Wow, January 4th was the last time I blogged. I don't have any really good reasons as to my absence, except that my life is full, and great. In my spare time, I help the CashCall Cycling Team with their media/blogs and I get to help with their write ups, and lots of cool stuff happening for them.
March Madness - 4 weekends, 4 stage races. Merco, Murrieta, San Dimas, Redlands. That's 13 race days out of 25. 4 time trials, 4 criteriums, 5 road races. I am happy to report that all were completed successfully with zero flats and rubber-side down for all of them. That's a big deal. I threw up a hail-mary knowing that this volume and intensity of racing could go two ways: Fail or Succeed. I told my coach that I was fully willing to accept the ramifications of my decisions and actions and if I was to fail, I would just prep more completely and get ready to do it again in June.
At Merco, I got to officially be in my first sprint finish of an elite event as I watched Ina Teutenberg win. That was pretty rad. I also got to race my Time Trial bike for the first time. I was very excited to not be on a hill climb TT! This one was 12k and rolling, and event that in the future, I feel like I could really sink my teeth into. Exciting stuff!
At Murrieta, I learned how to work with my team for an overall result. Spending the last few seasons racing on the road solo, I have developed a few "habits" which lend themselves for strength and power, but not necessarily winning and teamwork. It was awesome to work for a common goal and have Suzanne get a result. Brian hit the deck on Thursday while training, leaving him with some serious facial road rash, bruising and issues that led him to get a head cold by RBC. Tough to have those issues in the middle of a huge block of racing, but of course he is a nut, and made it through.
San Dimas Stage Race was ridiculous. Rain, wind, hail, and more of all 3. Going into these events, I set very specific goals such as "take X seconds off of time trial, make the first page of results, don't get dropped in crit, finish with front group on the road race." Most of them I reached, which was pretty awesome. I am aiming for upward trajectory in all disciplines of road racing and I am really excited that so far, that has been completed.
Redlands Bicycle Classic: This race deserves more attention. 2011 was the first year I completed this event - please note I said "completed" and not "competed" there is a huge difference! By the crit last year, I felt dazed and confused and all I could muster was a pack finish and a giant nap. I was merely a passenger on an angry freight train of the fastest female cyclists in the world. By Sunday, I was fatigued beyond measure which led to me crashing out of the last stage. This crash left me bruised, sick and road rashed, the effects of which I suffered for 4 months! Bone bruising is no joke. It took me about 1 month for my legs to recover and bounce back from the holes I dug on Sunset.
2012 was different in a dozen ways. I knew what was coming. I now have many friends in the peloton who encourage me, give me carrots to chase, and who I now see as my peers. I know the Redlands courses better than any roads I have ever raced on and I had done my homework. Train, practice, train, mentally rehearse, sleep, recover, massages. Keys to success.
Time Trial: 57 seconds faster, and I can't even clip in. Notoriously horrible at TT's, I am taking steps to improve here! Going into stage 1 in 62nd position was sure better than 84th like 2011, but still not pretty at all.
Beaumont Road Race: These roads are within riding distance of our house, and I really like this course. No huge climbs or long descents favor my inability to climb mountains with the tiny-tots. I was able to stay with the group through the first climb each lap, got detached in Bogart Park, and chased back on by the start/finish line. This takes a ton of energy and eventually made me detach completely by the last climb, finishing 1:46 behind the main group. This is a huge improvement! Next year: Finish with the main group!
Downtown Criterium: I couldn't even wake up last year before noon for this event. This year, I got up, ate, went for a spin and showed up ready to race. The nerves were calm and in check and I was excited to rail through one of the most technical courses in the country. Last year I dangled in the last 1/4 of the field for 60 minutes and suffered intensely as my eyes crossed with exertion. This year, I failed yet another clip in and started last, yet only took a few laps to find the sweet spot, ending up 4th wheel a few times, and actually participating in the event. What an awesome change! I hit a new power meter high score at minute 17, probably a prime lap or points lap, but whatever! I hit 1076 watts, I have been gunning for 1000 for 3 years! It's the little things you know!
Sunset Road Race: Oh man, I had a score to settle! Goals: Don't crash out. Don't get dropped on the descent every lap. Don't get pulled. Make it into town.
I missed the bus. There was a split on Ridge road lap one, 20 yards ahead of me and my fantastic climbing legs could not get me to it. 25 of the best racers in the country headed up the road, as pods of us collected and attempted to ride. I was in the 2nd group, 40 seconds back, with 7 other riders, chasing as hard as we could, yet our group kept collecting riders from the front and back, and we soon realized we were the "auto bus" and were now out on a moderately pleasant Sunday Ride. The GC team riders in the group were told not to work, so we were left with 5 of us who, for 8 laps, rotated at the front to keep our group moving fast enough to not get pulled. We made it 8/9 laps. We had to head back to town on the "ride of shame" missing one tell-tale number, the one the officials took off to time us at the Fire Station.
Our group was rad, a big chunk heading off to Europe the next day to race Flanders this weekend, I learned a valuable lesson. We were out of the race, just ride. This pace made it so I didn't feel like I got mugged the next day and my recovery is much faster and at a higher level! I made it a point to stay at the front on the descent, and to follow the ladies who have fantastic descending skills. I never got dropped and I was able to help set the pace, huge progress for me physically and mentally.
Another aspect of Sunset: Those of you who know me well, know that I am a friend to most, talk a lot, and have lived in town for almost 9 years. This creates a moderate fan-base, thanks to being a teacher and helping with Team Redlands. There were dozens of locals out on the course, who just happen to know me, and they cheered. A lot. The riders in my group thought it was hilarious, and I finally fessed up to being "JOY" and that I live here, and it was ok if they inserted their names into the cheers if it made them feel better. It was such an honor, and humbling experience, to ride 8 laps of Sunset with that level of community support. It's motivating to say the least and added a few extra watts each time up Ridge Road, knowing some of my favorite little girls were waiting at the top cheering their lungs out.
After a year of training and reflecting, I finally feel like a participant in the peloton, not just a number being pushed around the group with the ebb and the flow that is the washing machine of road cycling. Goals have been attained, so I just set the bar higher for the next batch of races. I put all the cheers from the weekend into a jar that I will keep close and dip into when my motivation lags, the weather is foul, or my spirits have been dampened. Knowing I have the support of an entire town, keeps the pedals cranking!