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.