Monday, March 24, 2008

Copperopolis Road Race: Category- Women's Solo Training Ride

I won my category and learned a lot in the process.

So I raced with the women's 4 field in 2006. It was my first real year racing and I was unattached. At the start, I chatted with others to calm myself down. The woman I talked to (who will remain team-less and nameless) gave me a "great pep talk" about how big girls do better at crits because they can throw their weight around. There was some truth to that, but I didn't need to hear it at that point. ("There is a special place in Hell for women who don't help other women " Madeline Albright, Secretary of State). I then proceeded to redline on the first lap and get dropped on the smooth section after the feed zone and rode solo the rest to the way to finish next to last. Not a confidence builder.

At that time, I had more of a complex about my size and shape, and felt like it was a major inhibitor to being good at bike racing. When I watched the pro women at the San Francisco Gran Prix it was a major eye opener. I thought "Man! These girls aren't all pip-squeaks!" There was hope after all. After that I tried to sign up for races where I didn't set myself up for "failure"--things that were more suited to my strengths. I met my goal last year of moving up a category and had more fun than ever being a part of Velo Bella.

I cheered on my friends and teammates for the first wave of racers, then took a lovely training ride once around the course. I rode up to the feedzone with a backpack full of bottles and gu's to feed people that might need it. I hung out with some really cool people, gave Dino food and a bottle of Heed and then spun over to the start/finish to laze about in the sun with Linda E., Team Cities and Laura. My friend Sarah (Mtn. Bike Pro) won the Women's 3 race. Awesome.

Observations & Conversation:

  • The largest pack I saw maybe had a dozen riders finishing together.
  • There were a lot of solo finishers-- including people I knew to be very strong (hill-climbers even).
  • A lot of people seriously asked me why I wasn't racing (in that past I would have thought "Are you serious? Can't you see I'm not built for this course?")
  • Most people don't think they are built for this course.
  • I overheard a very strong pro (Tait) saying "This was a wakeup call today." (Everyone has thoughts like this?)
  • I don't care about smack talk anymore (bring it on).
  • It's more honorable to race and finish then to not try (duh).
  • More women need to sign up for races. Period.
  • There is no failure if I have fun, learn something or can help out a teammate.
  • I take things too seriously sometimes.

I looked up my results from last time and found out that Virginia P. won that time (now an NRC contender and Cat 1). I finished 12th place. Good for me! Maybe next year I'll sign up.

Oh my god, I'm doing it again...

I have been planning on finishing the TT again for a couple of years now, but when I got the confirmation email yesterday, my heart went pitter-pat (reality sets in):

Date: 23 Mar 2008 14:16:28 -0400

Subject: Katie The Terrible Two Registration Confirmation

Dear Katie Thank you for registering: The Terrible Two
Start Date: 21 June 2008, Saturday
Start Time: 05:30 AM

End Date:
21 June 2008, Saturday
End Time: 10:00 PM
Location: Analy High School, Sebastopol, CA

Thank you for registering for the Terrible Two, Sonoma County's toughest cycling event.

197 miles, 16,480' of climbing, 17 hour time limit

It permanently changed me as a cyclist and person. I couldn't make excuses after getting through the "longer anniversary route" in 2005. This time, I'm getting the t-shirt!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Zamora Bariani Road Race: Women's 1/2/3

We arrived at 6:30 and the north gale of frozenness was a blowin! I saw so many riders quitting early. but Dino looked so strong. He stayed with the pack and chase groups the two times I saw him (most watchers were waiting in cars to stay warm, including myself). I managed to get out a few times to watch him.

None of us cared much about warming up for our race in the howling frozen wind. I was happy to see four of my teammates, who worked the field pretty well.

I didn't have much hope at the start, being that I'm a big girl who doesn't race well up hills (although I have a serious love affair with hills and do pretty well over distance). I can't say I'm a bad climber, I just don't weigh 100 lbs.

My goal for the day was to hang in there as much as possible and have fun. It's such a pastorally gorgeous course: Little birdies tweeting, green rolling hills, sunshine, grape wines, sheep running, and the beautiful Bariani Olive Oil Plant of course. They rule. We are so lucky to have them. I wish I would have won the olive oil prime.

Anyhoo-- It was slow going into the wind. I had to bridge up twice in the first lap which took a lot of energy. There was one ride who kept making aggressive moves up, then would gap us out. Argh.

I ended up doing probably too much work for the chase groups that ensued, but I did a lot better than expected. I spent the last lap alone. At that point, I was riding for Kristy, myself and the promise of an In-N-Out cheeseburger (I had to burn at least 1500 calories).

I had a change of attitude after Snelling-- my first rest stop on some Doubles is at mile 50. Why quit a road race 30 miles in? I loved seeing Dino at the Start/Finish every time (although I tried not to oogle too much). I finished 33 out of 37 starters.

It was a great day.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Land Park Criterium: Women's 1/2/3

I was nervous last night! Pacing the floor and trying not to think about my first 1/2/3 race (it will be just like Master's Districts right?). My anxiety was somewhat calmed by knowing that I would have teammates and a great support crew (Dino). I also felt small for worrying about how I would do with the reality check that Kristy's death gave me. You only get a certain number of days on this earth, you better make them count. It would have been her first 1/2/3 race, and I would have liked to see how she would have done.

I watched the women's 4 race. April spent some time at the front, then shuffled back at the end. She passed a lot of people in the sprint along with Beth Newell. They both got stuck behind some brake-happy girls in the final Schwoopty and ended up top ten. New bella Sherri Lehman was there to cheer both fields on.

For our race, we did a neutral silent lap for Kristy and Matt and then it was game on. Right off the start one of the Team Z girls attacked. Before thinking, I countered her and caught her for the pack. The pre-race plan was to guard the attacks and lead Ryan out if possible, so I felt like I helped out a little. My main goal for the race was to hang in, take a few risks, and see what I could do for teammates. There were a lot of primes, so it felt like a points race at the track. Follow the attacks in the back section, settle into the corners, sprint for the line, lather, rinse, repeat. I caught another attack from Proman about halfway through the race. That was about all I had left, and just hung on to a wheel for the final sprint. Marian and Ryan both spent time on the front and following attacks. Soni was so strong and held her position in the pack well. Our team was definitely active out there!

I came away from the race feeling more confident and excited about the rest of the season. I loved how well the other racers handled their bikes and let people know about their position. I liked the speed and rhythm. Now I just have to grow the motor! More watts please!

Pictures to come (some good ones).


It's been hard for me to write since hearing about the tragic death of Kristy Gough and Matt Peterson. My words can't capture the horror people must have felt that day on the ride when the Sheriff's car careened into the group of three or the sadness at the loss of such talent. For cyclists, we know that we take that chance almost every time we go out, yet we go anyway. After hearing about it, I immediately imagined the times I've been spinning up some lonely hill around a blind corner a little too fast, a little too close to the center line-- imagining all of the close calls that I have had. We delude ourselves into thinking that there is a way to avoid an accident like that. People want to place blame because we are trying to create meaning out of meaninglessness; that somehow we have power over our fates. It's a humbling reminder of our mortality and how damn lucky we are to have every day. We are all fragile but incredibly resilient at the same time.

I raced with Kristy twice this year. At the Snelling road race, she made the most gutsy attack I have ever seen, straight into a brutal headwind on the bumpy section before the finish. No one could stay with her, and she rode solo for three laps to win. She did that in every race she competed in this year. I have never seen a gift like hers.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Sick Day

I finally succumbed to the bug that I've been fighting all week. I have been around so many sick people lately, but optimistically thought that I'd be immune. Thursday, during intervals on the trainer, I realized that this wasn't the normal fatigue of living la vida loca. Friday morning my throat was sore, I was achy all over and I was pretty crabby. Now I know how Dino has been feeling.

I am disappointed that I probably won't be able to race tomorrow at Merco with Dino, but I see the big picture. I don't like to be a quitter and like to tough things out, but I am thinking differently than I used to. In the past, I would have gone anyway and ended up with bronchitis for a month. A little voice of doubt would have said "Are you really that sick?" Instead of seeing it as quitting (or being a wuss) I think of it more as taking care of the race machine. I want to be healthy for Land Park and Zamora for the 1/2/3 race. All of the hard work and discipline won't amount to anything if I don't get healthy.