Monday, April 16

This crazy thing, called racing....

I am on a team. Actually, I am on many teams. My number one team is with Brian my husband, sidekick, supporter, sponsor, training partner, all-around favorite person. Many people have asked me 1) How is married life? (Like i'm going to tell a half stranger if anything is wrong) 2) When are you going to quit racing and have a baby? Another oddly personal question, usually coming from males I barely know. But here's the deal. The Brian and Joy team isn't just about racing bikes and having a hobby. It's a lifestyle and more than just results. It's about setting crazy goals and seeing if we can reach them. Going through that process together is one that I think, for a newly-wed couple, is one of the greatest things. Imagine being able to share all of this with your spouse? Some of you almost spit your coffee out, I know. It takes a special pair. And we are "Bucket Listing" that's right, start in your 30's and you can probably attain all of those checks! (And no, Brian is not 30 yet...)

My second team is with Team Helen's. A group of motivated women surrounded by a Devo Team of at least 15 women. Our elite team has a track cyclists, former Redlands Classic yellow jersey wearer, RBC stage winners, moms, business women, a teacher, and former professional cyclists. I was drawn to this eclectic bunch for several reasons. To start, Suzanne Sonye the leader, yelled at me a lot which I soon realized was her way of helping me grow. I also had the opportunity to race with/for Clara Hughes, who years ago had been on Team Saturn, with Suzanne. Then it all clicked, this is where Suzanne learned her tricks! I understand Suzanne and her passion because it stemmed from the strength of my new role model Clara. Then I met Ina Teutenberg, who had also been on the legendary Saturn with these Clara and Suze and it was a big light bulb. Take the opportunity to learn, grow, develop, and become the racer and more importantly, the women I can be. It is crazy to see how team members fall into place, what roles we each play and how we balance each other out. We have some strong personalities, and the yin and the yang is half the fun of it.

My third team is CashCall. I call them my CashCall Brothers and nothing is cooler than having the boys in blue standing on the sidelines cheering for my success. They have stayed at our house between races, watched bike racing DVD's with us and eaten lots of salad together. These are more than bike racers and that is cool!

I decided to race with the Pro 1/2 men at Ontario a few weeks back and I have never felt more safe! I could always see one of the vibrant blue jerseys and I knew where to go if I needed help! In that crit I also had "Team Awesome" a combo of Team Redlands riders (Brady and Marcus) and friend Lindsay Myers as well as Craig Turner, my "Turning with Turner" tutor, which made the event way more exciting than $10 motor pacing. I realized how far things have come diving into turn one, 28 mph, shoulder to shoulder with guys that out weigh me by 40 lbs and not batting an eye or grabbing a brake level. And how cool was it to not be one of the largest racers on the course?!

Now to the racing - I tend to shy away from race reports on a weekly basis because lets face it, a crit is a crit, is a crit. Or is it???...I am going to go off track a little and delve into the journey that has become mine, searching for the answers, watts, suffer-scores, and interpretation of the Sanskrit that is racing!

I have raced solo on the local level for 3 years and I just came up with the perfect analogy. When we were in Merced for the Merco Classic, the CashCall Brothers and I were walking down the street post dinner. We all stopped and stared into a giant window, watching a young kid in Karate class trying to break the board with his hand. Everyone was surrounded in reverent support, waiting to applaud his success. But he kept failing. Over and over. We started to turn our heads away when he would go for it, and say encouraging things like "Come on buddy!!!" from outside the glass. Finally they made him stop....I am sure the instructor showed him the small error in technique or mental focus, which gave him that 2% edge, and he has broken the board every time sense. For me, my bike racing is like that, except I use my head to try and break the board.

Two weeks ago at the Ontario Crit, I had one teammate, Suzanne. We were greatly out-numbered by teams of 6 and 9! But we like to race hard from the gun - if we make the racing hard, it preps the whole local field to take it to the next level, and be successful there. If we just sit in and be chatty-patty, you may win, but what good does that do for reaching goals? At least my goals. More on that later, but I totally digress.

Suzanne and I made sure one of us was in each move or created the moves and rode at the front. I got in several breaks up the road with multiple riders from the larger teams, but nobody seemed satisfied with riders up the road, so field sprint it was. SCVelo, the largest team, lined up their lead out of probably 8. I have never done a proper lead-out for a sprinter so to say I was chomping at the bit would be an understatement. Suzanne was composed and used her years of experience to navigate me at the back of the train until I could feel the right spot to jump and jump indeed I did! Around their lead-out train we railed and Suze just kept yelling at me to "GO GO GO!!" Did I have more? Could I go deeper? I kept thinking about the last scene in Chasing Legends where Big George goes to the front of the HTC train the DS was in the radio yelling "FULL GAS FULL GAS" and I just kept going. We had a gap! Suzanne told me to sprint, I was like WHAT?! This IS sprinting! I gave it all I could as she whipped around me - I was yelling "Go Suze GOOOOOOO!" to cross the line in first, as I threw up a solid fist pump from 10 meters back. I never even looked at the results to see where I placed. WE had won.

Now I GET IT!! This is team, this is teamwork. The nuances of racing on the road are so dynamic, yet if even just two riders commit 110% to a mutual outcome you will find success. And sure, the win was rad, but I think 2nd would have been ok too.

The mens race later in the day put the nails in the coffin for sure. 75 minutes with an average speed of 28mph, that was nuts. In women's racing, we can hit 26mph avg for 60 minutes, but rarely do our crit races go over an hour. This race also started with 90 riders, and our field are usually 25-65 unless at huge event, so that was fun too. I go into these races with very specific goals: Don't quit; stay on the field finishing time; work on riding in the group and staying out of the wind; no braking!!! And of course have FUN!! Power output was way way lower than the women's race, but just steady-hard. I don't think I could have gotten better motor pacing drafting the scooter down San Tim Canyon!

I may have a few more racing/life/learning insights to share, but I would hate to go too big with this post and bore people. :-)