Now We're Racing

Well, it's about time for a race report since I'm halfway through the season. I'm writing this from the backseat of the Motown Velo-mobile. Those guys were nice enough to offer a ride to me when the rest of the Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling Team decided to race elsewhere. Thanks guys!

We're on our way back from the little beaver chainring challenge wvmba race held at little beaver state park just east of Beckley WV. Those of you who pay attention will know that Beckley is about as far from Morgantown as you can be and still be in the same state.

That's why we started our drive at 6:30 a.m. That's right. Those velo boys like to show up early.

It seemed extra early since I hadn't gotten to sleep until after 1 a.m. and managed to wake up every hour on the hour for no good reason. This was all after a great night celebrating my girlfriend finishing up her Ph.D. dissertation and scheduling her defense. Go Laura!

Not to mention swapping tires, replacing a chain, a pedal bearing, and swapping cleats before going to bed. Should have done that days ago, but you work with what you have, no? I swapped from Kenda small block 8s to Nevegals. This race course is relatively flat but ridiculously tight twisty and rocky. The nevegals don't roll as fast and are a bit heavier, but are sticky like glue and have enough volume to tackle the rock gardens at speed.
I'd also like to point out how easy it is to work on crankbrothers pedals. It felt like my pedal bearing had a little play in it and it took less than 3 minutes to replace it and clean and lube the rest of the pedal. Plus a rebuild kit is less than $20 bones. Plus they have a new generation of pedals just hitting the market that look really impressive. Look for a review as soon as I get my hands on some.

After 3 hours on the road, an hour sitting around, and an hour getting ready and getting warmed up it was time to race.

It started up a quarter mile dirt road and then dumped the field into 7 miles of sweet singletrack.

Steve R. punched it from the gun and pulled his brother and newly crowned state champ, Jeremy, and Rob from North Carolina into the singletrack first. I jumped into the woods around 7th position. After a couple miles of following I saw some open space and made my move and managed to bridge up to and pass steve on a long flat rooty/rocky section. This brought me to the only real climb on the course, a 300 meter long wall covered with cross roots and loose rocks. I've won this race overall the past two years on my trusty Cannondale singlespeed, but I've never cleaned the wall. Until today! Which was really awesome because I caught Jeremy at the top and could see Rob just up the trail.

What wasn't awesome was my heartrate which was hovering somewhere near 5000 beats per minute. So my small victory over the wall meant I was spent the rest of the first lap trying to recover. With the heat and humidity it was no small task and I resigned myself to chasing the leaders down later.

Coming through the start/finish I was about 30 seconds down. My heart wasn't quite in it as I started that second lap though, more in ride fast mode rather than race mode and I wasn't making up time where I should have been.

By the third lap I was over a minute down but starting to feel better. That all fell apart the third time up the wall. I remounted at the top and promptly crashed into a tree while taking a drink. I slowly gathered myself and then slowly rode through the many many rock gardens over the next couple miles.

Ah the quiet trails baked in beautiful afternoon sunlight. Moss covered rocks, deer roaming around...*clunk clunk clunk* huh?

Rider back. Time to go! That's what I get for getting complacent.

I punched for the last half lap and managed to hold off Joey Riddle who had snuck up on me while I was lost in revelry. Felt good to race real hard for a bit.

So 3rd overall, first singlespeed. A nice confidence booster after the last few weeks. Plus my time was close to the (unofficial) course record that I set two years ago which was good given that I didn't feel that great and it was omg so hot.

We stayed for lots of food and friendly banter leading up to the awards. Another solid day of racing in the books.

Almost. We still had to get home! We packed the convoy and headed out into increasingly gloomy skies. They opened up with a torrent of rain just as we drove past our exit. 15 miles later when we got to a strange toll booth we figured out we were off course. So we got a bonus scenic detour through our states capital city. Only 45+ minutes out of the way. On top of a 3+ hour drive. Got home around 9. 15 hour day.

And loving every minute.

Keep the rubber side down.



What is worse than sandbagging? Special Guest Blogger!

I don’t have a team blog, or a team for that matter. I have a road bike I bought used for $500 when I started riding bikes four years ago. For training, I ride with my friends. I race road bikes on Saturday and mountain bikes on Sundays in order to push myself and to take my mind off of graduate school. This is my first race report. I guess it is the first time I have been inspired to write one, or I should say inspired to write my own in response to one.

There were seven women’s Cat 4 (including myself), and two women’s Cat 1/2/3 at the start of the Barbour County Detour in Phillipi on July 3rd. We began the race as a combined group along with the men’s masters’ field. Doing this always insures that the women’s Cat 4 riders get completely “strung out” from the beginning of the race as we get dropped from the main pack. I held the pace of the main group as long as I could as we travelled up the 2 mile climb out of downtown Phillipi. Tina Kirk was the only Cat 4 rider in front of me as I fell off, and she managed to hold on just a little longer putting a 30 yard gap between us. She crested the climb with a men’s vet rider and they begun to work together. Behind me on the top of the climb were two Steel City Endurance riders, one Cat 3 (Patty George) and a Cat 4 (Stacie Truszkowski). I decided to wait and work with them to catch Tina. I turns out this is where I made my fatal mistake. I incorrectly assumed that Patty, who just upgraded to Cat 3, had every incentive to catch Tina. Surely she wouldn’t want any of the Cat 4 women to finish before her. I made it clear to the Steel City girls that I wanted to trade pulls to bridge the gap, Tina was in sight and in my estimation, easily catchable if we worked together. However, it soon became apparent to me that Patty was just there to pull Stacie along, and Tina fell out of sight.

Because Betsy was the only other Cat 1/2/3, Patty could peddle with one foot and pick her nose the entire race and still get second. In terms of placement, she had nothing to lose. By this point I didn’t think I could bridge the gap by myself, because I knew Tina had at least one other person to work with. So, I decided to just sit behind the Patty and Stacie. Patty is a super strong rider and she spent a majority of the time in front. However, because of our unaggressive riding “tempo” we were actually caught by another Cat 4 rider (Nina La Rosa) who was riding by herself. My frustration grew, and I finally made an attack to bump up the pace. This worked and I was able to drop Nina. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get away from Patty, and I wasn’t sure if there was a big enough climb in the Detour to pressure her to leave Stacie behind. If could get away, I was pretty sure Patty would be able to pull her back on the flats. At this point I just decided to keep riding my pace. I attached up a small climb and put a sizable gap on them. I also passed a men’s Cat 4 Steel City rider, who had started five minutes ahead of us, riding with one other guy. I knew the guys would most likely catch me on the downhill, since they were much larger than I. However, I was surprised to see Patty and Stacy come around with them. We rode on, and then they dropped back a little again before the long downhill back into town. At the bottom, they caught me at the little riser before the final turns. I knew I was pretty much f#$k*d. They are way too smart to get in front of me even though I slowed down. I just tried to go as hard as I could as I made the right and then left turn before the straight away. Patty led Stacie out behind me and Stacie ended up passing me right at the line. The official said I beat Patty on the line, but it was really close. So in the Cat 4 standings, Stacie got 2nd and I 3rd. Patty was second in the Cat 1/2/3 race (Betsy was 1st), but if you combined the women’s field, Patty got 5th overall.

I’ll be the first to admit that Stacie and Patty raced within the rules. However, this event left a very sour taste in mouth. I am all about working as a team, in happens all the time in cycling. However, this approach was very unsportsmanlike in this instance. Normally, if a faster rider decides to ride with a slower rider, they have to give up their place in the standings. This wasn’t the case. Patty was automatically in second. If she hadn’t just moved up the Cat 3, she would have taken 4th in the Cat 4 race. But, if she was still a Cat 4 I would assume she would be chasing Tina down. Since she moved up, she was able to meddle in our race the entire time and collect her 2nd place in the Cat 1/2/3’s (with more prize money than Tina’s second place in the Cat 4 race) and then go home and blog about it. Really? It is hard enough to be a female Cat 4 racer in WV without crap like this. The fields are small, we start the race with some of the fastest men around, and we often end up riding the entire distance by ourselves. Frequently, people ask me why I do it. I tell them that life is just better when you have something healthy to compete in. In fact, I’ve never won a race. I’m just happy to be part of the competition.

But, how do you compete with negative racing?

I can’t say this experience was all bad. I learned a lot, and some good things came of it.

1. I got riled up enough to write about something other than science.

2. I learned Betsy is bad “teammate” for not hanging out in the Cat 4 race J

3. My actual name was used in the Steel City Endurance blog this year instead of being referred to as “the other girl”

Ride fast. Race fair. Respect other riders. Promote women’s cycling.


No Mo Sno! (mostly... kinda)

Well. Here we are. Today was the fifth ride outdoors this year. It came with the wonderful quality of being the first real mtb ride of the year (woohoo!).

Tbott was extra excited to go ride his new Cannondale RZ120 which is a new model this year clocking in with 5 inches of travel front and rear, crazy awesome (tm) pedaling efficiency and all around good times garaunteed.

I was to be abord the all trusty scalpel ready to remind me that while racing is 95% about the motor, having one of the nicest bikes on the planet makes full use of that last 5%. And if you are just out riding with your friends, it is just that much better.

I picked Dr. T up at his place and after a brief pause for him to check the torque on a newly installed carbon handlebar (with a proper torque wrench of course) and fir me to inhale some pintos and rice that I'd grabbed from the fridge when I realized that I'd probably want to eat at least once before we rode, we were off. Breakfast had been lost when I sprang forward in the morning.

Weather was lower to mid 40s and raining. There aren't that many times during the year when that sounds appealing. Luckily for us, mid march is one of those times!

The optimism was running high and coopers rock was the destination. After a week of ear weather and rain we were sure that the trails would at least be melted enough to ride. On the way up from cheat lake we were encouraged by only seeing scattered spots of snow only to have the situation reversed to scattered spots of dirt on e we reached the top. Plus the compacted areas where the trails had been walked/skiied on were even thicker than the regular ground cover with snow.

Plan b was b for bakers ridge. We thought maybe we'd catch some of Dan's dirt queens out for the Sunday jaunt but the parkinglot was empty to the max.

Trails were a great mix of super fun not too wet loamy good stuff along with a major helping of thick deep sloggy mud and slick greasy mud.

Looked like someone had been out with a chainsaw recently so trail obstructions were at a minimum, though b-tal and I did do our bit of trail cleaning as well. After a few laps on top plus seven logs trail and rooster we headed back to the car for a recovery beverage and dry shorts.

The Beverage of choice was supplied by the good doctor in the form of Whole Hog Imperial IPA. I do appreciate a nice hoppy IPA but I find most imperial brews don't gain much from the extra alcohol. This was no different, with a full bold flavor and grain liquor aftertaste. It certainly did accelerate us through our recovery window though, so good for that.

Looking forward to a great season ahead. See you there.