Sunday, December 1, 2013

Better Late Than Never!

Steilacoom is usually a roadie/climbers course, so I never really look forward to it, but for some reason I typically do well here. And this week I had a secret weapon up my! Yes, a whole 2 weeks of training! And man, what a difference even just a couple of weeks of focused high intensity training makes. Yes, race effort still hurts (that never changes), but being able to hold a higher output for a longer period of time really improves your positioning (well duh!) So, my best place this season - 2nd - on a course that really shouldn't suit me! Happy girl.

So with only one more race left locally, you might be asking yourself why bother training at all? Well, I have my eye on a bigger goal and I need to get serious. A short sharp training plan should get me to a peak for January when nationals are. I'm putting it out there now, so you'll all know why I'm not going to be much fun through December. Be warned, Christmas is officially postponed.......! 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Unremarkable WA States

Unfortunately nothing interesting to say about the WA States at Arlington. All my fears from last year's race came true this year as there was no magical ingredient (rain) to make the course fun.

Flat as a pancake field with no creative twists and turns meant a power course without recovery. Note I even chose not to run my disc brake bike......

The one technical feature, a steep descent through a woody section was over way too quickly and only left one thinking 'what could have been....'

Still, after slogging through the boredom, I managed to take 5th place, and finally have a podium moment with my team mate Andi. That made everything better :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

No Slouching at Sprinker

You'd think with my own personal soigneur racing would be easy. With Chris home for a change (yippee!) I didn't just have an amazing mechanic on hand, but also a chauffeur, bell hop, cheering squad, and general lackey. But alas, racing is never 'easy'!

Racing is hard. Whether you are on form, or off, whether you are at the front of the pack, or the back, it's hard. It's hard because you are still pushing yourself to your limits, no matter where you are. If you are not, you are not racing.

My 7th place finish at Sprinker was disappointing from a personal ego perspective, but it was hard and well fought. Pretty much the entire race I battled with strong gals, that I respect, who were just as eager to pass me as I was to pass them and certainly weren't going allow me to slouch!

And with my photographer back in town, here's some shots of the suffering -

Sunday, November 3, 2013

SCX # 3 - Sandy Silver Lake

I have a love hate relationship with Silver Lake. I love the course - twisty, technical, short power climbs that suits the mountain biker in me. However, there are long sandy sections that may or may not be rideable. So usually I end up hating the course because of the sand. It's usually fluffy dry sand that entices you to try and ride it, but as you get weak ploughing through it it can stop you dead and the runners have a field day leaving me to kill myself to stay on the bike.

Not so this time. The downpour of rain the previous day left the course the wettest I've ever seen it. The sand was compact and super rideable. This would not be a runner's course! Also, the course utilized more of the available area and had more punchy climbs vs a long sustained climb. Definitely mountain biker friendly.

Pretty much from the beginning of the race I slotted into 5th place. I was happy with this. I knew I wouldn't make ground on the gals ahead of me because they are all super strong this year. I wasn't worried about the gals behind, because I was comfortable with all of the course and had a healthy gap on the next gal back. Until the 3rd to last lap, when I started feeling my rear wheel acting a bit squirrelly in the corners. Then it started feeling harsh, like rim on pavement kind of harsh. Damn it, it was rim on pavement. Flat tire!

This course was not going to let me love it. At the furthest point from the pits, I had to run. No sand to run, but I still had to run half a lap! My running is not pretty, my running is not fast. I tried to channel the inner gazelle in me, but to no avail, the heffalump came plodding out. After what seemed like an eternity, and being passed by what seemed like the entire field, I got my pit bike and hopped back on. I seriously didn't know how far back in my field I was as there was some mixing in with the Cat 3s.

Then came my night in shining armor - BC, the head of the singlespeed race passed me. He tried to give me a little pull, but his legs just won't go that slowly. I was secretly quite elated that I'd be pulled coming through the finish line because I figured my race would be better over sooner rather than later. Coming through the start finish, I saw '2 laps to go' and no one pulling me. This was all wrong, I didn't want to do another 2 laps. The run had taken everything out of me!

So, with 2 laps to go I figured I'd see how many places I could make back up. My pit bike was quite the zippy little thing. I forgave it for not having disc brakes as it was so darn light and was like a fresh horse under me. I picked away and burnt lots of matches overtaking in silly places just to get ahead of as many racers as possible. Then I spotted the gal who had been behind me before my flat. She was ahead by several corners, and it was close to the finish line, but still, I had to give it my all. I didn't catch her, or the gal behind her, but I did close the gap down to 30 secs and 12 secs respectively. I had made it back to 7th place. Frustrating and painful, but respectful.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Mountain Biker's Dream Come True?

What mountain biker hasn't had devious thoughts about ripping up a golf course? Well, we got our dream today at Tall Chief golf course in Fall City. Ok, so we were on cyclocross bikes and the golf course is defunct, meaning we didn't get chased off by angry club-wielding, polo-shirt wearing dudes in golf carts, but we still got to rip it up!

Mark Twain is often quoted as saying 'golf is a good walk spoiled'. I say a golf course is green space spoiled. Today we took back the green space, courtesy of the SCX running a cyclocross race course through it. Kudos SCX!

Once the excitement of racing on a golf course has worn off, the reality sets in. Golf courses are kind of flat, without many exciting features, like say, woody sections or twisty singletrack. This could quickly turn into a mountain bikers worst nightmare, if it wasn't for one magical ingredient - rain! Lots and lots of it. Rain in the preceding weeks of the race quickly turned this green space into brown space. As in mud. Lots and lots of it. Energy sapping, spirit sucking, derailleur gunking, wheel stopping mud. 

The other thing about defunct golf courses is that they are no longer pristinely manicured with uniform centimeter long cut grass. Things go a little bit wild and the wet, foot long grass ends up in clumps stuck around anything that moves on the bike - chain rings, hubs, derailleurs, you get the picture.....

So I'm feeling pretty smug during the race. I have disc brakes and therefore the build up of mud on my rims are not a deterrent to actually stopping when I want. I'm pitying my competition with rim brakes who really don't stand a chance in these conditions. Only trouble is, in my smugness, and ability to keep going, I do keep going. I'm buoyed on by the cheers to ride the mud alongside the pit that most gals are running. Duh! rookie mistake! I forget I can pit to pick up a nice clean bike and meanwhile my bike is picking up at least a pound of mud each lap. After 5 laps (or so) that's a lot of freakin' weight to carry around. 

To cut an overwhelming long story short (can you tell I haven't blogged for a while and had caffeine today?) I was one of 4 gals who split from the rest of the pack. Each of us taking a turn to lead, but never tightly grouped together. We all had strengths in different areas and on different laps. A little back and forth during various laps, and I ended up in 4th (see paragraph above...... I guess the golf course had the last laugh on one dumb mountain biker!)