Monday, August 17, 2009

North Shore Racing

This was a big week for racing in New England. Wednesday was the Witches Cup in Salem, MA followed on Thursday by the brand new Gran Prix of Beverly. The words fast, hard and painful come to mind - oh, and fun. Yes, definitely fun!

Witches Cup

Celebrating the team win

I first did this race two years ago when it was re-introduced to the New England calendar. I was a brand new Cat 3 racer jumping into an Open Women's field. And I didn't like corners. Sounds like disaster in a crit to me - I ended up lapped TWICE by Lyne Bessette and my teammate, Rebecca. This year, all I wanted was to stay with the pack...

I knew the race was going to be fast - Lyne was going for win number 3, and Rebecca had decided being second two years in a row wasn't enough. Nicole Friedman (another former Olympian) was also on the start line in addition to the fast NEBC Elite team and many other strong racers from the local scene. Deep breaths, and sure enough, it was rockets from go. It took me a few laps to finally get comfortable with the corners and the pace, but I was still hanging in (although Mike scared the pants off me early when he yelled, "You've gotta move up! You're gonna get pulled!" - important note - I was about 10 feet off the back of the pack...).

As I got more comfortable, I decided to go up the road with about 5 laps to go. I pulled for a lap, and was able to get back into the pack. I crossed the line in 17th place - WITH THE PACK! Goal accomplished - I hung in to the finish without any gapping or lapping! Woohoo! And even better - it was a team win (#7 for Rebecca!).

Then it was time for the big race - the P1/2/3 men. Two years ago, Mike won the 4/5 race here. Last year he did well in the P1/2/3 race, and he was hoping to do well again this year. The pace was furious with big names dominating the front of the field. While 100 men started only 59 finished the race, including Mike (an awesome 37th).

Gran Prix of Beverly

Thursday took us to Beverly for an entirely different type of race. Walking the course early, I could tell this was going to be tough. Soon after the start/finish was a 110 degree right hand corner, followed by a quick left and another right through a chicane. In some instances, the course went from a wide boulevard to a narrow side street. Adam Myerson later described the course as a paved 'cross race - it was definitely technical!

There were also far fewer women starting this race (17 vs. 27), although all the big names from the previous night's race were back for more. With my technical cornering skills not where they need to be, I had a race that can best be summarized as follows:

Drop, chase, catch; drop chase, catch; drop, chase, chase, chase, catch, attack; POP; drop, drop drop, chase, chase, chase, chase, chase, chase, pulled with 2 laps to go

I got so angry with myself part way through the race that I blew through the pack, burnt all my matches at once, and then was dropped for good - yeah, that was not so smart. Apparently, though, I have a "too stupid to stop" gene, so kept on plugging, hoping that I could hold off from getting lapped as long as possible. The effort was full on, but with just 2 laps left, I was caught. Bill, the chief referee, had to violently blow his whistle to get my attention, since I still had my head down and was still moving at 22+ mph! I was disappointed that I got dropped, but in the end, I am proud of myself for sticking it out as long as I did.

Again, the good news was a team win - #8 for Rebecca (did I mention that girl is on fire?).

The men lined up for their race, and the technical course took its toll on most of the field. Out of 77 starters, only 32 ended up finishing the race - the remainder being pulled or just not finishing. Mike said that as hard as Wednesday's race was, Thursday was harder. I'm glad that he thought so, too ;)

The best part of this race, to me, was the enthusiasm of the town and the spectators. There were people having parties on their front lawns. All the shop windows sported posters for the event. Restaurants set up makeshift patio areas for serving food and drinks. And no matter HOW far off the back I was, people were constantly cheering and supporting the effort. Almost makes me want to go back and do it again!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

More Racing, and Some Riding For Fun

Saturday - Gate City Cyclone

Cathy - Women's 1/2/3 - 8th/11
Mike - Pro 1/2/3 - 33rd/75

Just a couple of overall observations from the races on Saturday:
  1. If the women don't start showing up for races, the promoters are going to start cutting the prize lists and/or the entire fields. Not sure what's up with everyone, but this race literally had 21 prime prizes and a cash payout of $750 for the top 6 finishers. I don't want to hear any women complaining when fields and prizes start getting cut.
  2. Team Equipe Specialized showed up for the Men's P1/2/3 race from Quebec. They had two fancy team vans, and they were FAST. Cleaned up on many primes, and won the race overall.
  3. Everyone should wear gloves when racing. Manny G learned this the hard way, going down in a crash in the first corner. Looked like a broken finger and lots of skin lost on his hands.
  4. Neutralizing a race is always hard. Doing it on a prime lap, at the finish line is harder. Having the pace scooter STOP directly in front of sprinting racers is B-A-D!

Overall, this was a fun race, and I had a good time. With two teammates in the break, I settled in to the "chase group" (when there are only 11 and 4 are up the road, it's hard to be called "the pack") to sit in. I figured that I could settle in for the final sprint, but Kerry L wound it up a bit too early for me, and I got caught out.

After changing up and some socializing, I got to watch Mike, Scott and Oscar race in the P1/2/3 race. They looked great, holding their own in the front third of a tough field. Of course, following up racing with food, friends and beer is always a good end to the day.

Sunday - Lynn Woods

Sunday was all about riding for fun. We don't get an opportunity to do that very often during the race season, so it was nice to head out with Mike, Scott and Wayne. Three hours of technical riding, some crashes and a whole lot of fun reminded me of why I am so passionate about riding my bike ;) Sometimes, perspective is a good thing!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Norwell, Canada and Trees

Once again, I have fallen behind on the blogging. This seems to be a recurring theme this year!


Two weeks ago, Mike and I went to Norwell for the MBRC-sponsored race. I loved this race last year, and this year was the same. We lucked out on the weather (it rained the entire way to the race) with sun and warm temps.

NEBC actually had a team of racers in the 35+ - Mike, Scott, Jim, John and Rob. Together, they rode strong, chasing early breaks, working together, and dicing it up with the Corner Cycles and Fuji teams. Their hard work paid off with three top 10 finishes (Scott - 7th, Mike - 8th, John - 10th).

The start; Looking strong

The break; And the chase

I didn't get to see the finish of their race as I was busy prepping to line up with the 45+ men. Norwell doesn't have a women's field, so racing with the boys is my only option (I was the only woman in the field). Last year at this race, I managed to hang on to the field, but got dropped everytime we went up the finish hill, and had to chase back on. This year, I wanted to NOT get dropped on the climb!

Typically, the 45+ field is considered relatively safe, at least by me. I know many of the racers in this field, and they have lots of years of experience. This year, however, some of the racers were unknown to me, and really made me nervous - not holding lines, pretending to be a top Tour de France descender IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PACK, etc. The other interesting phenomenon? I got the sense that some of them desperately did not want to get beaten by a girl ;). So, it took me a few laps to get comfortable and move around the pack, but I met my overall goal - I never once got dropped on the climb, and was, in fact, PASSING people here! On the final climb, I dug deep, sprinted, and passed about 5 riders going into the finish. I managed to finish a respectable 24th in a field of 39, so was happy with the overall result.


This past weekend I headed to the homeland for a long over-due visit with my grandma, and a wedding. I flew in this time and rented a car - and since they didn't have any compacts available, I ended up with a convertible! I had a blast driving around with the top down all weekend.

The lake and cottage where I spent a lot of time growing up. The cottage has been moved, and the front room removed, but other than that, it still looks the same as I remember - just smaller!

My rock. It has been green, pink, beige...; My weekend ride - very fun

Me and gram

Enjoyed a visit with gram, who had just turned 86 the previous day. It was a surprise to her that I was coming, which was nice. She was at my aunt and uncle's which used to be her cottage when we were growing up. Lots of changes up there, but the visit brought back some great memories of playing with my cousins and brother.

Then it was off to Paula and Dave's wedding. It's always fun to catch up with good friends, and especially so for such a happy occasion.


When I got home from my visit, I was happy to see that the tree work we had planned was complete. We moved a large rhododendrun and holly bush, as well as a magnolia tree from the front yard to the side of the house. This will afford us some privacy from the neighbors, as well as from the road! Certainly changes the view out my office window. We also had two apple trees moved, although one of those is looking like it might not survive the stress.

Before - prepping for move; Moving the holly bush

Here comes the magnolia; Placing the rhodie

Finally in its new home; After - a bit lonely?

The finished bed/view from the office!

Off to other adventures this weekend! An MTB clinic, a race in Nashua and who knows what else might be in store...