Sunday, June 29, 2008

...and other stuff...

This is more on the SS State Championships. I would apologize for writing so much, but how can I help it? I'm naturally self-absorbed. Besides, I'm pretty sure that no more than three people actually read this.

The Bike: An aluminum Motobecane frame, the $300 wonderbike. It's got some fancy brake levers on it, but apparently could use a fancier rear brake- it was rubbing a good amount on the wheel, which also seemed a bit wonky to me in a hub-is-on-its-way-out sort of way. The 20 tooth cog was an excellent choice by my mechanic, aka Cale. The saddle, oooohpain. Suffice to say, there was also a good amount of rubbing in the seat area. That is the last time I use that seat for over 4 miles of trails.

The transition back to rigid SS: I've been riding geared with front suspension and loving it, but it wasn't too terrible to go back to my old ways. I didn't spend the race pining away for suspension or gears. I think I've retained some of the SS habits of attacking hills and such, and besides I'm just so darned adaptable. When you're on a SS, there are going to be some hills you can't climb up. There are going to be things that will be a struggle. So what? There are limitations to what you can do on a geared bike, too.

The Skillz: I am getting so much better! It feels like I've finally had a breakthrough, as cheesy as that sounds. I'm able to do things faster and with less fear than ever before! On a side note, I had the song 'Pump It' by the Black Eyed Peas in my head for all 3hrs and 2mins of the race. There's a technique called 'pumping' that I saw a video for (thanks, Mark Weir!) that reminds me of the song. Plus, it's got the lyrics "Don't stop, and keep it going" in it. But anyhow, pumping and my accruing skills are making it feel like I'm working with the bike rather than just along for the ride. So good.

The Fuel:
Note to self- learn to drink water on a bike. Over three hours at race pace and I didn't even drink 3/4 of one waterbottle. I know I've got a few aunts who would lecture me about fueling my body properly, and they're right. I was just afraid to slow down at all, and I'm not slick at putting my water bottle back in its cage. Add to that the gasping for air, and it's not as easy as it sounds to actually get water into your mouth. I managed to get in a few Gu packets- my first time using them. Not as terrible as I thought they would be.

The Focus:
I was intensely focused for much of this race, which was a goal of mine. Focus and determination meant not as much hesitation in tricky areas, which resulted in better handling. A few of us went out and rode parts of the same trails today, and I wondered at the stuff I hadn't even blinked at while riding in competition. Also focusing: focusing on the positive. I've mentioned that I got all self-pitying at the end, and I know this is a weakness of mine. I tried to focus on the good stuff, technical areas I got over that the other girls might have had trouble with. Unfortunately I got discouraged at the end when my body started to slow, but at least I was better at cheerleading for the rest of the race.

State Chump Race Report

So this weekend the crew went up to Levis Trow to do the second WEMS race of the year and the Single Speed State Championships. A lot of racers already had camp set up when we got there around 11 Friday night. Levis is a three hour drive from MKE and 2 from Madison, so a lot of people chose to go up and camp the night before. It was a cool scene- everyone was looking forward to riding the trails the next day.

It was a little wet here and there throughout the weekend, but all in all it was just fine for camping and racing. The trails tend to dry out quickly in most of park because of the sand content. But listen to me, talking about the weather. I should get started on the 17 paragraphs I'm sure to wind up with...

So, what can I say about the SS Championships? I managed to eat a good breakfast provided by the volunteers before my start at 10:00AM. The race was going to be two 12.5 mile laps with about 1,920 feet of elevation total (it was pretty hilly). I was riding the Pecan (Motobecane) with 34/20 gearing, and I cherished every single tooth of that somewhat ridiculous 20 tooth cog in the rear. There were just three women present for the race. On one hand, I wanted the title for the team's race resume (it's what we send to sponsors to show them how serious and awesome we are) but on the other hand, I wanted to have to fight for it. I wasn't let down- I don't want to make the whole thing into some epic battle story, but I've gotta say, it wasn't a cake walk for me.

I was sticking to my plan of just riding it and seeing who came out ahead for the first half of the first lap. I put one woman behind me and watched the other one ride away from me in the first section, about 5 min into the race. I was going at a decent pace and warming up to the more technical trails when, maybe a quarter through the first lap, I spotted the woman ahead of me. Well, that settled it, it was no longer a ride but a race. I caught her just before a downhill and watched her go over the roots and rocks. I figured that here I had the advantage. Have I mentioned I've been practicing this mountain biking stuff? I got ahead of her and put a little distance between us. Phwew, right?

Not the case. I would get a little gap in the technical single track areas, then she would reel me back in on the fire roads/double track. She was like a nightmare that kept coming back. Have I mentioned how much I loathe being out front? In a race, I like to be the stalker. I especially love it in cylcocross, you know. Well, here I was the mouse trying to scamper away, and it made me so nervous to not know where exactly she was. During the first lap she caught up again two or three times, and not knowing if she could catch me at the end caused me to feel a slow burning, diluted sort of panic for most of the race. Ugh.

Just before the start of the second lap, I shook her off again. I pushed through the first section of double track and didn't see her at the end of it: a good sign. When I got to the single track, I went as fast as I could, taking the corners quickly and only using my rear brake a little. I had to increase the gap where I could, because she could close it again in an open section. I embraced the things that I deemed difficult, because I knew they would probably slow her down a little. I was pushing it hard and hoping my energy would hold out.

Somewhere on the second half of the last lap, I met up with Russell on his Communist bike, who were tooling along for fun while I toiled away. He rode along with me while I wilted and became ever more unpleasant to ride with. How so? Actual groans and whimpers from me for me. Poooor Katy. In my haste to build a gap, I had run myself down and was scraping the bottom of the barrel, just hoping that I had gotten far enough out or that she was also tiring. Russell helped me out as much as I could be helped- it's tough to bike when you're busy wallowing in self pity! But seriously, thanks especially for the Gu shot. I'm thinking of not washing my jersey, so that the gooey green apple Gu lined pocket with dirt stuck to it will forever remind me of your shining face.

So we all know how it ends. I managed to haul my sack of bones in to the finish, first of the women. Cale, my External Ego, was waiting for me at the finish line, no doubt so he could either start crowing about my win or consoling me for my loss. It would be interesting to hear the race reports from the other two women- was their gearing as agreeable as mine? (Thanks to Cale for prescribing the 20 tooth cog). What were their favorite or least favorite parts? We may never know...

Here's the happy ending. Am I the only one that thinks this looks like the vows at a wedding ceremony? I mean, look at that eye contact!

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Divine Mark

This past Wednesday Cale and I went out and rode Kettles, as we usually try to do. We were waiting for Gary and Bethany to arrive, so we went out and rode an orange loop. That is, we rode most of an orange loop... Cale got a flat, which we fixed with a tube from my kit. Then it went flat again- turns out the tube in my bag was a former flatted tube, instead of a fresh one. Well, that was that. I headed back to the parking lot while Cale tried to outrun the mosquitoes, swearing the whole way back about how he was going back to tubeless the minute he got the chance.

Back at the car we met Gary and Bethany, all set to ride. Cale fixed his flat and we were off on some combination of trails (I'm terrible at knowing which is which, though we ride out there all the time). For a while we all rode together for strength in numbers against the hordes of mosquitoes, but after a while Cale and I went off the front. When we stopped at an intersection (so to speak) to wait up, the skeeters got us, so we decided to tackle a hill on one of the intersecting trails rather than stand around. I'm not sure what loop it is, but I think it's the only hill out there with the plastic grating left on it. Very steep. I had my doubts while descending it, but managed to make it all the way up. Had the nasty plastic grating not been there, I probably would have spun out.

But enough with the boring details. Let me just say that I was feeling really good. I think the stars were aligned, but there are a few things that probably helped. 1) I've been losing weight like mad. All of this biking, plus being too nervous to eat a few days a week, have been doing wonders. I wouldn't recommend that combo, but I can't deny the results. 2) Hello negative air. My fork needed some air because I hadn't tuned it or anything since getting it, and I've definitely been breaking it in. While filling it, it was discovered that the negative air chamber had never been filled. Supposedly this means small bump sensitivity had been suffering. It's hard for me to tell the difference between negative air and not having it, but I thought that just maybe it felt a tad different.

In any case, I was feeling great and definitely getting more comfortable with leaning through the turns and going a little faster. I felt a really good flow- probably the best bit of riding I've ever had. It was like a glimpse of what mountain biking could be- fast and relaxed, but on your toes, light and skillful. That barely makes sense, but that's as close as I can get to describing it. It was great. So Katy, you ask, how did you get that very large bruise in the shape of the Virgin Mary on your thigh?

Well, let me tell you all about it. I was in this groove riding the new connector, very relaxed and riding along behind Cale. When all of a sudden Cale goes up and over the new large logover. My first reaction is 'Woah! No way, I'm not ready.' but my second reaction is 'Don't be a wimp, you've done it before and you don't need to think about it, you can do it.' Now, it was true that I've done it before to no ill effect, but it was not true that I could do it that day. The hesitation threw me off and then quite literally threw me off to one side of the log on the way up, leaving me sprawled across the descending logs. Well, I was pissed. I was pissed at the mosquitoes that descended upon my broken self, I was pissed that my bars were crooked and I was pissed that I hadn't made it over. So Cale straightened my bars and I tromped back up the trail to try it again, repeating 'I just wasn't ready' over and over again to myself and Cale, and later to whomever would listen. But anyway, the second time was a charm. Then we got the heck out of there.

Coming up tomorrow are the Single Speed championships. I'm not hardly nervous for them- I will show up and either I will be outclassed or I will win it. Why can't road races be this easy on me? I think that it's different because even if I don't win or place, I can still have a great ride by tackling the trail, which is something that just doesn't transfer for road and track. It would be awesome to win another state champ jersey, though...

Also in the news, we applied to host two racers for SuperWeek. Not really any news back yet, but we should be getting at least one. The more the merrier, I say. It'd be fun to have a BBQ or something to welcome them and have some friends over.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Big Star Food Review

Here's a pic from the glory days of last week. Photo by Ed White.

My week at the track was less than impressive: a second I should have won (I made some bad decisions and goofed it) and a third. I was so nervous the whole day, too. I don't know if nervous is the right word... I was dreading the evening. I just did not want to race, and had trouble eating. I wish I didn't get so worked up for races. Tuesday was especially bad because I had a 'streak' to keep going, and I felt like people were expecting good things out of me. If I didn't dazzle, I would be a one-trick pony that got lucky last week. Were people actually thinking that? Probably not. But I felt like a one-trick pony by the end of the night. I much prefer 12 hr mtb on the stress scale- it seems more to me like yourself against the trail, seeing how well you can do and how much you can improve from lap to lap.

I felt pretty good physically, but mentally I was all over the place. Teammate Michelle ( and I tried to put together some tactics, but they didn't really work and we wound up pulling the rest of the girls around the track, which is always super frustrating. My head wasn't in it, and I was always trying to keep track of where Michelle was, even though she's a big girl and can take care of herself.

Hah! Speaking of 'big girl' my one sparkle of smart was when the women lined up to race the first race. There were quite a few- about 10, maybe(?). The announcer said something like "Well, we have a good-sized women's field tonight," to which I loudly quipped "Who are you calling good-sized?!" The announcer then joked about how sensitive you have to be with lady racers.

But what I really want to write about is how delicious and cheap the Big Star is. Sorry, The Spot, but it would appear you went out of business for a reason. The Spot was fun, but the food portions were skimpy and their famous 'grilled cheese' was not famous because it was good. The thing was made out of a hamburger bun and a slice of 'merican cheese microwaved to a sickening warm/soggy combo. An order of fries consisted of approximately 11 fries dusting the bottom of the paper dish. But let's not dwell on it.

Instead, let me inform you about the Big Star. First off: cheese fries for $2.50. A wonderfully large portion of fries with a suitably large portion of nacho cheese on the side. I usually end up with a perfect ratio. My other newfound favorite: corn dogs and hot dogs for $1.05. That's right. And you can't hardly mess up a corn dog and it's State Fair brand. Brand name corn dogs. It took a while for the guys to find the right burger, but I think now they're satisfied and have a regular order.

The only thing to complain about would have to be seating: we're not allowed to get out the chairs and sit in the parking lot by the cars. We got away with it for a few weeks, but recently the whip was cracked and our waitress (she knows to scan the horizon for us on Tuesday nights) told us we had to be either in the cars or at a special picnic area. Other than that, though, it's all good, and open 'til 11:00.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Picture Parade

There have been a few happenings that don't really fit into the usual race reports, and it was a full weekend! I'm going to cram a bunch of stuff into one post...

On Friday Cale and I cut out early to do some camping at Ledge Park in Horicon. We had the whole day to ourselves, so we decided to stop and smell the World's Largest Cabela's on the ride up there. Whilst there we saw many wonderful things, including two dueling jackelopes (price: $179.00). We accidentally broke a lone jackelope (price:$99) (I love telling this story) and were sure we'd have to buy it, but luckily they were very nice and let us off. However, it would have made a great story.

So we got to Ledge Park and hiked around a little after setting up camp. The place was packed, and we actually got the very last site w/o electricity. What it did have, though, was mosquitoes. God, the mosquitoes! I've never seen so many. Stand still for 20 seconds- no, 15 seconds, and when you moved again 10 would fly off of you. Needless to say, after we got done with the hike, we hightailed it into town to purchase some bug spray. We coated ourselves with deet directly after coming out of the store, four feet from the door.

The next was the Giro d'Grafton, which I've already bored you about. What I did not show you, though were the pictures taken of prize money stuffed in a little black bikini top. No, not me, but Lyle and Jason Nine. Those boys have taught me a thing or two about sexpot looks:

Last but not least, on Sunday Cale, Jon Royal and Elizabeth and I headed for Kettles. We met Gary and Bethany and their two beasts (Cecil and Bodhi) and hit the trails. It was enjoyable but again, the mosquitoes! In any case, I took sadistic pleasure in making Elizabeth try the same logover five times (photo below). She's new to mountain biking (but getting in a lot of hours and improving fast) and I can remember when I was new to it. Cale and Preston would make me do things I really didn't want to do, but when I gritted my teeth got it down, it was worth it. I'm enjoying making someone else suffer it.

And that's about it. I like to think I make up for being on the computer all day by running all over God's creation on the weekends.

TIREd of your car?

Here's the newest incarnation of the track bike. I bought some wheels off of Matt and got some pre-stretched tubulars from Jason and glued them up last night. What is there to say, but that I am awesome at gluing tires? It actually wasn't so painful, and Cale helped me to get the tires on the wheels. But I can't help thinking that someday there will be an advancement in glue technology. Someone will invent a glue that only needs one coat on the rim, and people will laugh about how cyclists back in the day used to have to do TWELVE COATS for every wheelset like we laugh about downtube shifters and drilled out chains today.

So my gluing session was pretty tame. Nothing went wrong, there were no anecdotes, and people glue tires every day. There's probably somebody in the city gluing one right now. As I was gluing, I was thinking, 'Should I blog about this or not?' Sure, it's cool to me but boring to everyone else. But right as I was holding the wheel down and Cale was adjusting the tire on it, there was an explosion. There was a car horn blaring and a strange light coming from across the block. Well, I pushed Cale out of the way (not really) and booked it for the door.

Someone's car exploded and all the neighbors were out in the street. One of them said he saw the car start smoking, a guy ran out of it and then flames started coming out. he thought maybe the guy had stolen it and was getting rid of it.

But the whole thing was exactly like that Dane Cook bit where there's a car accident and everyone's saying what they were doing "Well, I was cleaning a dish..." and helping/hindering the authorities. One neighbor was like "I was on the phone and I felt the blast when it exploded, so I said 'I have to go' and then I hurried outside" and another was telling what he had seen to the fire fighter.

So nobody got hurt and nobody knows whose car it was. The city removed it at 2AM, which I thought was rather inconsiderate. And that's the end of my gluing story, which only made the blog because of an explosion.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Giro d'Grafton

Saturday I tried my first women's road race and rode away with it. Not even kidding. In the above picture there are a few people ahead of me, but they're either getting lapped or not in my category.

Now that everyone is thinking 'What an egotistical jerk' I guess I'll begin the race report. I was really nervous for this race. Like, couldn't-even-eat-breakfast nervous. I had two bites of a Clif Bar and had to choke the second bite down and set the rest aside. There were a few people who were expecting great things from me, so the heat was on. I had a bit of a scare signing up last-minute, but got in a few warm-up laps and then lined up with the rest of the women. I recognized Amelia of Crono Metro, who I raced with last year in Cyclocross, and chatted with her while we waited for the start.

We started with little fanfare. I wasn't ready and got stuck about mid-pack right off the line. In the next few laps I moved up and got myself into the top 5 or so. So as to not get long-winded on you, I'll just sum up what tended to happen in the race. The other women and the juniors took the corners too slow and wide for my liking (as evidenced in the first 2 photos up there). I was putting on the brakes when I followed behind people, so I started just taking the corners to the inside and going at my own speed. This worked out well but then I was stuck outside with no one to draft off of. I considered it a good trade, though, because I didn't have to slow down and speed back up again.

The other thing about the corners is that it tended to break up whatever peloton we managed to cobble together. Even though I was without a draft when we were going through the corners, if I wanted to hop in after the first or second rider, I would wait until a corner when the line opened up a little bit and then bully my way in. I couldn't/wouldn't have done that on a straight, but the corners made it possible.

I led for a little while. I think there was a good mix of people leading the race, so no one really got burnt out from that, as far as I could tell. My strategy was to stay behind a few people and lead at a decent pace when I was put out there. I did this so I could catch any breaks that were happening, and save my energy for the final lap(s). Only once did I discern a break attempt (there were probably more), but I was right behind the junior and sprinted to bring her back in. Other than that it was pretty calm.

I had planned from the get-go to start the sprint early. I don't have a lot of confidence in my sprint, so the idea was to get the pack sprinting early. If there's one thing I have confidence in, it's my ability to push it at higher speeds for a good amount of time. (I have to work at shaking people off right after I kick it in, though. Otherwise they draft and get a free ride from my formidable form.) I paired that plan with cutting through the corners quicker and more efficiently than the other women. Planned and executed. I started really kicking it in a little less than half a lap in, and just turned it up more in the homestretch. I got down into the drops and pushed as hard a gear as I could. My thighs were burning with the effort, but it felt good.

In the last bit, two juniors came out from behind me. They had been able to hold on when I started to go, and were drafting behind me for most of the homestretch. While it would have been nice to be able to have the finish line to myself, they weren't in my category (the girl also races Cat 3 women) so they weren't of any concern. I never looked back to see where the rest of the field was, even after finishing, but Cale told me they were 'like, 100 yards back'. Being biased and prone to exaggerating, I wanted to see some photographic evidence before believing his version of the story. But sure enough, they were a ways back.

The really funny thing is, I was interviewed after the race. I must have seemed very rude, because I thought the guy with the video camera was just taking stock footage of 'people having fun, woo hoo Giro d'Grafton!' so I was just doing my thing, trying to ignore him. Turns out he was waiting to interview me, which was totally unexpected. I did pretty badly ("Would you like to say some words for your sponsors?" "Um.... yes?") and was looming over the camera by the end, but you've gotta start somewhere, right? Nowhere to go but up in my film career.

I'm looking forward to doing more crits. Why? Because they pay out. I finally understand the draw. I'm planning on doing some local Superweek crits and seeing what I can do there. I think they pay out bigger, too. The Giro d'Grafton was really nice and a good time, but the payout was not that good. I'm sorry if it sounds ungrateful (because I know a lot of races don't pay out anything) but I wasn't even able to win back my entry fee by winning. I had hoped for at least that. On the other hand, maybe that will give me the kick in the arse I need to upgrade to the 3's when/if the time comes.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Money Makin', MoneyMoney Makin'

Long story short, I made money at a bike race for the first time in my life! $24 worth of winnings put me $4 over what I paid to enter. Well, with cash like that you've got to take a photo appropriate to the event.

So the loooong story: how did I come across this cash? Like always, I wasn't really feeling it on the way down. From the races last week I knew I had it in me to win a race one of these days, but I was still nervous about what kind of races we'd be doing. I don't have a huge sprint, but I can keep trucking along, so I was hoping for a longer race. It turned out we were in for a Scratch and a Tempo, which I was worried about.

For those not familiar with track racing (these people have been rumored to exist), a Scratch is, for women, usually between about 5 and 10 laps. It's not a sprint, but not a very long race either. But it's straightforward: first across the finish line wins. A Tempo is a race where points are awarded for each lap. 2 points for the first, and 1 point for the second person over the line on each lap. These are a little trickier because everyone is going for the points each and every lap. You've got to either play it smart: if you can get off the front and leave the pack behind, great. But it takes a lot of strength to do that.

Back to the racing! The Scratch was announced as a 5 lap race. I was toward the front of the line and led the ladies out on the neutral lap. During the first lap I led at a decent pace, then a couple of girls passed me. I let them pull for a while and then got out ahead around the beginning of the fourth lap. Coming up on the third corner, I started to turn it on. I got up off the saddle and did a wobbly sprint after the fourth corner, just as the bell rang for the final lap. During that lap, I pushed it and didn't look back. After the second corner, I tried to slow my breathing down and kicked it up a notch going into the third corner because I was sure everyone was right behind me. In the homestretch I was sure someone was going to come up on me and steal the race away, but nobody ever came, and I crossed the finish line and heard my name announced. That marked my very first win (I believe) at the Kenosha Velodrome. As I slowed down I looked back and saw the rest of the field about a quarter lap behind me! I couldn't believe it. I probably should have checked to see where they were when I was racing, but I was instituting what I learned in softball: the moment the ball leaves your bat, you run like heck to first base. You don't watch to see if it goes out of bounds or wait to see if someone gets the easy catch.

At the start of the Tempo (5 laps) I was once again at the front of the pack for the neutral lap, putting me in a good position. When we took off on the first lap, two girls passed me and I tucked myself in behind them. I wanted to let them get tired for the first few points and then take up the rest. The two in front of me finished 1-2 and then pulled up track because they didn't want to pull for the next lap. Without thinking a whole lot, I shot along the first and second turns and went on to win that lap. On the third lap I was still leading and feeling pretty strong. On the third corner a girl tried to pass me up track, but I jumped when I saw her and fought for it. It paid off and I got the third lap's points, putting me in a very good spot. The girl who was contending with me was probably getting tired, and one of the other girls could take some points. I believe I got second place in the fourth lap (it was a close call). For the fifth lap, I slowed down because I wanted to save some energy for the consolation, and I knew I had the race wrapped up. Two girls got ahead of me while I was putzing along, and I was sorely tempted to kick it in just 'cause, but I held back.

The consolation race went better than planned. My legs were feeling the burn and I was doubting my ability to keep up with the pack, but it was only 20 laps, so I held together alright. Since Russell had placed in a 3's race (congrats), he couldn't do the consolation and I didn't have to put up with his encouragement and advice. He managed to sneak some in before the race, though. He recommended I stay up toward the front of the pack, but the neutral lap started out a little faster than I expected and I was toward the back of the pack for the whole race. I tell you, there were some sketchy riders. I was honestly a little afraid for my wellbeing. 'Afraid' makes it sound unfounded... let's say 'concerned'. I was concerned for my safety because of what I was seeing.

Anyhow, I managed to stick with the pack somehow. I would get dropped off the pack but then catch a ride when someone behind me would come ahead of me and bridge the gap. The pack was constantly slowing, too. Sometimes too much so for my liking. There were a few times where I would catch up with the pack just in time to be pinned on the inside by the people around me and have the pack slow considerably. Ugh.

There were some positives though. For all I talk about the injustices being done to me (oh woe!) I was doing some myself. I did some illegal passing on the inside, and faulted the blue line when the pack came down toward me. I also don't think I check enough before I move for forward positions. I'm going to try to get better at this, because it's important for everyone's safety. Wait, how is this a positive?... oh yeah, when I slipped and did an illegal pass toward the end of the race, I apologized and the guy said 'It's alright, go for it!' I had made a stupid move (not that it really interfered with him- it just simply wasn't legal), and I just wasn't expecting his response. Especially for that guy's sake, I want to be a safer rider.

Another positive was my teammate Jamie Pagel. Tired as we both were, he helped me stay with the pack during the consolation. When I was falling behind, he would try to come up and bridge the gap. Even just having a teammate out there was a help, too. It can be discouraging when you're tired and falling behind, but when you've got someone there to tell you to stop being a sissy and pedal, you take heart.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


It's a good thing I didn't catch the girl ahead of me in this race (this past Tuesday) because it looks like I wanted to eat her, or at least tear her limbs off and beat her with them... (really she's a nice girl, and I wouldn't actually do that)

Photo by Ed White, who has mastered the velodrome photo as few others could even dream.

1st Track Tuesday

[photo by Gary- thanks!]

It's that time of year again- track Tuesdays have begun. I've gotta admit, I wasn't too pumped for the velodrome, but it's great training, and it's always fun to hang out in the infield.

Well, might as well get the race writeup over with. The order of events was pretty interesting, as they had a printout, but then sprinkled finals all throughout it. There were 3lap sprints for everyone, and they usually only ran heats of about 5 or 6 people at a time, then did finals later on in the program.

I think there were 6 or 7 women, but we had a vote and decided to do one race instead of breaking it up. I was pretty rusty and a little squirrelly for that race, I'm afraid. It got off to a good brisk start, though, which is a huge improvement over races last year. Around the third turn in the first lap, I was sitting toward the back of the pack when everyone started slowing down. When someone ahead of me slows down (and this is something I picked up from road racing/riding) I aim to one side of their rear wheel in case I can't slow down in time. Well, I aimed left and the bike just seemed to shoot through the turn between the blue and red lines. Luckily there was no one down there because they wanted someone to take the lead, but I should have been more careful and on my game.

So I wound up in front of the pack for the beginning of the second lap. I gradually slowed and took up a brisk, easy pace. I was watching for a jump while cruising along, and sure enough there was a jump in the stretch before the third turn. I got up off the saddle and managed to only let two gals pass me, which was a decent position to be in, I felt. That's pretty much how it stayed, at a good fast pace, for the rest of the race. The three of us in front put some distance between ourselves and the rest of the pack over the last lap. For the final sprint, I tried getting up off the saddle, but my legs were jello-y, so I sat back down and was making up some ground, but not enough. I was pulling up on second place but ran out of space.

The next race for me was the snowball (First lap winner gets 1 pt, second lap, winner gets 2, second gets 1, etc). I wasn't too thrilled about it because it involves tactics and I have never been very good at track tactics. Either I slip up or get impatient, but either way you can bet on my tactics being in a pile on the side of the track by the third turn of the first lap.

The snowball started out with a good jump by one of the women. Early on I had kind of made up my mind to go for the first lap. Few others would really want it, and hey, it's a point. Then, with my awesome recovery times from mountain biking (theoretically) I would go for the third lap and try to place at least second in the fourth and fifth laps. Well, on the first lap I did as planned. I sat behind, and on the stretch I got ahead for the point (that's the picture above). I sat back a bit, made sure I was right behind the next jump and got third in the second lap. I took the third lap and got another 3rd place in the fourth lap. For the fifth lap, everyone was giving it what they had (5 points, come and get 'em!). I was sitting behind third place, and 1st and 2nd made a little breakaway. I assumed I couldn't catch the breakaway with someone to go around, so I sat behind third for a while- I should have gotten around her! When I finally did, I realized I was making up good ground and coming up fast during the homestretch. I managed to squeak my way into second place, which I think would have won me 1st or 2nd had it been the traditional points system. However, they were only awarding points for 1st, not 2nd on any of the laps, so I wound up with 4 points and third place.

Still, it's another lesson in Not Hesitating. It was the last lap, I should have just given it what I had. The breakaway consisted of two young Cat 3 road racers. I had more left and they were tiring. If I would have started my bid earlier, I could have quite possibly won the fifth lap. Coulda Woulda Shoulda, right? Next time.

Monday, June 9, 2008


Last... Thursday, it was, we went out for a road ride, and it was clear to me that I had to wear my new hot pink skinsuit, aka onesie. We went through downtown, catching some glances, and up along the familiar route one usually takes when going North. We must have just missed several group rides, because we saw a few pelotons going the opposite way, from club rides to the jrs of ISCorp. But anyhow, we went up and around in a loop and dropped back down. Is there much else to say about a training ride? What's more exciting is mowing the lawn in your skinsuit right after getting back from a training ride.

Well, I guess there was one cool thing about the ride. On the way home on KK, we saw someone setting up a garage sale. But not just any garage sale! This person had several dozen mannequins to sell!

We're talking a large amount of mannequins. The first picture only represents maybe a third or fourth of them. I went the next day to check out the sale and take some pictures, and while I didn't purchase any new plastic friends, I did get something so useless I would have been sane to pass it up:

Half of a brass horse. A male horse. It brings new meaning to the saying 'brass balls.'

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

WI State Champ

Y'all know what time it is? Wisconsin State Cyclocross Champion jersey time! It's been a long time coming, but here it is at last. I never put up my race report from the State Champ race because I thought, hey, I'll just put it up when I get the jersey. Well, we're closer to this year's CX season than last year's, but here it is, complete with a photo by the heralded Kat Jacobs:

Early on in the week, I was thrilled to find out that there would be terrible weather for the Championships. I missed Badger Prairie earlier in the season, and I wanted to get in one good inclement weather race before we called it quits for the year. The weekend came and yes, it was terrible weather. Someone said that the race could have been more epic only if blood and hot acid rained from the sky, and it’s about right. Wind would have helped, too, but I’m not complaining.

When I went on my warm-up lap (aka the get-wet-and-freeze-your-extremities-until-your-race-an-hour-later lap), I was sliding all over the place. It was early and the snow on the ground was the consistency of a sno-cone, or maybe a really thick shake… mmm. The track/trail wasn’t really developed like it was in the later races, and everyone’s wheels got sucked this way and that for the first few races. While on my lap, I found it took less energy to bike in the mush previously biked in, but it was less handling trouble if you biked in the deep, crusty virgin snow- a trade-off. I also noted that it was hard to bike up any substantial incline, and even harder to mount and start riding on any kind of incline, 1/2 degree or more. Even though the ride-through lap was a pain, I’m glad I did it, as it got me used to the snow a little.

But on to the good stuff. As I lined up with the kiddies and the other girlies for the last time in my career as a Cat 4 racer, I…. well, I wasn’t reflecting. I was freezing and hoping they would call go before I froze in place. When the call came, we all struggled rather than surged off of the line. I heard people yelling and cheering for me, and I felt pretty ridiculous wallowing in the snow, trying to get moving in a straight line. Eventually, though, we all got going.

I fell in behind a few junior girls, a few of the junior boys having taken off to recklessly endanger themselves, not yet having to worry about paying any ambulance or ER bills. Ah, youth. As I raced, I noticed that kids didn’t have it easy when it came to biking in a straight line through the snow. My weight gave me a distinct advantage (for once!) because instead of almost floating over all the slush ruts, I could get through them a little better. I certainly wasn’t sailing along carefree, but I had it easier than the wee ones.
However, those with gears had an advantage over me. When going up inclines, I had to stay over the rear wheel and keep my pedal strokes terribly even or risk spinning out and having to get off and hoof it uphill. The junior girls ahead of me got a good lead on one of the longer inclines, but I gradually took it in until I passed them toward the end of the first lap on some barriers and a straightaway. After that it was just a matter of staying on the bike.

We only did two 1.5 mile laps, and during the race it was easy to stay up-beat. It was strange to think that I only had to do two laps, and the finish actually snuck up on me. Usually, I’m counting down the laps and telling myself “I only have to run up this three more times”. This time I thought “The bridge again? Um, only 200 yards more, I guess”.

I came in to much cheering, etc. I felt like I hardly deserved it, being as the whole race seemed pretty slow and short, but today I’m feeling a little more worthy. During the race it had started misting, and by the time I finished, there was a pretty healthy sleet going on. I woke up this morning with some sniffles and a sore throat. My calves were also sore for the first time in recent memory, and my right calf was stiff for the whole day. Weather:2 Katy:0. I think it was a tough race, if not for speed, then for the strength and balance it took to navigate a bike through the slush. I definitely deserved that post-race nap.

*State Champ Jersey was free of charge, thanks to the sponsorship of the Brazen Dropouts and Beans and Barley*

Monday, June 2, 2008

Cedarburg Ambulations

Yesterday we also took advantage of the lovely weather- Cale and I went up to Cedarburg where we got in a 37 mile ride before doing dinner. The long and short of things, good weather, good course and lovely scenery (only a few smelly rancid dead animals, too) and a nice slow pace, probably only about 20, 21 mph. Juuust kidding. It was way slow. I basically dug my heels in and refused to get a good workout, since we'd been out the day before and had an active week. Still, I practiced getting up those hills and can feel it a little today. I never realized before how much being sick can take it out of you. I'm feeling much better but am still a wimpy weakling. The lactic acid kicks in so quickly!

On the up side, we made a quick stop for a picture at Elevendick park. Get it? Eh heh heh heh.

Another Kettle Weekend

That's right, none of us can resist the siren call of the trails at Kettle Moraine. It was another beautiful day with beautiful trails. This weekend it was the usual crew of me, Cale and Jeff from Chicago, plus some fresh meat. Elizabeth came along and tried out her new Voodoo (a very nice bike!) on new trails (previously it had only been tested on the river trails in Milwaukee). Her main man Jon came along, borrowing Andy's Specialized, and I loaned the Motobecane to Emily, who came up from Chicago. The last of the crew was Matt, also from Chicago, who was riding a colorful single speed. We also ran into Gary, who was out for the trail work day that REI was hosting/supporting. Gary rode with us for a little while before getting tired of our antics and taking off for the parking lot. He said he was tired, but we know what's up.

Anyhow, after collecting everyone in the parking lot and getting all the bikes set up, we were off. I was pretty weak from the cold I'm getting over, but luckily it was a pretty laid back ride. I did alright, but noticed that I was getting that acid feeling in my legs after climbs. Speaking of the climbs, though, I held my own. 'Ol Bypass Hill proved a little difficult, though. It was soft from the rains, and I was a little wobbly on my pins so I wasn't doing so well the first few tries. The third attempt sent me straight into a bush, and that's when I decided to stop fooling around. On the fourth try, instead of starting out thinking "Well, probably won't make it" like I had the other attempts, I decided to buckle down and think positive. I figured out I was worrying too much about the loose soil and not looking far enough ahead, so this time I set out with the recipe for success in my head. What do you know, it worked! Who knew all you had to do was envision success! Although after the ride when I tried envisioning myself finding and eating some chocolate cake, it didn't work as well.

The rest of the ride was pretty low key. Some of the guys would ride ahead then stop and wait, then I would pull up, and we'd wait for the rest. It was a nice way for all of us, new to mtb and not, to do the full loop without killing it. Most all of us did the Full Monty, I think, even Emily, who was new and riding a single speed. Matt also had some tough gearing, but it didn't hinder him much. He also had a star moment when we begged him to ride the log of death. On one side, the trail. On the other, a pretty good drop off and a pack of mosquitos waiting to feed upon prone bodies. I'm going to put the video of it up on my flickr soon: