Tuesday, July 26, 2011

SCCCC Collegiate Track Race #1

This weekend Kim and I carpooled to Houston to attend the first SCCCC track race of the season at the Alkek Velodrome in Katy. These were the events for the women:

5 Lap Handicap (5 laps with slowest riders starting furthest along the track)


There were 4 of us girls from A&M, and unfortunately only 1 girl each from UT and U of H. We were the only ones who could compete in the Team Pursuit and Team Sprint, but it was good practice. Nicole, Sarah and I did the Team Pursuit. The lead-out rider starts at the bottom of the track, which was Nicole, and I was supposed to be second, followed by Sarah. But when the gun fired I had a little too much gusto and ended up way in front of Nicole, so I pulled into the sprinter's lane because I wasn't sure what else to do. The rest of the team time trial went smoothly as Sarah and I pulled half laps (the track is 333 meters) and Nicole pulled full laps for a total of 4km in 3:21.36. For reference, at Collegiate Track Nationals last year, the first place team pulled 6km in 4 minutes, which we would have done in about 5. So I'd say that's not too bad for a bunch of newbies!

The next race was the Point-A-Lap, where the first rider on each lap gets a point. I was in the sprinter's lane and was wondering why Nicole and Afton were up at the top at the end of the first lap. I would soon figure it out - halfway through the second lap, they used that height to sprint past the field into the sprinter's lane as a breakaway. I tried to catch up, but I had bad positioning and my cadence was maxed. I had no idea what gears I needed, and apparently the rental track bike was not equipped for this race. Afton and Nicole kept their breakaway by TTTing for the remainder of the race, switching points each lap, and Afton won at the end. My legs were zapped from trying to catch up, and I DNFed due to frustration/fatigue.

Sarah helped me switch to a bigger gear for the next race. I had been running a 46-15, and all I could find was a 13 to replace the rear with. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to push it, but I definitely couldn't do any worse, so I went with it. The scratch race was going to be longer at 18 laps. Just like with the previous race, Afton and Nicole broke away early on. I had just rotated to the back of the pack and they were at the front. I pulled around the rest of the group and bridged to meet them after about half a lap. My legs were burning, and the second I reached them, they both moved up track so I could pull. Some livid language erupted from me, and I started backpedaling in angst, wasting all my energy. I dropped back with the pack and ended up in a pace line with Kim. She was going strong. I was very impressed. I finished 4th behind Kim. I was disappointed that I had wasted my energy on anger, but also was happy to know that, given the right gear, I could keep up with the breakaway.

The handicap left us positioned so that I only had 4.25 laps, while Afton, with the points lead, had the full 5. Gabby (UT) was right in front of me. I was determined to keep my positioning, and thought it possible since it was such a short race. Henri was my holder and got to push me when the gun fired. I quickly caught up with Gabby and we worked BEAUTIFULLY together to stay in the lead, switching every half lap. On the last lap I was in front, and was worried that I would be too tired to keep my position coming out of the last turn. But I told my legs to shut up, and cranked with all my might to win the handicap race.

Sunday, Nicole and I (Team Super Awesome) did some great teamwork on the team sprint to finish 2 laps in 1:01, with Kim and Sarah (Maroon Zebras) clocked in right behind us at 1:03. I love those short races, where I can pull with everything I have and know that it's short enough that I will live. I wasted myself on the first lap, pulled up track, and Nicole finished us off strong.

Next was the Points race, which was going to be more about endurance at 30 laps (about 10 miles). Afton stayed with the pack until the first points bell, then sprinted, and didn't stop after she won the points. Nicole and I TTTed it to try and catch up with her. I was giving it everything I had when I was in front, but Afton just stayed half a lap ahead the whole time, and we couldn't catch her. I finished 3rd behind Nicole.

Our final race was the Miss & Out, which had been my favorite during the development class. But unfortunately, at this point, my spirit had been broken. I stayed away from the back from the first few laps, but then I got in a bad position, and I just didn't care enough to fix it. Gabby was up track and passed me, and I was pulled on that lap. I ended up finishing 3rd in the Omnium which was better than I expected. Despite some setbacks, I learned that I love track racing, and I am more capable than I think I am. I also saw Sarah kick some serious butt despite not having trained much lately, Nicole showing track finesse, and Kim demonstrating some major increases in performance. I'm proud of the team girls!

I also have some things to look forward to this week - the Driveway on Thursday, and the State Team Time Trial with Kim and Rachel!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Driveway Crit

This week was an off week for the Dirt Remedy so I went for a run on Tuesday. It's been over a month and my legs were killing me today! But I digress...

This week the women's 3/4 had less starters than usual - only 7, whereas we usually start with about 15. Kelly and Gabby were there and it's nice when you see familiar faces, but I really wish my Aggie teammates were out there more. I loved seeing Kim last week.

From the get go, the pace was a little slower than usual. There weren't a lot of "teams," so to speak, so no one had a reason to work hard. I could tell that Kelly (Team Brain and Spine), who typically pulls a lot, had made it a goal not to pull at all. 2 of the junior boys kept the pace up for much of the race, switching off with Suzy (Colavita) who tried to drop us after every hill. At the first prime, I was in good positioning at 2nd in the peloton and sprinted a little bit to win it. After that I decided my goal for the race would be to get both the primes. I was fairly sure I could sprint twice and still make a pack finish. Plus, I could tell Suzy would be a little tired from all the pulling and Kelly was saving it for the end. At the next prime a few other girls tried to sprint with me, but ramped up my pace and got it again! Time keeps passing by faster every time I do a driveway crit. Before I knew it we were on our last lap. Before the last turn, I tried to get on the inside corner but a 10-14 (fast!) junior who had been lapped had just caught back on, was a bit wobbly, and I got scared and was edged out. I ended up with bad positioning going in to the last straightaway. Kelly was a good 5 or 6 bike lengths ahead and Suzy was about 1, and both of them were pumping it. I was in the wind for the rest of the sprint. I gave it my all, but didn't have much fire left in my legs, and didn't gain enough on Suzy to pass her. I finished in 3rd - but won both primes! Check out the loot:
Podium water bottle, MJ's gift cert, Driveway pint glass and Thunderbird Energetica noms

Sprint finish

I'm still in third overall with Kelly one point behind for the mini-series. It would be possible to win it if the 2 girls ahead of me don't
show up for the last race in the series (next week). I doubt that will happen, but one can dream. I just REALLY like that orange jersey.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bicycle ramblings of insomnia

It's 3:30 am, I have to get up for work at 7, and I am nowhere near tired. So I figured I'd share some race shenanigans:

Dirt Remedy 6/7/11: It's getting too hot to race. I mean really, we shouldn't race. But we do. It was in the 100s around 6pm. I decided to do the Bs race only and check out the course/field. It was definitely more difficult. The course was about a mile long and much more technical than the Cs race from last week. There were several ascents that I wasn't strong enough to power through, and I ended up walking a lot. I got passed, a lot. There were two really fast girls in front of me, that dropped me from the beginning, but I was expecting that. Then they lapped me - I wasn't expecting that. At least it was only once! There was one girl behind me. I lapped her. The disappointing part about women's mountain biking is that there isn't a big enough field to have really good competition, even on single track. But the prizes make up for it... I got 3rd out of 4th and won a gift certificate to the Gibson, a swanky bar on the south side of town. I managed to washout on a fast, loose turn and gave myself an awesome wound.
Chicks dig scars

Afterwards one of the race volunteers brought to me a bottle of rubbing alcohol and a paper towel. I said, "no way" and stared at him incredulously. But I thought about how I didn't have anything to clean it with, and just before he turned to leave, I said "Do it. Do it now. But I can't watch." I covered my eyes, stuck my knee out and... yeah, it hurt like holy hell. BUT I did get an obligatory "kudos" fist bump from the race organizer when he heard the story. Haha, I love MTB people.

Driveway Crit 6/9/11
: It was women's night, and the Austin Flyers were providing mentored racing. Really the only help I got from that was motivation to hold onto the group, but there were other girls there that needed the help more. I like to see that kind of community involvement. I have been thinking of joining a cycling team and I thought about the Austin Flyers that day, but it's really just too big for me. I need a smaller group.Anyway, my goal this time was to stay with the pack til the finish. The problem was, it was a huge night for juniors. They had just finished a development camp, and decided to end it with the Driveway crit. We race with the juniors, and they are FAST. This time there were too many fast one, and they pretty much blew up the field from the start of the whistle. There were a few women strong enough to hang on at that point. Eventually they strung out and two of the juniors came back to help us pull in a pack. There were 5 of us for most of the race in a pack following 3-4 women. We never caught up to them. We rolled pretty slow for the last lap, as we argued over who was going to pull, and sprinted for the finish. I manage to pass up one person I was behind and capture 5th place. Not a podium finish, but I'll take it! Those were some strong women.
Women's 3/4 Results

My other goal was to race as much of the Men's 4/5 as I could hold on for, until my legs blew up. I made it until about 10:30 before I quit.

Dirt Remedy 6/14/11: I decided the time had come to quit being a sissy, and do both the B and C races. I took it easy on the C course. There was only one other woman in the Cs, but I'm about in the middle of the boys as far as speed is concerned, so the C race is actually good for me. I got 1st in the women's Cs and won another Gibson gift card.
Dirt Remedy C Race

The Bs race was really long this time (as far is short track is concerned) and there was a lot of uphill technical climbing. I spent a lot of time walking, to say the least. There were uphill stair steps that were about 8 inches tall! Impossible for me. We started with five women. Kristi (BSS) dropped me immediately as expected. I was right behind a BSS girl for a good bit, and I was excited to be with someone of around the same speed to compete with. Unfortunately, she had a mechanical the first lap of the race and had to stop. Kristi also had some issues, which left me and a girl named Larissa as women's race leader. I actually caught up to her (imagine my surprise), and then we went back and forth as to who was leading! Finally though, I found a girl of about my speed. We kept passing each other back and forth and after a while, I decided just to stay behind her until the last lap. I saw the referee card to 2 laps and thought I was safe to let her be in front at the start of the next lap. Little did I know, the race leaders were about to pass, and we were about to lose that extra lap. We got to the referee "finish line" and should have been in for another lap, but the referee yelled "done!" I wish I would have known - I would have tried harder! But 2nd ain't bad for my 2nd race with the Bs! I won two awesome camelback water bottles and some honey stinger loot.

Dirt Remedy B/C Race Results

And there is a slight chance that I could place top three in the overall series for the B race, so I will definitely be attending the last race on June 28th!

Dirt Remedy overall series points

Driveway Crit 6/16/11
: Kim came! And so did a few other boys from the team. It was nice to not be the only person in an Aggie kit for once. I was aiming to place top three this time. The field was a little more cohesive this week, but the course included an uphill that I loathe. However, I must be doing something right, because that hill was a whole lot easier this week. I didn't feel like I was going to get dropped on the climb every lap. I felt strong. Kathryn, the super fast chick from Austin Tricyclist, didn't really attempt a breakaway until the last half of the last lap. I think it was largely because everyone was keeping an eye out for it. I was too, and the second she took off I was behind her. I gave it everything I had for the sprint, and passed a girl that had been in front of me at the last turn, which I love. Again I didn't know how I finished, so I'd have to wait a few hours. But I got 2nd! I only have 5 (out of 20) more points to go before I *can* upgrade to Cat 3. We will see about that.

Driveway Crit Women's 3/4

With the Men's 4/5s, I stayed with the group for about 12 mins 30 seconds, so it's an improvement at least! One day I'll be able to stay the whole time. Henri dropped about the same time but then caught back on. What a rockstar - when I quit I quit.

Kim and I hung out with a few of the Brain and Spine Team ladies and then ended the night with a hard-earned Torchy's Tacos visit. It was pretty perfect. I love Austin and the cycling community.Women's 3/4 Results

And I'm third in overall points for the series!

Women's 3/4 Overalls

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Life in the Promised Land

Henri and I moved to Austin two weeks ago and it's been pretty awesome thus far. I've been working for Banfield through the Student Job Program and riding my bike as much as possible (which has been difficult through this adjustment period, but I'm getting better). Henri and I are lucky enough to live next to the Greenbelt and our apartments make me feel like I am camping out.

I did the Driveway crit last Thursday and my goal was just to stay with the group for as long as possible. By this point in the season, most of the women have raced at least several times, so the field was smooth and I easily found a strong wheel from which I could draft. I promised myself I would not chase, and I didn't. There is an Austin Flyers rider, Annalisa, that is really strong and pulled a few breakaways with some of the faster juniors. I just stayed with the pack. A few laps from the end Kathryn Turner (Austin TriCyclist) pulled a breakaway and easily had first place. Annalisa came in second and I managed to pull 4th place (our of 11 starters) after a Colavita rider. There were lots of strong women in the field! I started with the Men's 4/5 as a second race, and stayed with the field for a few laps, but I was already spent and pulled out. I still felt good though, after one of the race officials told me later "You raced great out there!"

Driveway Crit Results: 5/26

This past Tuesday was my first chance to compete in the Dirt Remedy, a weekly short track MTB race. It's like an off-road version of the Driveway Crit. There aren't many women, but we start at the same time as the men and there are three categories (A, B, C). I didn't know what the competition would be like, so I signed up for both the B and C races. The C race was first. There was only one other woman, J. Hanover from the Flyers. I was a little late and didn't have time to warm up, so I hung near the back the first lap to learn the course, which was a mile long. The race is held at the motocross trails at Emma Long Park in the rocky hills of west Austin. It was perfectly difficult. The first two laps were more of a challenge because I kept taking the wrong turns. After I became more comfortable, I picked up speed and started passing people. I had already dropped the other woman, but I like picking on boys so I pushed myself hard the whole 30 minutes. We did about 5 miles total. The boys were pretty skilled and I think I ended up finishing in about in the middle. Unfortunately, I was way dehydrated and started to get goosebumps near the end. I opted out of the Bs race, but I'll start out in the Bs next week. I won a gift card for winning the Women's Cs and it's for the Snap Kitchen, which is pre-prepared but healthy noms. Very Austin. I also met an infamous Austin trainer/cyclist who may teach our collegiate MTB clinic in September!

Dirt Remedy C Race, Photo by J. A. Hicks

Lastly in the Promised Land update, but perhaps most exciting, was this week's Driveway Crit. I wanted to bring the dogs so I knew I could only do the Women's 3/4 race. I figured I'd give it everything I had. Which was a good thing, because it was Ladies' Night and everyone was there to bring the pain, especially some of the junior men. I wanted to hang on like last time, but I took Henri's advice to stay on Kathryn's wheel if she tried to break away. There were a few more new people out there because Austin Flyers were providing mentored racing. It was great because I love to see new women out racing, and because some of their pointers helped me out. The downside was that there were more sketchy moves made by the inexperienced - I had trouble finding a strong wheel to hang on to and wasted a lot of energy trying to keep up with the fast people when I had to go around those that weren't taking great lines. Most of it was worked out halfway through the race though, and I got into the groove. Halfway through, the fast Austin Tricyclist chick pulled a breakaway, but I knew I couldn't hang. A couple of the juniors chased. I ended up drafting off of Annalisa with another Flyer, Diane, behind me. We rounded the last corner and I figured I would at least try to outsprint Annalisa. I gave it everything I had and creeped up on her little by little. I was pulling with every ounce of my legs and my back wheel started to hop off the ground on the upstroke. I was next to her right before the finish line and threw my bike forward at the last second. I didn't know who won the sprint at that point, but I was proud that I could catch up to her, because she is very fast. I didn't know how I placed overall because of the juniors. After results were posted later that night, I realized I had won the sprint and placed 2nd!!!

Driveway Crit Results: 6/2

I look forward to 2 more months of racing at home in the Promised Land.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Rocky Hill Roundup

I have been trying to garner the points necessary to cat up in collegiate, and Rocky Hill was the chance to complete my mission. This was the last TMBRA race of the season, and I wanted to do everything right, but...

We moved into Austin on Thursday. My plan had been to do the crit Thursday, rest Friday, pre-ride Saturday, race Sunday. Thursday I was too exhausted
from moving to do the crit. My brother Josh really wanted to experience the hill known as Ladera Norte so I figured I could go, and just do recovery pace except that hill. I accomplished that mission. And remembered why I love Austin. Next, we planned to pre-ride the race course at Rocky Hill Ranch in Smithville. I assumed, wrongly, that my Cat 2 course would be two laps of the Cat 3 course. By the time I realized it was one 17 mile lap, we were already at the back of the ranch and there was no turning back. Additionally, it was wet from recent rains, and the last half of the course was new, with clay exposed, and slippery. By the end of the ride I was exhausted. And I had lost my sunglasses the first 2 miles so I had to repeat those... We ended up doing about 20 miles, almost a half marathon.

I needed to get first in my age category to win, or rank in the top 3-5 of the category. I had scoped out the competition that pre-registered in my age group. One of the girls appeared, through previous races, to be on par with a racer who had to cat up to 1s. This latter racer had beat me by a long shot in my first Cat 2 race, by 15 minutes. I knew that I had no chance beating this new chick racing me. She was one race away from being forced to cat up to 1s. Let's call her TSA.

That, combined with my utter exhaustion, made me less than excited about my prospects for doing well. Luckily Josh was in good spirits, and Henri was going to be my soigneur, so I went despite my gloomy forecast.

The rains had stopped, and the course was the perfect amount of dry on Sunday - not too loose, but not muddy. I was stocked full of glycogen and well hydrated (I weighed myself the night before and I weighed SEVEN pounds more than usual... crazy). There were four women in my age group, and we started with the one Cat 2 age 15-18 (who had beaten me by a few minutes at Cedar Hill two weeks prior). Let's call her BSS. We were off, and the BSS and TSA sprinted ahead. My heart rate was near max after only 2 minutes. I passed the first hilly section and realized I had totally dropped the other two women in my age category. That didn't really matter; I still couldn't get upgrade points in 2nd place. But halfway through, I realized that still only 1 woman in the other age groups had passed me. By this point at the other races, there had been numerous. I thought to myself, maybe I can make top three overall for Cat 2? It was the perfect focus I needed for the last half.

At mile 10, there was the water feed. I threw my bottle and grabbed a new one. I tried to drink from it a few seconds later, and dropped it. The lid hadn't been screwed on tightly and ALL the water came out. I was a very sad, sad panda. I got desperately dehydrated about a mile later and just... picked up another rider's half empty bottle and rinsed off the tip. Gross! But I was soooo thirsty. And it was totally worth it. I haven't gotten any strange diseases yet, so hopefully I'm ok.

I had caught up to BSS which gave me more confidence in myself. She was keeping just ahead of me for a long time. I passed her once but then she passed me up a hill. I decided that I would just stay on her tail for a few miles so she had to go fast. Once I thought she was worn out, I sprinted past and went at max effort (ok, more than max effort because during a race I only have an "on" switch) until I was out of her sight.

Then I only had a few miles left. Coming up was "The Wall," and I hadn't ever made it up that hill, even on my pre-ride. There was an announcer at this point, and people had gathered to watch the carnage. Well, I just love a crowd, and I was excited/nervous. I hit the downhill as hard as possible, and had enough momentum to make it up The Wall with some hard cranking. The announcer said "Gig'em Ags!" and "That was smooth!" which was pretty much the best moment of my MTB racing life.
The downhill before the wall

Almost there!

Got it!

I had about 2 miles left to the finish. I felt good. I wanted as many seconds possible on the other Cat 2 riders. I gunned it and "chicked" a few more men (I'm still not sure if they were Cat 2 or Cat 3). It's always fun to see boys who really, really don't want to get passed by a girl. I stay behind them maybe a few seconds longer than I should before I pass them at full speed. ;)

I clocked in at 1 hour 49 minutes. I waited for the results, but I knew I had been beaten in my age group. I only got passed by one other Cat 2 woman though, and I had beat BSS, so I was hoping for the best. I waited by drinking my free cold tasty beverage... I love TMBRA.

I ended up in 3rd place! Which means I can cat up in collegiate, and maybe go to nationals this year. Happiness...


Smiling for the camera man

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cedar Hill MTB Race

The folks in Dallas put on a great MTB race this Saturday in the suburb of Cedar Hill. Tremendous downpours in Texas Wednesday and Thursday threatened the trails, but by Friday evening the parched Texas earth had soaked most of the rain up. Josh and I wanted to go preriding Friday, but with the rains we changed plans and would have to preride Saturday morning.Regarding my motivation for this race: I am trying to cat up to Women's As in collegiate for the fall so I can maybe go to nationals this semester. It's my 3rd year of vet school and the chances that I would have the time next year are slim, so I want to try to do it this year. To cat up in collegiate, basically I need to place 1st (because of the usually small field size) in two TMBRA races.

So, my brother and I wanted to hit the road Saturday morning at 6am to get there by 9 so we could pre-ride. Our perpetually late selves got in the car somehow by 6:10, but then I realized that 3 of my leaky car tires were almost flat. I got out the air compressor and put that on the worst tire, and Josh and I filled up the other two with bike pumps. By 6:30 we were actually on the road. With stops, we ended up in Cedar hill around 10 and were actually riding by 11. At that point I just realized it was me, not Josh starting at 2:30, so I didn't have as much of a break as I would have liked. Luckily it was still cool from all the rain. I had been doing a good job stocking up on carbohydrates and fluids in an effort to not bonk.

Pre-ride Overlook

The course was beautiful. There were tons of steep switchbacks, but they were pretty evenly spaced out, and fast downhills to compensate. There were technical sections but nothing too difficult. The trees were gorgeous and the recent rains had caused various blooms of wildflowers. I tried to take it easy on the preride but I was excited, and probably used a little too much energy than I should have. But it was nice to preride for the first time before a race. The 1 lap preride was 8 miles and I still had 2 laps to go for the race. I knew it would be a test of my energy. Luckily, I did gain a new skill during the preride. I had been reading about climbing skills and tried them out. It's all about getting out of the saddle on steep climbs to put your weight forward. This keeps your front wheel from popping up and gives you more power. Then to keep the back wheel from sliding out, you have to put more effort into your pedal upstroke, making sure to push down with your hand on the same side you're pulling up on with your feet. I was able to climb almost everything on the trail - a huge improvement from what I would have been able to do without learning this new skill.

I had about a 2 hour break between the preride and my race start. Then it was go time. I lined up early and started talking to a chick from team Bicycle Sport Shop that I had never met before. She informed me that the other woman from Cat 2 19-29 had catted up to 1s, and then I realized I was the only woman in Cat 2 19-29 for the race. Instant win! I was halfway to catting up to Collegiate As!

They started me with the two Cat 2 15-18s, and we were the first group in Cat 2 women. I could tell instantly that I was in the middle in terms of speed. After the first 5 minutes, I didn't saw the girl in front of or behind me for the rest of the race. They are incredibly strong for their age! It's heartwarming to see strong independent teenagers. There were 11 women that started after me in the other age categories. About 3 of them passed me on the first lap. I was going strong despite the instant win because I wanted to see how I fared against the other age categories.

I was feeling pretty good the first lap. Then the second lap started, and the Cat 3 men were right behind us. They only had 1 lap, and were sprinting it. I got passed by roughly 10 men in the first few miles of the 2nd lap. It was kind of annoying, especially since many of them were fast but not super experienced, so letting them pass wasn't as efficient, and I lost more time than I wanted to in the process. One guy did pass me efficiently - my brother of course. But then he asked me "Did you get a flat or something?" Be not afraid, honey badger paid him back later. ;)

On top of the Cat 3 men passing, halfway through the 2nd lap, my body was fading fast. The lumbar portion of my back was crying out in pain (I need to get fitted) and my muscles were starting to feel like jelly. I was losing my technical abilities. I had to walk up twice as many hills just because my legs were done. About 3 more Cat 2 women passed me, but this time not as quickly as on the first lap. After the enormous climb at the end, I was finally done!

It was definitely slower the second lap, but I ended up not bombing the second lap quite as badly as I did at Solavaca. I wasn't able to space out my effort as well as I wanted to at Cedar Hill because I forgot to put my HR monitor strap back on after the preride. But I think I did a much better job just based on effort. The first lap (8.5 mi) took 59 minutes and the second lap took 1:05. I'm sure I lost a few minutes on the second lap because I was stopping too much to let the Cat 3 men pass (I should have found a better place to let them pass so I could keep rolling). But I felt like it was an improvement from Solavaca, where I was bonked most of the second lap, and it took me 15 minutes longer than the first lap.

Out of all the Cat 2 women, I placed 8/14. Not bad for my 2nd Cat 2 race! (And I'm currently 4/13 for the season.)Photo courtesy of JWoo Photography

Out of my age division for Cedar Hill, I was 1st (and last) so I got an awesome piece of schwagg: a 900L trail light from trail LED! I have been wanting to do night rides recently so it was perfect timing. Now on to Rocky Hill Roundup next weekend in Smithville, TX!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Almost a 3VM!

We are picking out our electives for next year! We have 19 required hours in the fall, and 16 in the spring, including large and small animal medicine and JUNIOR SURGERY!!! On top of that, we have to take at least 14 hours of classes (over both semesters) of our own choosing. I have finally decided on what I want to take. Here are the courses I am pretty sure I'll get:

  • Basic Equine Handling (should be fun, and help me with my nonexistent horse handling skills)
  • Emergency Medicine (includes a super-helpful hands-on lab)
  • Interactive Emergency Medicine (case-based)
  • Feline Medicine (taught by the best feline vet in the world, and he has an awesome accent)
  • Physical Medicine, Rehabilitation, Pain Management (I've become really passionate about this since Parka was diagnosed with hip dysplasia)
  • Small Animal Clinical Cardiology
  • Small Animal Dentistry
  • Small Animal Dermatology
  • Small Animal Gasteroenterology (this prof scares other people/keeps me awake)
  • Small Animal Nutrition
  • Diagnostic Cytology
  • Oxygen Delivery

Classes I *might* get:

  • Small Animal Endocrine (I've never really "gotten" endocrine, and this prof is extremely well spoken)
  • Diagnostic Echocardiogram (we get to echo our own dogs!)

It would be a miracle if I could get these classes:

  • Electrocardiography
  • Common Complaints (small group discussions on the most common complaints owners have about their pets)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

2011 Baylor Omnium

The Road Race

This weekend H, J, K and I headed up to Waco for the collegiate race hosted by Baylor. It was the first time for me to do all three events in one weekend. We arose at the buttcrack of dawn and piled into the Grand Prix to make it to the road race location by 8:30. By that time it was already getting toasty. H and J took off with the men's Cs, and before I knew it the women's Bs were lining up. I was a little nervous for two reasons: 1. There only ended up being me and one other teammate in our category and 2. I had gone over my race strategy with the UT girls and they seemed to think it was going to be too fast to do a breakaway.

Women's B Field

The race was 2 laps of a 15 mile loop. I really only had about 10 minutes of warm-up, so I played the first lap pretty cool. After about 15 miles I was warmed up. I made sure my teammate N was behind me, then pulled up next to a UT rider, who was currently pulling, C, and said "next hill?"


Seeing she was sweating bullets (it was already about 90 degrees by that point), and knowing I'd need her help, I asked her "Want to draft for a minute?"


So she got behind me and I pulled us easy for a few minutes. The next hill was just past the first mark line. I was excited and began hammering up the hill, perhaps a little too fast. I passed a group of boys (Men's D I think) and our two respective lead vehicles, which was less than ideal, but I had already used a good deal of energy and couldn't stop myself. I reached the first right turn of the loop and realized I had dropped everyone, including those that were supposed to be in the breakaway with me. An MSU rider had caught up and I muttered to her, "well that was a fail." I waited a few seconds until my N and C had caught up, along with a few other riders, then began hammering again. Then it was me, N, C, 2 MSU riders and an LSU rider in the breakaway. After a few pace line rotations, it was clear everyone was working except LSU. At this point the mens' Ds had passed us and crashed about 1/2 mile ahead. We slowed down to pass through, but not enough to cause more of a dangerous situation by rubbernecking. We were climbing a hill and I became frustrated with LSU because I told her to grab onto the person in front of her's wheel so that she would move forward in the pace line, and she shook her head no. What I didn't realize is that she was starting to bonk. We dropped her one roller later and didn't see her after that.

Everyone in the pack worked well together - it was beautiful. Our speed was about 4 mph higher the last 7 miles than it had been with the pack. It seems it took forever for the last two miles - I kept on thinking the finish line was just around the corner. N and I were off the front with about
1 mile to go, and I told her to stay on my wheel until right before the finish line, then sprint ahead of me. What I hadn't realized was that had a flat in the works. I saw the official's tent with about 0.5 miles to go. We hit a roller to carry us to the finish, and despite going all out, I was slowing down rapidly. I thought I was bonking, but at least I had gotten my teammate nearly to the finish (although she probably didn't even need me that last mile). But I noticed the road felt a little different, and I instinctively looked at my rear wheel. It was halfway flat. I let loose some obscenities but pulled myself the last quarter mile to the finish as fast as I could, despite there being no one behind me in sight. I placed 5th. MSU 1st, N 2nd, C 3rd, and another MSU 4th.

Me getting dropped at the finish (left front rider is a high school rider)

Flat tire

I wish I hadn't gotten a flat and could've participated in the sprint finish. But I got to carry out the rest of my plan, which I've never done before. I worke with a great group of girls and had fun doing it. I helped my teammate place 2nd, and got points for the team myself.

4*win - technical fail = 3 wins!!!

The Time Trial

My teammate, S, had just catted up to the As and needed me and K to do the time trial with her. She had already done a 45 mile time trial for the road race, and I was pretty whipped from pulling during the women's B road race. The first thing I noticed when I started warming up was the course was HILLY. It was only 9 miles, but it was still in the 90s and the whole thing was on a grade. We checked to make sure we were registered under our proper team name, Cero Pelotas. Around 4:15 we rolled out. We worked really well together despite being exhausted - K worked very hard to help us make up for lost time on the hills. Still, it was exhausting. We didn't get passed by the other women's A team - MSU - until halfway through. We ended with an uphill sprint and finished 2nd.

Finishing the TTT with S and K

The Criterium

Unfortunately, we awoke Sunday to 50 degree weather. H tried to escape racing the crit and stay in bed instead, but I was having none of it. We had a winner breakfast of waffles and bananas, then checked out of the hotel and drove to the crit course.

I was hoping my starting line anxiety would have diminished by the second day, but it was still there, raring to go. At least my teammates K and S were there. Then we were off, with an easy pace at the beginning as everyone warmed up at the beginning. I noticed immediately that people were to taking the corners as fast as I wanted to, and I worked my way up to the front. A couple of people from Rice that I didn't recognize tried to pull t the front, but the lineup was shaken after every turn. After a few minutes K hit a slick patch on the turn that every category had crashed on, and crashed herself. Oh noes! A from UT and I waited for everyone to catch up. After a few turns, B from MSU started pulling hard at the front and we were starting to drop people. I said "Keep pulling and we can make this a breakaway!" and she did. It was me, her, and 2 UT riders in the breakaway. This was about 15 minutes into the race. We rotated every minute or so, but I kept seeing the pack trying to catch up, and yelled "they're trying to catch us!" to whoever was pulling. I felt like this was the first race where I actually knew how many laps were left and when the primes were. One prime I was too far back to win, but on the second one, I sprinted from 4th place to win the prime. I was pulling so hard my rear wheel started skipping on the pavement, but I got it. It felt good. We kept working together really well as a team. A few times I went to the front to pull faster. Finally we got to where we couldn't see them behind us, and before I know it we were on the last lap. I tried not to pull too much and we switched pulling quickly. We rounded the last turn and it was the 2 from UT at the front and MSU 3rd wheel. Everyone was sprinting hard, and I had in the back of my head I couldn't catch them. But I started gaining on MSU with barely any distance to go, and I threw my bike forward right at the finish line. I had to ask because it was so close, but I got 3rd!

The breakaway

Crit happy face

I got 2nd overall in the omnium, and after 2 races I'm 5th place in the conference.

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Location:Waco, TX

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Many Bothans died to bring us this awesome smoothie

I went out for a pre-race day MTB ride at Lake Bryan today. H kept me company. I am really starting to realize how important it is to get out the day before a race "and remind your body that it needs to work." I didn't get to do this the day before the crit, and I could tell it affected me. We had gone on the hill interval ride Tuesday, so Thursday when I was warming up for the crit (only got 15 minutes, another mistake) my legs felt like lead. They did for the first half of today's ride, but by the end I could tell I would be ready for tomorrow's race. I just catted up to women's 2s and I'm a little nervous about that, so I want to be prepared.

My favorite post-workout snack is a protein smoothie.

I usually make it up as I go, but it's usually a little something like this:

Half a banana (I like to freeze mine with the peel off)
Mixed fruit (fill the cup about halfway)
Fresh raspberries
I scoop soy protein isolate (get from GNC)
2 servings Pure Via no cal sweetener
1/2 a cup OJ

Then I blend it all in the Magic bullet.

The ingredients:

I prefer soy isolate instead of the flavored mixes because I like to cut out calories where I can. I have a sweet tooth so I use PureVia (stevia), which is calorie free, for sweetness. The one at my supermarket comes in little single serving packets and the box looks like this:

I add in OJ at the end to fill the cup most of the way.

Then the fun part is using the Magic Bullet. I've found that it blends better than a lot of blenders, and is better for single servings.

The result:

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Friday, March 18, 2011

How to change your bar tape

The other day, we had to order a derailleur hanger from specialized, so of course I took the opportunity to buy some vanity equipment - matching water bottle cages and some silver S-works bar tape.

I have never installed bar tape, so Henri showed me how to on the first half, and I did the second half.

Before pic:

Then we removed the old tape by cutting the center (blue) tape and unraveling the rest, pulling the hoods back as we went.

Specialized puts this gelatinous stuff on the handlebars to decrease road vibrations.

Really, bar phat is what happens when you bike has too many bagels.

Then you start wrapping the new tape at the end of the bars at a slightly parallel angle. Wrap the tape so that the piece in your hands goes over the top of the bar towards the center.

Leave a little bit at the end to go under the bar plug.

Be careful to pull the tape snug enough so that the edges can't be budged my your hand movement, but not so tight that the tape breaks. As you move up the curve of the bars, wrap the tape on the outside of the curve tighter than on the inside to avoid slack.

When you get get to the hoods, it's just trial and error. We found that it was best to cut a little extra 10 cm strip by itself to go around the bars where the hoods are, then feel out the rest of the hood wrap with the longer piece.

When you get near the center, continue wrapping at an angle. When you get to where you want to stop, cut the tape in a line perpendicular to the bars. It's best to use a razor blade to make a line, then cut with scissors.

Then wrap the border with some high quality electrical tape. You can do 2 or 3 wraps, just try not to increase the width of the tape coverage.

There should be some black tape with your bar tape kit. Use this to hide the white tape and the border between the bar and bar tape.

Carefully cut any of the remaining white tape with an exacto blade, so you have a pretty border.

Now you need to shove the bar plugs in. We found it's easiest to use a few pieces of tape to shove the bar tape in, followed by the bar plugs. Bonus points if you get the symbol right side up.

Then step back and enjoy your masterpiece.

Euro cat finds this bar tape acceptable.

Side note: water bottle cage replacement. Before:


Romance, tradition, ultra.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Austin Driveway Crit

I've always been afraid of the Driveway crit in Austin. The first time Henri raced, about 3 years ago, he couldn't stay with the group for even 1 lap. I was hoping to do ok my first time at this crit, 3 years later, after I'd lost 20 pounds and won several MTB races. At Tunis a few weeks ago, I even managed to place 4th in the crit and 3rd in the ITT. I was on a roll.

Well, everyone needs to be brought back to earth occasionally. I knew from the getgo that the field was strong. I strategically placed myself about 6 places back so that I didn't have to pull. But 3/4 of the way through the first lap, it was evident that the juniors off the front weren't pulling fast enough. The honey badger parade was getting antsy. Several people tried to pull off the front, and I managed to get behind a hoss from Austin Flyers. She was pulling a little too hard than necessary. She was too fast to be pulling the group, but not fast enough for an attack. I should have realized she was trying to wear me out, but I didn't until later, and for now I stuck on her wheel. In hindsight I should have dropped back immediately instead of wearing myself out. I felt myself starting to blow up and suddenly I was at the back of the back. I couldn't push my legs any harder; they were gone. I knew the second I left the wheel of the woman in front of me, it was over. But my muscles were jelly. I couldn't hold onto the back. I pedaled by myself for half a lap and then drafted back to 2 women behind me (a junior and an Austin Flyer). I said that we should work together and try to catch up; the pack was only half a mile ahead.

Work together we did; catch up we did not. No matter how hard we tried, we just could not close the gap. The 3 of us crossed the finish line together, with me being the 3rd. I was gonna try and sprint, just for fun, but I still had nothing left in my legs.

I think if I had been smarter about it, I could have hung on to the main group a little longer. They really weren't going any faster than our 3 person group. Regardless, I don't think I would have been able to sprint and place at the end. But my goal for next time is to be less worried about getting dropped by an attack group - I wasted too much energy spazzing out that I was going to get left in the main group. Next time I just want to stay with the main group the whole time. I'm hoping to make it to some of the women's skills clinics and work on my technical skills. And maybe, just maybe I'll be able to place by the end of the summer.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Oat bran/ granola muffins

I was cooking hot cereal today in preparation for our 30 mile ride. There was some left over, so I thought I would make some bran muffins.

I got everything together before realizing I didn't actually have enough of the main ingredient left. Duh! Too impatient to go to the store, I found some granola and looked up a recipe for it online. The two box recipes looked to be similar, so I just used the remaining bran cereal (about 1/2 cup) and added 2 cups of the Nature's Path Pumpkin Flax granola. I also didn't have any dried fruit, so I drained two cups of no-sugar-added fruit and used those instead.

I used Maple syrup and added a little stevia cane (3 tsp) for my voracious sweet tooth.

The batter tasted decent, but I was skeptical of the final product because I'm a terrible cook. They came out ok, though!

The texture was good and I liked the consistency of the fruit. However, the overall taste was a little bland. Maybe I'll figure out a magic healthy muffin ingredient for the next batch. I'm thinking they need more of a fruity - perhaps peach - flavor.

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