Monday, June 1, 2009

From the Top of the Heap to the Bottom of the Pile

To quote Mike, thank goodness it's Monday! We both needed to go back to work today to rest after an intense weekend of racing and hard efforts!

Waterville Valley TT

Last year, I was in California for this race and missed all the fun. Essentially, this is a 20 mile individual effort, with the first 9.5 to 10 miles being an uphill climb to the village of Waterville Valley. Great - plays right into my strengths as a hill climber - NOT! ;)

I looked at the course profile before the race, and was intimidated. As you can see, it goes straight up, and then straight down. What you can't see from the profile is that the average grade of the climb is 1.6%, with a couple of steeper (maybe 7%) rises along the way. The advice from Mike (who did the race last year) was to go out at a steady pace, but try not to blow up in the first few miles. My teammate Katherine told me the same thing and added that I need to make sure I had something at mile 7, where the course kicked up a couple of notches.

The TT is my specialty, so I wasn't worried about coming down, or the start. The hill climb aspect though was an unknown to me. I have been working on my climbing this year, but still wasn't sure what to expect. Being the second woman to start, I also had the self-imposed pressure of ensuring that none of the women behind caught me on the way up.

So, I started out at a steady pace, quickly catching my 30 second person. As I rolled along, I kept waiting for the climb to get harder. There were places where you could still move along pretty well despite going steadily uphill. Then came the mile 7 climb, where I caught the last of the men who had gone off before us. As you start into the climb, it APPEARS that there is a downhill entrance. Expecting to keep some momentum, I put in the power only to feel myself losing a significant amount of speed. I couldn't figure it out. Did I have a flat? Was something wrong with my bike? Hitting a whopping 12.5 mph, I eventually crested that part of the climb and determined that the downhill was an illusion.

Now I could see a couple more of the men in front of me, and I passed three more as we made our way around the village to head back to the finish. Checking my computer, I crested the climb with a 19mph average speed.

Woohoo - downhill! Except that this was anything BUT a free ride. The grade was narrow enough that you had to work the entire way down the hill, into what seemed to be a headwind the whole way. I knew what the fastest women's time was from last year, and I was aiming to beat it if I could. The distance back to the finish was deceiving. Finally passing the 1K marker, I still felt like it was an interminable distance before I could see the line. I was pretty excited to cross with a time faster than the fastest time last year for the women by 40 seconds!

We all returned to the school to await the official results. I was nervous. I knew that teammate Clara (who won here last year and is a terrific climber) had a faster "unoffical" time than I did, but wasn't sure about some of the others. In particular, Kristen G had raced, and she is one of my main nemeses on the bike. Did she put in a faster time? The end result had Clara winning, with me posting the second fastest women's time overall, and winning the Master's women's category! Woohoo! In fact, NEBC took 3 of the 5 paying spots, with Katherine S having the 5th fastest women's time.

Mike had a great day too, shaving 1.5 minutes off of his time from last year, on a slightly longer course. We both celebrated with a cold beer and tasty sandwiches afterwards.

Bear Brook Blast Off

After the effort on Saturday, there wasn't much "blasting off" for me at Sunday's MTB race. I was pretty beat in the morning - with two early wake up calls, plus the driving, it made the thought of racing not as pleasurable. But, everyone else was going (and no, I wouldn't jump off the cliff just because they all were, dad!)...

After last week's learning about whether to take a pre-ride of the course, my approach yesterday was much more mellow. Probably too mellow. My warmup consisted of riding to a place to put our water bottle feed mechanism, and then riding back to the parking lot. Not so great for a 25 mile race, but at least I got to see SOME of the course...

The Expert women went off in the first wave of riders. It didn't take long for the singlespeeders to start passing us, wreaking havoc - there weren't many good places to pass on the course (and any time we came to double-track, there was no lapping/lapped traffic, naturally). Any time the course pointed ever-so-slightly in the upward direction, my legs starting screaming "Are you nuts? We just did this yesterday! So, not doing it again!". Sadly, they won.

With all of the lapping/lapped traffic, and my legs throwing a temper tantrum like a toddler looking for candy in the grocery check-out line, I pretty much decided it was a nice day for a ride in the woods. The trails at Bear Brook were definitely fun (would have been more so without the racing and traffic though) - some technically challenging sections of rocks and roots, some freshly cut singletrack and some recovery sections made for a great variety.

I went into this race tired, and expectations were low. Good thing, cause I finished DFL. Quite the dichotomy of racing for me this weekend! Next weekend it's back on the road for the Auburn RR and Great Falls Crit up in Maine.


Alex said...

wow, that time trial leaves me impressed. Now you know why I'm scared of you on a bike!

Way to stick it out sunday, even if you weren't feeling it!

Trigirlpink said...

woo hoo is right! Nice job on the WV TT. Yikes... you were pickin' em off left and right and then you raced again on Sunday? Ouch!
You are a tough girl.

I'm with Alex: I'm scared of you too. :-)