Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Dark Side

With my 20 year anniversary of mountain bike racing growing closer on the horizon, there are still a few things with racing I have missed out on and would like to try. One of them has been to compete in the High Point Hill Climb road Time Trial. It seems that for the past decade this race has conflicted with the H2H schedule and I had automatically made it a non-priority. This year the date was a week earlier, so I jumped on the idea of trying this TT. I have never road raced before nor road time trialed, so this would be a complete new experience.

I asked a few TT experts about course previewing and they told me to get out to High Point and check out the course by car and bike, so that is what I did. I drove it first and then parked in the park on top to ride down and preview the climb. It was really cold and windy that day, and as I pulled stuff out of trunk, my wheel nearly blew off to Kansas, so I had to put it back in my car, while I dressed. Then I noticed that it was spitting snow. I found this quite amusing that on the day I plan to ride the road in late spring, it snows, when we had summer like weather all March. One thing I do know well, is that I can not change the weather, so I better just deal with it if I plan to be on my bike.

Dressed in full metal jacket, I descended in the crazy wind, and sure enough the snow was done and now the sun was out to cook me on the way back up. I ended up stripping down some but was over dressed for sure. The bottom of the climb was wide, open and boring. By the time I was a 1/3 the way up, I had already talked myself out of racing. I thought at that rate, it could take me 40 minutes, and I was really hoping for under 30 minutes. From that point on I backed off to relaxed pace to get back to the car. The road began to turn more up top and I actually enjoyed the ride up at pleasure pace. Once in the park, there were beautiful rock formations and one section of road that was completely lined with red columbine. I am so glad I slowed down to see these things, as I would have never seen them in race mode. As I reached the monument, my clock read 34 minutes and a women I ran into at the top reported her time as 39 minutes.

After some thought, I decided to register, and I'm glad I did, as I met my goal of under 30 minutes with a time of 28:12 on race day, passing a few ladies along the way. Was it fun? Not really, more like the pain cave with a mountain instead of a cave, but I am glad to have given it a try. I also went into this with no knowledge of road TT'ing, and I think I learned some, probably a lot more to learn as well. My day was more about pushing myself and just checking out racing on the dark side. Outside of the race, it was still a beautiful day in the mountains, which is a good day to me.

columbine in bloom

30 seconds before the pain cave, and notice it is uphill at the start.

Monday, April 23, 2012

H2H Chainstretcher

So here I am, once again, at the season opener of the Campmor H2H Race series. After nearly a month with no rain, our long needed rain finally came on race day. With predictions of heavy rain and flooding, I feel as if we lucked out with just an afternoon soaker. Most of the Cat 2’s and 3’s got their races in with just a lightly dampened course before the big rain made it’s way to Blue Mountain Reservation in Peeksill NY.

My day started with a little pow-wow at registration to decide which class the team Cat 1 ladies would race this year. As you read this, you may think that this is silly, but as mentors, we try our best to set the right examples for other women, as well as do what is best for ourselves and our fellow team mates. The series has offered a higher purse for Pro/Open than just Cat 1 in hopes to encourage more women to race. So..... Typical of us three, our conversation started out overly polite, with us each trying to fit in with what was best for the other, then the thought of paper/rock /scissors came to mind, and finally a decision was made that M and D would race pro and I was free to do the same or stay Cat 1. I chose to stay Cat 1, and after my race, I realize that was probably a good choice.

With all the nonsense of figuring out what class to race in, I neglected to check my over aired tires and went out to pre-ride. I threw myself over the bars on the first creek crossing. Luckily, I did not get hurt, but that was a good enough reminder that the course was wet, a condition I had not ridden in months. As I went to line up, I ran into a friend who mentioned that his buddy took a spill in the Cat 2 race and was on his way to the hospital. That sealed the deal, and I decided to race it safe, even if I were slower.

I had someone wheel around me before the first climb. Normally in Cat 1 this is not a big deal, as the race is long and things will work themselves out, but this person began to flail about and eventually forced me off my bike. I stayed calm and hoofed it up the hill in last place, re-mounted, slammed it in my big ring, passed them, and in 20 seconds I was back on the leaders train. …. I love my Sram XX 2x10! It gets me the gear I need and when I need it. Monster was the first single track, and the one where I went over the bars on the warm up. It was tight and I was unable to make a pass, but that may have been good, as I rode conservative. When things opened up and went uphill, I was ready to go and made my next pass.

It was quite humid and misty on my first lap and my glasses were so fogged that I over reacted a few times, causing some near crashes. I eventually settled in as class leader and 5th overall women. I also got rid of the glasses, which was a big help. Then the rain moved in, and the dirt sections became slick as well. Someone commented that my pink wheels glowed in the gloomy, misty woods, but I never noticed that. I was just riding, head down, trying to get the rainy race done safely. I was very happy to cross the finish line and find out M and D took 2nd and 3rd in the pro field and SS took 3rd in Cat 2. It was a rubber side down good day for Team Campmor women! I am lucky to be surrounded but such an outstanding group of athletes.