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.


Taco Mamacita Group Ride on Wednesdays

The group ride

We have a beginner ride that meets on Wednesdays (every other, I believe) in downtown Chattanooga. Members of the Taco Mamacita race team and members of the Scenic City Velo club gather for a chill ride through what is called the “poop loop.” I brought my camera along and joined them this time to also celebrate Amy and Deb back from surgery!

Showing off this year’s kits

And my favorite favorite favorite one:

And to make you laugh, what in the world was I doing here? Practicing polka? Twerking? Wondering where my bike is?

@tacomamachatt @villagevolkswagen @audichattanooga @hincapiesports @tifosioptics @sword @honeystinger @swiftwicksocks @rockymounts @revive_val #dowhatmovesyou #beswift #chaseadventure #drinksword #ridefast #womencycling #sceniccityvelo #villagevolkswagen #susongdermatology #rockymounts #sterchiconstruction #revivemetherapy #womenscycling #likeagirl #ridelikeagirl #stingorbeestung #honeyStinger #HSHive #tacomamacita #echeloncyclingandperformance

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.



Aaron Shafer Memorial Road Race 2017: lots of rain, lots of flooding (and a reroute), but still a good time

Jeff 2nd place cat 5 Aaron Shafer Race in 2016

Jeff had talked about the Aaron Shafer Memorial Road Race last year and how much fun it was. Jeff was 2nd place in cat 5 men last year. I did not think I would be able to go due to working, but had a last minute swap request for a friend’s birthday! Of course! I’ll swap Saturday for Sunday easily! Jeff had a really cool last minute photo finish between him and 3rd place – a close finish! I can’t find the picture today, but may try to find it sometime to update this post.







Lots of fog up ahead near the storm

The day started with me driving a separate car because we had to take 2 bikes each: a TT and road bike. The weather looked nasty and tons of rain and thunderstorms in the forecast. I left around 6:30 AM EST and saw the clouds ahead up past Dunlap and into Spencer. I descended into clouds and fog and back out into Sparta where mother nature greeted me with lightning.








Some of the Scenic City Velo team (Taco Mamacitas and Village Volkswagen) were already there watching the rain fall standing under the awning in front of the old theater in downtown Sparta, TN. I picked up our numbers and set out to get things going.

There was a 30-minute delay. Luckily, I didn’t have cell phone service (GO SPRINT MOBILE!) so I could not stress about the weather.

We had our assignments as a team and set out after warm up to the start line. At the start line we learned that the course had been changed due to flooding; it had actually been raining a lot for hours and the Mill Creek Climb would be rerouted to the Calf Killer Climb which would add on 6 more miles and add in more climbing to the tune of a 3 mile steady climb:

See that beautiful climb there?

Here’s a close up of the climb itself. It really helped when one of the volunteers for the race told me that I only had 1.4 miles or so to go to climb. I just kept that in mind while I kept the pace I was going. Staying around a magic number in my head and just settling into the pain and thinking about a couple of songs I like, lamaze breathing again, and thinking about how I’m not a climber, but can I possible just keep a teammate in my sights and chase? I passed a Village Volkswagen kitted friend. But, truthfully that climb was just terrible.

It made me think that I don’t want to do River Gorge.

It made me think that I don’t want to do Big Frog, especially after my little girl had a talk with me. I’m spread too thin.

The less blood that goes to the brain means that I think more clearly, or rather the logic is completely removed and it is my basic fight or flight feelings. Simple as that. I also did some praying. I mean, it’s pretty dumb to cycle in lightning in my opinion, and I needed some angels to protect me. I had good stoppage with the aluminum wheels rather than my light carbon wheels, but… what goes up must come down.

At the top of the crest of the climb I saw KK. I aim to serve the team and told her whatever I need to do to help chase down or whatever, I am here. Wish I was stronger to make things really happen. I’d love to chase down a lead group one day and CATCH them. It must be hard to do. We had another teammate from NLC and picked up EB (a teammate of mine) thereafter. We worked together until the end and set up KK to sprint for the 4th place finish. I was happy to get 3rd in my cat. Happy the TT was canceled due to rain. Happy I didn’t wreck until the end when I slid near my car like I was sliding into home plate with my TT bike. Fun, embarrassing times.

Here’s the chasing group finish with KK 4th, NLC lady 5th, me 6th, and EB is behind me 7th. I would have liked a burst in the end, but I laid it all out earlier. There wasn’t much left.