Sunday, July 18, 2010

Shifting into an easier gear...

I'm taking a break from racing for a while.

I was fortunate to be able to do the Tour of the Valley (Youngstown) road race last weekend, riding for my first time ever as a team with some very talented women (Nancy, Sara, Angie, Tiffany, Tiffany - you gals ROCK.) It was a huge learning experience for me, not only because of the team tactics (I'll save the particulars for another blog), but also from racing alongside women up through Cat 1/Pro.*
*Mostly, I learned that I have a LONG way to go if I ever want to be that good. I'm not even sure if I can ever be that good, but I know I'll have fun trying.

Anyway, the very next day was Akron Bike Club's annual "Absolutely Beautiful Country" ride (affectionately renamed by Bob as "Absolutely Brutal Climbing").

Tuesday I rode with SFW, a ride into unknown territory for me. No other "B"s showed up, and I would have lit myself on fire to keep up with the "A"s if a newcomer hadn't shown up to hold me back. Ended up having to find my own way around Bath/Yellow Creek. Of course, all the turns I chose led me up 15% grades.

So, I admit it: I'm tired. I think I need a break. Any riding I do between now and my Hudson Valley Ride is going to be small chainring, recovery pace (i.e. under 18 mph), and I'm not going to seek out hills just for the fun of them. Scout's honor.*
*Is Snowville considered a hill?

To get this laid-back party started, Dave and I went out on the Medina Ice Cream Odyssey yesterday, a flat-to-rolling 42-mile ride made all the sweeter by the stop at Hartzler Dairy for a cold and creamy treat.

Bob claims that that they didn't give him enough ice cream. I would argue that there's no such thing as 'enough ice cream'.

Dave poses with the Hartzler mascot

Dan & Tina

This Sunday is the Richfield Sweet Corn Challenge, and I'll be riding with Jackie, Dave, Gail and Mike ("fresh" off their Muddy Buddy adventure in Detroit), Tiffany from Tour of the Valley, and anyone who wants to join us for a leisurely 50-miler. And maybe a couple of Optional Horrendous Hills!*
*(I know, I know - but is Snowville really a hill????)

(P.S. Check out the Twin Sizzler blog for newly-uploaded photos).

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Twin Sizzler Re-Cap

The starting line on Court Street, July 4, 2010

I did fine in the Twin Sizzler on Sunday: 1:15:16 for the 27 miles. Slower than I wanted, but I'm happy with those results.

Finished 3rd in the Expert women's category, behind two very formidable riders. Jane and Leah were fantastic. I hung with them all the way to the last 2 miles or so, when I came off the pull and just kind of fizzled.

Jane finished first in a sprint, Leah close behind, I'm sure, although I didn't see it, obviously.

Not to bitch too much about the Twin Sizzler particulars, but with the chaotic and completely FUBAR finishing results, I was quite perturbed to see that the RUNNER'S may actually have had some sort of decent timing mechanism.

Twin Sizzler Race Organizers: There were HUNDREDS of cyclists out on the morning of the 4th. PLEASE stop treating us like second class citizens! We'll dis you, I swear...

Congrats to John Perchinske on his FIRST race, ever! Many more to come, I would imagine.

Congrats to to Jackie (still smiling), Dave (Category 6, yeah!), Trish Mc, and the gals who raced with me: Nancy, Tina, Angie.
Trish, Me, and Tina - after the race, popsicles for all!

Thanks to Sara for her presence at the finish, and for taking photos that I'll never see because I'm opposed to Facebook... Next time, you're racing with us, Sara!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Pre-Race Jitters

Seriously, why do I still have mini panic attacks before a race? Especially Twin Sizzler, for the love of Pete! I keep telling myself, this is the most disorganized ride all year:
  • There's no official timing, results and standings are simply the order in which you reach the finish line, and even then aren't always accurate.
  • The course is weird. Motorists have no idea there's a race going on, road conditions are atrocious, the final sprint is over a set of deeply-rutted tracks. One year I got stopped by a train.
  • The rules are subjective. Riders hop on to any pack they can catch and hold, regardless of category. I've watched groups of riders centerline on the busiest streets - risky and dangerous, and would result in instant disqualification in a 'real' race, if anyone were actually paying attention.
  • And the award ceremony is at least an hour after the last cyclist crosses the finish, at which time everybody has already gone home, showered, napped, fired up the grill, and cracked open their first beer. Not to mention that awards are handed out in no particular order among all the runners and cyclists and ages and sexes...
And yet, I kinda like this race.

Already I have all my stuff laid out, ready to leave at 6-ish tomorrow morning. I got some last-minute repairs done today (thanks, Randy!), and I've got a race strategy.

For the first time in my life, I'll actually be riding with other girls, as a TEAM. A bunch of us Grunt Girls all signed up for the Expert category, and we plan on working together tomorrow.

Which gives me something brand new to stress out about:

How do we ride as a team?

Luckily for me, I've got the expertise of some of the other girls to fall back on. Even though we've never raced together before, I'm sure we'll do just fine and have a lot of fun doing it. (Of course, it would be great to have the GGR team make a solid first showing).

I can obsess about race tactics -- how long to take a pull, what to do if someone is hanging on to the back, how to respond to an attack, etc. -- but I've set that all aside for now.

That kind of stuff is what makes me really nervous. REALLY nervous.

So, I fall back on my own strategy: Set a goal.

In this case, my goal is to finish in 1:13:00 or better. (That's my race record, from 2007. See, I AM obsessed!).

Having a race goal allows me to push myself hard, work with my teammates efficiently, and not really worry about my standing in the pack. Hell, I could come in dead last in my category, but if I meet my goal, standings don't matter (they don't matter anyway - see bulleted list, above).

So there you have it: a cure for the pre-race jitters, and a reason to ride my bike as though I stole it.

Can't wait for tomorrow!