Ramblings, musings and generally boring stuff. Mostly about bikes...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Forest Park Crit 3/28/10

A rainy, windy day made for a nice first crit as a Cat 3. I had to keep reminding those who didn't remember I catted up, that I was really supposed to be in the Open, not the Cat 4 race. I would have liked to have been in the 4s race, but there's a time for everyone to move and mine had come. Unfortunately, it brings the suffering with it.

I watched the 4's race as I warmed up under Cory's tent with Allison. Jamie, Teresa, Chris and Carrie were nearby under Carrie's tent and Alice took to the road to warm up. Our vantage point allowed us to watch Kate's awesome win, with Suzanne in a close second (Suzanne also got the prime!)

After the 4/5 race, it was my time to role to the line. The rain and wind seemed to pick up a little more but I was warm and still dry at that point. From Go, Carrie took off! We jumped and caught up with her between turn 1 and 2, only for Teresa to notice, aloud, that Jamie's rear skewer was wide open. Since it would not have been a free lap for her (not a qualifying mechanical issue), we all agreed to wait for her as she fixed it. This made for a nice slow pace for 1/4 of the lap, but once she was back, racing was underway again.
Carrie jumped again and was off like a rocket. Chris came from the back and caught Carrie with all of us chasing. Jamie nearly completed the bridge as we turned onto the back side of the course, into the headwind. We all caught back up to Jamie but Carrie and Chris were solidly away.

We fell into a decent pace but 15 minutes in a prime was called. I pulled up the little hill into turn 4 and had no gas to go when they sprinted. Jamie took the prime and I watched as the four of them rode away from me quickly. I put my head down and hammered. It took me 1 1/2 laps to catch them and I was really worn out. Fortunately no one countered for a while and I was able to rest a bit. Jamie and Teresa made an attempt to jump but didn't get away.

A crowd prime was called at about 36 minutes. As we were coming around turn 3, Carrie and Chris caught us. The pace increased again but I stayed on. I tried to go with the sprint but didn't have what I needed and Teresa and Jamie took the 1,2 prime(s). I was off the back just a little again. I fought to get back on and eventually did about 1/2 a lap later. I was hurting though and couldn't keep up with the little accelerations. Carrie even pushed me a little but I was off the back again.

I kept thinking of Phil Liggett commenting "The elastic has snapped." I was on my own for the last 5 laps, but grateful to have been there for the 40 minutes of racing beforehand.
Fortunately, Mike Weiss was the announcer and made the passes through start/finish fun and interesting. He commented how my hands were sponsored by "Wilson" tennis balls (my mittens look like bright yellow tennis balls when I am in the drops).
He even commented when I was coming through "Here comes the second field on the road" - it was JUST me!!
When I finished (finally), he announced "here comes Steph Nadeau, being lead out by Steph Nadeau. I wonder who will win the sprint?" With that I stood and gave the best sprint finish I could muster!

I finished DFL but it's the happiest DFL I've seen in a long time. I was soaked to the core and could no longer see through my rain streaked lenses.
I am impressed that I was able to bridge (a definite weak point for me in the past) and able to stick with the pack for as long as I did. Alice and I are new to the open races and this is definitely a whole new ball-game! (Incidentally, Alice stayed on until just before the last turn at the finish! ~ Great job, Alice!!)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

2010 TNW!

Last night was my first Tuesday Night Worlds for 2010. (They started last week but I was sick).

I thought I was ready, but I was mistaken.

Phil and I kind of nervously "kitted up" at headed over to Carondelet. We arrived with "plenty" of time to register and pin on numbers. I spied Jamie warming up as we rode to registration, thinking I would ride over and join her for a few warm up laps. Mistake number 1. Instead, I chatted up the guy from Pi (couldn't tell you what he said), nervously pinned my number -taking twice as long as it should have, waiting for Phil to find the right tree to water, listened to Pirtle yell "3 to go"....Time wasted = no warm up.

(Potential) Mistake #2. (verdict is still out). I "peeped" instead of gu'd. Hoped that sugary little guy would give me what I need to hang with all those B racers.
As we rolled to the line, I felt this eery combination of wanting to throw up, pee (just a little) or poop my pants. Not sure how the Peep played into that.

I really really wanted to sit on Jamie's wheel. That lasted all of about 10 feet and Crystel came around and took my spot (!). Ouch, it hurt from the word "Go". I recall thinking as I dove into Turn 2, "Do I remember how to corner?" Fortunately for me and everyone around me, Yes, I do remember. I quickly found myself moving backwards rather than holding my position. I couldn't keep up with the pace (24 mph average) and off the back before I knew it but according to the lap cards, I lasted 10 minutes. Cory came up behind me and we cruised a couple of laps, jumping back in where we could.

My lungs seared with pain from the lack of warm up and breathing so hard. After a couple more laps, I dropped out and the coughing began.
I kept that Crit cough going all night and half of Wednesday.

Next week, I'll warm up & I'll try to stay in for 12 minutes!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hub Women's Team Training Camp

The weekend of March 6 was our Women's Team Training Camp in Hermann, MO. At around 9am, Alice, Katie and I met at Kate's house and piled into two vehicles. I lead out, with the understanding that both drivers (myself and Kate) knew we were headed down Hwy 44 to Hwy 100, and once in Hermann, I could follow the specific directions to Ashley's parent's home.
We quickly fell into a driving and talking rhythm and never noticed that we passed our exit. It was only when I noticed signs that we were approaching CUBA that I realized something was not right! Oops. We had driven some 30 miles past our exit!

After a quick call to Ashley, we were given the choice to turn around and head back East on 44, or take a twisty, curvy Hwy 19 to Hermann. I don't hurry well down curvy roads, so I opted to head back on 44.
OK, so what should have taken a little more than an hour and a half, took slightly longer! After that, we arrived in Hermann without incident.

Thanks to an amazing team weekend skills and drills plan from Pro racer extraordinaire, Carrie Cash, we had two great days of rides planned. We quickly suited up, commenting on just how much stuff five women brought for two days of riding! You would have thought we were moving in!

Our first day of riding took us on a quick warm up downtown and then straight up hwy 19! Yikes! That first hill is a doozy! We attempted to work on staying together but somehow I was off the back near the top of the climb. Mountain goats, Ashley and Katie sailed up with ease!

We continued up hills and practiced some team building tactics. Once we turned back onto hwy 100, we quieted down and settled into a single pace line. Our first flat of the weekend came a couple miles down 100. Kate's rear wheel was victim but thanks to a genuine innovations CO2 we were back on the road in no time.

The down hill into town was incredibly fun, but I know we had committed to climb Gutenburg hill, and it was looming just around the corner. With none of my team mates contesting, I took the sprint finish downtown, then we regrouped and made our way to Ole Gutenburg. I was out of gears before the 1/2 way point. I knew I was in trouble when I had to swerve to stay upright. Again, Katie and Ashley climbed with ease. Kate followed close behind. Alice was behind me but as she passed, I nearly took her out with a swerve to the left. It was everything I could do to keep that front wheel from bouncing up. Eventually I made it to the top. We regrouped again and headed back to Ashley's parent's house, where we promptly decided that the day was way too nice to stop there. We opted to head toward the TT route, but took the flats to the West instead. We cruised along at 20 mph and chatted easily. The tailwind fooled us into complacency and we pushed a little further down the road, wanting to "reach the end" at Blufftown before turning around.

Wow! Holy-Headwind. Well, it was a good time to work on rotating pace lines!
By the time we arrived at Ashley's house we were very tired and very hungry. Dinner and bedtime couldn't come soon enough.

We loaded up in Kate and Ashley's vehicles (My Beetle sits too low to navigate the road to the "ground" where the cabin sits) and headed just a couple miles south of town. A quick turn off the highway yielded a gravel road loaded with pot-holes filled with water from the recent rain/snow melt. Ashley navigated this 1/4 mile winding road like she knew each and every one of those holes. Soon we were parked in front of a little cabin on a little pond. Ashley's parent's beautiful new home is in the process of being built across the pond.

The cabin was furnished with a queen bed, bunk beds and a sofa, all the necessary amenities to clean up and cook up. Kate got to work on the steaks. Alice popped the rosemary herbed potatoes into the oven. I started on the salad, only to soon realize I had forgotten the fresh baguette in my car in town. Boy, I was really really wanting that bread. Once we also realized my purse was waiting in the car with that bread (and my glasses/contact solution) and possibly the steak knives, Ashley and I headed back to town to retrieve it. We got back just in time to sit down to dinner.

Dinner was as amazing as our ride. Steaks, potatoes, spinach/raspberry/walnut salad, HUGE bowl of mixed fruit, bread. We ate and ate and talked and grew quiet as our bellies were full and sleep grew heavy on our minds. We readied for bed. Ashley on the sofa, Alice on the top bunk, Katie on the bottom bunk and Kate and I in the Queen bed, with hopes the cabin kitty Chester would snuggle in with us (we missed our own kitties!). When Ashley turned out the light, I realized how far from home I was! It was complete darkness.

The next morning we had a leisurely breakfast, as delicious as the dinner the night before. We readied ourselves for another ride and some more team drills. After dropping the vehicles and stuff off at Ashley's house in town, we headed out to the TT course. The headwind from Saturday had shifted, so we enjoyed a tail wind was we rode East. We chatted, worked our plan from Carrie, developed a race strategy we will call "The Hedge" and rode on to the turn around point. Yikes! Headwind time again. Another good opportunity to practice drafting and rotating. We worked on getting in tighter formation and then practiced attacks, reeling in, etc. The headwind and previous days miles had worn us down and after about 15 miles, we were ready to head back home. We did get to enjoy a little more tail wind on the way back and this made for some nice impromptu sprints and playfulness on the bike. A great wrap up to a great weekend of rides.

After a quick lunch in town. We loaded into the cars and headed back to St Louis. The drive home was MUCH faster and uneventful. My legs felt tired but strong and I felt a sense of increased camaraderie with my team. We have a strong team, filled with amazing women.

Look out St Louis, Here comes the Hedge!

Monday, March 1, 2010

2010 Race Report Numero Uno

Race #1 is in the books.

Froze Toes 2010. Sunday February 28.
Temps were mid 30's, topping out in the low 40s. Sunny. Very un-Froze Toes like.
In fact, my toes were only mildly uncomfortable.

I carpooled to Columbia with Kate and Kubinak. The constant chatter was actually a good distraction. I have a tendency to get into my head and over think things.
On the way to Kate's at 8am, I listened to Liz Phair... I carried this with me:
"It took an hour, maybe a day. but once I really listened, the noise just fell a way."

By 10:30 we were in Columbia. In a flurry with everyone else, we registered, pinned numbers, dressed and engaged in typical pre-race conversation. I "sized up" my competition... Molly Vetter-Smith, Gina Champion, Jacqueline Denny, Chris Roettger, Cindi Inman, Teresa Sedlacek, Maureen Maciekowicz. Ouch! Fortunately, I had my tried and true teammate Alice to dive into our first Cat 3 race together. Molly humored us by saying "I haven't been on my bike in a week!" (she also share an excellent tip of putting the wind vest under my jersey.That way if I needed to remove it last minute, I didn't need to re-pin anything! Thanks Molly!)

Kate and Ashley were there to represent the Hub Women in the Four's race. As it was Ashley's First Race (!) I wanted to make sure to give her some pre-race tips and cheer her on. My teammate on another team, Suzanne J was also there in Team Rev colors. These three ended up giving each other a great sprint finish, with Kate taking the Sprint win and 7th overall!

Before leaving for our warm up, Carrie took Alice and me aside to give us a pre-race pep talk. She advised us to be the eye and ears of the race. To soak it all in, using all our senses (later, when we road through a strong "farm" smell, I realized how literal this advice was!). Watch who goes where, who shifts when, who drinks and eats, who attacks and who responds. This directive turned out to be the best thing for me. It forced me out of my head again and made me attend to those around me and the race itself.

After some instruction from Aero, our race was underway. Chris took the lead and Molly and Cindi were close by. It was clear that they were the strongest team (the only other "Team" was me and Alice) and were setting the tone of the race. They organized the first attack and watched Maureen closely when she moved to the front for an attack of her own.

There were a few more attacks, from Chris, Molly or Maureen. I noticed that Jacqueline was quick to respond, usually followed by Gina. If I was careful not to block Gina, she'd jump on Jacqueline's wheel and then I could follow, in a much better position to respond and recover! The one thing I was frustrated by was my position in the wind. I wanted to be on the inside of the road but that was the direction of the wind for the first 1/3 of the race. Each time I would look around to where I should be, I found Teresa in that exact spot. I quickly dubbed her "VISA" (she's everywhere I want to be! - ok, that was dumber than saying "they don't make those boxes square anymore.")

The first BIG attack came after the first turn. We jumped to catch back on but only did for a minute. Pretty soon, Chris, Molly and Maureen were getting smaller and smaller in our sights. We found, disorganized/chaotically to catch but never did. Chases were instigated by Gina or Jacqueline but they'd reach their peak and back off. Alice, Teresa and I would come around, accelerate and then drop again when we tired. We reached speeds of 30 mph but weren't getting any closer.

Pretty soon we fell into a pseudo circular pace line. It would work for a few rotations but then become disorganized again. After several minutes of watching this occur, I finally decided to speak up and give it some direction to get things running like clock-work. With just a few directives, we were rotating well. Accelerating to about 27-28 mph on the Left and 24-25 as we "rested" on the right.

BIKE RACING IS A BEAUTIFUL THING! especially when it's a bunch of women working together in a gorgeous paceline! Flowing like water down the road.

I was feeling great (except for a little nag of a cramp in my left calf that I would just chose to ignore!) I assumed that everyone else was feeling no pain too, until Alice commented that she wasn't sure how much longer she could hang on.
Despite this comment, Alice continued to hang on, as did the other five of us, in our rotating, forward moving, circle.

It wasn't until we hit the rollers that the paceline started to fall apart again. Soon Jacqueline's pulls were shortening, as she was taking a lot longer to move from the back to the front (leaving me at the front to pull up a few hills!). I didn't notice that Alice and Cindi were off the back until Teresa commented that we were down to four.

Gina, Teresa, Jacqueline and I continued to work together through those rollers. Everyone seemed to be hurting a little, at different points. It wasn't until we turned onto Z that I realized some of us seemed to be working harder than others. Actually, I didn't notice til Teresa said something. But I was really liking that rotation.

One little attack from Jacqueline, but Teresa and I got her. T commented that we were down to three but I was peeved at having to cover that attack, so I just wanted to sit on and let her pull for a bit. We all got together and just before 1k, Teresa attacked. Gina didn't have the legs to go so Jacqueline and I were the only two to respond. At 200 M we ramped up for our sprint...

Warning.. I have gone over this part over and over and still wonder what I did wrong. I have gone from being observer to back deep in the depths of my insecure brain.
Basically, Teresa and I started to sprint. As the road turned, we continued on our courses. I was right on the yellow line. Teresa to the right of me. Next thing I know, Jacqueline is between us and we are leaning in to sandwich her. I could hear Teresa yell something about moving over. For several seconds, I could not move. My left side did not want to do any more work. I just prayed Jacqueline didn't go anywhere fast. Once Teresa and I disengaged from her, she just continued that path straight through for 4th place. It was down to Teresa and me. I didn't, COULDN'T stand for the sprint. My left leg was a huge cramp.
Somehow, I got 5th, by millimeters, I'm sure.
I keep wondering if I should have held my ground. Jacqueline wouldn't have been able to move up between us....Or should I have moved further left, since we had the full road for the sprint at 200 M. I can keep going over it, but it'll never change the outcome.

All in all, I had a good first Cat 3 race for the season. I watched, listened, assisted, worked, pulled, sat in and finished with the chase group. Goals met and season off to a good start.