Friday, January 14, 2011

Looking Forward

In a little over 7 weeks, the racing season is going to kick off.  With it will hopefully come warmer, drier weather.  I have set a new all-time trainer record, with 5 days in a row of going nowhere fast in my basement.  I can honestly say I was not looking forward to each session, but now that it is over, it was very productive.  These trainer days help to improve my mental fortitude.

The kick-off to my racing season will be the March Snake finale, followed two weeks later by the first SERC race in Gainesville, Florida.  While most of my competitors will be racing brand new 2011 bikes, I will be on bikes that have already seen a couple seasons of epic racing.  This has been dictated mostly by my finances, but also by the fact that my bike shop is unable to acquire any S-Works bikes.  Even though Bruce only sells Specialized, he can't get an S-Works Epic or Stumpjumper for me.  I am not sure why; Bruce says it has to do something with volume.

Now don't get me wrong; Specialized has been great to me the past few years of my racing career.  I love their bikes; I don't think I could ride anything else.  And their support has been great!  But it is quite disappointing that just because The Outdoor Store doesn't do a certain amount of $$$$ with Specialized, they don't have access to their top of the line bicycles.  I could always get one of their non S-Works bikes at a killer deal, but why would I want to?  Not only would it be heavier, the componentry would be less than what I am riding now.

My bikes ('08 S-Works SJ FSR, '09 S-Works Era, '10 SJ 29'r SS) have taken a beating over their life, but they have never failed me.  So rather than ride a lesser model, I am going with what has taken me to many podiums over the past 3 years.  It is not the bike that makes the racer, but rather the racer that makes the bike, right?  Performance is 95% racer and 5% bike, so I will just let that be my handicap.  Anyways, I already think I have made that 5% up, what with the killer strength sessions Coach has been giving me.

Regardless of what I ride, I am looking forward to a fantastic season of racing my SS in my regional XC series and throwing in a little endurance racing here and there.  My daughter will be racing the SERC kids series.  I am stoked!  Earlier this year, I told her that she was going to try a sport and her choices were basketball, soccer, or MTB'ing.  I was quite surprised with her decision.  She loves to play sports, but does not like having people watch her, especially team mates that might judge her abilities.  Hmmm, I wonder where she got that?  (I was really never a team sport kinda gal, either).  Zeke is going to be her coach and I will be her training partner.  I hope that Carly will enjoy it as much as I.

So although I won't be racing on a shiny new bike or in a shiny new kit, I will be racing with my daughter.  And that is what really matters! 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Snake Creek Gap TT Race Report

Still wear them all, 2005 edition is my sleep shirt.

I have been doing this race since its inception and it just keeps getting better.  Back in 2005, it ran January through May, it was run in reverse, the entry fee was $50, and I won $45 for first.  I remember saying to the promoter that the race was so much fun that I would do it if the entry fee was doubled.  Fast forward to yesterday, and I am gunning for $750 and a shot at the bounty.  My, how times have changed.  With 5500 feet of climbing and 34 miles of rocks and roots, it is always an epic battle between the racer and the trail.

Speaking of times, I will have to chalk up yesterday's race as a good SS training ride.  With the many challenges I had to overcome, it was not going to be a PR.  First up was the week of training leading up to the race.  I am currently in a strength phase with multiple days in the gym.  Coach said I was going to carry some fatigue into this race.  On that first fire road climb, I indeed felt it!  Darn it!  Coach was right again.

Secondly, our plan to do a private shuttle in order to get off the line first failed when the people we were going to shuttle with got pulled over by GHP en route to the race.  I probably started behind 100 people.  I do like carrots, but that was a bit many for me to digest.  Single speed realization #43:  it is excruciatingly painful and detrimental to overall performance to have to pass 40+ people, most of which took place going uphill.  That was like a serious Force Rep training session.  Most everyone was super nice about being passed, though.

Thirdly, nothing like crashing your brains out on the first mile of the race!  Yep, I bit it hard on the gravel road section.  I was attempting to pass another rider.  What I thought was just branches from a young sapling turned out to be a murderous grapevine, that wrapped around my Ergon GR2 Leichtbau carbon bar end.  The bike stopped ... I didn't.  Luckily, it all happened so fast, I didn't have a chance to put an arm down and break my collarbone.  But my whole left side took a digger at 15 mph.  It took a couple minutes for me to regain my senses and realign my handlebars.

The first 17 miles hurt the most.  I was about 10-12 minutes off my PR pace.  I think the climbing, especially on a single speed, is much harder than the second 17.  I also had to run more sections as there was a constant line of people ahead.  I do believe there were a record number of racers for January.  My guess:  250+.

The second half was much more enjoyable, although I still entered the pain cave numerous times.  My legs had finally come around and my 32 x 22 felt like a 32 x 22, not a 32 x 20 like the first half.  I always love the final rocky ridge; it is at this point that I can "smell the barn" and am usually able to dig a little deeper.

What made it even better was a little motivation by a fellow racer.  He allowed me to pass him, but as I was doing so he said, "I will probably need to get back around you, but no worries,"  ... Did he just say what I thought he said?!?  You think?  O.k. let's see what you got!  I kicked it up a notch and entered the first techy rocky descent.  I will have to give him some credit, he did hang on longer than I thought he would.  But after 5 minutes, all was quiet behind me.

With about 4 miles to go, I saw a fellow racer down on the trail, quite a ways in front of me.  As I made my way towards him, he still was not getting up.  Oh, no!  I was thinking that he might be seriously hurt and I was going to have to abandon my race to help him.  As I came upon him, he was still lying there.  I asked if he was hurt.  He said, "No, I just can't unclip from the pedals."  So we had a little trail side lesson.  He was trying to turn his heel inward to unclip.  I don't know if he was a beginner or maybe being upside down got him turned around, but I told him to move his heel outward.  Once he did that, he magically popped free.  I then made an attempt to lift his bike off him.  I swear to God that bike weighed 30 pounds.  I then realized that it was a Specialized HardRock!  Hats off to this gentleman who probably had the heaviest bike in the race.  He was hardcore!  He did look like he was spent.  I encouraged him that we were almost there ... he probably hit 45 mph on the road descent.

I finished with a 3:42:27.  I will happily take it.  My post-ride recovery meal was Ginni's famous cookies.  I would have loved to hang around as the post-ride chatter is always great, but with 33 degree temps and a wind chill of 25, I was cold as soon as I stopped pedaling.  Once again, thanks to all the volunteers for braving those brutal temperatures to keep us racers fueled, on the course, and motivated.

Looking forward to February and getting closer to the Bounty!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Back To Some Sense of Normalcy

The past 6 weeks have been enjoyable, but insanely hectic, too.  The holidays were definitely funner when I was a kid.  I did not worry about how many cookies I ate and I giddy in anticipation of what Santa was bringing.  Now 1 cookie equals 1 trainer workout and I dread January's credit card bill.

I host Christmas as Carly wants to make sure that Santa knows where she is.  What that means is although we don't have to do any holiday traveling, I am in charge of preparing the Christmas Day meal for the grandparents and us.  Turkey and all the fixin's was the menu for this year; about 8 hours of work that was demolished in about 45 minutes.  I have already decided for next year that the menu will be Tony's frozen pizza!

Well, o.k., I might have to upgrade the pizza to Papa John's or homemade, but you get the point.  No slaving in the kitchen for me next Christmas.

Carly had a great Christmas.  The two most favorite things she got were a Razor scooter from Granddad Jack and a Wii from Santa.  Since the weather has been most uncooperative for outdoor scooting, she has been all over the house with it.

I have been using my Professional Kitchenmaid Mixer to make healthy breads for everyone, including myself.  Banana Nut, Apple Walnut, and Pumpkin have been favorites.

I have yet to craft any yeast breads, but hopefully will soon get the chance.  Yeah, I know it is not Paleo, but ... a nice warm Foccacia is mmmmm.... so good.  I will reserve the non-Paleo items for the hard work out days.

I should have probably opted for the Garmin GPSMAP 62St as my gift, but did not think I would need it for several months.

However, after signing up of  Camp Lynda, I might be sorry I did not get it sooner.  Oh, well, I will just have to keep up with someone who has a GPS.  As for riding in Utah, I am so looking forward!  I have never been to that state.  I just hope/pray that the weather improves.

I have been diligently training through the holidays; lots of time spent in the gym with the hopes of acquiring Katie Compton-like strength.  Tomorrow is the first Snake TT.   The weather is definitely going to make it interesting.  I don't expect any PR's, just a good solid SS workout.

Last year I told Carly that she was going to pick a sport to try in 2011.  Her options were soccer, basketball, or mountain biking.  She loves to play sports, just not in an organized way.  I think she is afraid of not being good in front of a crowd of team mates and spectators.  She told me last week that she wants to mountain bike.  Hell, yeah!

So our 2011 plans will include the SERC series:  Carly on gears and me on a SS.  I just wish I could get her a bike that didn't weigh 30 pounds.  That would be the equivalent of me racing a 55 pound bike, something I just can't fathom.  Oh well, it will just make her stronger, right?