Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Vengeful Mistress

Bike's addictive, all consuming, when it's good there's nothing better, and when it's bad it can boil your bunnies.

On the plus side for the team this weekend...

The 1/2's had a large, competitive field at the RFK crit. No crashes. A very generous prize list. All the ladies worked hard and CycleLife had a top 10 placing. A very good day. Oh and in case you care about the actual results...LVG 1st, Tina Pic 2nd (ed. note: copy & paste for future race reports).

Click here if you want to see the video of the finish hosted on Hub's website.

Even better, our Cat 3's dominated their race at RFK...

With one lap to go Sara launched a solo move that stuck all the way to the end!

Jen won the field sprint for 2nd place and stared down the competition. Meanwhile Robin came in for 5th and Christina followed after putting the hurt down.

On the downside...

After having a good day at RFK, Wendy, Melanie, and I traveled up to Somerville, NJ. The race is not the most selective and ended up with dangerous mushrooming on the backside. With two laps to go a huge crash took out about 15 riders ...including Wendy. A second crash on the last lap almost took me out too, but I was lucky and had just enough room to squeeze through. I like to think it looked ninja-like, though probably not so much. Tina Pic won.

We spent a few hours at the hospital where we learned that Wendy had broken her wrist. After hours of waiting, they then performed what can only be described as medieval medicine - yanking Wendy's arm back into place. Wendy is very, very brave. I cried much more than she did. Though Mel swears she could hear the yells in the waiting room.

The good news - Wendy may not need surgery and is taking good drugs. The bad news - the drugs only do so much and she won't be on the bike for a while.

Wendy with a sad face at the hospital. Note the puke bucket. Fortunately it's empty.

This is a rough sport. One day you can be on top of the world, and the next you question the point. For now, we take it one day at a time and hope that Wendy heals fast.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

An unintentional time trial

The ladies of CycleLife powered by Specialized survived a physically challenging race weekend with the Wilmington Grand Prix NRC race on Saturday in Wilmington, DE and then the Kelly Cup/Bike Jam in Baltimore, MD on Sunday. Both fun venues and fun courses, but for the accidents that always seem to go hand in hand with your registration packet at Bike Jam.

We know crashes happen. We hope to escape them unscathed. For the most part, the team survived this weekend, although PJ is nursing some bruised ribs and torn cartilage from the Womens' Pro race crash pile up at Bike Jam. We think the bike is ok. And PJ has been prescribed a big bottle of percoset. (I saw it.) So all it right with the world. Or just sore and really fuzzy. I know she was planning on doing hill repeats up Illchester this morning and her last words to me last night were, "It's okay to ride while taking percaset, right?" Talk about devoted to this sport and the training it requires. Geesh. I'd be shoving those percasets inside my daily ice-cream chipwich and calling it a day...for at least 5 days.

(Photo courtesy of Chris Kelley) (Photo links courtesy of Jim Wilson)

Thanks to Joe Jefferson for the MABRA shout-out for my first win this season in the womens' 3/4 race at Bike Jam. First, I could not have gotten the W without my awesome teammates: Chicken, Jen C, and Sara. They knew I wanted to win--and made sure to keep the pace high and me off the front throughout the race. Race report below.

With two laps to go, Chicken rode up to the front and passed me sitting at 5th or 6th wheel. She winked at me--more than once---so I knew she was communicating something to me. Though I wasn't sure what. I decided lots of winks meant I should follow her. (I assure you this was not how my fiance snagged me.) I tried to move up on Chicken's wheel and it was being securely drafted by Dori (Artemis). The woman knows how to draft a wheel. So I patiently tried to maneuver myself onto Chicken's wheel while the pack moved along the back side of the course.
Right before the chicane, Jen attacked up the left side and caught the pack by surprise. Like a greyhound spotting a rabbit, I jumped off Chicken's wheel and grabbed Jen's. At that point I started barking out encouragement like a drill sergeant, "Come on Jen. Keep pedaling. We've made it away. Keep going. Just take me as far as you can." Jen put her head down and drilled it through the chicane, up the back stretch and round the final corner to the uphill finish. At that point, my adrenalin was coursing through every vein with every pedal stroke. We had opened up a sizeable gap on the field and I knew I had the jump and the legs to finish strong. I pulled off Jen's wheel and said, "We've got it babe. 1, 2. You and me. Come on." With that I sprinted up the hill. As I crossed the line and sat up, I heard the familiar bell and in that split second looked right to see the lap card displaying 1. Oh shit. And oh yes I did think that was the last lap. I repeat, oh crap on a cracker.

So I dropped back into my drops and put my head down and went on, muttering to myself, "Great. You hate time trialing and look where you are now. Left to time trial this darn thing." I heard the call of "8 seconds but closing in" while on the back side of the course and I saw my watts drop below 210 which means I've got more to give for a real TT effort. So TT effort it was and I managed to pull off the W with a solo finish across the line and kept the field at bay for the remaining lap.
So, did I unintentionally win. No. But did I unintentionally win on a solo 1 lap effort. You betcha. But in retrospect, I suspect the pack thought Jen and I were nuts to be drilling it up that incline with still one lap to go. That was, however, enough for me to get a gap I could hold. But I owe it to my teammates for believing in me, making the attacks throughout the race, and controlling the front of the field. Thank you chicks.

By the way, I saw this picture on Jim Wilson's site and I want to know where these were at Bike Jam. I'd have sprinted for pie primes all day long. Note to promoters - I do not speak for my team. They like cold hard cash.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I love it when a plan comes together...

For those of you that know me, its been a rough winter. Crohn's disease has been kicking my butt (no pun intended) since the stress of my prelims for my PhD caused a flare back in November of 2007. Fighting fatigue and GI issues left my base training...well, lacking. Luckily, I seem to have experienced a turning point physically and mentally while down south for Speedweek. I went from getting popped within a lap or 2 of a pro race and never having a podium finish to finishing my first pro 1,2,3 race at Waltersboro and winning the Sandy Springs Crit in a 7-lap solo break. I feel that a lot of people are owed a shout-out for that...especially since, for some of these people, their knowledge and experience can do a lot for the average cyclist (not just those with a broken belly).

First of all, my teammates and coach, Spencer Beckett, are the absolute best. I don't know how many people can say this, but I race every weekend with my best friends. There is nothing to compare to that. Having Michelle, Leslie, Sonja, and Jen Ras (honorary teammate) screaming for me in my 3,4 races at Speedweek was like a hand pushing me through the race. And of course I always heart racing with Wendy, Jen, Robin, Christina, and Mel who stayed back to represent CycleLife at home and at Gila. Leslie has especially been such an amazing mentor the last couple of years. She helped me strategize before every race last week, teaching me how to relax and be in control of the race. Spencer has also been a great fit for me as a coach since I started working with him 3 years ago. His philosophy of lots of base training and long tempo/threshold efforts has definitely made me a stronger, more powerful rider.

Jen, Sonja, and Leslie came to the race early to cheer me on at the Sandy Springs Crit.

Josh Frick at CycleLife USA ( did a Retul bike fit for me the week before we traveled south. I can't believe what a difference that made. By just raising my seatpost, changing my saddle, and slapping on smaller bars, I felt comfortable on my bike for the first time in...I can't even remember. I felt comfortable enough to ride in my drops for the first time, which helped me feel in control of my bike and confident through the corners. I definitely attribute finishing the Waltersboro Pro 1,2,3 crit to this bike fit...being comfortable enough to corner like the big dogs made all the difference. Having Leslie in the back teaching me the art of being the Grim Reaper didn't hurt either :)

Leslie and me surfing the back of the Sunny King peloton

I also go to a lot of doctors...but Dr. Steven Horowitz ( is definitely the man to see for any athlete. He is a chiropractor who is an amazing athlete himself, has been a "jock-doc" for past olympic teams, and works with a variety of local sports teams in the Montgomery County/Washington DC area. Trust me...he knows his stuff. He has kept my back, neck, wrists, and legs in good working order while advising me about nutritional supplements, weight-training, post-workout recovery techniques, and stretching. He always seems to be taking new training classes in yoga, kettle-bell lifting, etc...and passing on the lessons he learns to his clients.

Ok, I know this sounds a heck of a lot like an acceptance speech for an Academy Award, so I'll shut it. Its amazing how a few good races can make you feel so much love. Speedweek was a great week...and thanks to everyone that helped make it great.