Thursday, September 20, 2012

Where DID the summer go?!?!

Life has been so incredibly busy this summer, I seriously do not know where it went. It is insane. Now it is cold in the mornings and I have been riding in knee warmers and it gets dark a little after  7:00 and there is football on television (not that I would know, because I do not have time to watch it, but I believe it to be true based on many passionate posts on Facebook), and I am happy, because I love fall, and sad, because I love summer, and amazed that I will have lived here for a year before I know it! How's that for a Faulknerian life update (for those non-English majors, that means that was a very long sentence).

So what is new? Well the season is winding down. There's one more CRCA race on Saturday but I will be marshaling. Meaning that I am basically a volunteer for the race. I stand around and blow a whistle when the racers come by so that others in the park know not to run out in front of them. It is sometimes effective. So I may be done with bike races for the year. And back to half-hearted marathon training. I've decided I am running New York even though I am not in shape even a little bit. I just want to do it to have fun, and have the experience, so who cares if I run a 4:30? I certainly don't. Frankly it's really expensive so the longer it takes, the more I get my money's worth. Take that, NYRR.

Also I have been riding. I just cannot get enough. I went out Saturday after missing the ride I was supposed to go on for a solo jaunt and ran into a big group of dudes who were going the same place so I tagged along with them. It was awesome, and really really hard. I loved it. There is nothing I enjoy more than hanging on for dear life with a big group of guys. Also, guys are fun because they treat every ride like a buffet. So we made a number of stops for  snacks. Including at the Orchards for the best apple I have ever eaten.

It was so crisp and flavorful. The apple cider donuts weren't half bad either. Families were up there picking apples. It reminded me of a run we used to do in college every year - we'd run on these awesome snowmobile trails and then go apple picking.

I've also had some extra time, now that I don't go out of town every weekend, for meandering. On Sunday I had dinner with some friends and wanted to bring cupcakes so I wandered through the park and discovered a new spot. It was really peaceful and gorgeous.

I continue to plot and plan for next year, but that's another topic altogether, that I'll think and write about later. But right now my primary goal, and I must say I seem to be doing fairly well at achieving it, is to make every year better than the last one. It's nice to feel happy.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hunter Mountain Fall Classic Race Report

Or, how to be stupid and still win a bike race.

So I didn't really want to race yesterday but I knew it was a decent sized field so there were points up for grabs. I am a points slut now that I got a taste of them! For those who don't know what I am talking about, here's a link to the USA Cycling rules. But basically in cycling the way we race is in categories. 1 is the best category, going down through 4 for women and 5 for men (there are way fewer women who participate in bike racing). Everyone starts in the lowest category and the way you move up is by amassing points by placing in races, or participating in lots and lots of races. With my win the other week I started accumulating points towards a Cat 3 upgrade, and now I want to get the rest of them as quickly as I can to become a Cat 3. Not any big deal but it would be cool, it's been a goal of mine once I kind of knew how cycling worked.

But anyway I digress. So this race was up near where Tour of the Catskills was, and it wasn't too far, and three other girls from my team were going so I decided to go. I am so, so glad I went! First of all we had a great time. Two of the girls had done GMSR (a big stage race in Vermont) the previous weekend when I was in Colorado and I wanted  to hear EVERYTHING about it!!! It sounded amazing, I can't wait to do it next year. Also they are generally a really fun and entertaining group of friends and I just love them. So it was great.

We left the city around 7:15 and got to the race right around 10:00. With a 10:40 start time this didn't leave a ton of time for a warmup but I figured the neutral rollout would serve as a warmup anyway. It was a 39 mile, one loop road race with one not insignificant climb. If you want to see how it looks on Strava click here. Not bad though, nothing like the crazy climbs we had to deal with in the Tour of the Catskills thank heavens. So we started out and the pace was pretty nice and mellow. I tried to stay about third to fifth wheel back for the most part to avoid squirrelly behavior. There's always someone who can't ride in a straight line in these races. I like to keep out of trouble. We started trying a few attacks but nothing would stick, partly because it was really windy, partly we just couldn't get any separation. But it helped to drive the pace a little better than just kind of cruising along which gets boring. I knew if we just rode all together until the end and left things to a field sprint I would not get points!

About halfway through we started the longest and steepest climb of the day. Now why I said I am stupid is that I had no idea how long or steep the climb would be, but I decided to attack anyway. So I break and no one goes with me. What the heck?! No idea how that happened. So I just rode as hard as I could until I got to the top of the climb which I believe took about 20 minutes. It was brutal! I was so tired and my heart was beating out of my chest. But I looked back and I couldn't really see the pack anymore so I just told my legs to shut up and I kept going. Once I got to the top I was so relieved but I knew I had to keep pushing the pace if I didn't want to get swallowed back up into the pack again, which would have sucked. After all that work I'd have been spent and useless in a sprint.

The moto (a motorcycle who has to stay with the leader) kept telling me how much time I had up on the pack so at 25 miles I had 30 seconds, at 30 miles I had 48 seconds, and then at 35 miles I had over a minute. So I knew by then I was in good shape although I was really surprised because around mile 30 I turned into a massive headwind which sucked. In that type of situation a pack is going to have a huge advantage over one person because the pack can take turns leading whereas when it's just a solo rider, you have to take the beating from the wind all by yourself. But I just got as low as I could and pushed as hard as I could. And I guess it was enough! I ended up winning by about a minute over the rest of the field. I was super happy and excited. I knew this was a bigger field so it meant MORE POINTS. Awesome. Also my teammates ended up in 5th and 6th I think (or 6th and 7th), either way very good for them. One of our girls had to DNF due to a cramp which sucked so much for her, I feel terrible she had to go all that way! But overall it was a great day and I had a fabulous time. I am very happy with the results. Solo breaks are a hard way to win a race and I don't recommend it, but it is effective!

Now I am chilling on my couch after a nice but somewhat tough ride with my friend Sydney this morning, it feels like ages since I've had time to relax on the couch so I am really enjoying it. What a beautiful late summer weekend!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

So I went back to Colorado...

I spent the last 5 days in Colorado for my little sister's wedding and some friend/family visiting, and of course since I am a lunatic, I brought my bike. I really wanted to see how I liked riding my new road bike on all the roads I used to ride all the time. And the verdict is, I LOVE MY BIKE!!!

It is awesome. Look how cute it is at the top of High Grade.

(It's the one on the left)

I also realized that even though there is way more climbing in Colorado, it is NOT steep! So if I ever moved back I would want a different gear setup. I kept running out of gears going downhill and on flats. Weird.

Here are a few observations about Colorado.

It is very DRY. It is hot as blazes. It is always windy. When I get to 8,000 feet in elevation, it is hard for me to breathe!

Anyway it was a ton of fun. The wedding was super cute. Here is a picture of my little sister dancing with her husband. They were an adorable couple!

The wedding was a lot of fun. Some people got drunk. That was funny. At one point I think my brother was dancing with four dwarves. He knows how to have a good time.

I got to do all my favorite rides which was awesome. I am tired now but I feel good. That said I did get a crazy massage from my awesome massage therapist back in Boulder, and she always beats the crap out of me, so I'm more sore from the massage than riding. I know, it's weird, but it was great.

Here is my favorite picture from Brainard Lake, which is at 10,000 feet. I really couldn't breathe there!

When I got back last night (very late due to some delay or another), the air felt so thick, holy crap. It was great. My skin feels better. I miss my family and I do really miss Boulder, but I'm glad to be back.

I may have one more race this weekend although I am debating - I am so, so tired! I think my legs will be recovered but sleeping in four places in five nights was not super restful. So we'll see. I may just call it a season, it's been a good one, albeit different from what I expected when the year started. I've given a lot of thought to what I want to do next year - racing bikes, perhaps a tri comeback, who knows. I want to decide soon just because if I want to do a few tris I need to start signing up, because tris are annoying like that! Who knows, I may even blog about it soon.