2017 River Gorge Omnium

River Gorge Omnium is the race we choose as a team to finish out the race season. Luckily, it is our local race and has a big turnout in the southeast area. I did the race last year, and it was particularly difficult thinking about doing the road race again this year. The road race finishes with a 3-mile climb to the top of Raccoon mountain, and it is particularly more difficult the hotter the weather. I was looking forward the every event except for two: the HerTT on Friday night and the road race on Sunday. Both events are particularly hard to me for different reasons.

After some rescheduling, I was moved up to an earlier slot for the HerTT but still wasn’t just excited about doing it. I took Friday off work and decided to head back to Raccoon Mountain to look at the TT course just ONE more time. There is a right-hand turn, and I wanted to nail it. I really wanted to be in the top 10 overall women. I am not sure why, but the River Gorge Omnium Time Trial only had one category for women. I believe they should break out categories like they do for the men. If you don’t offer more chances to win, women don’t enter races; and races don’t offer prizes they say because women don’t show up. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? And I’m not just picking on River Gorge, most of the races I did this year had no money prizes and only medals. The traveling expenses, the race expenses and sometimes hotel doesn’t make it worth it if you can’t at least have a chance to be reimbursed a little. So, it was cat 4? Cat 4 men have money prizes and plenty of opportunity to win. For example in this TT,

The men had:

  • Men Category 5 – 21 men
  • Men Masters B 40+ – 18 men
  • Men Masters B 50+ – 20 men
  • Men Masters A 35+ – 18 men
  • Men Cat 4 – 34 men
  • Men Cat 3 – 29 men
  • Men Cat 2 – 28 men
  • Men Cat pro/1 – 43 men

And the women had:

  • Women Open 1/2/3/4/5 – 52 women
  • some junior category

Any insight as to why women get zero breakdowns? Why do men have eight categories? It does lessen a number of prizes you have to give, but it seems odd to me that category 5 women have to compete with pros in the TT without more breakdown. I would have liked to celebrate a cat 4/5 podium 1st place for TT, but at the end of the day, the numbers stand, and to be in the same group as some of these ladies just made my entire weekend.

……….all the way up to 52 women.

During the time trial, I was behind a Frazier Junior named Elizabeth May (Liza Kate). I kept her in my sight up the climb and attacked over the top half of the hill to close the gap and pass her. Little did I know I would be seeing her again and again. I passed another lady at almost the same time that the Frazier Junior was overtaking her as well. My goal of descending without anyone immediately in front of me (especially someone on junior gears) was reached, and I was able to just get into a rhythm on the dam and take the right turn as fast as I comfortably could. In hindsight, I started out too hard and would have rather had more of a steady -pace throughout. I was proud of my time though. 9 minutes and 30 seconds is not too shabby and 12th overall out of 52 women is not anything to be disappointed with THOUGH I did not meet my goal of top 10. Last year I did it in 10:16. Next year could I do a 9:15 or less?

The criterium was downtown later in the day, and we had a cat 4/5 field of 21. I did not have a lot of pressure on myself mainly because I was just living in the post-TT moment of wow… I did good on that, and so I didn’t think much of the criterium. The plan we had as a team from our coach was a solid plan, but once again, I wasn’t able to really pull it off like I had hoped. There are some things to work on like with anyone cycling and if you are good at TT you may not be as good at the explosive type efforts. I liked staying in the front more (not smart) due to the sketchy corners some were taking. We had a good showing with Melanie, Ali, Sarah, Jodie, and Monica. In the end, I was not able to get away and had to sprint for the win where a Frazier Junior (Liza Kate) beat me to the line. I was in the wrong gear similar to a crit a couple of weeks ago. Live and learn. Note to practice on leg speed in sprints. The team was doing well because we had a 1st place TT and now a 2nd place criterium. This put us at almost 10 points ahead of the next lady. Here’s a cool article about Elizabeth May in the local press.

check out my face (ha!)

Next up was the road race on Sunday. Krystal was assigned domestique to the points leader (me) and we set off on Sunday morning as a cat 3/4/5 race. Last year the road race was a 1/2/3/4 race, so at least some improvements were made in that field breaking it out. There are definitely many more race options for men at most races, but fewer women race.

Moments I remember: descending like a boss (hey, Mom!) down the stair steps and the descent before the Raccoon Mountain climb. I remember almost touching wheels a couple of times due to excessive braking in front of me. Two of my teammates went down behind me and another stopped with them but I wasn’t aware until after the race. One of those ladies (Melanie) walked up raccoon in some socks refusing to tap out when her derailleur broke.

Melanie walking up Raccoon because DFL is always better than DNF. And she doesn’t quit. One of my many heroes on the team. (photo credit: Matt Dunmore)

There’s something special about someone who just will not quit regardless the circumstances. I think it builds the more important thing – mental toughness – and always comes in handy in other races down the road. There was a terrible headwind coming back across the bridge. I fell back on the stair steps but caught up to the front group; however, I wasn’t aware we caught up to them until asking later. It was hard for me to keep up on where we were and what was going on. That was Krystal’s job and she did a fabulous job. I didn’t have to think at all. And so yes, Steve Lewis the coach of the team was right. He was right.

Raccoon mountain approached and the group took off. I watched with pure disappointment that I could not keep up with the group up the mountain. I watched as lady-by-lady left me. I’m sure some were behind me, but it felt as though I was giving up the ghost as it all was literally slipping away. Sarah S on our team left as well trying to wedge herself in front of one of the main ladies trying to absorb omnium points. Krystal hung with me as we did the first part that I had done in several training sessions before. It was about a 9-10 minute effort, I kept telling myself on the first part. Just stay steady. I tried to push the cadence beyond 65, but it seemed to stay stuck there. Then the pitch up at Caps Rock and I was slow. Crested the top, descended a little and back to the climb. Michaela was leaving me at this point and Krystal reminded me to stay steady. We didn’t need to let the lady behind us pass me. I wish I had dug a little deeper to pass Michaela. She is a strong rider turning herself inside out on the climb, and I was just dying. I heard the team coach up the mountain yelling at me. I just kept focusing on the pedal stroke over the top. It seemed like forever, but I finally crossed the line. Krystal had pretty much helped me finish like I did on that climb.

Krystal probably telling me here that if the lady behind me passes, it’s not good. She encouraged me the whole way. Ever thought about coaching, Krystal? (photo credit Matt Dunmore)

And then the waiting began and we are all standing around the results area. I see the other ladies that had a chance to win the omnium waiting and then results … Taco Mamacita had executed the plan and we had won the cat 4/5 omnium. I finished 7th in the cat 4/5 RR and 19th out of 36 overall 3/4/5. It was enough to win the omnium by 1 point. We also worked as a team in the crit as well. High-fives were thrown, and wow. What a weekend.

I learned a lot during this race. Teamwork makes it happen. It is harder to win an omnium without a team. I would rather be a domestique than have a domestique (truth) – you hear me ladies? Next year, let me be your motor. I love TT more than I thought I would at the beginning of the season. I still believe there is a sprinter deep inside of me just dying to get out. She just doesn’t understand the dynamics of the sprint at all and how to put it all together. Working on it. Sarah S. and I both are cat 3 now. 2018 looks promising for a big race season.

I also like a road bike, but I love a mountain bike… which is where I’ll be this weekend.

But, I cannot wait until next season to see how it goes as a cat 3 with the team.

Here’s a cool write up in the local paper about the result.  Last year we cheered as Krystal and Sus lead the way. Can’t wait for next year.

Oak Ridge Velo Classic 2017: happy one year road racing anniversary to me!

Returning to Oak Ridge was bittersweet. For one, we had a smaller team showing due to just life. Last year Oak Ridge was my first race. It was the first time I wore a scenic city velo kit and the first time I attempted to race against other riders while riding with a team. I had my good friend Kelly by my side hanging out with Melanie, Susie from Knoxville, Becca, Sus B, Krystal, and Sally. (Sally is starting up big things in Huntsville, AL next year – I will miss her!) I remember Kelly and I driving to Oak Ridge listening to my crazy playlist and just talking about how scary/fun/hard/ the omnium was going to be.

Fast forward to this year… Jeff and I drove to Oak Ridge with the kids. The first day was the road race and time trial. Jeff went off first, and I cannot remember what happened to him in the race (I will ask and update this!) but he ended up 20 out of 25. Philippe with VW got 7th and Tim and John raced as well. Our race was later in the day, and the temperature didn’t fail to disappoint climbing to a high of 96F. I expect this race to be hot because it was hot in ’16, too.

Right before the race, our Taco Mamacita coach, Steve, decided to grab my beloved, trustworthy, dependable Garmin and zip it into my back pocket. I no longer had my trusty compass to guide the way, and immediately starting learning a lesson I needed to learn. I did not enjoy learning it particularly in that way because I use it to gauge how hard I am going, but he said, “Race your bike.” He also reminded me not to be on the front.

#gamefaces, I think

Why do I like the front?

  • There are no shenanigans. No slowing down of wheels. No braking of those you don’t “trust” yet.
  • You control the pace, though I will admit for the most part I am going too hard.
  • I can see the road better. I can see potholes and gravel and all that fun stuff that most roadies will brake and handle differently than me. I tend to just roll over it as though I was riding a 29er.

I was on the front almost immediately. The pack of 16 ladies filed in behind me. My teammate, Ali reminded me that I didn’t need to be going too hard by just one word in a certain tone, “Beeeth!”

Right. So I settled into a zone 1/2 pace. I remember looking around at the houses around me and eyeing a swimming pool thinking how great it would be to go swimming. It was hot.

I knew the action would start once we made the right turn that led into a climb. That’s where the action happened last year.

And just as I suspected, near mid to 2/3 into the climb, the two Nashville Local Cycling ladies, Jeanie and Michaela, took off. The rest is a blur as far as was anyone else with them. I surged ahead to stay in it and found myself chasing down the descent almost immediately. There were several ladies around me. I was in the chasing group again. Dang it. And, I can’t go back and analyze because my Garmin was zipped up in my pocket. I think once we reached the bottom of the descent, there was a lady named Nikki and me with a couple of others that didn’t stay with us very long. Nikki and I worked together to catch the Nashville Locals. I was doing my bridging the gap TT thing with a light climber working our way up. Finally, we reached them and the four of us worked together for the remainder of the race until Jeanie decided to go off on her own somewhere near 2-5 miles to go leaving the three of us racing for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. It ends in a climb, and so I ended up 4th. Ali and Jodie raced as well, and it was fun having two other teammates there to suffer with for the day. I wished they were staying for Sunday!

Did I quit? Likely. I go back and think back to the ending a lot. I can suffer on the flats. I can suffer on a descent, but there is a special kind of suffering in the road race and climbing and it was something that I knew I would need to work on. I think the best way would be to drop weight in the offseason, which is my plan. I didn’t do it last year, but I cleaned up my diet tremendously, and now it’s time to remove the limiter in the climb. Weight. I only want to lose 9-10 lbs at the most.

Later in the day was the TT. Only 10 of us raced in cat 4/5 women, the course was familiar to me. I decided to use my Garmin but only would have the map showing just in case. The course was a 7.6 miler with some climbing in there, but a good course for me. Not a lot of climbing. I ended up finishing 19:05.86 which gave me a 1st place result and 2nd overall women when you add in the cat 1/2/3 women’s field.

1st in TT cat 4/5 women
women’s 4/5 field in crit

I think I like TT because I get results.

The next day was the crit, and I ended up doing two of them. First was the cat 4/5 women with a field of 10 women. I love this particular course even with the 180-degree turn at the bottom right after the start/finish area. I didn’t have teammates in the field with me, but had a couple of my kids in a tree (ha!). When it was said and done was in a breakaway with the Nashville Local Cycling ladies again where they kept attacking me over and over. Finally finished with a respectable 3rd place. Did I give up? I think there was some giving up in that one. I felt as though there was a chance I would be dropped and the rest of the field would catch me. Training those moments when you are in the red and need to give more is hard to do alone, and I do a lot of training alone. It’s something I’d like to change – simulating that situation and giving more.

Leg speed was better. Hopped into the field of 3 master’s women and finished 2nd behind my friend Arden.

It was a good weekend with a 3rd overall omnium finish.

Most photos except the TT podium picture photo credit Tony Falin

Max Gander Memorial Criterium 2017

I used to get butterflies and stage fright at the thought of lining up first in a criterium. I have only done a few at this point, but I no longer mind to line up at the front. In fact, I will aim for that every single time moving forward.

And, I wish I could line up in the front this Saturday at the state criterium championship, but it is not going to happen. Work calls.

Max Gander’s criterium profile was a 0.75 mile (1.2017 km for the metric folks) lap with a small “climb.” I wouldn’t call it a real climb, but after a few laps, it does become more prominent on taxing the system.

Analyzing the small 3% or so “climb”:

  • The PR of all the laps was 17 seconds. Cadence was 113 rpm dropping to 92 rpm. Avg power was 284.
  • The second PR of the same “climb” was 113 to 77. A big difference which tells me I shifted during the climb maybe? HR went a lot higher, but it could be the lap was later in the race? Avg power was 432. Speed 22.1 mph. This was also the last climb before the end where I attempted to attack.

All in all, it was a good day. We didn’t have a moto and so there was some hesitation on my part when entering a turn at speed. I wasn’t sure if people would stop or not especially after the field split up. The first place winner was fresh the whole race. She and another lady seemed to control the race. I had a fun time with my teammates.

 

 

Sunny King criterium 2017 (Taco Mamacita races!)

Sunny King was my 4th crit. It was also the largest field I have raced on the road.

I have done Oak Ridge Crit, Grant Park Crit, and River Gorge Crit in 2016.

I did decent in all of them, I suppose. Grant Park being the worst since it has more of a climb.

Sunny King was a 0.7 mile loop with some horrid reflectors and a gate near turn 3 that threatened to take me out more than once during the event. I learned how to move over by sliding my elbow into someone else (not my style) to avoid a crash. I learned how to hang on when it went hard from the start. I learned I don’t really have a lot of controlling the field at all but more of a defensive “avoid that cyclist because she doesn’t hold her line” and “oh crap she almost took me out” to realizing I have some power behind the pedals, just need more skill and experience to put it all together. I can read all the books and watch all the you tube videos on crits and skill, but actually going out there and executing is a whole different thing. Stepping out in faith.

I also might add. I had another start line snafu happen. And, looks like the team coach caught a pic of it. Yep, that is me on the far right squatting down trying to put my stupid chain back on. I am hoping next weekend I have no issues like number pinned on wrong, etc… I felt my blood pressure rise, cortisol released in a massive stress reaction (ha), and this fight-or-flight sensation of, “Oh my gosh, I’m not going to be able to race!” Someone from another team helped me, and I think I know who she is and need to reach out and thank her profusely again (THANKS LAURA!). Talk about almost missing the race by a couple of minutes. It was close. Glad I have some proof here in picture. Also glad that I can still bend over and touch my toes at my age! Never again. Not sure how to prevent short of starting in the little chain ring,but I will continue to work on leg speed so that little chain ring won’t hurt me at the start. Maybe it’s a SRAM thing?

 

I did get really tired of the accelerating out of the turns and braking hard at the next turn to avoid crashing into the back wheel of another cyclist. So, next to the last lap I took off TT-style and went hard for about 2/3 of the lap and then the last lap a crash that missed me somehow and a 10th place finish. I wish it would have helped my teammates more or something. It was just a hard race. It was part of part of a plan and we didn’t get to execute much, but I sort of tried. I need more motor!

It was not as exciting as it may have been had a teammate not gone down in the crash. Next time I’d like to pull her out and have her sling-shot off my pull. How fun would that be? I don’t know the proper terminology of all that, but I see something fabulous in my head sometimes and it’s me going out like a mad woman and her drafting and then taking off just in time to land a heck of a lead into the finish. There is not a whole lot of glory at the end with a finish like that. You don’t walk away with any bragging rights or anything really but a lot of wishing it had ended differently for us as a team. I will take a 10th place in this field any day though likely would have resulted in more like a 14th without the crash. Who knows. I did get 1st place Cat 4, so I will smile a little bit. And this time I didn’t just have a certain rider on my wheel the whole time like at Grant Park last year. My teammate Sarah got 2nd in Cat 4 and Jodie 3rd in Cat 5. Just being able to race with the team was the best part of all though this one I hear may be the toughest crit we do all year.

 

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

Grant Park Criterium

The second criterium I ever raced was a last minute (literally) decision in Atlanta the day after returning from Alabama’s road race. I forgot to set my iPhone back to eastern time and found myself panicked looking for a parking spot around the Grant Park area in the heart of Atlanta at the last minute. I was alone, driving around and praying for a spot when I finally found one and rode my way to the registration tent with about fifteen minutes to spare before the lineup.

At the start line with no warm up, the USA Cycling official pointed out my number was upside down, and she helped me with another teammate to remedy that newbie mistake. I found myself surrounded by Frazier junior cyclists who looked ready to roll. I really needed a warm up. The rules were read and the race was off. I felt sluggish and a little bit tired from yesterday’s effort, and I also forgot to tell myself the pain I was feeling was the lack of warm-up.

I always have a lot of thoughts running through my head in a race situation. Mountain bike racing is more about nerves and pure strength. Road racing is about hanging on and teamwork and racing smart. I like them both, and in both my thoughts race.

At the first turn, there was an immediate descent. I had never ridden the course and I found myself feathering the brakes a little too much the first loop. I still hung onto the group. On the 4th lap, I decided to go for a prime. Once again, I went too early on the midpoint of the hill and was passed for the prime. A break was established thanks to my newbie mistake, and I spent the rest of the race pulling a Frazier junior named Isabella. I’m almost 30 years older than her. I sometimes think, why didn’t I have something like this as a teen? I love watching juniors race.

If you watch the flyby, you can see how I was basically Isabella’s domestique the rest of the crit.

I finsihed 9th out of 13 in a field of cat 3 and 4 women. I learned two important things. Warm ups are critical. I need patience.

Oak Ridge Velo TT and Crit

The Oak Ridge Time Trial was about a 7-mile distance with about 230 feet of elevation, and I rode my Cervelo. This was my first-time trial ever, and I had no idea what to expect. I did a little bit of a warmup but was still coming down off of the road race earlier in the morning. I was lined up 3rd within the cat 4 ladies and was ready to hammer. Taking off, I settled immediately into a steady pace fighting off the urge to sprint. Within  30 seconds, I was at 162 bpm with worry I needed to slow it down a bit. At mile 4, I broke into pain territory at the 10-minute mark. I passed two ladies and was wishing for a third lady to chase as it does force me to push harder. There was a moment during the last couple of miles I sort of pushed it over the edge and threw up a little. I typically don’t throw up. You see, I am one of those people who can’t seem to stay in the pain cave long enough. At least after the triathlon training, my pain caving has been hit or miss. I ended up with 6th place out of 16 total, and I couldn’t be happier. I was a little bit stunned after the event because I didn’t expect a top 10 finish on my first time, and I was a little worried after the road race how fatigue would affect the time trial. So what I did wrong: one of the main things is I didn’t continually pedal the entire mileage. There are a couple of gaps where I coast. I didn’t wear an aero helmet. unnamed

One of the mamacitas, Sally, met Kelly and me at the crit course to pre-ride it for the next day. The course is shaped like a P with a tight 180 turn I was a little anxious about. We had a warm-up the next morning and lined up for the race. This was my first crit. I must go back to my preconceived ideas about criteriums. I thought only an idiot would sign up for a crit. The whole concept looked like dominoes to me, but yet I tried it. And, I loved it. I have to work on my cornering. I have to work on my attacks. But all in all the mountain bike handling really comes in handy. I ended up finishing 6th out of 12 and really would like some time to try for a prime if it doesn’t cause me to get dropped.

My take away from the whole weekend was that racing a bike isn’t about how fast you go as much as it is how smart you go. Teammates rely on one another. In mountain biking, it’s all you working toward your own goal. There is no drafting really. I think I kind of like the idea of some psychological gaming…