Tag Archives: Road Racing
Already three races deep in the Spring Classics season, and just like that, the road season is upon us! Channeling her inner Boonen in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne today, Rachel is going to share with you some early season road racing tips in her Roadie Series. Any you have to add?
EARLY SEASON RR (ATTACKING AND COUNTERATTACKING)
a) recognize which breaks to go with;
b) how to share the workload in covering attacks;
c) how to try and conserve energy while in breaks.
WHICH ATTACKS TO GO WITH? WHEN SHOULD YOU ATTACK?
OK, first thing to remember is that EVERYONE is fresh and fast in the first 5 minutes of a race. If a break goes right from the gun and they stick it to the end … well, they deserve it. But, that’s very, very rare – so, my suggestion is to play the odds and try and be as relaxed and cool in the first couple laps as you can. Get to know your competitors, get to know the course.
Now then, you MUST recognize which teams have larger presences and that if they attack – they are likely interested in forming moves. If a single rider attacks – it’s often ok to let them go off the front; however, you then prepare yourself to follow the NEXT person(s) who try to bridge to them. In the end, racing is a lot of math (with knives). If your pack can average 23mph – you know that a breakaway will have to average higher than that. It is rare that a single rider can do so – but, 3 or 4 riders can do so with much more regularity. And so, if you see a move of 3 or 4 riders going off the front, that’s when you need to make sure your team is represented.
The key to being represented in moves throughout a race is to share the workload. If you have seen a teammate just attack or follow an attack, you MUST ready yourself to follow the next one. You MUST extend the energy needed to position yourself near the front of the race … but not AT the front of the race. Riding in the first 10-20 riders almost always allows you enough space and time to attack out of the pack. Don’t be nervous about positioning, you can do it.
Remember, even in races with “lower category” riders – there will be attacking riders. But, there will be some CHASING riders, too. There will be big, strong girls who won’t really know how to race bikes – but will know how to go hard. If you see these women going to the front and setting a hard pace – let them. You don’t need to attack them, be patient and see what happens. The time to attack is when the speed drops – it’s speed differential that makes the gap, makes the race. But getting the gap is only the first part – keeping the gap is the second.
Don’t be afraid to experiment. It’s fun. Have FUN!
Remember which direction everyone is pulling off, and flick with the INSIDE elbow to signal that you’re coming off. Then, move slowly in the direction the group has been pulling off. Now, if no one pulls through – just keep slowing down. Remember – you have teammates behind who will follow the next attack if your group gets caught. That is SO IMPORTANT to remember – you MUST be willing to let your group to get caught. If your breakaway mates aren’t going to pull, the move is doomed and there is no sense in your killing yourself in it.
Don’t surge! Keep the same speed as your break’mates. If you surge in speed, it will decrease the likelihood of them continuing to work with you. And remember, MANY riders will surge with their pulls – so you’ll need to be fresh to be able to accelerate with them. Many riders do not have experience in breaks and will do a lot wrong in them. You must be able to anticipate and adapt.
Many times the finish of the race is on the top of the hill (short or long like our Bannock Criterium team race); it helps the officials to sort out the group also.
If you are in a breakaway, you need to remember that hill will be taxing and you can get dropped faster than freshman chemistry. If you attack, or you follow an attack – be sure to regulate your effort as much as possible so that you have some juice in the tank for that long effort up the finishing hill. Now, how does one do that? You still need to pull in a breakaway group, right? YES! and no.
A very good skill is to learn how to take quick, short pulls in a breakaway. In a criterium – it’s all about recovery. So, taking short, 4-8 second pulls where you keep the speed the SAME as the group is going to be very beneficial. Be sure to signal that your pull is ending a second before you want to drop your speed.
Kimberley had a great start to the 2014 racing season due to her hard work over the winter. We think the rest of the year will be very similar for her! Read about her first race of the season, Valley of the Sun.
While I fully intended to post throughout the fall and winter, chronicling the ups and downs of winter training, that just did not happen. Between taking on a new position in one of the three jobs I juggle, putting in ungodly hours on the trainer each week due to the bipolar weather tendencies of Colorado, and trying to stick to my new years resolution of keeping …READ MORE ON HER BLOG
Last report from Israel from Sharon at the Macabbi Games Road Race…and spoiler alert! She brought home the gold!!
It’s time to drink, celebrate and tour the country.
Today was the road race. 6 laps over a 6 mile course. The course was very hilly (perfect for me) with fast downhill’s and sharp turns.
Only 9 girls raced. 8 Israeli’s and me. I have no clue what happened to Australia, Argentina and Canada. I think the course scared them. So many of these people, both men and women, do not race or train on hills and it was a very tough course.
We started a couple of minutes after the master’s men. It was balls out from the start. I told myself to hang on. I knew they were all going to blow up because there was no way we could hold this pace for 6 laps. We were even passing several of the men.
Once we got into the second lap, just as I thought, everyone blew up. A pro athlete and a junior took off but I couldn’t hang on. A 30’s master tried to hang on but she couldn’t so I said to her let’s work together. You’re ahead of your competitor and I’m ahead of mine. She was lovely. We worked together for the whole race. I would not have wanted to be on this hot course alone.
She knew people all over the course so we were constantly getting handed water to drink and thrown on us. We knew the time gaps because they kept us informed. There were people cheering for USA all over the course. It was such a great feeling. USA men and several of the other men from the other countries were dropping like flies. The heat was hard on so many of the riders. I trained in the heat before I came here so I was prepared.
I passed my other master lady around 3 laps so I knew I had the gold if I stayed upright. They were suppose to pull her from the course but didn’t. The other 2 juniors got lapped and were pulled.
I pushed myself up the last hill and sprinted to the finish to win the gold. The girl with me who was in the 30’s came in 1 sec. behind me. I was 1st in masters and 3rd among all the women.
It was amazing to see all the people at the finish and all the USA men who were thrilled to see me pull off another great race.
This has been a great experience. I have met so many wonderful people but I am excited it is over. It is very hard racing in a foreign country and it makes me appreciate what we have back in the states.
Thank you all for your support, encouragement, and love you have given me over the past year.
Melissa won her first race! We knew she could. Here’s her report on the steep and beautiful pass of Guanella!
It will be difficult for me to top the amazing year of cycling I have had in 2013. So far this year, I have pushed myself outside of my comfort zone by joining a bike racing team, I was blessed with the amazing opportunity to do a week long climbing camp in the beautiful Santa Monica mountains in California, I participated in the longest Ride The Rockies in history (545 miles in 7 days) and I got first place in my first hill climb race at Guanella Pass this past weekend. I am having so much fun! In years prior, I never would have imagined myself doing any of those things. I have always loved cycling, but I had never been part of a team before (not even as child) and competition didn’t really fit my personality. Being part of the Naked Women’s Racing Team has certainly opened my eyes to a whole new world.
I joined this amazing team because of my wonderful friend Sharon Madison. She saw something in me that I didn’t realize was there and she has pushed me further than I have ever dreamed. I met Sharon on Ride The Rockies in 2011. I was sitting by myself at the St. Anthony’s medical trailer waiting for my Uncle Rodger to finish his shift for the day. (He owns and operates the ambulance company, Stadium Medical, that follows and cares for the cyclists during Ride The Rockies each year.) When Sharon realized I was riding alone all week, she immediately invited me to join her group and ride with them for the remainder of the tour. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had never ridden in a group before and if I’m being completely honest, my cycling clothes were hideously goofy and I looked like a nerd. I can’t believe Sharon even wanted to be seen with me. I knew very little about cycling at that time, but she took a chance on me. She said “You should ride with us tomorrow.” So I did, and it was the best decision I ever made. Sharon has been my idol and my mentor ever since that day. We rode together during Ride The Rockies again 2012 and 2013, and our friendship has blossomed each year.
I will never forget the first bike race that I went to in 2012, to watch Sharon. It was the Sonic Boom Crit and she was AMAZING!! It was one of the most exciting sporting events I had ever been to! I was hooked instantly. After the race, Sharon invited me to ride with she and a few of her teammates. I remember being terrified. I surprised myself that day, however, when I was able to keep up with everyone and I even pulled a few times. At the end of the ride Amanda Cyr said to me, “The way I see it, you have two choices. You either join this racing team or I will punch you in the face.” How could I say no? lol
Racing has been quite the experience for me so far. I don’t think I was as nervous on my wedding day, as I am before each race. The feeling I get at the start line is like no other feeling I have ever experienced. It’s a mixture of adrenaline, nerves, excitement, and fear. So far, I have participated in a road race, a team time trial, three crits and a hill climb. I have learned something new in every race and I am always so happy once I have finished. My goal this year has been to push myself outside of my comfort zone, and I have done that each time that I have signed up for a race. I absolutely LOVE being on The Naked Women’s Racing Team!! I feel so lucky to be part of such a neat group of women. It amazes me how helpful and caring my teammates are. I love the “No Drama” motto and it is so inspiring to watch my teammates succeed and know each and every one of them will help me do the same. I love the unity of this team. I love that I am learning how to race, but most of all, I love that I am learning what it means to be a teammate.
Speaking of teammates, there were Naked Ladies everywhere at the Guanella Pass Hill Climb! It was actually the first time my nerves didn’t eat me alive at the start line and I know it’s because I had so many friends right there with me. Now that was a fun race! Here is my little recap:
I started my morning riding to Georgetown in the team car with Rachel and one of our newest teammates Maria. I can’t lie, at this point I was a ball of nerves. It was nice to talk to Rachel about racing, however, and she answered a lot of questions for me. When we arrived in Georgetown it was a bit hectic. We didn’t have a lot of time to check in, pin numbers and warm up. Before I knew it, it was time to start lining up for the race. Typically, at this point I’m ready to hurl, but I vividly remember looking around me and feeling a sense of peace, knowing so many of my teammates were right there with me. It was awesome.
I knew the wheel I wanted during this race and I never let it out of my sight. In the very beginning I was nervous about my position at the start, but as we began to climb, I quickly realized I could move up to where I wanted to be. My goal in this race was to be in the top 10. It was surprisingly steep in the beginning and I remember thinking to myself, “Uh oh. This race might be harder than I thought”.
As we kept climbing, however, I noticed the group started to break apart. This was my first hill climb race, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I know from my years on Ride The Rockies, that everyone has their own climbing speed and I wasn’t sure how that would play out at race pace. I was able to move my way up to the front where I wanted to be and I noticed that the group was much smaller. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the racers behind me because I had my sights set on that certain wheel, but I could tell there were not as many of us anymore. I was getting excited because I felt like a top 10 finish was actually attainable.
Before I knew it, after a few more hills, the group was down to about 5 and then I was REALLY excited because I had not had a top 5 finish before and it was something that I really wanted. I noticed one of the racers next to me was breathing very hard and it prompted me to check my heart rate. I was surprised at how I was feeling. I was recovering when I needed to and I felt like I had the strength for the next hill to come. I was soo happy about that but I was afraid to get too excited.
Then it happened. There were only three of us.
I can’t even begin to explain how I felt at that moment, when I realized that I could possibly get on the podium. For some reason, that just seemed so far out of reach to me. Especially being so new to the sport and this being my first hill climb race. I tried to keep my composure but the butterflies in my stomach were doing cartwheels. Then suddenly, it was just me and the wheel I had chosen from the beginning. I thought to myself, “How could this be? Is this really happening?” Then I told myself to stay calm and focus. I followed her wheel for awhile and then she dropped back and got behind me. I knew it was my turn to work. I asked if she wanted to work together, and we did for quite awhile and suddenly I didn’t hear her breathing anymore. I never looked back. I just kept climbing.
I didn’t know what kind of turns were ahead of me and I was terrified of blowing up. I kept a steady pace and was fully expecting other racers to fly past me. But that never happened. Switchback after switchback came and finally I asked a man on the side of the road “Where is the finish?” I will never forget, he said, “Honey, look up. That blue tent is the finish.” I think I felt my heart drop into my stomach at that moment. I couldn’t wrap my brain around the fact that I was first. No way! Not me.
So, I crossed the finish line in this very strange state of euphoria. I pulled over and kind of sat there for a minute. I thought to myself, someone must have passed me that I didn’t see. This was nothing like the crit finishes I had experienced before. I just could not believe it. Michael Hanna came over to me and asked me how I felt. I think I told him “I feel pretty good”. Then he said, “Well you should, you just won.”
I couldn’t hold back the tears. I was a big nerd and I cried. He smiled and told me it was ok to cry. It was a moment in my life that I will never forget. Then, the icing on the cake……I waited at the top for Sharon to complete her race. She pulled up with a big smile on her face because she knew she was on the podium. We spoke for a moment and then she said, “How did you do, Princess?” I just looked at her and whispered, “I got first.” She screamed, hugged me and tears filled both of our eyes. How can I ever top that? I would NEVER have been there if it wasn’t for that amazing woman. She believed in me and she gave me a gift that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Not just a first place win, but the gift of believing in myself.
Kat and Ingrid (arguably two of our best corner takers on the team) led a cornering practice at the Louisville Criterium course this week. Here’s the quick and dirty on each tip. Now get to practicing!
1. Keep your upper body relaxed. No locked-out elbows.
2. Your outside foot should be down, always. No exceptions to this rule, ever.
3. Weight should be on the inside arm and outside foot.
4. Brake before entering the corner. Never break while turning in the corner, unless you want your front wheel to buck you off your bike.
5. Look through the corner. Do not fixate on the wheel right in front of you.
6. Approach the corner wide, cut into the apex, and exit wide.
7. The accordion effect – why you want to be near the front.
8. Don’t cut under the riders in front of you. You will make no friends if you do.
9. Turn with your hips, not your hands.
And the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwcLwK6Rj90
Megan and Kimberley raced this weekend in Fort Collins and both not only kept rubber to the road, they kicked butt and got a podium finish. Great job to represent the Naked ladies this early in the season.
After an exciting weekend in Moab with the Naked team, I was primed and ready for my first race of the season, which happened to be Cobb Lake Circuit Race in Fort Collins CO. I was nervous because it was my first race in the SW Open field, which meant any female of any category in the region could show up. I was nervous about getting last place and letting down the team. I was nervous because I just had my hardest week of training in 6 months and was fatigued.
However, the race ended up being a lot of fun. And there is nothing like racing to make you stronger, or to teach you how to be a better racer! Here is my recap as well as lessons learned:
- Entrants: 18 women, 6 Cat 1-2, 6 Cat 3, 6 Cat 4 registered.
- Course: 48 miles (6 x 8 mile loops with a 1/2 mile finishing climb on each one, plus ~1 mile section of dirt to boot).
- Finish: 8th. 3rd Cat 3. (Top half finisher)
Within the first lap, one girl had attacked the field, and launched a tremendous pace on the rest of us. We ended up all grouping up in the 2nd lap into smaller groups of 1-5 riders. Luckily I found a group of 5 to work with, though we were sitting 8th-12th in the field at the time. Each lap was harder but I had to concentrate on the race within the race. Rotate, eat, drink, hammer, etc. On the first race of the year, it is hard to pace, so there is always a learning opportunity! Eventually the race ahead was won by my teammate Kimberley in a sprint to the line. My group of 6 broke up in the final 2 miles (on the dirt!), so there were 4 of us going up the final climb. I tried to sit on the 3rd and 4th girls’ wheels and went around them both on the final steep section to finish. I was lucky to finish 2nd in our group the line. For once I made a “move” at the right time. It was fun! The rest of the field trickled in over the next 10-15 minutes.
- Cat 1-2 women are really strong! They all but one dropped me within 30 minutes So proud of teammate Kimberley who won the race!
- Whatever you do, find other people to work with. Even if you are racing for 7th place! The race was over two hours long and it was extremely beneficial to have a “pack” of 4-6 riders to work with, in the wind, up the hill, etc. It helped with focus, and definitely helped with speed.
- You might like what you least expect. My favorite part of the course was the dirt! I have always hated dirt, but I powered through it quite well and used it to my advantage here. I found myself less tired than those around me when I got to the hill each lap. Which was helpful for the finish!
- Never underestimate a sprint! Going into the race I had no particular goals for finishing, except don’t come in last place By the last lap I was thinking it would be Awesome to finish in the top 3 of my “Group” of 5-6 girls. I out-sprinted a few on the steep uphill to the line and finished 2nd in the group, which was a small victory for me. This really helped my confidence for standing uphill and for sprinting, which in turn made me more excited and confident for future races.
- Every race is a great workout, and is great recon for future races. You learn who is fit, who is climbing well, who doesn’t like to corner, who Really likes to pull into the wind, who is the best sprinter etc. It helps so next time you know who to best draft where and how they can make you a better rider. We all have strengths and weaknesses and can learn from each other.
- Hydration and nutrition is always tricky in a 2 hour + race, especially when it is during lunchtime! I was VERY hungry and thirsty by the end, and wished I hadn’t skipped lunch. Cramping hamstrings reminded me of such throughout the race.
- The best bike racers can respond to attacks. This is something I’m not great at and need to work on if I want to keep up in Cat 3. I especially have trouble going hard in the first 10-15 minutes of races, so I was hurting BAD early on, and wished I had warmed up more, or done some openers the day before!
- You never know What will happen to others (or you) in the race. In this particular race day I saw the following occur in various categories: DQ’ed riders for crossing center-line (on the dirt!), DNF riders that dropped out, DNS rider that missed race start (almost 2 miles from registration!), riders with flat tires who got behind, rider who crashed out and broke his fork. The list goes on! So even if you think you are doing poorly it can always come back to you so never give up.
I love road races and the challenges and the teamwork that is required (across teams too!), and this was a fun way to kick off the season. I encourage you all to do some road races in 2013!
Thanks to Dejan Smaic for some awesome photos: http://www.sportifimages.com/RoadRacing2013/CSU-Cobb-Lake-CR/Pro-12
Rachel divulges all the ‘roadie’ style secrets.
We know it’s ‘cross season, but no fashion rules exist in cross (but Fred or Pro rules do). The crazier the better. Instead, we chose to focus this first clinic on the dos and don’ts in the style department specifically for the road. Anyone who has seen a cyclist, especially one who would label themselves as a “racer,” knows that they all look goofy. But do they? They have worked really hard for years to perfect the roadie style, and I’m giving you all the tips in a manner of minutes. You can thank me later.
From personal experience, I’ve violated every single one of these rules. I’ve also been lucky enough to have worked in bike shops, have teammates pass down the knowledge on group rides, occasionally read things like “The Rules” and investigate some other teams who also have too much time on their hands to devote to becoming a roadie.
I’m going to reiterate one more time, THIS IS TONGUE AND CHEEK and to be taken with a grain of salt. Large grains of salt. Coarse sea salt. Honestly, I don’t care what you wear our how you look as long as you’re riding a bike (unless you’re passing me, then it’s serious).
0. Cat 5 tats don’t even deserve a number. Avoid at all costs. If you’re sporting one, watch how others around you know how to steer clear because you could potentially be a threat on a bike (and not because tattoos are all tough-looking). Also, I forgot to put this in after I finished the post, and instead of renumbering everything, it gets a 0.
1. No underwear under the chamois. I wish someone would have told me this the first season I was riding. Unfortunately, I’m sure the 15-year-old boy behind the counter at the bike shop hadn’t quite developed the words in his vocabulary. The chamois is meant for bare skin. That’s why it’s so important to have good ones (Curve Inc).
2. You must try to match at all times. Your stem and seat post must match (same color and brand). Jersey must match the shorts. Sunglasses must correspond to the helmet. Handlebar tape must match saddle. If you can match your kit to the bike, that’s even more PRO.
3. Remove the spoke protector from your bike. If your chain is hopping from the cassette into the spokes, you have bigger problems. Nothing screams beginner like a spoke protector and reflectors (unless it’s on your commuter, then the more reflectors the better).
4. Saddle bags are not for packing a picnic lunch. A good rule of thumb-the stomach test. Put your fists together like you used to do as a kid and it supposedly made the size of your stomach (I played this game as a kid, yes I was a nerd, or a great roadie in training). Your saddle bag should not hold more than your fists together. Krieg bags are the perfect size and can fit all necessities and then some–and they have character.
5. Never, never, NEVER wear a sleeveless jersey and armwarmers. EVER! Until they develop shoulder warmers or air vents to keep your shoulders cool in your jersey, don’t ever make this mistake unless you are a triathlete and want people to know that. Remember, this is becoming roadie, and it’s a very distinct style all its own.
6. Never show up for a group ride with aero bars. It’s not safe and it still happens. All. The.Time. It’s technically not allowed at bike races unless it is a time trial. And it’s simply bad form. If you have clip-ons and it’s not a time trial, this can happen… (this is also another reason to NEVER half-wheel unless you’re echeloning).
7. Bikes with aero bars are TT bikes. Not Tri bikes. End of story.
8. If you aren’t riding your bike, get out of your chamois. Any time that you aren’t riding your bike and in your kit, that does not count as “chamois time.” It’s unsanitary and can lead to saddle sores and other things that aren’t appropriate to put in this blog. If you’re riding long enough, you cannot wait to get out of your chamois.
9. Glasses on the outside of your helmet straps at all times. Two thought processes to this that I’m aware of: comfort and aerodynamics. Or how to distinguish between a non-roadie and roadie.
10. Tights, leg warmers or knee warmers go on the inside of your team shorts. You must fly the team colors at all times.
11. Chin straps are to be tied back or cut and burned. There is absolutely no need to have 4 inches of strap hanging from your chin. Pin that back or cut it off.
12. Visors on helmets are a no-no unless you’re a mountain biker. On the road, it’s not necessary. Wear a sweet cycling cap instead.
13. Know and study the following names: Cipo, Merckx, Coppi, and Anquetil. Don’t ask questions. Just do it. You should alsolook up Jeannie Longo, Alison Dunlap, Maureen Manley, Katie Compton, Kristin Armstrong, Evelyn Stevens, Georgia Gould, Marianne Vos, Connie Carpenter and the list goes on.
14. Sock height is tricky and can often be misunderstood. Here’s the general rule of thumb:
* Cyclocross-knee highs
* Track-no socks or very short socks
* Road-3 to 4 inches high
* Mountain-any of the above
15. When you are about to cross the finish line, especially if you’re first, zip up your jersey.
16. No bento boxes. This is non-negotiable unless you are in a triathlon greater than an Olympic distance.
17. Don’t be late for the group ride. It’s rude. Along these same lines, don’t pee 10 minutes into the group ride. Hold it or apologize profusely. You can also coax a teammate to stop with you and you can split the work to chase back to the pack.
18. Know these jerseys:
*Green Jersey=Sprinter’s Jersey
*Polka Dots=King of the Mountains Jersey
*White Jersey=Young Leader’s Jersey
*Yellow Jersey= (Maillot Jaune) Tour de France Leader
*Pink Jersey=(Maglia Rosa) Giro Leader and Giro Donne Leader
*Red Jersey (since 2010)= Vuelta Leader
19. If the finish line is in sight and you’re not participating in a bunch sprint, you need to ride as hard as you can until you cross the line. No sitting up, no thinking you have it, or thinking they won’t be able to catch you. Also, don’t give a premature salute.
20. Own at least one skinsuit (but NEVER wear it in a road race unless you have a team car, domestique teammate, and a pro contract). Skinsuits really do shave off time, and what adult doesn’t like wearing a onesie? Fun, fast, and most definitely pro. Get them tight enough and they also can act like a pair of spanxs. Very slimming.
21. If in doubt. Choose white.
Instead of taking several embarrassing, painstaking years to learn all this stuff, just look at #WhatBikeRacersShouldCallMe and learn everything you need to know in an hour. Though it may not make any sense until you experience the manual transformation of becoming a roadie over time.
The Naked Women’s Racing p/b TriBella team is an all-women’s cycling racing team based in Denver. Because we’ve had some upgrades and other changes to our team in the last few months, we are looking for Cat 3 and Cat 4 women who are interested in learning more about bicycle racing. We pride our team in being a great environment for beginner and seasoned racers who want to feel a part of something more than just the bike! We are involved in community literacy and believe that giving back is just as important as being a part of the race community.
If you are interested in joining us or have questions regarding our team, please send us an email at email@example.com. New member deadline is February 25.
Click HERE to download our racer requirements.
Happy to have Megan‘s energy on the Naked Women’s Racing p/b Tribella team this year! Why is 2012 going to be different for her? Read to find out why.
I am a Cat 4 bike racer. And have been for 2 years. But this year is going to be different. Why?
1) I am going to upgrade to Category 3. And tell everybody so. Because part of the hard part of reaching the goal is admitting to others what the goal is, because then there is accountability, and fear of failure! But that’s where dreams become success, I have learned from my college friend, former high school non-jock and now Olympic Trials marathon runner Brooke Wells. She made a goal to be top 20 in the Olympic Trials marathon (scary!) and she followed through. Now that’s awesome.
2) Power to Weight Ratio! If you ask any pro-level bike racer how they keep up in the Tour de France, or other grueling bike race, they will tell you – Power to Weight Ratio! Now this terminology was foreign to me a year ago, but now it makes sense. Up your wattage, decrease your weight (kg), and you will succeed (even more important in climbing). What have I done in 2012? So far I am 10 pounds lighter than January 2011 and my Functional Threshold Power is 30 Watts Higher than it was in January 2011. To be clear, I’m no “Pro”, but I am now at the level that is typical for a Cat 3 woman, meaning (hopefully) I will start the Spring road season with Total Domination
3) Put me in Coach! This year I started serious, with a training plan starting in January. Last year I decided to get a coach mid-way through the season (read: May), and that was WAY too late to catapult me to greatness. So this year, I started early. The Pros start training in December but January is not bad either. I am starting out with 4 days a week on the bike and will work my way up to 6 by summer. I am already seeing measurable benefits to having specific workouts, and training, racing, and nutrition advice. Thanks Adam Fivehouse!!
4) Cross Training Helps too. This off-season I took a little more seriously. Usually I lounge around, downhill ski, drink beer, do some yoga. This year I got back into running (I ran competitively in high school and college) and encouraged my boyfriend to run his first 5K with me The running went well, kept me lean and strong, and I even earned a 1st place AG medal for my efforts. I also consistently did yoga twice a week (flexibility, strength, injury prevention, peace of mind!), and a cross-training class called “Extreme Fitness” once a week (I can see my abs for the first time in 5+ years). I also got cross country skis and have been using that for some of the “endurance” training – it’s fun, scenic, and a serious calorie burn!
5) Join an Awesome Team! I joined the Naked-TriBella team and was so lucky to do so when I did, because it filled up fast! The TriBella girls are all strong, fun, motivating, and spirited. I am constantly impressed with their performance, and they are very encouraging of us with more “room for improvement” I enjoy our weekly rides from the shop very much as well as our computrainer nights at Peak to Peak. Thank you TriBella for kicking my butt. The shop and sponsors are pretty dang awesome too.
So keeping positive, motivated, strong and injury-free are at the top of my list for 2012. But I wanted to put my goal out there so you can all hold me accountable! And when I get stressed with school and work and life, riding my bike makes me happy. Here’s to a strong and successful 2012!
Race Report from new 2012 teammate Roberta Smith. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll lube your spoke nipples.(LOTOJA is the longest one-day USCF sanctioned race in the country btw)
206 miles in 10:52
Many times when people sign up for endurance events there seems to be alcohol involved. Well my entering the lottery for LOTOJA was all on the suggestion from a friend at work and I was completely sober. My friend Phil and I would talk cycling in between looking at construction projects at work. We made a deal that we would both enter and I would help motivate him to train. Well LOTOJA is a lottery and I guess for women it’s not that hard to be a winner. I got in and unfortunately Phil did not. Most times when you win a lottery it means that a life of luxury and relaxation awaits. Well that was quite the opposite.
In May I was delivered my good news. It was then that I had to start getting serious about my last road bike race of the 2011 season. A lot of people have never heard of LOTOJA (short for Logan –to-Jackson this describes the bike course. Or if you like, you can go with the thought that my Mom had, that LOTOJA is an old Indian tribe that originally settled in Logan., UT).
I will spare you the hours of training rides and the thoughts that came in and out of my head. If anything, my last long training ride was the most discouraging. I was planning on going 150 miles and had a nice route in Steamboat all planned out. At mile 80 I had a break down. I was climbing a hill out of Oak Creek and was feeling woozy and seriously doubting if I could do 206 miles the next weekend. Fortunately, I have wonderful, inspirational friends and family in my life. On race day I donned a pink bracelet that my friend Trish gave to me for my first Ironman, “Yes I Can” it proclaims. My friend Lauren just became the 5th ever Leadwoman. My friend Bob completed the Vail TT and had much dedication in his summer training. Most of all, my husband Paul was there to cook me dinner after long training rides and knew I had to get miles in on the weekends. So with race day approaching, I had to push all doubt out of my head and go on the fact that I know I am a strong, dedicated athlete and I could push myself through this challenge.
So LOTOJA is 206 miles, 3 states, all in 1 day. You have to finish before dark which is about 8:15 in Jackson Hole. In my training rides, I kept reminding myself that Jackson Hole is North of Denver and stays lighter longer. I seemed to always finish my long weekday rides at about 9:00 pm and was nervous when I had to put my bike lights on at 7:30. My parents trekked all the way from Indiana to Logan to meet Paul and I at the start. They were my support team and the night before the race I was sorting GU, Mix1s, and wondering what exactly I would be craving at aid station 6. My gear hording totally paid out since I was able to pack identical bags for my two support vehicles (thermal jacket, arm warmers, leg warmers, etc). The weather forecast was not threatening but at the pre-race talk they showed the 2005 SNOTOJA when a freak storm broke out. With my support crews fully stocked I relaxed and just tried to focus on the spa day that awaited me in Jackson the day after the race.
The Cat 1,2, 3 start was at 7:01 am on Saturday. It seemed like sleeping in since I was always up at 5:00 am for my weekend training rides. The hotel opened up the breakfast bar early so this was great. I ate a record 4 packets of Oatmeal that morning. At packet pick up the day before, it was a very male dominated crowd. Unlike Iron distance triathlons and marathons, women were really in the minority at this race. I knew two of the girls that lined up at the race. They too were from Colorado. One of the gals that was from Utah asked me, “so how did you train for this race in Colorado?”. Humm. I seriously did not know how to answer that question. I guess like you would train in Utah but with more mountain passes???
The group rolled out and like every race you have to get to know who has the steady wheel and who you might want to stay away from or follow. Unfortunately, my pre-race jitters had me running to the porta potties several times before the race and I should have gone just one last time. The first aid station was at mile 37 and I wasn’t sure if I would make it. I threw out the idea to the girls for a pee stop but no one responded. So I was going to have to stop at the first aid station. I needed to keep drinking early in the race and had to make room. The aid station came and I saw some girls head to the toilet. I followed and luckily Paul had seen me stop and when I got out he was there with my bike and had refueled my water bottles and replenished my pockets! Just like in NASCAR! Although I knew I would have to time trial up to the pack if I was going to say in the race. It was tough. From the start there was a horrible head wind and according to the USA Cycling rules, you can’t work with cyclists that are not in your start category so wanting to stay in the race, I refused offers for pulls and dug in to catch up. On a downhill I saw the group and put my head down and bombed it down. The girls turned a corner and I was on their heels and then they decided to have a coordinated pee stop. Since I had already gone I didn’t need to stop but did anyway to settle down from my effort and refuel from the aid station feed I missed. It was great to be back in the pack and in the “race” again.
I was struggling with the mindset of “racing” for 206 miles. I knew it would probably blow up at sometime and at what point was I not going to “Race” any more. The first climb was not far after the first aid station. This is where the pack first broke up. I worked with two others on the hill. There were many firsts for me during this race. My first “first” was that I actually aspirated a Power Bar chew and it was expelled through my nose. This fascination kept me occupied for most of the first climb. If there is one thing that made me a better cyclist this year was my trip to Italy and descending on the tandem. I have always hated descents but having no choice on the back of a tandem gets one used to descending fast. So going into this race I was confident that I could make up time on the downhills and use them to my advantage. The first big downhill led to a very fast rolling hill section. I had met up with another girl and we worked together but then got on to a larger train of men that we hopped on to and went with. So I am admitting here that I went against the rules. Since the field had blown up I knew that I was out of the contention for any podium spot and grappled again with the “race” concept. My parents were waiting for me at aid station 3 so I was excited to see them. They were there with my 80 mile feed bag. I couldn’t believe that I had hit 80 miles. I was feeling great and couldn’t believe that just a week before had felt so miserable at this point. When I was in the feed zone I saw the majority of the girls that I had started with. I knew that they were probably the chase group so I caught up to them and we had a train of our own. We shared the job of pulling and had a great pace leaving Idaho going into Wyoming. We all stayed together until the next big climb to aid station 4. By the time we reached the top of the steepest climb, we all had run out of water and needed to take a pee break. It felt good to stop. Prior to this stop I had another first. I actually was able to reapply chamois butter while riding. I won’t go into the details but once you get it down there you can just work it into place.
The girls wanted to regroup at the bottom of the downhill and I thought that would be great if this actually happened because it was fun to work with them and made me feel better about the rules. Well that didn’t happen. This is when I had to end my struggle with the “race” concept. I saw some of the girls go by tucked in a pack of men. I decided then I was not in a race but rather I was on a Quest. I would do whatever I could to finish my quest and not grapple with working or not working with people. At mile 130 I hit my first mental wall. The wind was getting old and the rolling hills just seemed to get longer and longer. I had to just stop looking at my Garmin. Although I did set myself to eat on the 2’s, 4’s and 0’s (every 20 minutes) so I had to watch the minutes go by but the miles weren’t ticking away so fast. My thoughts went to my friends and stories they had told me to get me through. Paul was at aid station 5 with his cotton candy blue wig so that was a nice break from the monotony. I knew though things were not going to get any easier. I was now out on my own. Jumping on trains of riders when I could and hanging on as long as I could, helping out when could but then dropping off when I had had enough. In Afton I saw the signs for Rulon Gardner’s Burger Barn. He was the 2000 Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler from Wyoming and then I think he was on the Biggest Loser most recently. These thoughts kept me occupied for 10 miles or so thinking about how I didn’t want to ever be on that show and how it is just wrong for ex-Olympic Athletes to have a burger barn.
From miles 140-160 my thoughts were focused on all of the butts that passed me. Dr. Todd, my boss, had joined me on the Courage Classic this year. He is an Infectious Disease physician but after the Courage Classic he stated that he should change his profession to a proctologist since so many butts went passed him (and they were not all that pretty). I was thinking about how these butts were nicer. I think the folks that enter this race are a bit fitter than your typical weekend century rider. So Dr. Todd , I took in some better looking butts for you . All that were passing me. The last aid station that was not neutral support was aid station 6. 47 miles away from the finish. I knew that this aid station was coming up and I turned to the guy that I was passing and asked him where the next aid station was. He told me he thought it was “ just over the bridge in 47 miles”. Luckily I didn’t panic because I knew that could not be true.
I had been doing great with my nutrition up to this point and at aid station 6 I downed a coke had some snickers and grabbed yet more GU to get me through. After aid station 6 the road follows the Snake River. It is a beautiful canyon and you can see all of the rafters and kayakers in the river below. It looked refreshing and I was wondering if swimming might be faster. This is when I actually started to get sore and get some foot cramps. I popped some Alive and just had to get off my bike to let my feet get some rest. One guy saw me pulled over and when I passed him up when I was back on my bike he asked me if I was cramping. I told him “yes” and he offered me electrolyte tabs. I told him I had some of my own but thanked him for the reminder to take them. The stretch though the Snake River to aid station 7 was just to get through the discomfort. My spa day on Sunday was looking nicer! It was getting cooler and I had seen a friend of mine from Cheyenne and she cheered me on. That gave me a boost to make it through the next few miles.
It was about this time that I was thinking about what my overall finish time might be. Realistically I wasn’t sure what my time goal should be. Finishing was my goal but I did want to have some target to shoot for. At this point, I knew I could probably finish in 11 hours or less. I was hoping for 10:30 but wasn’t sure if that was possible. It was funny how mentally I got myself through the miles after 150. At 150 I thought, only 50 miles left, that is riding out to Cherry Creek, two times around and home. At 25 to go, I thought, oh that is a Morning Machine ride, at 5 miles to go, it was my commute home from work.
The final miles are a gradual uphill. The headwind had not gone away and once I hit Jackson Hole its like any false summit. When you make it to Jackson Hole, you still have 10 miles until the finish in Teton Village. This is just cruel. What is even more cruel is the road that leads to Teton Village. It is beautiful, you can see the ski area but the road feels so long it is like a bad dream. At this point, I had been with 2 other guys. We had a nice little pack going but when it was my turn to pull the group I had no power. I apologized for my short effort and dropped off. Then I had 5 k to go. I found a guy going my speed and I think we had the same thoughts, “in 5K I can get off my bike”. We took turns, I pulled one kilometer, he pulled the next. This seemed to work. When I saw the colored finish line I knew my quest was over. I got emotional and started to cry. I had done it. I had pushed myself 206 miles and the race was not with the others but with myself. This was the farthest I had ever ridden my bike. I saw Paul and my parents just past the finish. It was great! All I wanted to do was take my cycling shoes off. I did and then proceeded to sit in the river to contemplate the day that I had just gone through. I am trying to decide if this was harder than an Ironman and I think mentally, the answer is yes. At least in an Ironman, you can switch your equipment and how your muscles are moving. The other big question is, “will I do it again?” My answer is yes. I think that this course is an awesome course for a tandem. Next year, I hope to sign up in the tandem category. Although my pilot will have to agree with me but the scenery was great and the race was so well supported. My 2011 Quest is over but it has opened up yet another part of myself and how I can push myself mentally. Plus I learned how to put on chamois butter en route! Who wouldn’t ride 206 miles again!