Sunday, April 29, 2007

Seventh Inning Stretch

Yesterday was our 7th anniversary. Since Mike is still off the bike and not terribly mobile, we decided to head up to the North Shore for the day, and spent quite a bit of time in Salem, wandering around the historic town. I have been to Salem more times than I can count, but I always love going. It's a town rich with history - from witches to maritime life to literary inspiration.

After our time in Salem, we headed up to Ipswich for a late lunch at Woodman's. I had never been here before, and now know that this is the type of place one can only visit every few years. Look how shiny the food is, and how much of it there is!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mixed-up Thursday

Since I was off work yesterday, I'm a little confused about what day it is, and what I have to get done. So, today's post will be equally jumbled ;-).

I spent the day yesterday with Mike at Boston Outpatient Surgical Suites - a very nice facility with an awesome and friendly staff. Mike tore his meniscus in the right knee, so he went in for arthroscopic surgery not to fix the tear, but to cut out the damaged pieces. So far, he is being a good patient, and is recovering relatively pain free. We'll see how he's doing after a week of recuperating ;-).

The weather is more spring-like this week - cooler temps and a little bit of rain. I have to say I don't mind, because the result is the awesome display of color in my just coming alive spring garden.

And Oreo is a trooper to put up with Mike and I - look at the abuse this poor cat takes ;-).

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A Great Weekend for Racing

It seems that winter has finally ended in New England, bringing not Spring, but full on Summer this weekend. It was delightful to be outside in the sun, and 70 degree temps, especially with my first two road races of the season on the docket.

Turtle Pond, Loudon, NH
Saturday, June 21

3 laps, 35 miles
22-ish starters
Finished 9th

This was a HARD race. From the start, we immediately had to climb a nasty grade to where the finish line would be. In typical Cathy fashion, I went off the front of the group, and crested the hill first thinking that I would be able to recover once we started back down. Of course, this backfired (it always does), and once I was on the front, I had a hard time getting back into the group, and out of the wind. Myself and a couple of International Bicycle Center riders did most of the pulling on the first lap, where the entire back half was into a headwind.

I did attempt an attack from the group on this lap as well. Brooke (the NEBC Elite Women's team director) had spent a good deal of time explaining to me the mechanics of attacking. I did exactly as she said - went out from the middle of the pack on a slight hill to see if I could get a gap. I did for a couple of minutes, but the field quickly brought me back. It was a good tactic for me to practice, though.

On the second climb up the hill, I was tired and couldn't keep the pace with the climbers. I have said before, and will say again that I am not a climber, nor have I ever played one on TV. I did manage to connect with two other riders (and soon a fourth), and we all worked together for the second lap (one of them did CALL me a climber, but I told her she was mistaken ;-)).

I managed to climb the hill the third time ok, and Mike yelled that I was in 8th place. I felt that was pretty good, but also knew that we wouldn't catch the leaders of the race. We did catch another woman who ended up working with us for the final lap of the race. She definitely had something left on the final climb though - as I tried to match her, I was unable to, and finished behind her, but ahead of my other two compatriots for a 9th place finish.

This was my best RR placing to date, so I was really excited! Especially since the other two women in my group were about 1/2 my age - both collegiate racers. It definitely helped to have Mike and others cheering as I climbed that blasted hill, too - thanks! The rest of the team was also successful, and met their stated goals. Congrats to Libby, Teri, Loraine and Zoe for a great showing in what was the first race of the season for most of us.

A hearty congratulations also to the NEBC Elite teams in this race - they took 1st and 8th in the Men's Cat 3 race, and 1st and 7th in the Women's 1/2/3 race. A strong showing by the club.

Myles Standish State Park Race, Plymouth, MA
Sunday, June 22

3 laps, 15 mi
12 starters
Finished 3rd

This was a FAST course, although bumpy. The pavement in Myles Standish is nasty - lots of potholes and heaves throughout, so you have to be careful. We bike through here on the Great Mass Getaway (click here to sponsor me for this year's event), so I know what to watch out for.

NEBC turned out to be the dominant team in the Women's Cat 4 race, with myself, Loraine, Julie, Jean and Libby on the start line. Today, everyone had different goals from yesterday's race, and mine was not to pull - oh well ;-).

Now, I DID start out ok in the race, hopping onto Jean's wheel off the start and around the first couple of corners. There were a couple of other women in the race who were strong, and were testing their legs to see what they could do. Of course, I couldn't just let them go... A couple of us tried attack after attack on the group, but it never really amounted to anything.

As we came into the finish hill after the first lap, I decided to try another attack and see what happened. Much to my surprise, it STUCK! I looked back and had a clear gap on the group, so put my head down and went as hard as I could. I knew I wouldn't be able to stay away for almost two full laps, but as luck would have it, two racers were able to bridge up to me, and we worked together to sustain and build our advantage over the rest of the field.

One of the women in my group had been in my group racing at Turtle Pond - a Harvard cyclist. She will have a great racing career ahead of her from what I have seen.

As we came up one stretch of the course, the Elite Women's team were pulled to the side of the road to let us pass. It was very heartening to hear them cheer as I went by! Shortly thereafter, however, we were neutralized as the Cat 3 men's field meandered past - at least it felt to us like they were meandering! Thankfully, our breakaway didn't lose any time, and the pace car indicated to us that we had a minute gap on the rest of our field.

Knowing this, we kept smart and worked together through the final lap of the race. Coming into the sprint finish, the other women were both stronger and faster than I, and took the sprint. I was happy with a third place finish in the race, and the fact that we finished almost a minute and a half ahead of the rest of the field! Thanks to Loraine for working to block (and congrats on 5th place!), and thanks, too, to the rest of the team for their hard work and support.

I guess I have learned now how to attack - thanks, Brooke, for the patience and advice (and the cheering and kudos as well).

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Hate/Hate Relationship with Trainer

I HATE my trainer. There. I said it. If I am forced to ride the trainer any more this spring, I think I will end up taking a hammer to it. It's spring, and I want to ride my bike OUTSIDE and actually go SOMEWHERE!

Thankfully, the forecast is looking up for the weekend, and they're CLAIMING that the sun will appear today. At this point, I've forgotten what it looks like.

Sorry - had to vent.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Playing with the Boys

The best weather of the weekend was on Saturday morning. While temps were only in the mid-40s, and the wind seemed omni-present, at least the sun was shining, and the roads were dry.

Given that we had to head to Maine later in the day, and that I really wanted to put in some good miles, I decided to go with Mike on the NEBC ride leaving out of Bedford. I should have known when I showed up in the parking lot and was the ONLY woman on the ride that I would have trouble, but I went along anyway. I figured that I could ride with the group as long as possible, and then do my own thing.

We headed out of Bedford on Rte 225 - all the way into Groton. I managed to stick with the guys on the flats and rollers, but coming out of Carlisle center, I had a HR of 184 climbing the hill. I managed to get back onto the tail of the group, but given the effort I had just put out, I had nothing when the road went up again, and the boys were off. I also got stopped at the light on Rte 27, making it that much harder for me to even THINK about catching back up.

I decided I would follow the same route, but was content to ride on my own (although without the help of a draft, I was pushing into a headwind the whole way). When I reached Westford, the guys had all stopped to regroup. I told them not to wait for me, and that I would just go on and do my own ride. They convinced me, however, to stick it out a little longer - the roads were flatter now going into Harvard.

Amazingly, I felt pretty good, and was able to hang with the pace all the way to Littleton. I was having some trouble with the sudden surges and slowing of the paceline, but figured that was good training for the upcoming races. Once we hit the bottom of Oak Hill, I knew that I would be on my own for quite awhile, so we agreed to regroup in Harvard Center.

After a quick break, we were off again, heading back towards Bedford. I managed again to hang onto the group until we started into the hills coming out of Bolton, and then rode most of the remainder of the ride solo. All the way along Stow Rd, I could see the pack, but since I was zipping along at 21 mph, I knew they were moving much faster, and I didn't have any chance of catching them. I was VERY thankful to have a tailwind on this section of the ride!

In Concord center, Mike doubled back to finish the ride home with me, which gave me a much needed break for awhile. I was elated to get home and see that I finished a 48 mile ride with an average speed of 18.2 mph - especially since I rode about half of the mileage on my own! I think the guys ended up with just about 49 miles for their ride, and an average speed of closer to 20 mph.

After some lunch, Mike and I headed up to Maine, where they received 15" of snow on Thursday. We had to shovel the driveway just to get the car in! I couldn't believe the snowbanks at the house - looked more like the middle of winter than the middle of April. Crummy weather most of the week as well, so looks like any riding will be in the basement.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

First TT of the Season

Amazingly, the weather last night cooperated, and our club held it's first TT of the season! At ride time, it was sunny, temps in the 50s (that is balmy for us in the Northeast right now), and a light wind (tailwind out, headwind back).This was my first ride on the new TT bike and new aero bars.

The Vision bars are MUCH lighter and more aero than the previous bars I had, making the front end seem much "twitchier" than I was accustomed to. At times during the race, it literally felt like I was all over the road. The other thing was that descending at speed was a little bit scary - the bars put me further over my front wheel.

After a warmup, I was 4th off the line, with Mike starting 30 seconds behind me (that's always an incentive to me - how far can I go before he catches me?). I quickly got into the aero position and was off. At first, I felt great! Speedo indicated that I was moving along nicely at about 24 mph, and I didn't feel like the effort was too taxing (although my HRM said 177 bpm!). Mike passed me and was amazed at how long it took him, and said that I was moving really fast (and looking good). I managed to keep him in sight for quite awhile...

The backside of our loop is slightly hillier and more difficult than the front side. I was getting tired, and literally gave up at one point. When I saw my HR hit 160, I kicked myself and forced myself to go harder, despite whatever my speed/time were saying. Kicking up the final climb, I actually saw 12.9 mph - not good. However, it is all downhill to the final turn, and I managed to come in at 26:41 for 9.75 miles (a little more than 22 mph).

I didn't feel great last night, and was disappointed with my time. Mike and my friends were great though - it WAS the first race of the season, and I can only [hopefully] get faster from here...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Still Not Spring

Welcome to "spring" in New England! Usually at this point in April, I have pulled out my spring/summer clothes, we can go outside without a jacket, and the riding is plentiful and usually warm. Not this year. It seems that we are now paying for the late start to our winter (and 70 degree temps in January), with more SNOW on the way this week.

Depending on the forecast, we are supposed to receive anywhere from 1 - 6 inches of snow tomorrow in MA, with northern VT, NH and ME getting the brunt of this late storm. As much as I love the winter, ENOUGH ALREADY!

One of the rides Mike and I did this past weekend was a fairly mellow mountain bike spin on some local trails. We didn't catch a glimpse of the Easter bunny (or any Easter chicks), but we did see some ducks that weren't happy to see us.

Monday, April 2, 2007

April Fools

It all started out fine. Mike and I headed out of the house on the trusty tandem to do an easy-ish ride (he is having some knee trouble). My post today was going to be about how he won all of the town line sprints ;-). Instead, our ride ended not so nicely...

As we were coming home through Acton, we cut through the Colonial Spirits parking lot to head up Pope Road. Suddenly, I knew that we had a flat. Here is the sequence of events from here:

  1. Run over small piece of glass.
  2. Glass embeds in rear tire, cutting the tube and causing a flat.
  3. Remove rear wheel, find glass, remove tube.
  4. Take spare out of seat back, and put on wheel.
  5. Spare is a 26" x 1.25 - we have 700 cc wheels...
  6. Look for patch kit.
  7. No patch kit in seat bag.
  8. Make spare tube fit (difficult, but workable).
  9. Pump up tire - doesn't hold air.
  10. Pump breaks.
  11. No cell phone either, and we are about 10 miles from home.
  12. Ride tandem remaining 10 miles on cracked rim, including along dirt bike path ('cause it's shorter).
This was NOT a fun way to end what had been a good ride.

The lesson here (are you all listening?) is to CHECK your supplies and make sure that you have everything you need BEFORE you head out on a 50 mile ride. Also, I will ALWAYS ride with a cell phone from here on out.

Foolish on April Fool's Day....

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Meet Me in Margaritaville

This was Parrothead Weekend at Sunday River. The weather even cooperated this year - bringing sunny skies and decent temps (although it could have been about 5 degrees warmer). The skiing was awesome, and the margaritas were flowing... A great end to the ski season for us.