Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I have been participating in the CBTT (Charlie Baker Time Trial) since 2005, and have made significant time improvements over the years I have been racing - some as a result of coughing up for all the right equipment, but also through some hard work.

Last week, I rode from the house over to the event, as usual, and felt like absolute poo. I had raced a VERY muddy and wet MTB race the Sunday before (that took over 3 hours due to miserable conditions and a rear wheel that wouldn't turn on it's own), and had ridden reasonably hard with our junior development team the night prior. I figured that this was just not my night, and accepted that. The excuses were flowing fast and furious before I even started!

Heading out on the first leg of the loop (it's a 9.75 mile course with all right hand turns and one climb), I felt good, and was surprised to see speeds in the 27 to 30 mph range without feeling as if I was killing myself. I know that those speeds are high, and I backed off just a bit, worried that I wouldn't have anything left on the backside [hilly] part of the course if I went all out here. I assumed that I was riding with a major tailwind and would wind up paying later.

Mike started 30 seconds behind me, and I was surprised at how long it took him to catch me. When he did go by, I made it a goal to see how long I could keep him in sight, knowing he would soon be gone. I maintained visual contact all through the second leg of the course (woohoo!). As we made the right turn onto the final leg, I was very surprised to find myself closing the gap between us. Um - now what do I do? I shouldn't be passing him back - just not possible! But, pass him I did. And then I floored it to see if I could maintain my position.

I crossed the finish line in 23:03 - 14 seconds FASTER than my previous PR set last year!!! That equates to a 25.4 mph average speed. I am, of course, excited about the new PR, but also a bit disappointed that I couldn't find the extra 4 seconds needed to break into the 22 minute range. This is why I keep going BACK to the stupid TT! I also did a search of faster times over the years. There are now only 4 women faster than me, and 3 of them are professional triathletes with Ironman wins and a World Championship, and the other is an Olympic cycling hopeful for 2012! Not bad company, I'd say.

Tonight - the MTB TT championship!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Never Say Never Again

After my last experience racing on the road this year, I said I was done. That was it - no more for me, thank you very much. Those of you who have hung out in this black hole of a blog for any time may remember that I have a bit of an issue with NOT racing whatever I decide it is I've had it with - this year road racing, last year, MTB racing (but I've NEVER quit 'cross - that would be crazy!).

All that said, I really like the Norwell race, and have done it a couple of times in the past with the Master's 45+ men (before they re-introduced a women's field). I debated a bit about registering though - I planned to ride the Fundo (64 miles and almost 5000 ft of climbing) the day before, and wasn't sure how the legs would hold up. The early morning start was also unattractive after getting up early for the Fundo. I briefly considered racing with the Master men again given their later start, but figured with so many teammates heading to the early women's race, I needed to be a team player :).

At the pre-race meeting, Juliane asked what everyone's goals were. Mine was simple - hang in. My legs felt like lead on the pre-ride, and 9 times up the finish hill after the previous days' effort was certain to hurt - A LOT. Jackie was more direct though - she wanted to win. I told her I would help if I could.

The race started out steadily enough, but with some suspicious bike handling by a few riders. We had a couple of strong women who tried attacking downhill - something I have learned (the hard way) never works. They must have learned it too, because I think they wore themselves out.

The first time a break went up the road, it was launched on the finish hill - the perfect place for it. We could see that group for a long time, and it was pretty easy to tell that they weren't working together. With a little effort from various racers, we managed to catch them. I did think it was funny that one racer said "C'mon - let's catch them. Just one more hard effort", but never put in an effort on the front herself...

The next time up the finish hill, though, another small break formed with three riders, including Jackie (again). After telling another NEBC racer NOT to chase her teammate, I sat on the front for a bit, literally sitting up (and no one trying to go around me, which I thought odd), and let the group of three get a good sized gap. Then, it was just a matter of defending. The chase group was made up of 6 racers, with 3 of us from NEBC. At this point, my goal was to sit second wheel and not do any work to bring back the break. Now, we were racing for 4th place!

The tactics worked perfectly. At one point, another racer (and NEBC member, but racing for another team) tried to wave me through, but I was having none of it given that I had a teammate up the road. She and another racer did try to work together for a time, but they couldn't shake any of the NEBC women :).

In the final lap, I found myself on the front of our group (not where I wanted to be or should have been, but I drifted there climbing the hill). As we descended the hill on the backside, teammate Lisa L. was there, and I jumped on her wheel. I told her that she needed to go as hard as she could despite being tired. Lisa pulled like crazy along the false flat leading to the finish (later commenting that she felt like a sled dog with me calling mush!), delivering our group to the base of the final climb. I started the sprint, and was happy to see Julianne take the field sprint for 4th, and Elizabeth finish 7th. After all of the work, I was happy with the 9th place finish, and excited that after the previous days' effort, my legs held up for the team.

There was real racing happening in this field. Constant attacks and perfect team tactics. I might have even had some fun racing my road bike, but we'll keep that just between us :).