Sunday, June 24, 2007

Ninigret NBX Criterium

With attacks starting early, this crit was lively. In spite of a strong wind--strong even for this notoriously windy course--and a field of only fifteen women, riders started making moves right away. We had a staggered start with the Men's 4 field, and about halfway into the 40-minute race they passed us. Two ladies [illegally] used the mens field to block them from the wind and the rest of the women, and made an attack. The Inependent Fabrications women managed to organize the rest of us into a rotating pace line, and then with a strong jump from Silke (for Anthem) we caught the break with only a few laps to go. Silke made the winning break, and the rest of us finished together. As usual, I think I started my sprint a little late. Nonetheless, I'm happy with 6th place--one upgrade point and $20. I think most of the top five were cat. 2 riders.

If I stick to the pattern I've established so far this season--finish 5th or 6th, then 10th or 11th, then 5th or 6th, then 10th or 11th--then I should be teetering on the edge of a top 10 at the Cox Crit today. I'm intimidated: this race will be fast.

My mom is in town this weekend. Yay! She was very camera-happy, so I have lots of pictures.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New White Bar Tape

If you can ride away from a bicycle accident, there's not much to complain about--your body and your machine are still functioning--so what if it hurts? As my dad, and many seasoned cyclists, like to say, "There are only two kinds of people who ride bikes: those who have crashed, and those who will crash." Though I've taken plenty of spills, Saturday was the first time I was involved in a major wipe-out in a race.

The tears that welled up when I realized I shouldn't sprint back up to the pack with blood pouring from my elbow were not from pain, but frustration. Until a shaky rider went down, 22 miles into the 32-mile course, and took half a dozen of us out, I was having the best road race of my life. I felt strong riding near the front, even taking some pulls. I was getting bored enough to consider attacking. I was working on riding safely but more agressively. I thought I might finish in the money, and I would feel good about how I'd raced regardless of how I finished. Bummer! I guess it's easy to claim you were going to finish well when you didn't get to finish. (p.s. I don't blame whoever went down first, it sucks for her too! and she was probably new)

I went home and rode for two hours to make up for not getting a full race.

While crashing is a risk I accept as part of racing, I'm upset about the negligent and unsafe organization of the women's race by the promoter. I'm sending a letter of complaint (as a know many of the other participants are), and I'll post a copy of it here soon.

After a few days of utter exhaustion, recovering from a long week and the soreness of crashing, I'll be back on my riding legs today at the training race. I still hope to be in relatively good form for the Rhode Island races this weekend--but we'll see.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Days Fly By

My new bike will be built, Dan will come home, and cross season will arrive as the leaves turn colors and the evenings become chilly. It seems perverse to wish for summer to pass quickly, but I'm eagerly awaiting autumn.

My training now is focused towards upcoming races in Rhode Island: the NBX and COX crits in less than two weeks. A few days after those, I'll fly to Florida for a week's vacation--if chasing Dan's wheel can be considered a vacation. These days will pass quickly.

While I easily get wrapped up in the excitement of competition, I'm trying to keep my cross season goals in sight, and not get sidetracked by road races that aren't important to me. After too many lonely miles on the road, and the ensuing boredom, riding in the woods is renewing my enthusiasm for training. Pedaling through the trees doesn't feel like training--it feels like fun.

Today my teammate Steph joined my friend Lynn and I for a cross ride in Big River. Hilarity ensued. Here's Steph taking a rest in the little graveyard we discovered. Check out more pictures on her Flickr page.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

I thought our kits were going to be cool, but...

...look at Ayako's!

She Rides Like Lance

During my third week in Japan this past Spring, my host Seiiya persuaded this fellow to take the "cute American girl" riding. I was thrilled to ride with someone fast and smooth who knew the territory. He met me at Seiiya's bike shop, and led me on a 70-mile spin on bike paths and country roads through Tokyo's outskirts. The elegance of his cadence and handling complemented his understated pearl-white bicycle. It was a windy along the rivers we paralleled that sunny afternoon. At the halfway point we stopped at a charming bakery to devour pastries and tiny cups of complimentary coffee. I'd discovered by then that most Japanese--even serious cyclists--are far too civilized to eat while riding (or maybe they were just being polite for my sake). We returned to the shop just as the sun was setting. Recounting the outing, he said that I ride like Lance Armstrong. I thought that was funny--sure, the American rides like Lance. But when he explained I was humbled to realize this comment came not from gross generalization but from attention to detail: Europeans, he observed, sit back and pedal at a high cadence, while Americans shift their weight more forward, and push a bigger gear but still spin. Sure enough, I ride like an American.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Training my Wheels

Gloucester's U.S.G.P. last fall was my first cyclocross race--an my first off-road riding experience in my adult life. My age was still in the single-digits the last time I rode over grass and dirt (in my back yard). The fearlessness [foolishness?] that competition inspires carries me across terrain I have no idea how to handle. But when my judgment isn't blurred by adrenaline, I'm a wimp. I am afraid to ride over a twig. I'd like to get over that, so last Friday Lynn, who is a former mountain bike racer, led me through the trails of Big River. There's not much a 'cross bike couldn't handle in there, but it's more technical than any cyclocross course. She had to wait for me often while I ran through sections I was too timid to ride, but I had a blast! My learning curve was steeper than the run-up at the North Hampton Verge race. After only an hour I was experiencing vastly improved confidence. Fresh scrapes an bruises on my legs are reminding me of the relearned lesson that crashing isn't really so painful--even to the ego. I can't wait to ride in the woods again!