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

TN State Championship Time Trial 2017

Well, I was ready for this one. I had a better-borrowed crank, some borrowed wheels, and my mental game was sound. I tortured the kids with hours of driving to Clarksville the day before listening to all kinds of fun tunes from “Dancing Queen” by ABBA where I creatively changed the words to “Time Trial Queen,” and one of my other favorites that they now request. I had checked my list many times and we hit the road in two vehicles since my husband was going to compete as well.

We arrived in Clarksville, TN passing through our old stomping grounds of Nashville. I cannot believe how much the skyline has changed. The sun was setting and there were a lot of changes that have happened to the city of Nashville since 10 years ago. It’s amazing how beautiful the city still is. I saw Jefferson Street exit where I used to work and had the urge to go run by the retail pharmacy to see if any old employees were still there. Nostalgia! Memories!

The next morning, we set out for Dover, TN to race.

The Tennessee state TT course

Note not a lot in elevation change, but definitely fast on the way back, at least I thought.

The promoter had separated Jeff and me as much as possible since we were bringing the kids and had someone there to watch them on the little bit of overlap. We were very grateful for that. Jeff started off first and then me a little bit later, the last of the cat 4s. Luckily, a friend of mine was lined up as a cat 3 behind me, and I was able to chit-chat with her about everything. I miss her! Last time I saw her was at Snake Creek Gap because I missed her at Masters Nationals.

One of the ladies ahead of me fell over at the start while the guy was holding her up. I was sending her good vibes to go and keep going. I’m pretty sure she’s the lady that ended up 3rd on our podium. Finally, when it was my turn, I hit the pedals and started the around one-hour suffer fest. I was ready. I had all kinds of things swirling in my head and the power was looking OK. I was managing what I was doing to save for coming back. I noticed immediately we had a cross tailwind on the way out which meant cross headwind on the way back.

The mental things are what are fun. Challenging. The brain will tell you to stop it, you are going too hard. I purposefully hid my heart rate so I couldn’t see how hard I was working. It is my governor, and I’m removing its power from now on. Ironically enough on the harder rides, since I stopped watching, I am going harder and the heart rate is back up to where it was last year when I was pushing hard. Go figure. Perhaps in a race, I need to remove power as well. I have become a slave to the numbers. But, I can now almost tell you the watts I’m putting out based on my perception. Almost. If I’m fatigued, it is drastically reduced, and I don’t notice. I was surprised to see watts well below what I thought toward the end of the race. My legs were saying otherwise. I heard some quotes in my head that were quite positive (some with the British accent — long story). A couple of songs played over and over in my head. I just like analyzing that part after a race too. Where did you go this time, you know that special place to ignore the pain?

Jeff on the podium
So close…
Results of the women cat 1-5

The fun parts. Watching the kids build a fort in the back of the SUV while I warmed up. I didn’t pick the best spot to warm up, and I wouldn’t say it was a high-quality warm-up due to the kids and their kid things, but I am a mom, and that role comes first. I wanted the state jersey bad, but to know I was beaten by someone 20 years younger and a pro-triathlete (by 12 seconds) was OK. I missed the cherry on the cake initially which was getting the 3rd overall female out of all the females in the 40 km TT beating all the cat 3s. I was so focused on the jersey that I didn’t really notice until later. 90mm was interesting. I love a disc wheel. Now, I have to find a set of my own.

I’m looking forward to repeating this one. I have a goal in mind that I want to achieve for 2018. How much time can I shave off for next year?

 

 

Masters Road Nationals Time Trial

Heading out for the sufferfest

I took a little trip to Augusta, GA on Wednesday to do some TT in the 40-44-year-olds in the USA Cycling Master’s Road National Championships. I signed up without knowing it was all categories together divided by age. Money spent and then thought, “Oh crap. I am a cat 4. I am going to get crushed.” I imagined former pros and cat 1-2 women in their perfect aero time-trialing position and matching TT bikes/kits/helmets. And the helmets. I saw in my head those really aero helmets (that I don’t own – I have a Giro Air Attack which is apparently “ok” for TTs but probably could save time with a more aero helmet. I do stare down periodically at my Garmin so it may not benefit me at all at this point until I can go more by feel. (When does that ever happen?)

The trip in the car alone was long. Atlanta traffic is unreal. I even thought I timed it right, but no… apparently, every day in Atlanta at all hours resembles the whole city escaping a zombie apocalypse and Walking Dead probably had no problems filming the traffic jams there at all.

I arrived and hooked up immediately with my friend Arden, yay! I was also going to be racing Arden, no! When I ride with her, I immediately am ready to suffer as my zone 4 is her zone 2. I need to do more of that. We checked in and went to check out the course together. Thankful for that because I do hate riding the roads alone, and I forgot Jeff’s Garmin radar thing that makes me feel a little better warning of a vehicle approaching. I know it wouldn’t keep a car from hitting me, but at least I know it’s coming right?

I probably went too hard riding the course. I am still unsure of correlating my heart rate to power because heart rate changes so much for me. I was nervous and excited and I’m sure my heart rate showed that on the ride. Also, the power was more in a z3-ish level maybe? I really liked the rolling hills. Reminded me of home. I also stopped to save a turtle on the ride: win-win!

Ran by Publix and made the first of some mistakes… drank some kombucha. I didn’t notice how much caffeine was in it. It was cherry and really good. But, I did not sleep much. In fact, the air conditioning was on 60 and I was still burning up. I do not want to entertain any thought of menopause, so let us not even go there, you hear me? I slept a grand total of 5 hours. Considering the nights prior I slept 5 hours 30 mins and 6 hours, I was tired. Still am today. I can’t seem to sleep before an event. Butterflies, delusions of grandeur, etc…

I had everything written out on what to do. Get up at 7 am. Check. I was up at 5:30am so go figure. Be at the race site by like 9am. My time to race was 11:14:00 and I was not going to be later than 11:04 to line up. Lessons learned from another time trial. I noticed when loading my bike that the front tire was low. In fact, it was 40 PSI. Oh heck no. Leave it and risk losing pressure. No. I can change this tire.

All rational thoughts went to the wind as they can tend to do in moments of mini-crisis. I found a tube that Jeff had bought in Alabama last week and decided to change it myself. I am, after all, a very capable strong and independent female who does not need help and can do it all myself, thank-you-very-much. It took awhile, but I wanted to be sure I wouldn’t pinch flat. Checked it twice both sides all the way around and could see the blue Reynolds strip clear as day. Aired up with a pump and suddenly a dreaded pop.

No. I felt my composure start to slip. Lots of self-talk.

You have another tube. Calm down.

Repeat. Took even longer. Finger bleeding now because I cannot do this without injuring my fingers at this point. Rechecked and it was ready to go.

Air up with a pump. You guess it. Pop! It blew again.

I was now 3 tubes down with the one that was low (assuming small leak) and out of options. At this point, it was 9:30. I had wasted a lot of time in the parking lot at the hotel. I found a random person in the parking lot thinking, “I do need help, after all, thank-you-very-much” and begged with money for a tube. He had a tube, and he told me to go to the race site and let Shimano do it. I guess now I understand what they do at races. I learn by needing things and experiencing mistakes more than any other way. I read everything published about the race, but I must miss minute details that don’t seem to apply at the moment. My friend also at the race site said the same. Use Shimano at the start line. Keep in mind I have changed tubes and tires many times. Bad luck? Fluke? Have forgotten how to do it right?

So, off I go to the race site with a flatted front tire wondering if I’d even get to race. I had a tube though!

I parked too far away really, but wanted to just get my run on and ran down to the start with the front tire and my tube and extra tire just in case. They fixed me up. The only guess they had was maybe using the tire levers to put the tire back on was doing something but no other explanation. I have one. MY LUCK. Apparently, I must experience all bike related tomfoolery before a race and just tried to calm down the entire time. I was deep breathing and just watching the clock thinking that the run to the Shimano tent counted for some warm-up.

I got back to the car and got my warm-up going. I abbreviated a few things but hit the efforts and was sweating like Jeff usually does – nerves, parking in the sun, and no wind = copious sweat and in a skin suit was weird. I noticed the couple that had given me the tube was parked in front of me, too. I thanked them again and said I was going to pay them after the race and off I went.

I had borrowed an aero bottle from my coach and had maybe less than a half left in it. I had everything ready and was there and ready to go. The USA Cycling official that scanned in my bike asked me how I was doing and I said great rather enthusiastically to which he replied, “Do you know what you are about to be doing?” I told him it couldn’t be any more stressful than the morning I had already had. I had already mentally suffered beyond any physical 45-47 minute effort. I can suffer. I had a baby without any medications so whatever. (I will add that is a lot different because with a bike the governor in the brain can shut it down. The baby is coming out no matter what and that’s why you go beyond pain).

And the race was off. I could see my rabbit ahead of me. 30 seconds ahead. I knew Arden was 60 seconds behind me. Goal: Arden wouldn’t pass. I knew if she did I would be mentally deflated. Immediately I noticed that my effort was too hard at the start (normal) and held back some across the dam. I had the 18 miles divided in my head into 4.5-mile segments:

Q1: 4:5 miles – dam, some rollers, don’t go too hard. I noticed a sort of cross headwind. I thought well I should be flying coming back then.

Q2: 4.5 miles – includes the “climb” biggest one on the course which was at mile 5 or so and average 2% grade for about 0.5 miles. Keep it steady. Save for the ride back. I passed the lady in front of me somewhere here.

Q3: 4.5 miles – so I read this is the hardest one, so I kept thinking, you have this. It’s not the hardest one for you! Not sure it worked so much. To have a cross tailwind, I would have never known it. This leg of the race was hard. My power should have been higher, but every time I’d glance down at my 10 sec power average it was lower than I had planned, but my heart rate was pegged out. At mile 14 or so, the first place winner past me, and it was amazing watching her fly by me making it look so easy. I tried hard to pace to go harder to keep her within reach but to no avail. I was locked into this particular effort and there was nothing extra to give. One quote from a song popped in my head “My only enemy is me, and even I can’t stop me.” Oh yeah.

Q4: 4.5 miles – the last leg. It’s almost over! The dam again and trying to muster out something just increased to what I had hoped for the entire ride. I almost caught the 2nd rider, but not quite. I remember that Arden was going to go all out at the end. I didn’t have anything left to even attempt a super hard effort. Just wasn’t my day for it, the stupid brain wouldn’t let me. Need to do more brain training because it’s holding me back.

I was glad to be finished. But, in the usual fashion, I forgot to check results at the finish and was just ready to get back to my vehicle for something to drink. I had had two sips on the race itself still remaining in aero position and didn’t sit up any during the race except for the turnaround. I tried to drive the bike and not allow the descents to be moments of rest, but I couldn’t keep my power up. It felt like I was though! I rode on the white line on some climbs thinking maybe less rolling resistance. Whatever it takes? 

So, some notes. I had a compact crank and a 12-25. I’m beating myself up about this today. No, I did not know better, but I do now. I can guarantee you I will be looking at that next time. I have just about decided the best way to learn something is to experience it and remember. Who knows how much no sleep prior plus the flat tire issue all morning could have affected me? And it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention my body weight. There comes a point when I have to drop pounds if I want to make a huge gain (if I do it right). I don’t think anyone has to worry about me starving myself and dropping 10 lbs in a week. I’m not capable of that kind of discipline when it comes to food. I don’t drink alcohol much (it would probably do me good to chill), if at all, but I love food. I’m largely gluten-free and try to avoid dairy a lot, but other than that, it’s a free-for-all. I’m going to cut back on my very high caloric high fat almond pancake daily habit and see if that doesn’t knock 5 lbs off by Oak Ridge. I have some power… time to lower the weight a little bit just to maximize what I have so I can be a little happier with results because I’m still not there.

On another note… I do not enjoy watching the numbers increase every year on my birthday. I don’t enjoy the wrinkles or the comments about being older with young coworkers and all of that. I don’t like it when I go shopping for my daughter and the lady at the register asks me if this is for my granddaughter. Seriously. In my mind, I am just as youthful as I was at 25. In fact, I am stronger now than I have ever been. Age is just a number… right?

… and I saw proof of that watching the 50s, 60s, and even 70s race at Masters. I enjoyed it immensely and it made my heart proud to see adults who have kept on enjoying the benefits and love of racing a bike and finding a venue where people actually show up who are damn good.

Let’s put it in perspective. I am in my first full season of road racing. I raced 18 miles at 47 minutes and 24.1 seconds and placed 4th in a field of 7 or 8. We had a smaller field in the 40-44-year-olds. In the 35-39-year-olds, my time would have given me 10th out of 12. In the 45-49-year-olds, I would have been 8th out of 11. The 50-54-year-olds: 5th. That’s some fast women rocking it right there, and I have a TON of work to do to score a top 3 next year if I decide to do it again. When I do it again…

Also didn’t know the podium ran 5 deep. Live and learn.

 

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

ToSH 2017 Race Report

My husband signed me up for this one. Last year, I drove down and watched him race and snagged some pretty cool pictures of the Village Volkswagen Team.

ToSH 2016

This year, ToSH was located in Woodstock and Ball Ground, GA. We decided to wing it and take the kids, too, since most of the events had enough time between to pull it off except the road race on Saturday which I was more than happy to bail on from if someone couldn’t watch them for about a ten-minute gap. We arrived on Friday night after work and picked up our packets where the TT sign-in included.

The next morning, I drove to the TT first and took off at 7:43:30. The temp was a balmy 27 degrees, but I was not cold. I went with lighter tights, but no vest or jacket. I did a proper warm-up on the trainer while watching the parking lot fill fast with later TT racers. I had left my husband and kids in the hotel room about 20-minutes away, so right after my TT I would have to hop in the car and head back to get them for Jeff’s TT start at 9-something. The course was only 2.8 miles. Talk about a short 7-9 minute effort. I wish I could race my TT bike but had to do it Merckx. I wasn’t thrilled about that because I still don’t have my aero perfected on the road bike, and it showed in the end, in my opinion. I had a number in my head for watts, and overall due to the downhills I didn’t keep it my average, but I was within 10 watts. That is something I have to do better with – driving the downhill. I did catch one rider ahead of me, and that was thrilling. I wanted to catch a second rider, but I suppose the course was too short for that or I was not fast enough.

I ended up 1st place in category 4 women with a time of 8:58:60. I left to pick up the rest of the family and a teammate texted me a copy of the results. The results ended up changing sometime after I saw them. I made the podium shot in time luckily, but 3rd place wasn’t there. The texted picture had #2 as last place with a very slow time but updated with her at #2 a little later. To make a very long story short, I was told after questioning the results that #2 SC had been given a 30-second penalty for missing her start time of the TT (a strange random number to penalize when the race bible stated the 30 second penalty was if you didn’t sign in NOT late for TT).

Strava showed a different story. Strava showed the same results that the timing company had shown; that we were neck-in-neck. If a 30-second penalty had been given to SC, she would not have had the same time as me. This was all handled, though USAC rules are pretty clear on how long the penalty should have been (more than 30-seconds), but in the end it did not affect my results but probably the results of #3 and #4 below. I will say #2 and me were neck-in-neck in the TT which considering I’m probably 20 years older than her, will take it. I should have had >20 mph average though. No wind. I will have to work on it.

USAC rules about TT: 3E5. Start. (a) Each rider shall report to the starter at least three minutes before his scheduled starting time and shall start at the scheduled time. If a rider appears later than the appointed starting time, the start will be allowed only if it does not interfere with the riders starting on schedule. If it does interfere, the rider may be further delayed. In case of a late start, the appointed time shall be used in computing the results. A rider who leaves the line early shall have that time added to his overall time as a penalty unless an electronic starting mechanism is triggered on the rider’s start. (b) The rider shall be held at the start, but shall neither be restrained nor pushed. (c) No restarts are permitted for any reason.

 

Women 4/5
1. 479 BETH LOFGREN Taco Mamacita 443635 08:58.60 19.1 mph
2. 475 SOMMERS C 526369 08:58.97 0:00 19.0 mph
3. 477 MELANIE H Free Flite Masters 475258 09:39.50 0:40 17.7 mph
4. 474 CAROLINE B L5Flyers Cycling Team 525546 09:41.18 0:42 17.7 mph
5. 472 KEREN B Evolution Jr. Devo Team 413796 09:42.28 0:43 17.6 mph
6. 476 KATIE H Sorella Cycling p/b Hincapie Sportswear 493723 09:42.44 0:43 17.6 mph
7. 478 ALI L Sorella Cycling p/b Hincapie Sportswear 521537 09:47.77 0:49 17.5 mph
8. 471 HANNAH B Evolution Jr. Devo Team 468558 09:55.89 0:57 17.2 mph
9. 481 ELIZABETH M Frazier Cycling Juniors 439196 10:04.48 1:05 17.0 mph
10. 470 ELEANOR A 516475 10:07.50 1:08 16.9 mph
11. 480 AMALIA M Team Whitetail Bicycles p/b Pure Taqueria/Blueprint 524288 10:36.17 1:37 16.1 mph
12. 482 ANASTASIA S Team Whitetail Bicycles p/b Pure Taqueria/Blueprint 524981 10:43.69 1:45 15.9 mph
13. 473 SUSANNE B 526704 10:53.00 1:54 15.7 mph

The circuit race was different for me. 3 laps of 5 miles each, I think. We stayed together for the most part, but at the end, I was in a spot where I couldn’t really sprint out. I need to do a better job of planning how to get out a little quicker. By the time I could really take off, the lady in front of me sat up, and that was it for the most part. I don’t mind finishing with a bunch of cat 3 and 4 women in the main field, but I think I can sprint more than I have and want to learn how to really take off at the end. One lady did have a tire blow, but she didn’t take anyone else out. Luckily it was on a climbing section and not a speedy descent.

1. 477 MELANIE H Free Flite Masters 475258 20.5 45:38
2. 475 SOMMERS C 3 526369 20.5 45:38 +0:00
3. 478 ALI L Sorella Cycling p/b Hincapie Sportswear 3 521537 20.5 45:38 +0:00
4. 472 KEREN B Evolution Jr. Devo Team 3 413796 20.5 45:38 +0:00
5. 476 KATIE H Sorella Cycling p/b Hincapie Sportswear 3 493723 20.5 45:38 +0:00
6. 479 BETH L Taco Mamacita 3 443635 20.5 45:38 +0:00
7. 481 ELIZABETH M Frazier Cycling Juniors 3 439196 20.5 45:38 +0:00
8. 474 CAROLINE B L5Flyers Cycling Team 3 525546 19.3 48:24 +2:46
9. 470 ELEANOR A 3 516475 19.3 48:24 +2:46
10. 471 HANNAH B Evolution Jr. Devo Team 3 468558 19.3 48:24 +2:46
11. 482 ANASTASIA S Team Whitetail Bicycles p/b Pure Taqueria/Blueprint 3 524981 18.7 49:49 +4:10
12. 480 AMALIA M Team Whitetail Bicycles p/b Pure Taqueria/Blueprint 3 524288 18.6 50:14 +4:36
13. 473 SUSANNE B 3 526704 17.9 52:12 +6:34

Saturday night, I was a bit stressed because I had a lot to do and the road race looked brutal.

Sunday morning, we woke up late. Not good. We had to fly through the morning like most mornings of my life at home trying to get out the door for work. I’m going to drift into that chaos for a moment and just say sometimes I wonder how I even stay afloat half the time. There are moments when the list of things to do and to get done to get out the door on time never ends, and even now I’m stealing time away from sleep to just type this up. I kind of feel like it’s all a bit overwhelming and that one day I will just collapse with fatigue and sleep for a week.

So far, I’m staying afloat.

Yes, the bike is my beer. And there’s a lot of thinking that goes on while pedaling. And praying.

Back to the road race. I stared at the course typed out on some paper. I was royally screwed.

But, in usual Beth form I told myself that I love to climb. Most people would look at me and think I wouldn’t like to climb because I’m not built like most road climbers, but you see, I’m a mountain bike climber. The reason I like to climb is that I HATE to descend, so I had to like the opposite. I can climb up as fast as I can and suffer at a steady painful effort, but the descent I would like to hand to someone else to do. I own last place on many road mountain descents locally. Fear is real. It’s not an issue of fitness.

It keeps me alive, I guess.

All this to say, the climbs looked bad on the road race. I didn’t warm up properly because it wasn’t clear where we were to sign in. We parked behind the school where a church apparently meets and my husband had a church member pretty much cuss him in front of our kids on Sunday morning! LOL I can’t help but laugh but it was poor planning. No one asked us to move our car, but it was apparent we were really causing the church to have a bad Sunday. We were supposed to be neutral for a couple miles or so, but we pretty much went hard from the beginning, and by the time we got to the 2nd climb on mile 4, the break was made. I watched as a couple of cat 4s went with them, and I figured at that point I needed to try to stay with the group I was with once it was formed. Some moments I remember: the first descent, the second time. I let go with no feathering of the brakes at all at around 38 mph. Not bad for the descent with some curves. I need to work on this badly. The second descent was insane. I had more fear that the traffic wouldn’t truly be stopped at the bottom and that I would die.  I hit over 40 mph, and I did not die. I had a big grin on my face, too when at the end I had a little umph to sorta slowly sprint into 4th.

I have to work on that sprint.

1. 472 KEREN B Evolution Jr. Devo Team 2 413796 1:32:24 0:46:12
2. 475 SOMMERS C 2 526369 1:33:44 +1:20 0:46:52
3. 476 KATIE H Sorella Cycling p/b Hincapie Sportswear 2 493723 1:35:12 +2:48 0:47:36
4. 479 BETH LOFGREN Taco Mamacita 2 443635 1:35:12 +2:48 0:47:36
5. 478 ALI L Sorella Cycling p/b Hincapie Sportswear 2 521537 1:35:12 +2:48 0:47:37
6. 477 MELANIE H Free Flite Masters 2 475258 1:35:16 +2:52 0:47:38
7. 471 HANNAH B Evolution Jr. Devo Team 2 468558 1:40:10 +7:46 0:50:05
8. 474 CAROLINE B L5Flyers Cycling Team 2 525546 1:42:23 +9:59 0:51:11
9. 481 ELIZABETH M Frazier Cycling Juniors 2 439196 1:44:10 +11:46 0:52:05
10. 482 ANASTASIA S Team Whitetail Bicycles p/b Pure Taqueria/Blueprint 2 524981 1:50:15 +17:51 0:55:07
11. 473 SUSANNE B 1 526704 0:59:14 -33:10 0:59:14
12. 480 AMALIA M Team Whitetail Bicycles p/b Pure Taqueria/Blueprint 1 524288 DNF +40:56 2:13:20

So. What did I learn?

Read the USAC Rules and know them well. Apparently, the judges don’t know them well to not assess someone a penalty. No, it would not have changed my 3rd place GC, but it would have changed some TT results for 3rd and 4th places moving up. I learned that tech guides are wrong sometimes. The picture of the jersey was wrong in the guide. Also, the masters’ field had a lap shortened and some of the field were not even told and found out when the ones who knew sprinted for the finish. Communication was challenging at the event. The UHC women’s team missed their start time for the circuit race. Wondering how that happened? I also learned a lot watching my teammate Krystal kick some butt out there only to have a crap pothole ruin her road race. I wish I had had the ability to help her as a teammate, but I am nowhere near her power or level yet. One of these days maybe? I learned that not everyone thinks the right thing is the right thing.

I learned my son really likes the Lorax, and that my daughter is working on a career in wrestling against her brother. And, she needs new pants because she is outgrowing her pink ones!

Krystal 2nd in cat 3 women circuit race
Krystal in the GC lead after TT/circuit

My teammate in Taco Mamacita, Krystal, ended up 1st in cat 3 TT and 2nd in cat 3 circuit. She was on track to win it, I bet. Can’t wait to see her win the next one. Or hear about it, if I can’t go.

I ended up 3rd in the GC behind Keren B and Sommers C. Hoping I see the small check for winning TT and 3rd in GC (for cat 4 women) arrives soon.

Next up I think is in April – a road race and TT and Big Frog 65!

 

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…