easy to understand.  The women once again started with a neutral start but we had no idea when the gun would be fired to signal race on and we also had no idea how long we were racing.  I assumed we would make it a lap before the gun went off so when it fired almost immediately I didn’t know what the heck was going on but saw The Junior and The Boss go so I just followed, typical.  About 2 laps into the race The Junior went on an attack like a fearless wild flying monkey.  Kirsten jumped right with her and was hot on her wheel.  Since she had been the one to beat all night I decided to just race side by side with her almost bumping elbows.  I knew that Kirsten couldn’t get around Anna if I rode that close and that if I needed to just go I would have no one blocking me.  The only risky part of this rubbin’ is racin’ style is that it really becomes a battle between two people and both of you are burning yourself up with no end in sight.  How long can I hurt like this?  Thankfully after about 5 laps the one lap to go bell was rung.  I was still right next to Kirsten with The Boss right on her tail.  Naked finished the unknown distance 2, 3, and 4!

What a night!  I had the best time getting to go fast with my Naked teammies.  It is nights like this that fuel the fire for me and remind me why I LOVE THE TRACK.  Stay tuned for more tales from the track.  This weekend The Junior and I will be racing State Championship and each of us are going to our respective Nationals within the next two months.  Go fast, take chances!

News Flash: The Naked Twins Make Road Racing Return in 2013

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Naked Twins Make Road Racing Return in 2013 

DENVER, Colo (February 19, 2013) – After last years triumphant debut of the Naked twins, we are pleased and concerned to announce the return of the Amandas.

“Last year was like waking up from a comma to discover you had a twin you never knew about and the weirdest part is she looks just like me” said Amanda Cyr.

“Yeah, all my life I knew I was missing something but never did I imagine it was a twin I never knew I had!” weeped Amanda Bye. “She is the padding to my chamois” smirked Cyr and “she is the cream to my itch” winked Bye.

They both have had to work through their new found identical identities though.  Cyr talks about having to overcome learning that her twin had in fact tried to eat her in the womb.  “There was a reason I felt like I had been in a zombie movie in my past life.”

“I have always loved me some BBQ and there is no hiding that” Bye said jokingly…we hope.

Quick Left CEO and Colorado Womens Cycling Project sponsor Ingrid Alongi was overheard stating “I would rank them in a top 500 female cycling twins of all times VH1 special if someone paid me.”  Rolling Stones magazine is calling this “The most anticipated return to the stage since Milli Vanilli.”  Just recently Will.I.AM begged the girls to be featured in his new chart topper “Scream and Shout”.

2013 looks to be a big year for the hottest Naked twins since the Olsen sisters.  “Parents better watch your children cross the street and crazy jumping deer beware” touts Bye.  “No road rash too deep, no curb too high” proclaimed Cyr.  “We are back to bring the Naked Amandas action to a city near you!”

1.0 & 2.0
Maverick and Goose
Amanda & Amanda

First Time Trial of the Season

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Ingrid is getting a jump start to the racing season in Colorado with the race of truth, the Frostbite Time Trial. Guaranteed to be windy and epic, this is one not to be missed! Read what you can expect from the course that day. 

In just about 2 weeks, the 2013 road cycling season in Colorado will start with the Frostbite Time Trial. I know a lot of people are far from excited about this (made worse by the fact that it snowed yesterday). But, I’m here to encourage everyone to get out there, despite their feelings about time trials.

The time trial is known as the “race of truth” — just you against the clock, you against your own mind. One of the hardest parts of a time trial is trying not to get mentally distracted from the task at hand–pedaling hard, pedaling with consistency. Distraction can lead to the slightest let up of effort, as the seconds tick away. You don’t have anyone else around you to help gauge your effort or pace, you just have to set an internal goal and try to stick with it.

I would not call time trials fun, in the “puppy dogs and roller coasters” sense of the word, but they do give a sense of satisfaction when you can get through them. I suppose you can call them “number 2 fun” in that the fun is realized later when you’re done and reflecting on a hard day’s work. And here’s where the convincing comes in (or, why you should embrace the time trial even if you hate them).

Time trials, especially early season ones, are a great way to gauge where you’re at with your fitness, while still leaving time to make changes for the season.

There’s also something about being in a race situation that enables you to push a little harder than if you were just doing a long effort in training. You’ve got people passing you (or at least I do) and that means they’ve made up the split–your adrenaline kicks in and you can react. You can’t quit (that would be pretty sad since they are usually flat and not difficult in terrain).

And don’t let the lack of fancy equipment keep you from entering a time trial–a set of aero bars is all you need. Note my picture/position–it’s not super aero, but I can still work on my own internal goals. I know that such equipment does help you gain a better time, but a good effort is still a good effort–fancy schmancy wheels or not.

I’m not in the running to win these things, heck, I usually get last or second to last place in the Women’s 1/2 category. So, I focus on my own goals. I try to focus on an average speed and keeping my cadence above a certain RPMs (to keep the legs fresher for the whole effort). Of, course, if you have power, you can keep track of your effort that way, too! Time trials can be a great way to kick off the season, so have at ‘em! Enjoy and good luck!

Check out the Colorado Racing calendar for more: http://www.coloradocycling.org/

Kentucky goes global and Naked gets in on the action

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While us Colorado folk were playing in the dirt, snow and cold last weekend, Emily Zinn was tearing up the CX scene in Louisville, KY at the USGP. Here’s her account of racing in the ‘dirty’ south.

Wearing Naked kit in Kentucky is like being in a celebrity entourage. Can’t pedal three strokes without someone stopping you to ask if you know Rachel Scott. The entire state seems to have voraciously followed her movements on Facebook, and everyone in Kentucky knows that she sold her cyclocross bike for a Specialized mountain bike, yet still asked if she would be racing that day.

The course:

Pro. Not only was it a USGP, it is the site of the first EVER world championships outside of Europe. “The first city outside of Europe to host a cyclocross world championship is Louisville, KY!?” you ask. Yes. And deservingly so.

Unless you are Adam Craig, there are a minimum of four dismounts, and not wimpy little grab-my-bike-and-run-over-a-couple-barriers dismounts, but crazy-steep stairs, limestone steps, and, if you missed your line, the Clif Bar Sand Land. Sounds fun, like going to the beach with a shovel and castle-shaped bucket, right? Yeah, it’s nothing like that.

The hecklers:

On form. A sampling for your enjoyment:

“Can you believe they let that girl race naked? Shameless.”

“That’s it, nice and easy. It’s not like it’s a race or anything.”

“Just remember, you paid to do this.”

“Touch my monkey.”

“Chase the unicorn.”  Side commentary:  I think this is Peloton Don!

“Katie Compton is right on your tail.”

“Isn’t it uncomfortable to race naked?”

Race report from day 2, as it ran through my head at the time:

Me on the line, to the girl next to me: “You’re Emma, right?”

Girl next to me: “Nope.”

Me: “Right. Are you Emma? Who’s Emma?”

Very young and cute winner of both days, quietly: “I am.”

Me: “Sweet! Awesome job yesterday! You’re coming to Boulder to train with Ingrid Alongi on the track, right! Excellent! Look me up when you get there! I can’t wait for you to come out riding with us!”

Emma: “I’m excited to come.”

“30 seconds.”

“15 seconds.”

Girl next to me shifts, unclips, swings leg over and turns her crank. Really? Panic. Is she going to get stampeded? Look over and see marshall is rolling his eyes and waiting. She swings her leg over. Gun goes off immediately.

Launch. Clip. Push. Sweet, second to the grass. Now I’ve just got to hold this for, like, a few minutes so I can be top-3 into the sand and not have to run.

Did they add more stairs to this permanent staircase during the night last night? Sneaky buggers.

My Norwegian friend was talking yesterday about how hard he was “breading” in his race. Yes, the heavy breading has already begun.

Already to the alligator swamp. Means the second pit is coming up.

Cool, neutral support is cheering for me. Or perhaps for that other girl named Emily that has been right with me the whole time and I tell myself that the cheers from people I don’t know are all for me. Either way, doesn’t seem very neutral.

Gnats don’t really fly into your eye, you ride into the gnat. Do young gnats have nightmares about giant eyes coming at them at a speed they can’t out-fly? How long does a gnat stay alive squirming in my eyeball after I ride into it?

I hope that’s really a unicorn in kit and I’m not delirious. They haven’t even started counting off laps yet. I could have eight laps to go, for all I know, and I’m already seeing unicorns. The bubbles are definitely real, though. Must look for photos after the race. Hope there’s a sweet one of me bursting through bubbles as I fly over the barriers.

I better not close my mouth, because it’s so dry my tongue might stick to the roof of my mouth like it does when I lick ice and I won’t be able to open it again for the rest of the race.

That Strava segment is only like 20 feet of flat with no turns. Why didn’t they put the Strava segment on any of the many actually cool features? I should go for it, anyway. If you can’t win the race, you might as well win the Strava segment. Wait, Katie Compton is riding this Strava segment.

This is so off-camber it wouldn’t even recognize camber any more. This would be hilariously stupid in the mud. Some people would probably crawl it. I wish it were muddy and I were crawling this section for others’ enjoyment.

It was so thoughtful of all these hecklers to come out with rubber chickens and stuffed monkeys and gramophones to tell me I’m sucking in clever ways. It’s early in the morning and nobody ever comes out to heckle. I should buy them a beer or something. There are too many of them. I’ll just touch the monkey each lap in stead. Next lap I’m gonna grab the monkey and stuff it down my skinsuit for a lap. That will never work. My skin suit is way to tight to accommodate me and a monkey.

My conclusion:

Louisville, KY is the greatest place on earth to race cyclocross. And then after, you can go to Sergio’s World Beers and Belgian TFU  with legit Belgian beers that actual Belgian cyclists have wrung out their skinsuit into, it’s that legit. Sergio knows just about everything about beer… but doesn’t know what the sign on his own, unmarked establishment says.

Most importantly, the biggest event ever in American cyclocross is happening in Louisville, KY, on February 3 and you definitely want a ticket to that action.

2012 US Master’s Track Cycling Championships Recap

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One of our resident track racing super stars, Ingrid, recaps her experience at Masters Track Cycling National Championships. Our team was well represented and we came back with some serious bling!

I competed in Masters Track Cycling National Championships at the 7-11 Velodrome in Colorado Springs at the end of July. I also run a software company in downtown Boulder. One of the benefits of running a company is that I was able to take a week off to race. One of the downsides is that as soon as I got back, I was right back into the thick of things. Here’s my delayed recap of the racing, and luckily, most of it was written right away while it was still fresh…

With some upgrades in training and equipment, I looked forward to hitting some PRs on the timed events and my goals were to win the Individual Pursuit and Best All-around Rider competition.

Tuesday, July 24th was the first event for me, the 2 kilometer Individual Pursuit. I was hoping to win this one, but I missed the win by .2 seconds. It’s probably the most disappointing silver medal I’ve gotten. However, it wasn’t all bad, I did set a personal record at 2:38.98.

I refocused my efforts on the 500m TT the next day. While the 2k pursuit favors riders with more endurance and road training, the shorter 500m TT favors sprinters and those with powerful, explosive starts (and that also means good starting technique). While everyone utilizes aero bars in the Pursuit, the field is split in the 500, with pure sprinters opting for their sprint handlebars as they wind up their larger gears. I use aero bars in the 500m, and rely on my top end spin at the end of the race to keep me fast. My cadence peaked out at over 130 rpm by the end of the effort.

Although I’ve never thought of myself as a sprinter, I’ve been working on my standing start quite a bit the last couple of years. It seemed to pay off and I set a PR at 40.20 seconds (I was hoping to get under 40 seconds–next time!), which earned me a silver medal. It’s amazing how excited I was about this silver, quite a contrast from the disappointment from the day before.

Thursday afternoon was the Points Race. This is a mass start race where riders sprint for points every 6 laps. The rider with the most points at the end of the race is the winner. It can be a pretty complicated race because you have to keep track of who has points–not easy when you’re riding hard and gasping for air, let alone doing math! The level of experience between Vera and I allowed us to dominate the race, putting her into the top spot on the podium, while I held on for 4th place (and another podium finish!).

Friday was another mass start race, the Scratch Race. This is shorter than the Points race and whoever crosses the line first at the finish wins. It tends to be more of a sprinter’s event, and the pace can often times be slower overall until the final sprint. Endurance riders try to keep the pace high to tire the pure sprinters. Because we dominated the race so strongly the day before, we knew our work would be cut out for us, and sure enough, an early attack by the Boulder Orthopedics team set the tone for the race. I was trying to work as little as possible and save my strength for the final sprint, but because of the small field, I had no choice but to work, as we reeled in the break. As soon as that was accomplished, her team mate countered–textbook perfect–only a few laps to go. After my previous efforts and my poor choice of gear (too hard), I missed the jump. The field was shattered, but I held on for a Bronze medal.

To be honest, at this point, I was starting to feel pretty bummed out, and tired. I’ve never won an individual national title as a Junior or a Master, and the fact that I’ve got so many silver medals was starting to get to me. (To top it off, after finally getting food, I arrived at my hotel at 7pm to find that they had canceled my reservation 30 minutes prior to my arrival.) Although the distances of these races is short, the power output and intensity is extremely high. The fatigue is on the level of doing a stage race on the road. Once I finally got a new room and cranked up the AC, I focused on getting a good night’s sleep (and watching the Olympics opening ceremonies!). Saturday would be a long day–the longest of the week–with the Match Sprints.

Saturday morning was a little rough, but cured by a trip to the coffee shop. The day started with a 200m Flying TT,w which is then used to calculate the seed position in the match sprint tournament. Having a good line and technique is really important and I can’t say I had either that day. But, I managed to pull the 2nd fastest time, to Shannon Moak, the same woman who beat me in the 500m TT.

After a full day of sprinting, warming up, cooling down, eating, drinking and trying to get any semblance of rest in the heat, Shannon and I met for the gold medal round Saturday afternoon. I was pretty intimidated given her speed in both the 500m TT and the flying 200m TT. I knew I’d have to outsmart her to win, all the while I was hoping my legs wouldn’t buckle at being in the heat all day. The first round ended in a disqualification when she came down into the sprinter’s lane on top of me. This caused me to slow down and roll into the cote in order to avoid crashing. In track racing, once you commit to taking the pole lane, not only do you have to stay in it, no one is allowed to pass underneath you. They must go completely around you and pass safely by coming above you on the track. It’s hard to say who would have won had there been no foul play, but I had to quickly refocus and get ready to sprint against her again–the winner would be determined from the best 2 out of 3 in the heat.

So many things were going through my mind. Knowing my luck, I’d lose the next round and then have to sprint for a third time to break the tie. And after all, I’m great at getting the dreaded 2nd place. It was hot out and I really didn’t want to have to do a 3rd round, so I was determined to win this one. To make it even more interesting, I had to lead this heat, meaning I had an obligation to ride in front of her for at least 1/2 a lap, giving me a disadvantage in that I could not see her every move. She could presumably jump when I wasn’t looking, and have just enough gain that I could not come around–and given her speed, that would be a disastrous outcome for me.

I rode slowly, not looking where I was going so I could keep my eye on her behind me as best I could. I felt like I was going to crash myself out from nerves and the slow speeds on the banking. I picked things up a little and with 1 1/2 laps to go, I jumped from the front. She matched my jump and I could hear her coming up next to me. I slowed just a little to gather my composure, before I poured it on with 3/4 laps to go. This was a long sprint already, and I don’t exactly know how, but I managed to keep ahead for the win!

Finally, my very first individual title, and all the consistency lead me to win the Best All Around Rider designation that I had hoped for!

Sunday closed out the week with the team events, and it was a great chance to end a long week with my teammie! Vera and I were defending champions in both the Team Sprint and Team Pursuit competitions, but the other teams came very prepared this year. Vera and I took 4th in the Team Sprint, and a Silver in the Team Pursuit (with Therese Johnson from Pro Design Cycling). The team pursuit, despite not bringing a winning time was smooth and the team worked very well together despite the fatigue we all felt from the week of racing.