River Gorge 2016 (a bit late)

River Gorge, the season-ending race that the roadies enjoy in Chattanooga was something that I wanted to do decently. When we went on the team ride prior to the event (the road race course was changed a little) I realized that the road race would not be my thing. At this body weight (a.k.a. I am considered husky in the roadie world, I believe). I am apparently not a climber in the sense of the road racing world. I climb pretty well in mountain biking, but for some reason it is not the same thing, and I have learned that the hard way (by getting dropped). I am writing this 3 months after the event, and so the fine details have faded some sort of like the way labor pains and begging for your own death leave your mind preparing you to want another child. And another, and another. So, I look back, ahem, fondly.

Forgetting the pain. Sort of.

I believe the TT was first in the AM on Saturday. Oh, wait. The HERTT… the new event that I was sort of talked into by my sweet roadie husband (I say that sarcastically).

Friday night, I showed up. I had worked a full stressful day and the coach was ready for some warming up closer to our wave. We were around 8pm, I believe. First mistake. I came in 22/24 ladies. Pretty horrible huh? My warm-up was too hard (must listen to myself more). My warm-ups need practice because I felt like I had the flu in a hot room with no air circulation and watching my pitiful numbers in front of me was just as nonmotivating as watching my fat butt just fall back from a peloton. I just felt MISERABLE. There I was on a stage with some really awesome powerful ladies who were Cat 1s and 2s, and I just faded into oblivion and heat and stifling suffocation and realized that my ass had been handed to me. Waaaah! Whatever, I wasn’t ready for it. Endurance was the theme of 2016. And, apparently, my pain cave training was way too infrequent to even matter against these fabulous women. I am fat. Slow. And, oh yes there is the Rouleur label sent my way by my coach, but after some research, Rouleur should be that I have “rouls” on my belly slowing me down. Or, said more eloquently,

The first time we went to France, I discovered quite handily why that little ring was there. We were not grimpeurs; we were rouleurs, and rouleurs use the little ring when the road points up for a long time. A rouleur, in Cycling, is a rider who goes well on the flat and rolling terrain. They are characterized less by their size, but by their style on the machine; a Magnificent Stroke tuned to sustained power, not high revolutions or bursts of acceleration. Rouleurs are good time trialists, they do well on short climbs, but are usually found in the laughing group when the profile starts to look like the cardiogram of a teenage boy who just saw his first pair of boobs. Some of them can climb well for their weight, but a rouleur is rarely at the front when the big mountains come along.

Translated from French, rouleur means having wheels, or to roll. But Hinault would use the word roule in conversation in the context of standing, or pushing, on the pedals. I quite like the sound of that. They have a wide power band, but can only win a sprint from a group of one or a small group of other rouleurs – although technically those tend to be more akin to “drag racing” than “sprinting”. They are characterized by being able to gobble up an enormous amount suffering, and are usually just dim enough to wear a wide smile on their face when its happening. And giggle maniacally when describing the suffering afterward.

Winning isn’t everything to the rouleur, which is why they’re often found among the ranks of the domestique. The rouleur needs to study the map, looking for the right terrain with the right kind of lumps if they’re going to have a chance of being at the front in a road race. They are possibly the most exciting to watch race; races of attrition suit them, as does bad weather – and when they’re in the break, they’re usually dumb enough to take their strength for granted and over-estimate themselves. Betting on the rouleur is a gamble, but their style of racing often means that even when they lose, it was a great show.

Merckx bless the rouleur.

However, I would disagree with winning isn’t everything to the rouleur. Yes, it kind of is for this rouleur. I want to win, and my appetite for winning ranks up there with the mountain climbing women with 4 w/kg power. Delusions of grandeur. Now I remember why another cycling roadie friend TG said I would do well in the rain in the Alabama State RR (which I didn’t but that’s another issue) due to the crazy rain.

I am dumb enough to take my strength for granted and over-estimate myself. There is no doubt about it. Ask my husband. In my mind, if I train as much as Jeff, I could theoretically compete with Jeff, but apparently the male vs female thing is true.

The HERTT put a hurtin’ on me. Notice the lack of Cat 4s.

hertt

Nice, huh?

The next morning was the TT. 32 out of 51 for the whole Women 1-4 field. In the Cat 4 field, I was 4th out of 13. Not too shabby. As far as the TT goes, there were places where I didn’t stay consistently on it to drive the bike. At the beginning, I lost momentum. Things I need to work on. However, overall, I was proud of my result because I landed that sharp right turn without wrecking. And I love my new TT helmet. But, again, I need help in the pain cave. Getting there. Staying there. And dropping weight.

tt

Jeff did pretty well in the TT. He now owns a TT bike, so watch out!

Later in the day was the crit. I was super excited about it! Prior to the race, there was a meeting with the coach and teammates. The one thing I remember was in the bottom corner of the plan was my name and the words, “wild card.” I think it said wild card. To me, it meant to do whatever I wanted to do. And, so I did, which I must say is me merely hanging on and trying to stay in any breakaway that I can stay with, but apparently not at the expense of pulling up the field. Since I don’t have explosive power (YET), apparently I pulled the field up. I’m not so sure, but I hear that was the case.

I could still play the dumb blonde card, right? There were moments where one teammate would sprint ahead and I would want to catch them, and then there were other times where I was waiting for instructions from my teammates. It is touch-and-go for me. Heck, it was my what, 3rd crit ever? It started with Sally sprinting ahead in the beginning and holding a big lead. Then later after she was absorbed back into the pack, another break happened with a couple of our teammates and another lady from Knoxville. After that, another teammate went down and crashed (worst sound ever, and I wanted desperately to stop – the sound of the crash echoed in my head for at least 3 laps), I won a field prime without knowing it (hilarious), and in the end I sprinted a little bit and apparently hit > 200 bpm heart rate. I don’t really recommend that in your 40s. My friend was injured. Crits seem to attract crashes.

crit

I’ll take 5th out of 23 any day for my 3rd or 4th ever crit. I have some work to do on form. I need to learn a bit about bursting out and holding a lead, and of course how to not drag the field back with me as I think a couple of other teammates were trying to break away from the rest. It is hard for me to not try to win on my own. The team concept is a little new to me because we don’t do that in mountain biking.

Sunday was the road race. I was a wreck, not going to lie. I had already blown up my legs the day before, but I had some adrenaline, some coffee, and some luck in staying and hanging as long as I did.

I want to express the feelings I felt during the road race. First, it was the yo-yo effect of getting dropped I believe on the tabletop section. I’d have to go back and analyze, but I’m pretty sure that’s where it happened. There is nothing worse in road biking than getting dropped for me. I will try as hard as I can to get back in it and make the situation even worse believing that I can somehow catch the peloton. I can’t. I know I can’t, but I always pedal my heart out around 280-300 watts with my heart blowing up until I cannot do that anymore. It doesn’t take long, but it would be one I could simulate that feeling in a field test. Put a peloton in front of me and have me chase them. For some reason, I will just keep on trying. Alone? I kind of talk myself into less. I need a carrot.

I remember being with Christine and some other ladies who were Cat 2s and 3s. I remember encouraging Christine when it should have been the other way around because she is as tough as nails, but I knew if I told her how I really felt, we would both be slowing down. I remember Beth B. hauling ass across the bridge. Carly M. was hauling ass up a climb. I remember trading out bottles with Becca M. who was kind enough to pass me a bottle that I needed for the last torture-fest mountain climb (remember, I am a rouleur, not a climber). And, I remember seeing some teammates who had given up the ghost and were riding in a vehicle shouting encouragement at me somewhere close to where the hell really started somewhere around mile 42.

I like to analyze things and well:

48 Beth Lofgren • Scott’s Bikes Aug 28, 2016 8.3mi/h 175bpm 199W Powermeter 757.6 27:29

That would be me climbing up the mountain. I’ll take it any day, but next year I’d like to set a goal of like 25 minutes or less. Perhaps too lofty especially if I’m going to eat like a pig all year which I did last year. Chocolate and pancakes.

Motivation, folks, to lose weight. It doesn’t matter how much I train, if I don’t lose the extra pounds, I am not going to be fast up a mountain. Period.

Let me try to channel the pain I felt on that 3.8-mile climb up Raccoon mountain. First, there was a lot of switching between standing and sitting and pedaling. It was almost the only relief I could find momentarily, the switch from standing to sitting because the opposite direction caused more pain. Average cadence up the climb was 72. Average cadence for the whole ride was 87. Hey, that’s some improvement if you are into the fast cadence hype that I haven’t totally accepted and embraced. I do agree that a faster cadence allows one to have faster accelerations and leave someone behind, but damn it I do like slower cadence as my legs can take punishment but my heart and lungs seem to hate it more spinning faster. I am trusting you, coach.

The pain: I remember thinking about my kids. I thought about when I went into labor with Lucas and how I was using old-school Lamaze to not even feel massive contractions until I was too tired to do that anymore around 8 cm and 20 hours in. Honestly, contractions were fine until about 8 cm or maybe it was the birth transition, who knows. I remember thinking about that while climbing. I thought about being a bird and soaring in the air and pretending I was light as a feather. I thought about Annalise and her birth, her rocky fast powerful I want to die and apparently praying and cussing in the same breath stuck behind a garbage truck asking Jesus to take me now and go to that other closer hospital because my water broke and this is so not good almost-birth in the van. I had tears appear because that is how much that climb hurt. I was hot. I legs were fatiguing and maybe some little bit of cramping. It was painful. I wanted to so bad catch Melanie. I wanted to so bad keep Christine from catching me.

And the finish line never looked better. I saw Stephanie R. (did I do OK?) I saw Sword people. I felt sick, but I finished.

rr1rr2

I was 40 out of 59 of all Cat 1-4. I was 6 out of 18 Cat 4.

I climbed that mountain faster than I expected:

raccoonmtnclimb

5th Cat 4 up the mountain. 30:54 seconds. Ok, maybe 25 minutes is too lofty. Perhaps I should set a 27-minute goal. Surely?

And, that was it. The River Gorge Omnium 2016. Cat 4 women in the omnium and I was 5th out of 14.

Taco Mamacita rocks.

omnium