Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Big GMG Thanks!

This past week and a half has been kind of a blur at my house. After the "race" at Monson last weekend, I was scheduled to facilitate a week long meeting at work - that meant some pretty long hours, and every day in the office (I know, poor me. But I'm used to only going INTO an office two days a week...).

In the middle of the week, as I was trying to get ahead and do some laundry, my washing machine started making god-awful noises at about 10 pm. It was toast - with a full load of soaking wet [clean] clothes inside... SIGH. Thankfully, Mike took charge of the situation and went and ordered me a fancy new washer AND dryer, which were delivered on Friday!

Saturday was the start of our Great Mass Getaway ride in support of the National MS Society. Last year, we got rained out completely on the first day of the ride, so we were happy to see blue skies and sun for the start of this year's event (not so happy about the 4:30 a.m. wake up to be in Quincy for 6:00 am though). Team ROAM lined up with 13 team members - 4 tandems and 5 single riders - to ride a combination of 75 and 100 mile routes.

Our team totally kicked butt in the fundraising department this year, thanks solely to the efforts of Claudia, who raised over $40,000 to help bring an end to MS! Thanks to our generous supporters, Mike and I were able to contribute an additional $1,500 to the team. I believe that our final team fundraising total will be in excess of $46,000, making us the third highest fundraising team at the event (and Claudia is the highest single fundraiser - glad she's on our team!). A huge Thank You to all of you who so generously donated to such a great cause.

In return, Mike and I managed to ride 180 miles in two days on our tandem. Together with 5 of our teammates, we completed Saturday's century route (which really turned out to be 102 miles) with an average speed of 20 mph! We rolled into the Mass Maritime Academy in Bourne, MA as the first group to finish this route (yes, Jaime, we did win ;-)). After 5 hours of riding, we were ready for showers, food and beverage, as well as just some "hanging out" with good friends comparing our riding stories from the day.

Part of the team getting ready to roll

Don and Kristen ready for their first GMG; A view from the road

Don't forget the sunscreen!; Finishing together after 102 miles

Hanging with friends at the MMA; That's A LOT of bikes!

Saturday evening, the team went off-site to have dinner at Mezza Luna in Buzzard's Bay, to celebrate Mary's 40th birthday (Happy Belated Birthday, Mary!). We had an awesome feast of pasta, but the mile and a half walk to and from after the riding was a little much for some of us ;-).

1.5 mile walk after 102 miles of riding...; A well deserved and delicious dinner

Ice cream for dessert; The birthday girl, Jaime and AA

It was an early evening for the team. Mike and I stayed in the dorms this year, pulling bunk mattresses from moving metal frames onto the floor to ensure there were no middle of the night mishaps ;-). Despite some hearty revelry from another team below our window, it wasn't long before I was out for the count, only to be awakened at 4:00 am to start another day of riding.

6:00 am, and ready to roll; The view from Wellfleet

The effort of the previous day was evident to both Mike and I as we set out in the morning, headed over the Bourne Bridge on our way to Provincetown. On Saturday, Mike and I did the lion's share of the work in our group, pulling into the wind for approximately 90+ of the 102 miles. Sunday, we started with four of our teammates, but ended up separated and on our own. Tired, defeated and frustrated with the ever-present headwind heading into the final 8 miles of the ride, Mike and I still managed to finish the 78 mile ride on Sunday with an average speed of 18.9 mph. I have never been so glad to be finished this ride before! Passing the bike off to the movers (all bikes are transported back to Quincy on moving trucks) I asked them if they could arrange to just throw it in the harbor when they returned - they laughed, and told me that would cost extra ;-) !

After a massage, some food, and a quick walk into town, we boarded the bus (no more ferries after my seasick experience) and headed back to Quincy, happy to have done our part to help a great cause!

I got home in time to unpack, do a load of laundry and repack before heading to Houston, TX to facilitate another meeting for work this week! It's a forced rest week, but I'll be back in town and on the bike at the end of this week.

Again, thanks to those of you who continue to support both Mike and I in our endeavour to help end the devastating effects of MS!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Another Try at the Tandem TT

Tonight Mike and I went out for another shot at the tandem TT, hoping not to have any near death experiences like we did last time.

Since Bob and Lee are off to the Masters National Championships in Kentucky, we helped out with a few other club members to get racers registered before the start. That's actually a fun job because you get to see everyone! Fits right into my social butterfly personality ;-).

We started in 15th place, and quickly got up to speed and into a rhythm. The traffic didn't interfere tonight, and the weather wasn't TOO bad (although there was a head wind on the way out). The whole ride tonight hurt - I had a really hard time breathing. About half way through, I really felt like I was going to throw up - that's when you know you're putting in an all out effort! We finished with a time of 21:24 (just under 27 mph) - only 41 seconds off of our best time last season, and this was only our second try this year!

I'm beat now, but when we got home, I went out to take some pics of the lillies and roses in the garden - they're in full bloom now, and remind me of fireworks...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Cyclonauts RR - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Some of my regular readers will have seen this report on the NEBC mailing list already - sorry for the duplication (there are a couple of updates at the end of the report) ;-) This race turned out to be pretty difficult for a number of reasons outlined below...

32 miles
35 starters (Cat 3/4 and 40+)
10 NEBC starters - all DNF

The Good

About 10 miles into the race, after turning off of Route 20, we started to dominate the racing in the pack. Loraine attacked right out of the corner, and when we caught her, I countered with another attack right away. We had four strong climbers in the pack and wanted to be sure that they were protected, and had legs left for the final climb to the finish. Loraine attacked again in a few miles; I asked her to go once more, which she did, and at that point, the pack was happy to let her go, knowing that they would quickly reel her back in. On the next hill, I attacked again, and was left to dangle off the front of the pack for about 2 miles - I also knew that as much as I like to TT, I couldn't do it for 18 more miles.

Once the pack was back together, a group of five of our teammates moved to the front of the pack, and controlled the pace - working well together so that not one was doing all the work. From my place near the front, they were doing a great job! The team worked EXTREMELY well together, and should be proud of their efforts. They all commented later how much fun they were having.

The Bad

From the outset, the women on the team felt that our race was not supported. On the start line, we were told that the prize list was being cut in half because we didn't have a minimum number of racers (min was 40, 35 on the line, 27 pre-reg). In his defence, the promoter told me that he also cut the prize list for the 30+ men for the same reason.

We also had no neutral support for the race. Of course, this meant that if any of us had a technical while racing, we would be done. As far as we knew, there was no follow car either. I later learned that Chandra did end up with a flat, and due to the lack of support, had to rely on the kindness of strangers to get a ride back to the race start.

Starting out, we did have two lead out motorcycles. Sadly, the first thing they did was take a wrong turn, getting the entire pack lost, and taking us off course onto very narrow roads, and having us face some dangerous conditions. Once we finally did get back on course, it was clearly evident that these "pace riders" did not know the course at all, as they were slowing at every intersection on the route, and pulling back into the road as the pack approached, causing a lot of unnecessary and abrupt braking. I have never used my brakes so much in a race, simply to miss hitting the pace vehicles.

As I was out on my "flyer" on a flat section of road, I actually had to yell at the motorcycle to move! They had no idea how to pace, how to approach intersections, or where the race course was. This was really unacceptable, and dangerous.

The Ugly

Sadly, at mile 22.5, a squirrely racer caused a significant crash, taking down 7 riders, with 3 transported to the hospital by ambulance. Two of my teammates were included in that transport, both being taken away on backboards. Shannon had tried to go to the right to avoid the crash in front of her, and ended up launching over the guardrail. She was bleeding, and we were worried that she had hit her head as well. Thankfully, a cat scan and x-ray later, she has a fat lip (but you should see the other guy ;-)), abrasions on her neck from her helmet strap, a cut and goose egg behind her right ear and some small cuts on her shoulder and arm. She'll be sore for a few days, but is doing fine. Her bike also escaped unscathed.

Erica ended up being the person that the racers from behind ran over. I have, of course, witnessed this on VS., but seeing it happen to a teammate from behind was pretty scary. Although a nurse offered to cut off her team bib shorts, we managed to save them completely intact. She has a good amount of road rash (and a REALLY UGLY patch on her hip) and will also be sore for a few days, but is fine. Unfortunately, her carbon Look didn't fare quite as well - the top tube is cracked. All of the components, however, including wheels, are fine and can be swapped to her next ride.

Being behind the crash, I actually managed to get stopped completely before impact. Unfortunately, my bike handling skills didn't transfer to those riding behind me, and I was rear-ended/side-swiped (I think in stopping so quickly, my bike may have been sideways), causing me to take a tumble as well. I didn't need medical attention, but will probably take a little longer than my MUCH YOUNGER teammates to heal . Both knees have contusions and/or road rash, but I (and my bike) am fine. This is my first crash in over 20 road races - I hope NEVER to repeat it, and I was lucky!

And the kindness of strangers is sometimes amazing. Immediately after the crash, a motorist coming from the other direction who had witnessed the crash checked all of the injured riders and called 911. His kindness and quick actions were a big help to all of us - we didn't get a chance to thank him, but I hope that he knows we appreciated what he did for us.

Our entire team pulled together completely to help out in this situation. While we all DNF'd, everyone helped to shuttle bikes/cars/people, and to call emergency contacts and let them know what was happening. I am proud of them for the teamwork they displayed today, making a difficult situation much less difficult.

The big lesson we learned as a team today was that we needed to put together a list of contact info - our own and an emergency contact, and to carry phones and insurance cards while racing.

I did send a note to the promoter about the lack of support we felt we had in this race, and the issues we encountered. I received a response back from him, and next year, there won't be a women's field at Monson...

Update: I have also received an email from a member of the IBC team who was involved in the crash. Julie received bruising along her torso and ribs, but is doing fine. She and her teammates were also contemplating sending a note to the race promoter about the "negligent and dangerous" nature of our race.

Also, a NorEast racer (Alison) was transported to the hospital with a suspected broken wrist. The last I heard from the EMTs was that it was likely not broken after all. I hope that Alison heals quickly and is back on the bike soon.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Oh, My Legs!

After the intense racing on the weekend, I took Monday off of the bike. That usually is enough for me to get through the remainder of the week's training, but not this week!

Tuesday's weather canceled our regular women's ride, but a few of us agreed to go out regardless, and dodge any raindrops that may fall. Tami, Carrie and I met another rider on the Lexington Green, and headed out. Tami is a Cat 2 racer on our Elite team, and said that she wanted to do a hard effort - I'll say it was hard! We went out and did 26 miles at an average speed of 21.3! Outside of the TT, that is my fastest ride ever, and it really hurt my already tired legs.

My legs were pretty tired by Wednesday, which is typically TT day. By the time Mike got home (he had done a hard ride on Tuesday as well), we both decided that the TT was out for us, and went out for an "easy" tandem ride instead ;-). The tired legs didn't really want to go, and the omni-directional wind made the ride even more of a challenge (although some would say that as the stoker, I am in a perpetual draft). We ended up riding 45 miles, and even got to stop and say hello to all of our friends who did attempt the TT last night.

Today, my quads are VERY sore, and my legs are VERY tired. I still have the Cat 4 women's team ride tonight (where we will focus on sprinting and riding in a pack), and I'm hoping to do a little more coaching than riding ;-). I think I am really looking forward to a few days off the bike this weekend!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Maine Race Weekend

The weather forecast was miserable, but we headed up to Maine this past weekend for a suprisingly dry two days of racing - humid and hot on Saturday and cold and misty on Sunday.

Saturday - Auburn, ME - Road Race
23 miles, 2 laps
27 starters
Finished 10th :(

To say I was disappointed in my results at this race would be an understatement. I had high hopes not only for myself, but for the team as a whole. We had 10 team members anxious for a great race - unfortunately, this turned into more of a Sunday ride than a race, until the finish...

The course started at the highest point of the race, leading immediately into a 40+ mph downhill, followed in short measure by a steep uphill rise. The course levelled off after this for quite awhile, before heading back up (over two miles) to the start/finish line to do it all again.

At the team meeting, we talked about strategy. In hindsight, I should have been a little more organized, and had the team attacking. At several points in the "race" with the pack completely together, it would have been a good idea to launch some riders up the road to break things up, especially since there were flat/downhill sections we were riding at about 18 mph - some of the women were carrying on entire social conversations! Like the rest of the team, however, I am still learning! We'll continue to work on this whole strategy thing through the season...

Because of the slow pace, and the fact that the pack really stayed together, the race was a little frustrating at times. My dilemma, however, was not to go too hard so that I didn't have anything left for the finish. In the second lap, I got particularly frustrated, and probably spent a little too much time on the front of the pack. Going in to the final 3-step hill, I felt great. We were at mile 22.5 of a 23 mile race, hitting the third step of the climb when someone attached a boat anchor to my bike, and I literally felt like I was going backwards. I quickly went from the front of the pack, to 10th, to 15th position. I was done. As a couple of my teammates passed me, looking to see WHY I was slowing, I yelled for them to GO. Thankfully, two of them managed a 3rd and an 8th, and my legs recovered enough to head back up into a 10th place finish.

Kristen, 3rd; Erica 8th

Cathy, Shannon, Michele; Chandra

Kathy, Caroline; Pat


I was really disappointed with my performance, however. This was my worst result of the season, and I felt that the mistakes I made were all strategic. I also felt like I had let the team down - not planning properly for their success. As one of the Elite women said to me afterwards, this is the world of racing - not every week garners a good result! I just need to learn from this race, and apply those learnings to the next one.

Sunday - Auburn, ME - Crit
15 laps
12 starters
Finished 5th

During the week, I convinced one of my teammates to come up and do the crit with me on Sunday. Jen actually drove up to our house in Maine on Saturday evening so that the morning commute to the race would be significantly shorter. It was fun to hang out with her beforehand.

It poured rain all night in Maine, and I was really concerned about doing a crit on wet roads. Thankfully, the roads dried out before we arrived in Auburn, but the temps never got above about 58 degrees - quite a difference from the 80 degree temps the day before!

Jen, Mike and I walked the course before the race, so we would know what it looked like. It started at the bottom of a short hill that quickly turned left into a steeper uphill pitch. After levelling off at the top, another left hand turn brought us downhill, left again onto the bottom of the course (which was also slightly downhill), and then left again back to the start finish. I was nervous - this would only be my second true crit race, and I am not great at downhill corners, especially left handers!

We got a chance to ride the course before the race, and Jen showed me how to approach the fast corner. After that, we lined up and were off for 15 climbs up that stinkin' hill! After about three laps, one of the women from yesterday's race launched an attack on the hill climb, and five of us managed to go with her. I yelled at them that we had a gap, and needed to keep the pace high to stay away. I managed to stick with this group of 5 through about lap 9, when a surge by Ivy (VeloBella) dropped me off the back. From this point on, I was in a TT, trying not to get caught by the remainder of the field!

While I could see three of my breakmates for most of the rest of the race, I was never able to catch them, and crossed the line in 5th place. A better result for me than the previous day, and definitely a hard effort!

This was also Mike's first weekend of racing since his knee surgery!

BTW - this was a tough race weekend for NEBC. Julie went down in the Cat 4 women's race (but got back on her bike and finished), Peter had a crash where he BADLY cut his fingers when his hand hit the chainring of the bike in front of him, Roy was lucky that he ended up with just road rash when he went down (the pic shows the result of his bike sliding in the opposite direction and being run over by a car), and Dave had a crash in the crit on Sunday, but was ok (although bruised and somewhat battered). Thankfully, everyone on the team is ok!