climbing up hills and riding in circles: another weekend of collegiate bike racing

This weekend started as so many do, me being late to the team vans to leave town. I just get so excited about the weekend that I try to cram too much in before we leave. 

Kaila and I before the hill climb

The races went well, we had the hill climb on Saturday and I had my coach to try to chase down ahead of me. I have done the climb before and had done some good practice hill climbs last week to prepare, so I felt pretty confident. 

The climb goes up lookout mountain, it is about a 4% grade and is 4.7 miles. It took me 23 min 10 seconds this year (which is about 2 min faster than last year). I was happy with my race, I really love hill climbs, especially when I can stay focused! I think what helped me this year was knowing my heart rate, and knowing when and how hard to push it.
Photo Cred:

After the race a bunch of us went on a road ride out to Red Rock Amphitheater, which is always a good time. The best part of the race weekends with the FLC team, besides the racing, is spending some good quality time together...on bikes. Squishing the team into little 15 pack vans can make us hate each other, so any time we have the opportunity for a beautiful team ride, it is good to hop on it!

Sunday we drove to Denver for the oval crit, also known as goose poop crit. In the women's A race we almost hit two grannies and 4 geese. It was a good day for bike racing for sure. 
Basking in the sun at Red Rocks
Trying to be as tall as Tilly (lft) and Lauren (rt)
Other than dodging obstacles, we raced a little bit too. I attacked the field in the first 10 min and Lauren Catlin countered my attack with another rider. The two of them formed a break which stayed away the rest of the race. Missy and I slowed the pack down and followed any girl who tried to bridge the gap. 
Lauren in the break, and Chris giving some coaching  wisdom mid-race
About mid race I broke away from the pack alone and tried to bridge up to my teammate to give us a 2 vs. 1 kind of deal, but didn't quite have the stamina for the complete move. Plus, I was nervous that the pack had sped up to chase me and the last thing I wanted to do was bring the whole group back together, even though I'm 100% confident in my teammate Missy Erickson to win the field sprint. 
Missy and I riding in circles in Denver
The race ended up with FLC winning, thank you Lauren, and I lead Missy out for her 2nd place sprint. I think I ended up 6th, but was really happy that my team and I raced so smart.
Again, more circles...

and more...

and possibly more circles!


Rudy Project Helmets= SUUUUPPPPEEEEERRRRR rad!

I just got my hands on my pretty new Rudy Project Sterling helmet, and my head has been super happy ever since I put it on! I have to spread the word to any cyclist, this helmet is the most comfy thing you will ever ever ever put on your noggin! The helmet not only looks super fly, it fits like a glove, the whole helmet tightens with a net system that fits perfectly to your head without any pressure points or squeezing! 

What this means for me? I get to look fast, ride fast AND protect my precious brains, wooooo hooo!

First race of the season: check!

This past weekend marked the first weekend of races for the 2011 Collegiate road season. Saturday we raced the Bikes and Buffaloes CU criterium followed by University of Wyoming's crit in Laramie on Sunday.

Saturday was perfect weather, the FLC team won Men's C, Women's B, and Women's A races which was a first for the team. Boulder was quite the cycling scene, there were a lot of very very pretty bikes in the Open and Pro races following the Collegiate.

Photo cred: Caley Fretz
After the Collegiate race I raced the open women's race too. There were several other girls from the collegiate race in the open race, but it was completely different. As my first Cat 2 race, I would say it went pretty well. After picking up a preme, and making the break within the last few laps, I came out with an 8th place finish overall. I was the first Cat 2 finisher and was the only non-pro in the break. It was a great day of racing for sure!

Open Women Crit

Open Women Crit

Sunday we raced in Laramie, which I have to say, is not my favorite place to be on a Sunday afternoon. The course had glass, pot holes and quite a few cars on course, not to mention the constant swirling wind! But the races raced on, starting with the Men's B crit, which myself and my fellow lady teammates raced. It was pretty much an opener for our race after.

Our field showed a very sad turnout, only 4 girls raced, but FLC dominated and I ended up with the win. Woooo? Needless to say, we were all glad that Saturday went so well, Sunday was kind of a joke.

Not bad though for our first race weekend, and plus we got to stay in a hotel called the 'Sleepy Bear'...and we found a cat in one of the rooms! Big weekend for FLC, and now I have my first Cat 2 race out of the way!

The (Moab) Dust has settled

Sad day today, I was no longer in Moab riding bikes with wonderful people. In fact I sat through classes from 8 in the morning until 5:30 at night! WOOOO! Not as fun. Though class time ultimately gave me time to reflect upon my biking adventure.

After 4 days in Moab I have one thought, not easy beginner rides. For some reason I had in my head that Moab was easy, entry level mountain biking. Oh how wrong I was.

The first day Garrett and I arrived at the Poison Spider trail head after driving all morning. We noshed on some food and set off, straight up a switch-backing hill, of loose, babydoll head rocks. Though the climb wasn't the tricky part, the sand pits of doom are what wears on you mentally. Walking section, after section of deep soft (mostly unridable) sand, followed by a wall of rock that seemed impossible to get up in one piece, never the less RIDE up -- yah, it almost broke me. Good thing I had some good mental support! Thanks Garrett!

Garrett riding the switchbacks, like a pro, mmm hmmm!

Made it! Catching some sun at the top....

and then we drove down this:

to get to this:

It was a great day, and the next morning we rode slick rock. This is where I was humbled. Again, for some reason I thought Moab was really easy riding, so when I was struggling with some fear I was seriously starting to doubt myself as a cyclist. Slick rock was a 12 mile loop of straight down to straight up and not a whole lot in between. If you could graph it, I would think it would look something like this: \/\/\/\/\/\/

I started to learn how to shift my weight forward when I was trying to get over something. There were a lot of steep climbs that you would have to dig pretty darn deep to push yourself over, otherwise you were going over backwards and sliding down. Not fun.

(sending one of the sections of slick rock)

By the end of the ride I felt like I had really improved my technical skills, which now, looking back, was the theme of the trip. Technical skills, in every sense of the meaning. It was really great to ride with Colton and Garrett, two talented cyclists. It is great to ride with people who are more experienced, you can watch and see how they execute sections differently than what you are doing, which ultimately lets you mimic what they are doing. though sometimes, I found, boys just ride differently than girls do. I still, no matter how many people argue, think that women choose smarter lines than men!

The last day of riding we chose a trail called Amasaback. Now I know, Moab, it's technical. We met up with my roommate and professional mountain biker and cyclocrosser, Teal and her boyfriend Ben. Riding with Teal brought a whole new light to the mix, I found that we chose similar lines and it was easier for me to follow her. The four of us spent hours on the trail, riding and re-riding ├╝ber technical sections. It was a great day though, with moments of triumph and sometimes defeat.

The drive home was sad, but had to happen. It was a great trip and I can confidently say that I have improved my technical skills, or al least my ability to convince myself to ride scary things.

MO-to the-AB, MOAB!

And we're off, like a turd of hurdles-as my wonderful mother would say. It is the last bit of spring break and I am all packed an set to ride in some red Moab dirt! This will be my second mountain bike ride of the year and I couldn't be happier. A few weekends ago marked my first 24 hour race in Sedona, AZ, 24 hours of Old Pueblo is the name. Though this trip will be different, there aren't any race plates, there are no energy goo's or pre-race rituals, nope, this trip is solely to get away from it all.

Yesterday, on my first bike ride alone (yes, the very first one alone since January) after experiencing about every emotion in the book, I came to the conclusion that I need to enjoy this whole process. The process that is, of becoming a professional cyclist. Ambitious it may seem, but goals are good, and I am putting it all out there. This is why I am going to Moab this week. January marked the first month of the first year that I will be training for anything, I will have a lot of new races to race this coming mountain bike season, not to mention the very long collegiate road season ahead of me! Getting away, fleeing responsibility, riding for the pure bliss of rubber on dirt contact, is what I am seeking on this trip. And darn it, I'm going to find it, come hell or high water, again, as my lovely mother would say.