Tag Archives: Rachel Scott
Rachel, Berta, Susan, Ingrid and Sue of the BRAC BoD mentored the Cat 4 women during the Louisville Criterium yesterday as part of the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado’s women’s program. There were 50 in the field and zero crashes! Many of the women had never raced before. Following the race, Rachel wanted to share some physical and psychological observations through personal experiences. Read on!
- We had many girls racing not only their first crit, but first bike race ever! And you all finished upright and no one was last! (Not that being last matters, I come in last at least once a year. I highly recommend it! It’s humbling and reminds you that you race for fun)
- If you can do a no-handed victory salute in a Cat 4 crit, it is time to cat up! (Talking to you Sam, you could probably take me in a sprint! And Mean Mama Madison misses you.)
- When mentoring, I would say “get on her wheel.” When that happened, many of the girls I think thought I said “giddy up” and took off like a bat out of hell and passed the wheel I was pointing out. Get on her wheel means bridge the gap and sit on the wheel in front of you so you can enjoy a draft and recover so you don’t work so hard by yourself.
- You only have so many matches. Every time you give it an all out effort, you use up one match. Each person has a different amount of matches but knowing your matchbook takes a long time to learn. Trial and error when you’re new. I have about 4 when I’m trying to win a race and 10 when I’m working for a teammate because when I work for someone else, I try so much harder than I would for myself.
- The TWO PROFESSIONAL TRIATHLETES in the cat 4 field placed 8th and 11th compared to the Frostbite TT where they both bested every female (and most males) in attendance. This PROVES that racing is so much more than being able to go strong in a straight line. Add in drop bars, handling skills, and drafting, and it changes the game.
- You individually are not stronger than the group. When the group decides to organize and take turns pulling, they will catch you. Watch any pro race and rarely does someone stay away. When they do it’s amazing but it doesn’t happen often. I noticed a few girls would attack with all their might to only be swallowed by the group 2 min later. Time your attacks and know when to go or when to take a chance. This will come in time and you’ll learn. Cycling is a lifelong sport, and you will learn something in every race you do. So don’t sweat trying to learn everything in the first race because you won’t (or year for that matter).
- Confidence. Without it, you will do poorly. Your head is more important than your strength. You can train all day long but if your head is screwed up, it can change your race. Confidence as a racer is hard to attain, but you all deserve to be where you are. So line up in the front row and smile knowing you’re going to have fun and if anything, get one helluva workout for the day.
- Starting position will make or break your race. I started in the back at the Aspen Pro Challenge last year because there were other pros there that I was intimidated by. Big mistake. That was the first crit I was ever pulled from. It sucked but my head wasn’t in the game (i.e. violation of point 7) and I worked too hard trying to move up.
- In my opinion, working as a team and being a part of one means more to me than being an individual. If you want to win every race or not give a little extra to be a part of a bigger picture, then you should race unattached or cat up and stop sandbagging. If those are your goals, then that is completely ok and truth be told, I wanted nothing more than to cat up as a 4 and 3 (and now I want to downgrade!!). It is easier without teammates to do that for many reasons including much less responsibility. I’m not saying that it is wrong to want to do well or win or simply get what you want out of racing. We are all overachievers or we wouldn’t be training and in this competitive environment. However, when not working for a teammate on or off the course, you will miss out on some very important lessons, benefits, and more. You learn tons when working through things as a team. You also push yourself so much harder for a teammate than you would for yourself. Trust me on this. All of my PRs were when working for a teammate. I know others can say the same thing.
- NONE OF US (on this team) GET PAID TO DO THIS!! If you do, congratulations. You are one of the genetically gifted women whom possesses talent that I emulate, but I simply don’t have no matter how much I train. The majority of US female pro racers earn well below the poverty-line income of $11,170 for a single-person household. PER YEAR! I don’t envy training 20 hrs per week and having to work on top of that to make a living! And if you have a bad day on the bike, it’s just that. A pro has a bad day on the bike, they could lose their contract. Recognize that you’re doing this to have fun, stay fit, and challenge yourself. It ain’t your day job. It’s ok to be nervous, miss a day or two training, or to be outside of your comfort zone. That’s the fun part. Once out of the fun zone, and you aren’t having a good time, perhaps change your attitude or change your sport. And go easy on yourself. It takes one day being down in the dumps following a race that didn’t go so well, and then you get perspective. Lanier, I know exactly how you felt yesterday. I felt that at the State TT last year and then bailed on a teammate the next day at Guanella Pass HC because I couldn’t stand two days in a row of poor performance. I was ready to hang up my bike and never race again. I actually cried and I haven’t cried in about 8 years. Over a stupid bad bike racing weekend. Then thank everything holy for my teammates who picked me up and convinced me to do Dead Dog Stage Race where with the help of those teammates, they led me to a 1st place in the GC. Wouldn’t have raced without their encouragement and wouldn’t have placed as well as I did without their help. Best part was hanging with my teammates outside of racing in WY! Doing poorly taught me humility and empathy. And it gave me much needed perspective. That lesson is greater than any lesson winning will ever teach you.
We know Rachel isn’t the only one to commute to work by bike on the team, but she’s going to be the second one to write about it! From time to time, she’ll share her commuting stories. You’d be surprised of what can happen in a 6 mile round trip commute.
When I moved to Colorado 2.5 years ago, I had to sell my beloved Litespeed, Bella, who I commuted 32 miles round trip to work in Tennessee. I also traded my city fixie, a sweet 80′s Schwinn, for a couch so I’d have something to sit on once I got to Colorado (I no longer own the couch BTW). Though I missed my commuters, I still had a road, mtn, cx and TT bike to keep me busy. But life just wasn’t the same. It felt like Sophie’s Choice (great movie for all those young ones on the team!)
But….flash forward two years later….
After moving my life and career to Boulder, I decided to buy myself a celebratory present–my very own, tricked out Raleigh commuter bike! Complete with an internal 8-speed hub, that I pretend is a power tap, my new gal is the latest addition to the fleet of 20 bicycles at our household. She’s also worth as much as my car (my car isn’t very expensive and is for some reason always missing doorhandles). Though I loved her stock, I’ve since added an SKS rear fender, reflective dots and tape, Krieg cycling bag, massive U-lock, an “I <3 my bike” bell, Niterider light, and three blinky red taillights. She’s quite sexy all dressed up.
So now that I’ve been commuting the last three months, I’ve only filled up my gas tank twice (instead of every week when commuting to my old gig), saving nearly $500 (which is greater than the cost of the bike). Also, since taking this leap of two wheels faith, my car insurance company has a device that plugs into my car to track my usage. Got a 6% reduction in my rates-taking that to the bank! Beyond the cash benefits, mentally it helps me wind down and reflect for the evening or prepare for my day on the way in.
Only one episode of epicness ensued since my commuting adventures have taken place. Jeff and I decided to ride our commuters up to NCAR and then hike Bear Peak, he on a single speed and me with my 8 gears, struggling to get to the top of the hill and start of our hike. While we both know better, neither of us wanted to carry a bag of extra clothes. Strike number one.
After hiking nearly 4 miles, snowflakes started to fall and the wind picked up. While this happens often in CO, we both had summit fever, decided to shrug it off, and we powered to the top. Strike two.
My arms were so numb from the cold that I could hardly pull myself up the rocks to the peak. So without any additional layers and getting colder by the second, we turned right back around and booked it to the trailhead. Luckily, I brought a banana. But was too cold to eat it. Strike three.
Finally, we made it back to the bikes, close to 4 hours after our journey started, with only one bottle of water between us and one banana. We started back towards home but had to descend down NCAR. Snow was blowing so hard and the temperature dropped about 30 degrees. Somehow we both managed to get back safely, albeit 80% frozen and 100% exhausted. We both fell asleep before 7 pm.
While epic adventures gone awry make for great stories, most of my commuting experiences go without a hitch. Occasionally, I’ll forget my work shoes, or it will be sunny in the morning and snow a foot by the afternoon, but those things make me laugh more so than seem an inconvenience. I wouldn’t trade my 3 mile stroll for a petrol-guzzling car ride any day of the week. And god-forbid waste any amount of water washing my car (clearly a pet peeve). Plus it takes me longer to drive, park my car and then walk to work than riding my bike to the front door of the office.
In fact, many of my coworkers feel the same way. We participated in Boulder’s Winter Bike to Work Day together a few weeks ago and had a great time. More communities should offer and encourage these things. Check out the video below.
Look for another blog post in the spring regarding my daily commutes. I’m already excited to ride my bike without a puffy coat, gloves, hat and night lights. However, I’m sure come spring, I’ll be trading the 20 degree temps for 50 mph winds so we’ll see how that goes! Either way, it’s always guaranteed to be an adventure.
Susan Adamkovics and Rachel Scott hosted the 2nd Annual BRAC Women’s Summit at Boulder Beer. Great to see so many women wanting to grow and improve the sport in Colorado! Plenty of Naked ladies made the trek to Boulder Beer too, showing their support.
This year’s summit had about 50+ more participants than last year–including staff, board members, promoters, officials, the ED of OIWC, new and seasoned racers–and adopted four initiatives for 2013. Also, 2012 was our largest year for participation across the board in every senior and masters category (32.8% growth over 2011). SW4 and SW45+ saw the largest growth percentages. Retention from Cat 4 to 3 was a focus of the evening as statistically many come into the sport as a beginner to never be seen again. 2012 is no different than any year prior for BRAC or other LA’s across the country. But also nationally, retention rates for nonprofit membership-based organizations for 1st year new members hovers around 70%. It’s a problem shared among organizations like BRAC.
Overall, the feedback thus far from the summit has been very positive. Colorado has a great group of passionate, strong female athletes who want to grow the sport for women and are willing to work to make it happen despite raising families, working full time, and fitting in training where they can. I’m continually impressed by the stories women share, insight they offer into the sport, and willingness to work whether impacting one person at a time or influencing a room full of people. I know I’m excited about it and have experienced growth first hand with our team growing from 6 in 2010 to 60 women for 2013, with many of them never having participated a bike race in their life as of yet.
Susan and I are preparing a recap and survey during the holiday to send to participants and registered BRAC riders. This will also be published on coloradocycling.org.
And also, a HUGE thank you Jennifer Triplett for being a genuine keynote speaker and starting us off in a positive direction. Colorado is lucky to have you!
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Sometimes racing does go according to plan! Roberta shares her experience during the Dead Dog Classic Criterium.
I was going to blog about my own race experience at Dead Dog since Dead Dog is a race that has a lot of personal meaning to me and my cycling goals. Unfortunately, the road race was not one of most stellar cycling performances and it ended getting to know the volunteer EMTs in the emergency tent. I do think those EMTs worked just a little bit of magic for me since the story I am about to tell involves the race that happened in the heat of the next day. As criteriums go, the Laramie course is super fun. Fast turns, chicanes, trains roaring through town, and great volunteers. After watching the 4s race, Joan and I decided to spin our legs in the heat of the later morning sun. After the heat exhaustion that plagued me the day before I was really tired of sunshine and heat. I did partake in an icebath and the team standing in the pond on Saturday after the road race. Joan also had us eat two dinners after the road race and that didn’t necessarily hurt my recovery either. Anyway, there we 7 of us in the 1-2 category and I was 7th in the GC. I was thinking before the crit that when you are in last place, 20 minutes back, there is really nothing to lose if you lay it all on the line to secure a win for your teammates.
Joan and I discussed strategy for the race and we both decided we would do most of the work until we could go no longer and hopefully one of us would hang on for the entire race. It is rare when a strategy that is verbalized before a race actually happens and what happens is even better! The Cliffs Notes version of the 40 minute race was this, Joan was in front, then I would get in front, someone else not on our team would get in front, PRIME LAP- Sprint hard and lead out a teammate for the prime- Joan was in front, I was in front, TIME BONUS SPRINT- lead out teammate for the sprint win. I had the biggest smile the entire race because magically everything fell into place. Naked Women’s racing was dominating and in control! We were blocking others from going for the sprint and Rachel and Kimberly were getting enough rest in between sprints. We had lead outs that looked like they could have been choreographed in a ballet. The energy was so exciting. When it came down to the final sprint, Joan and I both lead out Rachel and Kimberly for the 1-2 win and an overall GC win. Did I mention this was a fun race?
There are times in bike racing when things don’t go as planned. Teammates can feel let down because a plan didn’t execute or someone was having a bad day. Not this day in Laramie. We were a well oiled machine and we worked as a team and we pulled in the win. We were all ear to ear with grins. This is the reason I race my bike- not to win- but to be part of a team of strong, dedicated women. Thank you!
Rory Kelly and Rachel Scott win overall Dead Dog Classic titles
By DAVID WATSON / firstname.lastname@example.org • Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Rory Kelly of Boulder, Colo., won two of three events over the weekend to claim the Senior Men’s Pro 1-2 category at the 24th Dead Dog Classic Memorial Stage Race…continue reading at the LARAMIE BOOMERANG.
Racing in the Rockies
Dead Dog Classic Memorial Stage Race starts with grueling road race, next two stages today By DAVID WATSON / email@example.com
Sunday, June 24, 2012
There is a tie at the top.
The two professional racers joined hands when they crossed the finish line together after covering their 53-mile Laramie Area Visitors Center Snowy Range Road Race in 3 hours, 2 minutes and 45 seconds…..go to the LARAMIE BOOMERANG to continue reading.
I wish I could have my dog write this race report like he writes our holiday letters. I do not enjoy writing but here goes.
Who talked me into this?
Am I glad I was talked into this?
Yes, now that it is all over. On the last 11 miles of the RR I was cussing both girls out.
RR-54 miles of non-stop wind. Stayed with the lead pack until the start of the climb and then after a few minutes they blew me up. It was hard having those pro 1-2 racers who did age group in our category. The climbing was actually easier then I thought. Was by myself for awhile then caught up with Kendra and worked with her then Megan caught up to me. We all worked together for a few minutes then Kendra fell off. Megan and I stayed together. It was so nice having a teammate to work with.
We’re at the top of the climb. I love descending and I know Megan does not love it as much. I told her she had to stay on my wheel. I did go close to 50 so she did fall behind but I kept hearing her words and Kathy’s (my coach) do not do the last 11 miles alone. I knew the best thing to do was to wait for Megan to catch up so we could continue to work together.
Last 11 miles. Highway to hell. 45+ mile an hour head winds. No fun. Megan and I passed the 2nd place position girl then she caught up with us again but did not want to work with us. We kept trying to rotate and push on but you never felt like you got a break from the wind. Megan ran out of water and I was giving her some of mine. She was getting fixated on no water, which I was down to almost zero. I told her we couldn’t fixate on the fact that we had no water and that we were going to die on that Highway to Hell from dehydration. We caught up with the 2nd place girl again with about a ½ mile left and I just hit the wall. The wind became a head case for me. I told Megan to take off and go get second place which she did. I trudged in and got caught on the line thinking no one was behind me so I got 5th. Lesson learned. Always look behind you. DUH!!!!
Who’s idea was this?
Yes, it will help with muscle recovery.
Ok an ice bath. This was a new one to me. Joan runs my water, throws in 1½ bags of ice. No, not 1 she had to add another ½ bag. No they weren’t 5# bags they were 7# bags.
Sharon, get in the water now. I slowly lower myself in screaming I can’t do this. She appears before my tubs. Points her finger at me. Gives me that mother look and tells me to sit down now. Yikes! I obeyed. She throws her coat on me makes me some hot tea and sets the timer for 12 min. I decided the only thing that would keep my mind off this is to text. My Pen Pal (Amanda C) was 2 doors down and she was in her ice bath so we sat there the whole time texting back and forth killing time. Mama Joan finally comes in and told me I was in there for 14 minutes and my time was up. Thank G-D.
Day 2: Crit
The plan was to have THE AMANDAS worked for Megan and I. We told Megan her goal was to sit on my wheel and I was going to sit on the Amandas wheels and whoever was fresh enough and in the right position was to go for it.
The whole race Amanda C is leading the pack, I’m staying behind her and Amanda B was usually on my left protecting me. These girls amaze me with their skills and giving it their all at these crits. They were work horses the whole race. Leading the pack. In that crit every girl wanted to be on their wheels. Now, now, I get one of them so don’t get in my way. They are loved by all the Cat 4 girls but they belong to me so stay away:)
I didn’t hear the announcer say last lap but the pace did pick up. We turned the corner and I was close to the front but I should have jumped up to the age group girls for the sprint in. I took off past the couple of girls in front of me but 2 other girls came past me so I got a 4th. Lesson learned: Make sure you are right where you need to be before the last corner not after the corner.
FYI: My legs did thank Joan from that painful ice bath and told me it was worth it.
Thank you Joan and Roberta for all the cheering you did at our crit. It was awesome and kept us going just having you there.
TT: Last race of the weekend.
Today was the maiden voyage for my new Focus bike to get out there and do its first race. It’s time to break her in. Amanda C felt we needed to say the Jewish blessing over her. She started saying it perfectly in Hebrew with everyone watching and laughing then this Jewish guy comes over and helps her out with the prayer and adds his version. It was very funny. The Jewish guy and I rode off to warm up and Amanda C looked at me like that is my boyfriend fix me up. Sorry Amanda, next time. I was more focused on my TT and wasn’t thinking about a boy for you.
I knew going into the TT I was 6th overall and I didn’t have that many seconds between the girls in front of me. I told myself not to become a head case with the wind and give it my all. It would be less than 30 min. in the pain cave. I gave it my all and felt great. I did it with no TT gear because I don’t own any. Next purchase. Helmet and skin suit. Came in 8th but ended the weekend in 5th place overall. I’ll take that for my first Stage Race.
Joan, I am still wondering where that downhill is on the TT course that you kept telling us about. The Amandas and I never had it on our TT course.
I’d like to thank all my teammates (Amanda C , Amanda B, Megan, Joan, Roberta, Kimberley and Rachel for a fun weekend. I would like to give an extra thank you to the Amandas for all the entertainment, laughs and encouragement. I couldn’t ask for a better fan club. FYI: Amanda C is president of my fan club if any of you would like to join. There is an initiation fee so she can get a new bike.
Thanks for reading,
What happens when you open up a can of worms instead of whoop ass? You make important discoveries and make improvements for the better, that’s what. Rachel bares all about missing goals and the power of support systems.
If you’re a competitive cyclist or athlete, you might fall in the Type A, over-achiever, perfectionist category. I’d like to think I’m a bit more balanced than that, and perhaps after this past weekend, I can get back that perspective.
Here’s the background:
- Been training since November with the Gila in mind at minimum 12 hours per week and at most 22, with many of those hours accumulating on back-to-back 4 hour rides and several 3-5 day blocks of training.
- Have given up running, hiking, climbing, social life (somewhat) to make a concerted effort to see what I could actually do if I solely focused on the bike.
- Invested money into a coach and plan.
- Focused intently on my diet before, during, and after bike rides and any spare time is spent preparing food to fuel my workouts.
- Actually put cash towards regular massage in an attempt to avoid injury and aid in recovery. I’m getting older and can feel that recovery isn’t as easy as it used to be.
With all of the above plus some, the metamorphosis is noticeable. I’m stronger, faster, and smarter than years past. And even posted some good results early in the season, including my first P1/2 podium finishes in Frostbite TT, Haystack TT and TTT, and at Wheels of Thunder criterium. But this year, I’ve also struggled with looking at my own gains instead of focusing on the gains of others. I’m competitive–always have been–but not against myself. That’s why I didn’t care much for triathlon (that and swimming). I couldn’t necessarily stare my opponents in the face. And dammit if Strava didn’t suck me in and contribute to the proclivity to competition.
Fast forward to the State TT on Saturday. Knowing that I wasn’t going to podium with the likes of Olympians, National Champions, and Pan American games medalists starting behind me, the pressure was at least a bit more manageable. Warmed up with my teammate Ingrid, did my usual peeing routine, and lined up prepared to suffer for an hour. Fully expecting to get passed, just a little sooner than it happened, I crossed the line thinking I had done my best but missing my goal of breaking an hour by nearly 1 minute. That’s the second time this year I failed a significant goal (with not making the time cut to the Gila being the other). To make matters worse, my times were nowhere near the top 3. Not even close, even if I doped.
Instead of reflecting (sulking) on the race, I had to present the awards per my ACA board position for the next few hours. That actually was an awesome experience seeing the joy of other riders and allowed me to focus on anything but myself at that moment. But on my drive home, the pity party began. How could it be that I’ve trained my ass off and continue to fail as the season progressed? How could I do everything right and still miss my goal by a landslide? If I lack the ability to make myself suffer for an hour on the flats, how will I ever become a better road racer and hill climber?
I couldn’t shake those feelings from the day prior the next morning. I was supposed to do the Guanella Pass Hill Climb and help a teammate Janet, who was participating in her last race in Colorado before moving to Virginia. I didn’t want to do it after the State TT. I’m no climber, and after the day before, I felt like I couldn’t even TT anymore. My only saving grace was that they weren’t going to combine the categories so I felt a little less shameful for bailing. But while I was waiting for Megan who carpooled with me, I heard the worst-they combined the categories and had I done it, I could have helped Janet.
I cannot begin to describe how hard it was to NOT race this race. I showed up with the worst of intentions by not mentally being tough enough to do it after my performance at yesterday’s race. I assure you, getting dropped (which would have been eminent) feels a hell of a lot better than how I felt at that moment. Suck it up and HTFU is what the normal Rachel would have done. Teamwork, toughness, and selflessness are values that I hold very high on my list and for the team. I don’t like letting myself down, but can live with it. But letting someone else down is something that I cannot and will not tolerate.
And then hearing that my two very selfless teammates woke up at the crack of dawn to chalk up the roads for us and then cheer for us suffering up the climbs made me nearly burst into tears. What the Amanda’s did to support was the exact team dynamic we’ve worked so hard to achieve since this team’s inception. I want to be the Amandas. What awesome teammates, and I had to go and be a terrible one.
Per our usual email updates to the team, I wrote pretty much the paragraphs above to our team listserv. Not sure why, but maybe I was hoping to further punish myself, hoping for criticism or hoping for someone to rub my nose in my weakness. And then the exact opposite happened. My teammates started pouring in the responses to me. They didn’t trickle in; emails/texts/phone calls came in droves offering support, alcohol-therapy, reassurance, appreciation, and motivation. I haven’t cried in years, but I did that day. Their support today and every past race has meant the world to me. Every Naked/TriBella woman is an inspiring ambassador not only for this team, but for women’s cycling.
- Be a good ambassador and help mentor new women to the sport any chance I get.
- Enjoy an activity other than cycling one day per week (ok, mountain biking can count there) starting with getting lost in the woods and climbing mountains.
- Ride my bike for the pure enjoyment of it and if I don’t feel like riding, simply don’t.
- Stop comparing myself to others. I’m genetically NOT a freak in any way except that I can pick my nose with my tongue. Ingrid shared a great article with me comparing training to popcorn. “Not every athlete starts with the same number of kernels, and more heat—tempting as it is to apply–isn’t always better. At a certain point, we’re going to burn those kernels. And it’s hard to rescue burnt corn.”
Kim and I have had quite the adventure so far getting to Silver City, New Mexico for the 26th Annual Tour of the Gila big girl race, aka pro race with the likes of Kristin Armstrong and Alison Powers to name a few. Though I don’t quite deserve to be here since cycling is my hobby, and I most certainly don’t get paid (nor could I) to do this as my day job, it’s fun to challenge yourself. Like my friend Alli told me, “even if you don’t have a great race, it’s the cheapest and most effective climbing camp you’ll ever do!”
I’ll do my best to summarize the start of our saga; however, I’m quite exhausted after racing and thumbing for a ride following the point-to-point race.
Sunday-Spun on my rollers for 45 min before swinging by Kim’s to load up the car. The day before, we spent the entire afternoon taking off our generously provided Thule rack on our generously provided team car by Prestige Imports, and outfitting it with longer bars, 5 roof racks, and two wheel mounts (stolen from Kimberley’s car). Before we knew it, our journey began. We drove nearly straight through to Albuquerque. A howling bloodhound on the loose in Trinidad held us up at the gas station. We did what we could to find the owner, but gave him to a panhandling man for safe keeping. Then dinner stop in ABQ at Farina Pizza and Wine bar for dinner, before driving to Socorro, NM for the night.
Monday-Kim and I are great at GSD (Getting Stuff Done)! We both woke up, and got an easy spin in from our hotel room. We both showered, packed back up, loaded all the bikes on the car and were out the door within 25 min. of our ride. Now that’s fast! We arrived early in Silver City, after both of us got car sick from the weaving drive into town through the Gila National Forest. Since we are both about GSD, we drove the sketchy descent everyone has warned us about on stage 2, and confirmed our fears. It’s a doosey. Then went to the grocery, stocked up on plenty o’calories and p’haps a lil’ wine. Unloaded everything at our A-MAZING hosts’ house. Denise and Steve are great folks and we couldn’t have picked better hosts, and a better pad to relax between races. If I get the nerve to do this race again, I’d love to come back here. We have yet to see Javelinas, but make up for it in hummingbirds on their amazing porch with a picturesque view.
Tuesday-Eat and pre-rode the TT course. This will be ridiculously tough. 1500 feet of climbing, yet mostly doable on a TT bike. No one said it would be easy though. And if anything, this is my cheap climbing camp I’ve always wanted to go to:)
Wednesday-Eat and Race. Stage #1, 73.1 miles and too much climbing (4500 ft though my Garmin says more). Our field consisted of 60+ super strong women, mostly comprised of pro’s. After the 2 mile neutral start rolling through town, the gas was on full blast. Several small attacks occurred one after the other, with one sticking through the end of the race. And these aren’t those attacks that I attempt to throw out at a race-this was the real deal. Aaaand if you got dropped on these rollers, you’d kiss your chances of finishing anywhere near the time cut goodbye. On one of the rollers, a girl attacked so hard, I think she wiped herself out. That’s what appeared to happen as I narrowly missed it, running right up on her tire while trying not to dart out of the way causing another crash. Unfortunately, she wiped out some teeth too in her crash. I hope she has a speedy recovery!
Most of the race for me was trying to find a good place to hide and stay out of the wind. Kim did a great job at this. At about our half way point, the entire field agreed to a pee break, since our mechanics don’t allow for us to go from the bike itself. Because the lead group was led to take a wrong turn, this was the prime opp to get her done. So after relieving ourselves, we were neutralized until the lead group could get their time back from the break, and then allowed to go. All very new and very interesting to me.
All was great for me with the exception of my normal leg cramps I can never seem to shake. I’ve learned I can push through them and sometimes if I’m lucky they will go away. They came and went in this race starting at mile 40. Other than the cramps, I felt great…until we got to the last feed zone before the climb. I tried to grab a water but the rider in front of me got it and the volunteer only had 1 bottle. Then I rode very slowly to grab another one from a volunteer reloading….and then it happened. Kaboom-I couldn’t go anymore as the group was pulling away. I chased and chased but alas, I couldn’t do more without walking on the last climb. I kept the group in my sights for the next mile until the climb. Lost a lot of time and should have never stopped at the feed zone.
In starting the climb, I worked with a couple other dropped riders, but was too worked from chasing by myself. They finished a couple minutes in front of me on the 6.7 mile climb (that averaged 11%!). I honestly contemplated walking my bike because it would have been faster than I was riding. I did see a couple other male riders doing this. As I crossed the finish, my only hope was that I made the time cut off (and didn’t get last, but at that point I was just glad to be done!).
Besides the last climb, the hardest part was attempting to hitch a ride back after riding 80 miles and climbing nearly 4,600 ft! It was a point-to-point race with the end being about an hour’s drive from town. And us not being that pro and all, had to beg for a ride because the shuttles that they promised were no where in sight. Awesome. Luckily, Kim hitched a ride with Tibco since they had one spot, and I gave my spot in another vehicle to John Klish. I then hunted with Cat Johnson (who took 9th!) and Amy Charity for a spot and asked the UnitedHealthcare pro team to take us back. We had to wait till they finished, but fortunately and unfortunately they won the stage which means they had to stay for interviews and podium! So we had to wait another hour after the hour we spent searching for a ride before Rory Sutherland got back and then his teammate who took 6th. We finished at noon and didn’t get back home until 4 pm. But thank you to Alex, the United’s amazing soigneur who gave us chocolate, water and chairs to sit in while we waited.
Poor Kim had to wait 2 hours for us to get back in a random guys hot RV because I had the car keys! So much for recovery! We’ll see how this will affect the rest of our race:)
Time to shove more food in my face!