Wednesday, April 9, 2008

So I've finally succombed to the racing bug and have raced the last two weekends in a row (well, the Sunday road races, anyway) and I've been having a good time so far.

The first race was the Tour de Tuscaloosa road race. The cat 5 race was three laps of a ten mile loop, and the loop had a fair bit of climbing. The roll-out was pretty chill, and after about three miles in, I tried to pull a kamikaze solo move. Truth be told, I was hoping someone else would roll off with me, but no dice. I dangled out in front of the peloton for a few miles before getting swallowed up. The rest of the race was basically survival, and I ended up sprinting in the group I finished with, finishing 32nd out of 50 (and for the record- that guy passed me with about 10 meters to go after not having done any work at all).

This past weekend was the Cuba Road Race in Cuba, Alabama. The race was 83 miles with 6000 ft of climbing over mild to rough chip seal- basically the exact sort of race that I would like. The only thing missing was rain and temperature in the 40s, although I was probably the only person there hoping for those conditions.

This time I managed to contain myself and not roll off the front early. About halfway through the first of four laps I realized I'd forgotten to bring any food and more than two gels, and shortly thereafter I hit a rough patch of road and it ejected one of my bottles of Cytomax. I managed to get a second bottle of water on the next lap's feed zone, but still no food. Somehow I managed to not go too far into the red and avoid cramping.

The climbs weren't too steep, and unless the pace dropped, I rode them in the big ring. Twice, however, when I shifted to the small ring I dropped my chain and couldn't get it back on without getting off my back. That meant chasing back on- uphill, no less. Fortunately the group wasn't going too fast, so I didn't ever have to chase for more than a minute.

A break of two guys went up the road and managed to stay away. Coming in to the home stretch, two other guys rolled off with about a mile to go, and then the bunch was a few seconds behind them. I was well positioned in the bunch for the uphill sprint, and ended up about 6th or 7th out of the bunch. I ended up 5th for cat 5, and about 12th overall for the 4-5-women's race.

Overall, I'm happy with how I've been feeling at the races, and I think that longer races suit me better. Within a few races I should be able to cat up to 4, so that'll automatically mean longer races (albeit with stronger riders), which may work in my favor. Here's to hoping that I manage to keep progressing.

And for inspiration:

"As long as I breathe, I attack."
- Bernard Hinault

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Vitamin G

The last few months that I lived in Boston I had problems with my IT band. I'd go for a ride and within 5-10 miles I'd have terrible pain on the outside of my left knee. At first I thought it was a saddle height/setback issue, so I moved the saddle up, down, and all around, but nothing worked. After doing some internet research, the description of IT band syndrome sounded pretty fitting. I ended up doing a lot of specific stretching and took about three weeks off the bike completely. Thus ended the year 2007 for me.

New year's Day 2008 found me in a new city (Tuscaloosa, AL) with a renewed vigor for riding. I started off the year with a few easy, very short rides (less than 15 miles) because I didn't want to overdo it. The time off seems to have worked, because my knee has been holding up fine after about 450 miles thus far this year.

A new year also brings new goals bike-wise:

1. I'd like to do some races and have decent results. I'll start as a 5, and depending on my fitness/drive/schedule, I should be able to move up to a 4 within a reasonable amount of time.

2. I'd like to end the year with an average of 25 miles/day, which works out to 9150 miles total. in 2005 I did 10, 209 miles, so i know it's possible to ride those sorts of miles. Let's just hope that grad school doesn't get in the way too much (or should my priorities be reversed? Who knows?). The last few years I've come to the realization that I have more of an interest in riding long hours than training and racing (this may complicate goal #1), so we'll see what happens.

3. I'd like to include more gravel/dirt roads into my riding. More rides need to be considered "epic" when they're done.

4. I need to work more on my capacity for suffering. I'm not sure if that means I need to do hours upon hours of hill repeats, but I think a large part of climbing better is being able to overlook the pain in your legs and the desire to climb off the bike. Or maybe I have some sort of weird residual Catholic guilt/suffering issues. Who knows?

"When I attack, I try to psychologically destroy my rivals, who never know how far I can go. It's certainly hard to bear the responsibility of blowing the race apart everytime, just as it's hard to tackle a mountain when you know the suffering that's around the corner."

Marco Pantani (1970-2004)

RIP Marco.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

this is the first entry.

63 some odd miles with the usual Portland Velo crew. It was a fairly flat affair, with only a few rollers, so it was a chill day for me. My legs are still hurting after hammering on Tuesday after having taken a week off, so the rest was appreciated (if you can call just over 100km a rest). The weather recently changed to decidedly Fall-like conditions: 45F when I left the house, breezy, and sunny. The leaves are starting to fall off some of the trees here, and the air smells like Autumn. It's kind of nice, but it'd be nicer if we would have had a more traditional Summer here. I think I did more rides that started with knee warmers than without.

Made plans for my final ride here in Portland- a jaunt up Larch Mountain from Glen Otto State Park. Larch Mountain is just over a 14 mile climb with somewhere in the neighborhood of 3500+ feet of elevation gain, so it'll be a fun way to end my days here in Portland.

People here are starting to get into batshit crazy mode from cross, and it makes me wish i had a nice Steelman Eurocross.

Once I start figuring out how to add images and whatnot, this here blog will look downright fine. Trust me.