Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Human Kebab

This video is not for the squeamish: http://www.trackworldcup.co.uk/News/Article/329/1

Now that that's out of the way, I can go on to talk about another of my fears- Being skewered like a kebab. While I love kebabs, don't get me wrong, being one is not something I'd like to have on a list of life accomplishments.

The Malaysian sprinter, Awang, is one tough guy! They all went on to finish the race, and according to another video, it took him until after he ran across the line to notice the railroad spike like "splinter" through his leg. As the above video says though, he should be able to ride in but a fortnight. (I would like to say that the word "fortnight" is underutilized. I digress.) Being skewered is not something that happens often, but it is now a fear of mine. I would also demand that the surgeon let me keep the piece of wood as a souvenir.

Monday, February 14, 2011


The Track Worlds Website is up and going. The program and hotel information is there for any of you interested in a little last minute vacay.

That's Bike Racing

Like I mentioned in my last post, this past weekend was the Valley of the Sun stage race in Phoenix. Last year it treated me very well but this year it wasn't as nice. Friday was the time trial. I'm satisfied with the effort but know that I can go much faster. Saturday was the road race and Sunday was the crit.

The road race started at high noon, like an old west duel. I felt good, I'd recovered well from the TT the day before and I was ready for the first road race of the season. The course was a 16 mile triangle with a 3500-4000m climb on one side. It was sunny, warm and windy. Allison had raced earlier in the morning and made girls cry. My race however was less successful. Approximately 5 miles into the 57 mile race- about a kilometer after turning into the crosswind section of the course- there was a crash. I got tangled up in it and, miraculously didn't flat, damage my bike, and other than some thistles and thorns in my hip I was uninjured. The bodies and sand in the ditch below me cushioned my fall. It took a while to untangle everything and check myself and bike over before I got started again. At that point, chasing solo in the wind was looking like it would be fruitless. And believe me, I chased with the fury of 1000 warriors yet made no progress. After chasing for a lap with another girl, I decided to cut my losses and save it for the crit. If nothing else, it was good to get a solid ride in in the sun. The tan lines need work!

Each year the crit is held on a figure eight course- it did not actually cross itself, just touched in the middle- and it’s one of my favorites. It’s technical enough that it separates some people out but it’s open enough to still be fast. After a disappointing road race, I really wanted to do well in the crit and redeem myself a bit. The whistle blew and the race started. It was fast right from the start. The Primal/MapMyRide team kept the pace high and kept anything from getting away. It was too fast for me to try to go on my own that early. My plan was to just hang out in the pack and then with two laps to go try to take a last minute flyer. My plan was going perfectly and with three to go I was sitting in about 10th wheel and moving up. Then, while going through the rodeo section on the back side of the course -I call it the “rodeo section” because the pavement is quite bumpy and you have to just hold on and hope for the best- my wheel was knocked out of alignment and into my frame. Immediately it was as if I’d pulled the E-Brake or, like on aircraft carriers, the plane catching cable grabbed me and was dragging me backwards. And that was that! Because it was within three laps of the finish I was awarded pack time for the day.

This bike-racing thing is frustrating. I’m sorry if this sounds like something an ex high school quarterback would say at his ten-year reunion- “The game would’ve been totally different if coach had let me do ______ and then we would’ve won state. It could’ve been great, I’m telling you.” In no way do I mean I would’ve won, but, I am saying that I wanted to take a chance and if I couldn’t win at least go out in a blaze of glory- or something like that. Like I said, this can be a very frustrating profession, but at the same time, it’s the most gratifying. When things work out, it’s a phenomenal feeling. Highs come with lows and it’s nice to get the lows out of the way before the season gets going in earnest.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Starting the Season Off... Right?

Yesterday was the first stage of the Valley of the Sun stage race in Phoenix, AZ. The format is a ~23K time trial, a 57 mile road race and a 40 minute crit. VOS is my first race in a long time, and first official test of the legs and lungs since being sick. I woke up the morning of the TT feeling great, the sky was a little bluer, the grass was greener- well, maybe that was just the turf on the putting green in the yard- and the sun was shining. I felt fantastic! Start time is approaching and I put my bike on the trainer, kit up and begin my warm up. 

Here's a bit of background so this post makes more sense. When I was home for the holidays my brother's rabbit ate the laces right out of my shoes. Yes, I know the holidays were two months ago, but that's neither here, nor there. Finally, the day before leaving for Arizona, I decided to finally replace the laces in my cycling shoes. After an hour of struggling with the shoes and very thin cable laces, cutting laces to their appropriate length- which I just guessed- and reassembling the ratchet closure system, I thought they were ready to go. Did I try to ride with them? No, why would I do that? Of course it would be fine.

While riding in Tucson with Ali Jones I realized that my shoe did not, in fact, work properly. It kept opening up and I was beginning to worry that my foot might just come out of the shoe. I thought about it and figured that it was because there was too much cable in the boa system and it was over loaded. I tried fixing it to no avail. The ratchet itself had broken. Now, I usually travel with a second pair of shoes, but did I this weekend? Ha! No, no, of course not. The solution? Electrical tape. A few times around the shoe and I was set to go! It's important to be able to improvise, right?

Now that my shoe had no chance of falling off my foot, I was set to resume my warm up, and then race. Start time rolls around and I take off for 23K of pain! Holy Chicken, it was painful, and I was proper f'd afterwards. Technically, I'm happy with the ride- I chose the right gears, was focused the whole time, had good body position and left everything out there. From a time and placing standpoint, it wasn't my best ride- I'm sitting 15th, 2:30 back- but I'm actually satisfied despite that. With every track camp and effort that we do, I realize just how much the Pnu took out of me. It makes total sense why old people die of pneumonia.
With the dancing shoes on

I gave my best yesterday and that's all I can ask for. Having Pnu has helped me realize how important it is to be patient although, admittedly,  I'm still not very good at it. Perhaps patience is like art- it's never actually finished, it's just "done" when it has to be.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sorry for starting to slip back into my old, bad blogging habits. I enjoy blogging but it seems to slip my mind. Can I blame my not following through on my resolution on the mysterious cessation of Google Cal reminders? Yes, but that's irresponsible. Truly, I really didn't feel like blogging at all last week.

We wrapped up our third track camp in LA yesterday. This camp was still the two-a-day format with early morning and evening sessions each day. The training tears me up, but one of the hardest things is getting up so early. It probably sounds like I'm a prima donna for saying that but it's true. A late night session followed by and early morning session is hard to do. Between eating dinner, trying to wind down, and then finally sleeping, it's a quick turn around. That said, it was nice to have more time between the morning and afternoon sessions for added recovery.

I'm still recovering a bit from the pnu, and as Craig told me "You're flat... Whatever that means." Always the wordsmith, he also said "Enough is enough, when it's enough." Now, that probably doesn't make a ton of sense to a lot of you but it does to me. It's easy to dig yourself into a hole by not fully recovering from an injury, illness or just hard training. It's smarter to say it's enough than to beat your head against a wall trying to make times that aren't going to happen. It's frustrating for sure, but reminding myself- and having teammates and staff that remind me- that it's not the end of the world and that recovery is important help a lot. I was able to ride well and had several successful sessions on the track. It's always fun to ride fast!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

We’re in the middle of our third training camp right now, but this one is a slightly different format than the others. Rather than only being a track camp, this one is half road and half track- we just finished the bulk of the road half. The road half is based out of the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center where we do our biannual training camps and time trials. One TT is flat- Otay Lakes Road- and the other is uphill- Honey Springs Road.

Today is our first rest day between the two time trials and our drive up to LA to get on the track again. I think it’s safe to say that I’m not the only one that’s looking forward to today’s recovery ride. Yesterday was a slog for me. We had the Honey Springs TT followed by another 2.5 hours of climbing. Between being sick and doing a lot of track training, this endurance business is hard work. 3.5 hours and about 6000ft of climbing is tough for this track racer. If you’re going uphill on the track, you’re doing it all wrong.

Our work is done for the next two days and now the main objective is to rest as hard as we’ve been training. It will be important to go into the next camp completely rested and firing on all cylinders. Worlds is rapidly approaching – March 5th is our departure date- just four and a half weeks away.