Tag Archives: Susan Adamkovics
Susan A. CRUSHED the first mountain bike race of the year….all 60 miles of it and landed on the podium. Even after racing 60 miles, she still supported her other teammate doing the 30 mile race. Truly inspiring ride for the day.
I was undecided; race 30 miles or race 60 miles, after all the last time I raced 60 miles, let alone rode 60 miles on my mountain bike was two years ago. Then I read a Facebook post made by Vera, “to live every day and enjoy everything you have”. So the 60-miler was it, heck why not! Saturday was shaping up to be a beautiful day and as it got closer, I started to get nervous…what was I thinking signing up for this? I am not in the right kind of shape…I have no clue how to race this kind of event. But I reminded myself that life is about living and to believe in myself.
The morning of the race, I got a text message from Rachel saying that she was going to be at the race supporting her boyfriend and that if I needed anything to let her know. I was planning on going with the flow and if necessary using neutral support, however having her there for feeding and moral support gave me a huge sense of relief. I did a 15 minute warm-up with a few hard efforts, then headed over to the start-line. I was nervous yet calm, as I knew the effort wasn’t going to be all out from the start.
The start was on a gradual uphill paved road for about 250 meters before we hit the singletrack. The whistle blows and Cristienne Beam (Tough Girls/SCOTT) takes off like she was shot out of a cannon. Holy crap! I quickly joined her, because I wasn’t going to let her get away. The pace was high and the two of us were caught by Laura (unattached). We found ourselves pulling away from the rest of the group. I guess was wrong about the pace!
After a few miles, I found myself in the lead and pulling away from the other two racers. I thought: Am I going too fast? Am I going to bonk? I had no clue what to do or what to expect. I chose to go with it and just see what happens. I had about two miles left of the ten mile lap and I was still in the lead. I thought well, okay, let’s do this one lap at a time. The goal for the first lap was to cross the lap line in first place. I did just that for first lap and then the next three as well. I felt great for the first 30 miles, I was riding strong and technically sound, but I really wasn’t sure what so do, how fast should I go or not go? I had no one in my group to chase down.
To keep my speed up, I started focusing on men in front of me and trying to catch them and repeating the mantra “out of sight out of mind”. At times, I would catch my mind wondering, thinking about all kinds of stupid things and not the task at hand, but I quickly realized it and redirected them. I tried to focus on positive thoughts, like I am strong, I am good at endurance events, I know how to ride my bike. But I also, had keep my skills dialed in by reminding myself to keep my chin up, look where I want to go, keep my grip loose, etc.
The course had several punchy climbs, a few short climbs, but mostly it was twisty-turny with loose gravel on top of hard-packed dirt. It is easy to go too fast and find yourself off the trail wrapped around a tree or headed down a ravine. While the course isn’t technical in the sense of big of rocks, drops and tree roots, it does require skill and the ability to control the bike at higher speeds to prevent crashing when going fast into a corner. It is mostly about tire pressure, weight distribution and finding the right amount of speed to go fast and stay upright.
Around mile 42, I started to get tired and found myself looking behind me a lot to gauge where the other racers where. Going thought the feed zone and approaching the beginning a lap five, Rachel said, “I think you are in first”, I said.” yes, I am”, but I knew my lead was about to be challenged. I tried to keep pushing it, but eventually I was caught and she said “wow, I thought I was never going to see you again” and then said, “ keep it rolling, there are a few close behind”… I was tired and speechless, but appreciated the encouragement. I stayed with her for a bit, but was starting to make several mistakes, almost crashing a few times. Although I surprised myself that I was able to make the save each time, and keep from crashing. I backed it off a little, otherwise I was going end up off my bike in the dirt. While it is frustrating to lead a race for two-thirds of it and end up in second place, I am very proud of myself and what I accomplished, both mentally and physically that day. I took a chance, relished the moment and had a successful outcome and that IS living.
We got Amanda 1.0′s take on the World’s experience. Here’s Susan A.‘s take. She also had one of the largest fields at 2013 Cyclocross Masters World Championships.
As with any preparation for any major event, it requires dedication, discipline and organization. When it’s cold and windy, doesn’t matter, I ride my bike. When you’d rather have a spa day, nope ride my bike. When I want to party like a rock star, nope that will have to wait. Another key is to avoid the sick who are everywhere this time of year. Eating right, drinking plenty of water, sleeping good, avoiding stress, and allowing my body to recover from those hard days is essential. Then balancing all this in with a full-time career and household duties requires planning and sticking to that plan.
It’s Monday afternoon and I’m on my way wearing my new grey and pink heavy duty mud boots, which of course match my cycling kit. At the airport, I noticed a lot of sick people or I am being overly sensitive, I thought to myself? Regardless, I wrap myself up in a scarf and equip myself with hand sanitizer. Yes, most cyclists hate getting sick and try to avoid it like the plague. I land in Lou’ville…L’ville around 9pm and am greeted by Amanda’s smiling face and now I am starting to get excited; I am in Louisville to race the Masters CX World Championships. We hop in the car and make our way to the hotel. But our journey was extended by a wrong turn and we ended up going over the bridge into Indiana. I later find out that the area is commonly referred to as Kentuckyana (as if it is our 51st state). So we navigate our way back to the hotel and I grab a quick bite to eat. Yum, soup, that sounds good to my sore dry throat. I enthusiastically inquired about the soup of the day; the lady behind the counter said,”Bacon Cheeseburger”, trying not to choke on my saliva, I polity declined, and opted for a salad.
Tuesday morning, after picking up my race packet and drawing “lucky” number 18 as my call-up placing, we headed over to the venue. I stepped out the car and was pleasantly surprised about how warm it was and hoped it would stay this way for the next few days. We headed over to our tent, which was a haven provided for us by ProBike Express; they had an awesome set-up. Amanda and I went out on the course. It was mostly flat, with two mini-staircases made from railroad ties, one set of double barriers, two rideable sandpits, a steep hill run-up, some off camber turns and a steep downhill that lead to the finish line. The conditions of the course were grassy, with several slight to moderate muddy sections. I was excited, because it was a good course and seemed like it was going to be a fun race. We left to grab some lunch before returning to cheer on our teammate Joan in her qualifying heat.
4:30 AM Wednesday MORNING, the PA system in the hotel goes off, telling us that a tornado warning has been issued for the City of Louisville. We were told to take cover move to the interior of the hotel and away from the windows. Amanda gets up, calmly grabs her pillow and comforter and moves to other room; I look out the window to see it raining sideways and then I do the same. Ten minutes later, another warning over the PA, this time it’s the National Weather Service. I get up to take another look out the window, the wind outside looks still. I think to myself, “this is not a good sign”, but I turned around and went back to the couch. Then about 15 minutes later, they canceled the warning and I fell back asleep. Our plan was to head over to the venue around 11am to ride the course again. Once we got there, I realized the weather forecast wasn’t wrong and about 1.5 inches of rain fell overnight. Everything was a muddy wet mess, good thing I brought those mud boots! Since we didn’t want to get our bikes dirty and risk having issues on race day, we did our ride on the trainer. There were several seeding heats taking place all day long and they were tearing up the course. This is when we started to get a sick feeling that the course conditions for Thursday were going to be bad, but we didn’t know just how bad.
Thursday, race day! We woke up to a dusting of snow and cold weather. Amanda and I arrived around 10:30am, everything was still a muddy wet mess. Joan’s start time was 11:30am; Joan’s husband, Volker and I were her pit crew. None of us had any idea what to expect from the conditions of the course, however we knew that Joan would likely need to come into the pits to get a clean bike…little did we know. On her first lap, Joan stays on course and goes by the first pit entrance, which was probably an okay decision. Some time goes by, and there was no sign of the racers, “where in the heck were they?” I was thinking, and “why are they going so slow?” Then finally the first racer appeared and entered the pit at the second entrance. Volker pointed out the massive amount of mud caked onto her bike. That’s when we knew Joan was going to have to come into the pits this time, whether or not she was planning to. I saw her coming and ran over to tell her to come into the pit. The first lap took 17 minutes, double the time from her race on Tuesday. The official announced that they only were going to complete two laps in the allotted race time. Joan did great given the circumstances and was the guinea pig for the rest of us. I wasn’t able to watch Amanda race, because I was warming up for my race. But the course was equally as miserable if not worse after having even more racers muck it up.
Next up, me! What a crazy mess my race was! It was really impossible to actually race my bike in the sea of mud and I found myself having to run a lot, which at times was faster than riding. For the start, I was afraid to be in too hard of a gear, because the continuous mud started about 75-100 feet from the start and I didn’t want to have a problem shifting into an easier gear. However, looking back I probably would have been okay, but it is so hard to know because I have never raced in conditions like this ever in my life….cold yes, snow yes…sea of mud no. Having clipping in, I was one of the last racers entering the mud bog, but I pushed it and quickly passed a few girls before going into the first right hand turn. My plan was to double pit; a hard lesson learned from Joan’s race. Of course, I was hoping not to have to do that, none of us were. Joan loaned me her bike to use as my “pit” bike, which was great. However, I have never ridden it for any length of time, which was not the ideal situation but without it I would have been running the entire second lap. The first lap went as good as can be expected. I ended up passing another girl on the big slippery downhill on the way to the start/finish. The worst part of the course was the part between pit entrance one and pit entrance two and that is when I was Joan’s bike, which became completely clogged up with mud and both wheels quit rotating, but I only realized the problem after the second time of trying to remount the bike and get going without success. I ended up running for longer than I wanted to get to the pits. It sounds like Thursday might have been the worst possible conditions of the week. But, at least my other two teammates raced on Thursday and we can commiserate and share the absurdness of it all together. I have found it hard to explain to others what we endured, because in Colorado we don’t have weather like this. Nothing in my training could have 100% prepared me for the conditions I experienced and only the people there will ever understand the craziness. It really takes a village in events like these and is why you have teammates…family and friends…who help support you, take care of you…it’s not the end result that’s important…it’s how you get there that matters.
Please start by watching this video from Amanda 1.0, then proceed to the race report. Congrats to all the Naked ladies who represented in Louisville 2013 for Cyclocross Masters World Championships!
There were many unforgettable quotes this weekend. The one that stands out most was by Susan’s coach, Jon Tarkington, “The race is not the most memorable part of the experience. It is everything else.” I have to agree. The race was a 63 minute grueling experience. The training, rides, nerves and spending time with others before and after was much more memorable.
We arrived Monday and got up bright-and-early on Tuesday to pre-ride the course. Not so bad, warm weather, cloudy, did not need leg or arm-warmers. The course itself had some off-camber turns, some easy barriers as they were on a flat area of the course, sand that would easily pack down from the humidity. The most challenging area was a run up, then an off-camber s-turn, another run up and a steep descent before heading back to the finish. Did it take some practice? Yes. Was it very technically challenging? No, but that is all about to change.
Middle of the night, we were awoken by tornado warnings, we looked out the window to see high winds and pouring rain (what else would you do during a tornado?). The course was flooded by the morning and the race sign had been blown over. Races were all delayed that morning. We decided to do leg-openers in the heated tent that was provided by the amazing crew at Pro Bike Express but would forego riding the course for fear of injuring ourselves or our bikes. There was a heat that Joan had to race in and they pronounced her last name wrong but said they would get it right when she won the championship. We picked up our race numbers and Susan found out that her new lucky number was actually 18.
Thursday–race day. Joan raced first. It was a muddy mess and cold so the ground was a bit more firm than later in the day. She did very well with few mistakes and took 5th place in the World (women, non-elite, age group).
I then raced and had the fortunate pleasure of a very muddy, grueling course. I had to pit my bike every half lap. At one point my wheels locked up from the mud and I ran my bike into the pit, it was estimated that my bike weighed 45 pounds. My pit crew was absolutely amazing. An announcer said that “Pit crews don’t win a race but they can lose one.” This is absolutely true but luckily my pit crew was flawless. Each time I came through my bike was a mangled mess but when I left it was clean, in the correct gear, pedals in the proper spot, chain back on and ready (although let me also add that they probably had 10 minutes to get it right as I was going that slow). I ran approximately half of each lap with an increase of weight from mud on the cleats, shoes and calves. I kept thinking that I am a cyclist, not a runner, and would try to get back on my bike but could not move. This is also the moment that Michael Hanna’s running intervals came through for me. The downhills were slick and the flats were slow. Two laps done and my legs were burning like never before, I pointed to the time as I could not speak from over-exertion trying to indicate that my race was over as I was pass the time limit. The official looks and me and calmly states that the “Race isn’t over until I say it is over. One more lap…” It takes everything in me to not DNF. According to the officials, I passed two more people that lap and rode exhausted but with few errors. I remember thinking at the end that I would take the final decent as fast as possible as my racing season was over and if I broke an ankle, I could hobble in and then have time to recover. Cyclocross is all about pre-riding and figuring out how to ride the course, but each lap was so different that it was like a new course each time. I finished in 8th place.
Susan then raced and had a wonderful race, she was so strong and watching her race reminds me that I have a long way to go. She had the largest women’s field that day and raced against very strong women. We finished the races proud of our accomplishments and ready to get some well-deserved rest.
Then the unthinkable happened, we started talking about planning to race the Cyclocross World Championships in 2015 in Tabor, Czech Republic. Watch out World, Naked Women’s Racing is coming back for a podium…
Special shout out to City of Louisville for being so friendly, welcoming and hosting a great week of racing. To Pro Bike Express for ensuring that our bikes were working perfectly, for keeping everything running smooth and for remembering all the things that we forgot. To Naked Juice for giving me the strength to train, to Michael Hanna for always being a wonderfully supportive coach, to Bike Source for keeping my bike in working condition (it is coming in soon), Rudy Project for the flashy helmet and Colorado Women’s Cycling Project for being a super supportive women’s cycling team. To Emily Zinn for my good luck socks and magazines, Katie Macarelli for my mix CD, Nicole Mack for the personalized cowbell and for all the well wishes from everyone. You all rock.
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!
Susan‘s take on E-rock. What a fun course with lots of support from fans and the city!
I woke up feeling odd; a bit on the dense side. I don’t prefer to race late in the day, but I guess when you run or shall I say bike with the big dogs that is how it goes. As the day progressed a storm front approached from the mountains…yuck who really wants to do a criterium in the rain or wind. However, none of us really knew what the weather was doing in Castle Rock. I got a text message from Vera asking if we are still a go and I said I was “in”, so I packed up my things and headed to her house.
Since it was raining, we opted not to take our sweet team car provided to us from Prestige Audi and instead took my van. Rachel, Vera and I loaded everything and headed down south. In route, we got a text from our teammate, Joan, saying that she was not going to make it, because she had spent all day volunteering at her son’s school.
It is hard at times, to juggle full time demanding jobs, parenting, household chores and spending time with our spouses. Usually we are able to squeeze it all in, but there are times when we have to say no I’ll sit this one out…which is really hard because we love to race our bikes. Joan was the teammate we were to “work” for today, but since she wasn’t coming I was now the elected one….ummm okay. I wasn’t prepared for it and like I already stated I was struggling with mental sharpness today. But we are not a one women show, which is what is so great about being on Naked Women’s racing; we care more about creating bonds then winning every race. But we end up on the podium nearly every time, so that says something. The race itself was a great experience. My teammates attacked, attacked and attacked. They made sure I was in the main pack, telling me to hop on their wheels as they pulled me to the front.
The finish did not go quite as we had wanted, but races often don’t go as expected…one small mistake can be a game changer. In the end, I did not end up on the podium (my teammate Kimberly did), but that is was not what it was about for me today…it was something much more cherishing….it was about teammates willing to sacrifice their egos to help me succeed and overcome some personal fears. For me, this day, this experience, will last a lifetime.
Race report from Susan Adamkovics on the first mountain bike race of her season.
Ridgeline Rampage...First mountain bike race of the season…check box. I knew it was going to be a hot day, so I made sure to fuel up with some Naked coconut water on the way to the race. I was pretty sure I was going to die, joking of course, but I am not in nearly the kind of shape I’ve been in the last few years at this early in the season. None the less, I signed up for the 30 miler. My teammate Joan and I were suffering from pre-race jitters at the start… 3-2-1 go and we’re off. We both got a great start with Joan winning the holeshot. Joan led for most of the first lap; she is a little mountain goat and quite honestly an amazing mountain bike racer. The course was dry and slick with technical turns. It was tricky, because you had to lean the body not the bike. I did it wrong one too many times, but fortunately I was able to save myself from complete disaster. There were a lot of riders on the course at the same time, so I often found myself getting stuck behind them. I was making risky moves to pass so I didn’t lose too much time, but that is a part of racing. “Head-up” was the mantra playing over and over in my head, this was important because I was not familiar with the course and it was fast with a lot of turns.
During the first lap, I felt as if my rear tire was a bit low and I started to worry about what to do; should I stop and put some air in, or keep riding. I chose to keep riding, and thought about the advice my husband Peter always says to me, “just focus on riding the bike, don’t worry about the other stuff.” Which if you know me, can be a laundry list of items. I posted a solid time on the first lap, 51 minutes. I started to fade midway through the second lap, and from that point on it was a back and forth with my effort. During the final lap I could see a female rider coming up behind me. This gave me the extra motivation to keep pushing during the final couple of miles. I ended up 3rd in my age group and 4th overall, while Joan took the win in her age group and got 2nd overall.
Pictures coming soon from Mountain Moon Photography!