Monday, December 20, 2010

A little Sunday fun

Last week, I got a message from Jason with Main Street Velo asking if I'd be interested in helping with a cross clinic.  I was very honored by this, especially after he schooled me for most of the season, so of course, I made plans to attend not quite knowing what I'd have to offer.  With maintenance/base miles covering the schedule, I jumped on the idea of riding to Shelbyville with Mitch and Chris, doing the clinic and then riding home - a great start to 2011 training while keeping the intensity down!  Life happened and they weren't able to ride out, so I opted to drive - likely a good move with ice patches remaining on lesser travelled roads.

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's the off-season, now what?

In the last 12 days, I"ve ridden my bike ONCE!  If you'd asked a few weeks ago, I'd have said that sounded glorious... but now, it's really not.  Training (and racing) is what gives my life structure, well that plus working full time.  Honestly, it's driving me crazy.  Starting tomorrow, I'm back on the training wagon.  Maybe just 4 days a week for a couple of weeks, but something must give.  Strangely my body has required more sleep since I stopped riding than before (closer to 9 hours than the normal 6).

This week has indeed been a good one to take off with all the ice laying around.  When I got home on Thursday I nearly slid into my roommates cars trying to creep into my parking spot only to take half an hour and a blanket on the ice to get out of the middle of the street. 

One more work day and then it's Christmas shopping, piano bar, training, and maybe a trail day at Waverly and cross clinic with the Main Street Velo team from Shelbyville on the docket for the weekend!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Indianapolis Double Wknd - Part 2

The story continues:
Sunday morning I got to do something rare - sleep in!  Awake before the alarm at 8:30 and on the road by 9:00ish to Brookside Park.  The rumors were all about a set of stairs, a LONG set... and in the week prior I had contemplated learning to shoulder the bike, but coach assured me I'd be fine suit casing it like always.  And he hasn't lead me astray yet, so I showed up without the ability to shoulder a bike.  What's the first thing I see?  44 steps still snow and ice covered, an ice patch along the start line, and another ice patch in the first 110 degree turn.  No worries.... I've got Rhinos again today!
Frozen cables
Once again, I got registered, changed, took a lap and set up on the trainer.  The warm up went well and the stairs weren't a concern after the pre-ride other than a few that were rounded off and near impossible to get footing.  The temperature was colder, probably around 20F but there was no precipitation.  The course held two paved climbs and a handful of other "power sections" but handling was still paramount.  First call to staging came, I sat on the trainer relaxed and headed over just as the officials started walking, dropped the pit bike, and got ready for a call up, only my front derailleur is rubbing....uh oh!
More frozen mud, with clean wheels.
Call-ups were off again, but Jason, Ryan, Matt, Will, and I all got our spots on the front line.  The start was a couple hundred yards uphill on pavement and then a thawing 110 degree turn onto grass.  I took the hole-shot with Jason on my wheel and with the noise was pretty sure the whole field was on his wheel.  The pace was hard but not crazy and when we got to the top of the treacherous descent I looked back to see we were alone with at least 10 seconds to third.  Jason and I raced for a couple laps with minor accelerations, but nothing major and with three laps to go I noticed third place was gaining on us.  In my head, I thought a win for me and third for Jason left us tied in points (this was incorrect math based on Jason skipping Saturday's race).  So I was content with keeping pace and seeing what happened.  Halfway through lap 4 of 5, Jason threw down a big attack on the second paved climb and opened about a 5 bike length gap.
Tough to see, but back seat that I "lived out of..."
He held that gap through the last turns of the lap until I saw coach standing at the tape.  He told me to, "Ride for the win!" and those four words lit a fire.  As we came onto pavement I dug deep and closed the gap on the first climb of bell lap.  In the second turn, Jason hopped off his bike with a dropped chain and though I hated it, I dug even deeper and saw third place catch Jason as I rounded the next turn.  I buried myself opening a bigger gap, but not thinking about keeping it upright, just "riding for the win."  There were moments where I thought I was going to pop from going too deep too early in the lap, but as I turned onto the pavement, Jason sat in third behind Cory with a few turns remaining.  I got to relax and enjoy the win across the line and then watch Jason take the sprint for second!  Another great race, battling great competition until the last lap.  I wish that Jason hadn't had bad luck with the mechanical so we could have raced to the line; he's an outstanding sport and has been one of many great competitors this season!

It's been a week since the race and I've got a lot of after thoughts, the engineer in me requires bullets (in no particular order):

  • Coach doesn't show a lot of emotion, but that day he did!  Those four words were what I needed!
  • I'm lucky to have supportive people in my life - family, girlfriend, friends, teammates, and competition!
  • Going from a decent Cat 4 season in 2009 to this has been amazing - hope the trend continues!
  • I race best in snowy conditions - would come in handy if I ever got to race in Belgium (I wish!)
  • Following coach's workouts almost perfectly for a week pays off!
  • If it weren't for all the driving, I'd love to keep racing!
  • My first mention in a magazine HERE!
  • Off season is here and no planned riding for two weeks!!

Indianapolis Double Wknd - Part 1

The season finale, it sounds so... I don't know, all ending?  Almost sad really!

The plan:
Drive to Indy on Saturday morning, race at Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park to benefit St Mary's Children's hospital and then find refuge at the Hampton for the night with Farmer.  Eat pizza, drink beer, sleep plenty and make the short trek to Brookside Park, a staple in the OVCX series that I had not yet seen, then hang out for awards and drive home.  The end.  Yes, the plan ended there for at least a couple of weeks... Sunday was the start to the "off-season" whatever that means.
Snowy roads en route.
Ft Harrison:
Course was snowy, roads were slick and flakes were still falling with temps hovering just below freezing.  I got a warm-up lap in after the Cat 4 race and got heckled by the announcer for going "backside down" on the muddy turns along a hillside.  Changed into a dry kit and set up on the trainer under canopy to warm up with an extra layer of clothes to keep the whole body warm.  This was my first stab at a trainer warm up, but quickly became a fan, at least for cold days!  Coach loaned me a set of Dugast Rhinos and I tested them quickly before heading to the start line finding them rather sturdy on off cambers and cornering.  I'd heard all great things about the tire and it was all true, but more on that later.

Front tire from the drive up.
Call-ups were messed up -- I got called like tenth, but was quick to the line and took the last front row spot.  Then the mayor wanted to speak, but he wasn't there.  I'm all for having the mayor involved and appreciate all the great things he's doing for Indy, but it was 20 something degrees, I just shed my layers and you want me to stand here while you find the mayor??!!  Whatever, no one froze, the official forgot to give us a "30 seconds" and we were off!  The first half lap was a bit of a blur, but I remember taking the lead with Jason and Ryan close in tow for a bit and then trading with Jason to follow his lead (this is where the lesson at John Bryan comes in handy.)  By the end of lap 1, Jason and I were off the front with Ryan dangling just a few bike lengths back.  I felt like power was good, but there were so few places on the course to let it go.  Every time I'd attack, I'd wash in the next turn and we'd be back together and vic versa.  Then as we approached the finish line to start the fourth and final lap, I hear John heckling me for having my water bottle in 20 degree temps, so what do I do?  Take a sip, since anything more was frozen, and launch the bottle.  All the while, John is commentating and says, "...and he attacks!"  So I did...

Post race with clean wheels
Then the race got interesting and a hell of a lot of fun!  I threw all I could into the pavement section and held on for dear life through the first turn.  Through the first third of the lap I opened handful of bike lengths and started backing off in the turns and pushing the straights.  "Upright the rest of the lap and it's mine!" I thought.  And it would have been, but I managed to lay it down in a 180 before the wooded section.  Jason caught me and attacked the next straight, but I managed to get back on his wheel within a few turns and passed him crossing the pavement before the hillside, the last real technical part of the course.  I'd been tripoding a turn that he ran every lap and thought it faster, but not this time.  I did the splits with my bike still under me and Jason ran past, I hopped off, ran the turn and remounted with two bike lengths to close.  Neither of us could clip in at this point with all the hillside mud gummed up in our cleats and I knew I had to relax and get both feet in to sprint.  So calmly, I let the gap remain until the last turn when I felt both pedals click.  He landed on pavement and I followed shortly and we both stood to sprint and away I went.  I was later told that he sat up about halfway down the pavement, but it was a battle and the most fun I'd had in a race to date!

The Rhinos were amazing, honestly I think they made my race.  The improved traction allowed me to relax around a few turns that Jason was skating through.  To put it frankly, I'd pay retail for a pair of them before next season if I had to!
Dillman chasing hard for 2nd in Elites!
The rest of the plan for Saturday went smoothly, only without the beer and with added "warm up on seat heater" time.  Due to cold, pictures were limited, BUT... I made the press!!!  You'll have to read part 2, coming soon to see!
Cat 3 results

Thursday, December 9, 2010

John Bryan State Park

This was the second OVCX race that I had planned to miss.  Mind and body both wanted a break and it was a three hour drive.  BUT.... coach ensured me that racing was the best way to stay sharp and finish well in Indy the following weekend, so Christine, her puppy Denver, Duane W and I loaded up my truck shortly after dawn and hit the road for Yellow Springs, OH just outside Dayton.
Post race with Christine, Denver and muddy bike (by Jen F. aka BWE)
This week I was able to get a pre-ride, but knew the course would change as temperatures climbed to just above freezing.  There's not a lot of elevation change, but there were reward sections for all types of riders - long power sections, sharp slippery turns, double barriers, single log crossings, and a tight dipping turn that most had to run.  Mentally I was only about 80% there, but I had a game plan and wanted to stick to it.  Coach convinced me to skip the holeshot and try to stay in the front group til halfway through the race then attack.  Last time I tried this I got crashed out in the first lap so confidence in the plan was moderate at best.
Start line in shorts and Crank - everyone else has leg warmers (by A Daisy on my Toe)
Non Holeshot (by A Daisy on my Toe)
A few turns into the race, I was sitting top five and something happened!  I finally felt comfortable following a wheel!!  In all honesty, a big part of the reason I kept taking holeshots was because I was more comfortable in the lead picking my own line.  Now it didn't matter and eventually it'll pay off!  Jason was looking strong once again and basically rode away from the rest of us when he hopped the barriers AGAIN!  Damn I've got to learn to do that this winter...

Riding the run-turn (by A Daisy on my Toe)
I digress... things were going well until I laid it down in a super easy turn with a little mud and Will S and a National Engineering guy came by.  From there I chased, but not hard enough til the last lap when it was too late.  I rolled in for fourth just a few seconds off the podium and while I know I didn't have the mental toughness I wanted, there were good thing to take from the race.  A - handling was better and turns were faster.  B - I rode the dippy muddy turn faster than most people could run or ride it.  C - I found a comfort in riding a wheel!  D - I dropped a lower points race.  And last but not least, the day was spent with good company.
Riding out of the run-turn (by A Daisy on my Toe)

Other good news from the day, Farmer was back on his game, even after a rough first lap crash!

Just one more weekend of racing to finish off THIRTEEN straight weeks and TWENTY races.  The OVCX series showdown is in Indianapolis this year at Ft Harrison State Park and Brookside Park, the weather looked cold and snow on the 10 day forecast!

Farmer finishing up (by A Daisy on my Toe)


Promotion in Lexington was the Kentucky State Championships and a shorter drive than normal, but it was after a long week and I got up early to share a ride with Mike (who drove, letting me sleep!)  Normal course recon from outside the tape during the 4 race showed several punchy short climbs and lots of off camber.  

Mike, Will, and Segal all threw down with a couple of top 10's while some chatty redhead talked me into helping with a road crossing.  Then it was time to change and hop on the course (marshall's said we were good after the finish line) but got rushed off before finishing a lap due to another race finishing. 

At the start line I knew Jason would go for it from the gun, so the plan was to stay with him.  Wrong.  We went into the first turn side by side and by turn two he had two bike lengths.  By the time we got to the barriers, he had 5 bike lengths and Matt K was in second.  Jason hopped the barriers, shit! I have got to work on that!!  And that was it, he rode away.  Matt and I fought back and forth with a pretty comfortable gap to 4th until the last lap and a half where he opened a gap and kept chasing Jason.  How could I be let down with a podium and a silver medal in Kentucky?  It's not so much about the step or the placing but that I was giving up time in the turns and not mentally strong enough to make it hurt and push through.

Chasing (by Debbie Baker)
Chasing Matt K (by Jen Farmer)
First OVCX Podium (by Jen Farmer)
Finished third on the day and held on to top 5 in the OVCX series.  Next up - John Bryan or Gravel Grovel?  Coach says John Bryan or both, to stay sharp for Indianapolis double weekend.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Off Season

19 cross races in 13 weeks, ending in back to back wins... it's a good way to start the off-season!

I'll catch up on a few missed race weekend posts on here this week, but for now - Thanks to family, friends, team sponsors, and everyone that offered support, both at the races and from home!!!  This year when training rides came up in conversation, it was, "How long are you riding today?" "X hours" "Well, have fun and be careful!"  Without that type of support, a fully balanced life wouldn't have been possible!
Two weeks of no "planned" training, just some runs, easy rides and whatever else sounds fun to stay loose and keep from getting fat!