Monday, April 28, 2008

Iowa City weekend

Had a good weekend of racing down in Iowa City. Driving down there Saturday morning I knew it was going to be a rough day on the bike as I was blown all over the road in my car! I even put the bike inside but the 25-30mph sustained winds were too much. It was ridiculous but at least the sun was out and the temps were in the 50s. I had two teammates in the race - Mo and Jess both traveled for the race so it was great to represent for Team Kenda Tire.

We had a field of about 15 and the race would be 4 laps of a 12 mile circuit. After riding together as a group the first lap (thanks Jess for all of your hard work in the head wind!!) Sydney from Revolution jumped in the cross wind section and I went with her. It took me a bit to get to her but the two of us now faced three brutally windy laps together if we wanted to stay away from the field. A little earlier than I hoped but it's always more fun when you're racing hard. The cross and head winds were absolutely crazy - I guess it was a good thing the wind was so sustained rather than just gusty or we seriously might have gotten blown over. Minute by minute and lap by lap we made it through. I was pretty cooked and Sydney was taking longer pulls at the front ensuring our break would stick. She's such a powerful (and nice!) rider and I had no problem taking the first loser position to her. Mo put her head down and battled the elements to finish 12th. Jess was pretty blown (literally) after keeping the pace hard the first lap and decided to save her energy for Sunday.

Sunday was a crit in downtown Iowa City that had a technical .8 mile circuit that included a fast descent and a short steep climb every lap. My kind of course. From the gun it was pretty strung out with Sydney and I at the front pushing the pace. A group of seven emerged after a few laps and then Sydney attacked with only myself and one other girl able to go with her. The third girl refused to work with us and wanted only to hang onto our wheels for training. Slightly frustrating and Sydney jumped on the hill, I let a gap form hoping the third rider would help close the gap but no dice. In retrospect it was stupid on my part to let that gap form. It was unlikely that our third break partner would step it up and I was left to chase super powerful Sydney for the next 12 or so laps. We (rather, I) couldn't catch her but luckily we stayed in front of the chase group. Another second place finish. I was happy with the result but it would have been great to try and go for the win. You live, you learn ;)

Jess was patrolling back in the chase group and when the time came she won the field sprint for 4th! Way to go! Monique also raced well and hung in for 10th. Always fun to be racing with teammates.

All in all it was a great weekend. The promoter (Mark) of these races is super supportive of womens cycling and offered us up a great prize purse as well as a nice introduction before Sunday's race. In order to increase our field sizes we need promoters that offer a beginner womens race in addition to an open race. And throwing out some cash to try to get more women out is always looked kindly upon :) And we will try to be supportive of events like these in the future by coming back and encouraging our fellow racers to do these races as well.

One more week of teaching - a local road race on Saturday and then it's off to Arkansas!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Spring is FINALLY here!

So the snow has finally melted and the temperatures have warmed up in Wisconsin. I say good riddance to winter. Don't get me wrong - I enjoy the season and the snow but this year it hit us a bit too hard and stuck around a bit too long. It feels good to not have to wear multiple layers when heading out for a ride though.

I've been enjoying the early season racing and have done the first few Wisconsin Cycling Series events. It's nice because the races are close by and we've been getting a decent field of riders in the Womens Open events. After getting in the break each race I've managed a 2nd, 1st, and 3rd in that order. It's fun racing against my friends and the racing has been good and aggressive. I've also jumped into a few category 3 mens events just to get some more intense efforts.

Two weeks from today Joe Martin starts in Fayetteville, Arkansas so that will be my first NRC event of the year. I'm really looking forward to heading down there for that race as 2 years ago it was my first stage race ever. It's a well put on event and is lots of fun. It even has an uphill Time Trial which is sure to be a leg burner. I'll be down there for almost two weeks with a bunch of teammates who will also be racing the Tour of Arkansas the weekend after Joe Martin. I'm just about counting down the days. Teaching is still going well but the break will be nice!

I'm headed to Iowa this weekend for a Road Race and the Old Cap Crit. I'll have a few teammates down there and it will be nice to get another road race in. Unfortunately those are generally few and far between in the Midwest. I'll try to remember my camera this weekend!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I am a bad blogger

As if you actually needed me to spell that out for you. I don't think I have that many loyal readers anyway but for what it's worth I apologize for my lack of updates. Hopefully as we delve deeper into the bike racing season I might be motivated and find the time to try to post more often.

North Carolina was fantastic. After not going there last year it was so nice to be back riding in the beautiful mountains. It was a lot of fun staying with the hodge podge mix of alums and other random riders in our cabin on the mountain. The view was worth the long and winding gravel road and the unfortunate need to drive down said road every day to ride our bikes. Someday I need to go back in the fall when the scenery (and probably weather) is even better. Maybe I'd even consider bringing along the mountain bike for some off roading.

Teaching has been going well. I can't believe how quickly the weeks are flying by. The lesson planning and paper grading have been dominating a lot of my time but I've been enjoying getting to know all of my students. Some of them are pretty challenging but I feel like we're making progress. We're in a Genetics and DNA unit right now and I really like this stuff so it's been fun trying to get them to understand some of it.

And racing has started! March 29 was the first race of the year for me - the Hillsboro Roubaix in southern Illinois. It's a road race with a 22 mile circuit that the women did twice (unfortunately it was shortened from the 3 laps last year). There was a great turnout for the race with about 40 women at the line. A lot of strong Midwest teams were represented like Team Revolution, ISCorp, and Mercy. I had a few teammates as well with Catherine, Jess, Monique, and Imelda coming out to race. The race was aggressive from the gun with several breaks attempting to get away in the first lap. I was in a couple of those that got pulled back and eventually Bri (from Revolution) and I were off the front and I was fading when several riders (including my teammate Catherine) bridged up to us. I couldn't hold the pace and unfortunately fell back into the first chase group. As usual there were some wicked cross winds but my chase partners and I worked together in a paceline. About a mile from the finish I attacked them at the base of the climb and was able to solo across the line for 9th. A little disappointed I couldn't stick with the break but I know my top end form needs work this time of year. All in all it was a really great race and the competition was top notch. Congrats to Bri and Team Revolution for the win. Unfortunately Catherine dropped her chain coming into the finish otherwise she would have likely been in the mix for a podium spot.

The second race of the year should have happened last weekend but the course was still snow covered so it was canceled. The weather was sunny and in the mid 60's so it was a great excuse to go for a long ride instead. Dave and I actually got out on a group ride together which is something our schedules rarely allow. It was a great ride and I'm getting a nice defined knee warmer tan line on my calf - the status symbol of many Midwestern cyclists.

Also last Sunday I had the honor of being one of several teachers in a womens racing clinic put on by Capitol Velo Cycling Club. There was a good turnout and we had a classroom session in the morning followed by some on the bike skills work outside after lunch. It was a lot of fun and great to see so many women interested in possibly doing some races. Men still really dominate the sport of cycling and I hope that the numbers become less lopsided in the near future. By making racing accessible and showing women how fun it can be we can get them to give it a shot and hopefully stick with it. The clinic was a blast and I want to thank Amanda for putting so much time and effort into making it happen!

Our moody spring weather is back and possible snow showers are predicted this weekend. There's a crit here in Madison on Sunday so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will at least be dry out. I'm looking forward to getting some more races in and getting ready for a busy late spring and summer schedule.

Thanks for checking in and taking the time to read! I'll try to have more pictures next time!