Monday, March 30, 2009

Holy. Freaking. Tamales.

The course: 3 laps of a 19.5-mile loop with 2 climbs each lap. The first climb is ~4 minutes long, and the next one is shorter (but, to me, more surprising).

The competition: The field is a combined women's 1-2-3 field. But the race is part of the Washington Cup (a 1-2 series) and the Volkl Cat 3 Series.

The lead-up: It is raining. The sky shows no signs of letting up. Linsey picks me up at 10am to make it there in more than enough time for sufficient warm up, team meeting, registration (the usual) before our 1:15 start. The punctual pick-up happens, but I proceed to forget my shoes, not noticing this until we're 15 minutes down the freeway. We turn around to go back (I can't race without the shoes), knowing that at this point we're giving up our valuable warm-up time. After we're successfully back on the road, I receive a text message from a teammate who is already at the race: "It's snowing here," I read aloud to Linsey. WTF?!

Arrival: Yes, it is certainly snowing. We reluctantly exit the car, after putting on a few more layers of clothing (including my down jacket and my polar cycling jacket on top of that), and join our teammates who we see huddled together under a tent. We confer. The morning racers have finished. They are shivering and un-functioning and they look like heaps of dead, water-logged, quivering flesh. The ones who can think enough to speak tell us that we would be crazy to race out there. The officials say that the snow is not sticking to the roads, so they do not plan to cancel the afternoon races. Tricia registers. So I register. Half our teammates pack up and go home, leaving me, Tricia, Sirikit, Linsey, and Laura as the team's contingent.

It continues to snow. We put on all the clothing we brought. We don't bother to do a warm-up because, really, what's the point? We huddle under the tent until we see the field before us get sent off on their neutral roll-out, and then we all look at each other, and roll to the line.

Race: 19 ladies line up for the start. We're neutral for the first few kilometers, then we hit the first turn and it starts slightly up -- more than a false flat, less than a hill? My face has frozen. We lose people up the first climb, and I gap off from the front group, but hold on to some other stragglers and get brought back after the descent. Still a sizable group, though I can tell we've lost a few. We start some attacks; nothing sticks. Linsey and Laura both put in some really solid efforts. I go off on an attack, and in the process, I lose the right lens from my glasses. I try taking off the glasses, but on the next descent, the snow is pelting me in the face and eyes so hard I can't keep them open. So I put the glasses back on. Now at least I can see out of the one eye that is protected by the remaining lens. I look at Laura and she tells me it's like The Terminator. Hah.

Second climb comes, and it's hard, but I make it over and reattach again. Long flats along the finishing straight that we'll go through once more before the actual finish on the 3rd lap. The girl up front, K (Tricia's main competition), is messing with her glasses. I can hear Tricia and Sirikit talking about something, but I'm not sure if they notice that K is totally not paying attention, and I go on the attack. I drill it hard, watching my power, trying to keep it high but not too high so that I pop myself. They're not chasing! I'm gaining time. I make the turn and am told I have 1 minute on the field by the lead car driver holding up a pointer finger out the window. Whoa!! I start climbing that first climb again, this time alone and with determination. I can see some people coming, but I push it HARD. I push so hard I gag myself and almost puke. I make it to the top without getting caught, and descend as madly as I dare in those conditions, putting time into them again. I push it harder along the flats until the second hill. Here I can see the follow car coming up with the riders in front of it. They're going to catch me. Tricia, my teammate, comes by with K on her wheel and yells at me to grab onto the small group behind them. But I manage to snag K's wheel, then the small group catches us, and we're now 7 people. Whoa. That's a lot less than what we started with.

I sit on for a little to try to recover, and then we try to all work together to keep others from catching. My other teammate in the group, Sirikit, attacks, and a cat 3 goes with her. K chases, and catches, and no one wants to work. Then Sirikit gets dropped going up the first hill on the 3rd and final lap. We drop one more girl, and it's now 5 of us: me, teammate Tricia (cat1), K (cat2), and 2 other cat3's who are my actual competition for series points. I am feeling everything in my legs now - the cold, the wet, the hard solo break, and as we start up the 2nd hill, I start to detach. K picks up the pace and I'm gone for good. I see the two cat3's get dropped in front of me, but they're faster up the hill than I am at this point, and I can't catch them. I don't want to be caught by anyone else, though, so I push as hard as I can until the finish, which can't come soon enough. Neither of those girls has cat3 series points yet, so as long as I can finish 3rd, I'll hold my placing in the overall.

I manage to do just that, and roll into the finish to be greeted by Tricia who beat K in the sprint. (:

Post-race: It takes me a good 45 minutes to an hour to warm up, and my toes stay cold for a while longer. I eat and eat and can't eat enough. Everyone has had a great race. Sirikit came in 4th in the 1-2's. Laura finished for 4th place cat3 points, and Linsey put in a long, hard effort, but ended up flatting out on the final lap.

This was an EPIC race that I will remember for a LONG time. It rained and snowed CONSTANTLY. Just when I thought it might be warming up because the snow had turned into freezing rain instead, it would start snowing again. In the last 5 miles or so, I couldn't shift with my left hand because it was so numb. I tried using my entire left arm to shift into the big chainring, but all that would happen is I'd hit the brakes (unintentionally) instead. I had to reach over with my right hand (which I could still kind of feel) to pull the shifter over. Ridiculous.

Another race that tested my mental fortitude and made me grateful for amazing teammates. Now, seriously, it can ONLY get better from here...right?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

San Jose AVC

The 2009 AVC is slotted for June 26-27, 2009, in San Jose. Right now they're boasting a prize list of $14,400 broken down into the following categories:

Elite Men $6,600
Elite Women $5,400
Master $1,400
Madision $1,000
TOTAL $14,400

Check out the video Rick Adams created to round up a sponsor for the upcoming races:

(Yes, I basically copied and pasted from Jen's blog.)

Right now I'm thisclose to deciding to go...!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Can't Sleep

I can't sleep because visions of today's race keep rolling through my head. It's late, and I had a full day, and I have to be up super early for Sunday's race, and it's going to be just as cold and rainy (if not more so) than today's, but I can NOT sleep.


Car ride there: team decides to attack and keep on countering, practicing lessons learned from last weekend.

Christine blithely thinks: attacks start after first lap, just like last week (this race = 4 laps).

Arrive early, leisurely get ready, end up with little warmup time.

Rain starts falling steadily after a brief respite. Ground and road are already soaked. Car thermometer reads 37degF.

Race begins. Someone decides it's a good idea to attack on the first half of the first lap. Teammates attack and counter and get reeled back in. Heather counters, Cheryl follows. Christine knows this attack is a strong one. Should stick.

Pack slows. Teammates sit in. No one else works. Few people attempt to bridge or chase. Motivation wanes. Heather and Cheryl put 5 minutes into the field over the next 2 laps. Field is soaked. Snot covers face. Rain clouds glasses. Rain decides to freeze off-and-on. Fingers and toes lose feeling. Arms lose feeling.

Christine gets a flat on the third lap. Expletives follow. Waves wheel car down. A quick swap is accomplished, followed by a nice shove, and Christine chases back on to group. Decides it's a good idea to sit in and rest now.

Last lap: two remaining teammates Shannon and Laura decide to begin attacking again. They counter each other. Pack chases. Christine attacks, Daisy follows. This is a strong break. Christine and Daisy work well together, putting time into the field. 200m sign is reached. Christine and Daisy are side by side. Acceleration ensues. Daisy stands. Christine stands. Sprinting. Christine beats Daisy for 3rd!


Heather also took 2nd, and we're waiting on results for Laura and Shannon.

In other news, at the MVA fundraiser auction I won myself and 5 friends a weekend at a cabin (the Buchanans') in the Methow Valley at some point in the next year. Should be rockin'. My teammate Mary-Lynne won a signed jersey from Christian Vande Velde, whose dad was the featured speaker. Jennie Reed was also in attendance. Yay for local World Champion.

Ok now it's way past bedtime! (:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Picture of the Day

Credit: Unknown.
Thanks for sending it along, Lilly.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Double Life

I walked in to work on Monday feeling like I'd stepped out of a movie. Or at least out of a dream. The first race weekend of the year took so much out of me, and Monday morning came as if someone had pulled open the stage curtain too soon, and too quickly.

I arrived at work exhausted, windburned, sunkissed, and reflective. And I was supposed to concentrate on work? I'm still hopeful that by Wednesday I will have regained my focus.

Getting back into the swing of things is tougher this year than ever before. And swing they do - back and forth, from engineer to racer. Perhaps this is a good sign for things to come. On both fronts.

Monday, March 02, 2009


Cat 3 series,
Stronger teammates.
Never weary;
April stage race.

Growing muscles,
Increased hunger,
Reaching farther,
Plunging deeper.

Ever harder-
Stepping up.
Even faster-