Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Down Time

I've got a gap in between races right now, so there's not much to report. However, I did receive this photo from Ryan Amirault from our day at the Firecracker 50.

It reminds me that you can check out more up-to-date Golden Race stuff at their Facebook page.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Super D-licious

Today was the first of two Super D races at Winter Park. The second one is part of Crankworx in early August, and today's race already has me totally pumped for it. 

But (take a deep breath, Marty) one thing at a time. 

For starters, leave it to Winter Park to design the climb-iest Super D around. The start goes up the resort access road for just over a quarter of a mile, which, I know, I know! isn't that long, but it takes an agonizing eternity when you're going balls out. And then, just to uppercut you when you're already hanging on the ropes, the course hits you with another substantial (for Super D) climb about halfway through. Naturally I fixate on the pedally bits, since that's not my strong suit right now, but of course there was plenty of downhill goodness to be had.

At any rate, I lined up with a surprising number of other women. Apparently the word has gotten out that Super D is pretty fun, because it was a huge improvement from last year, where FIVE women, total, showed up -- of all the categories. Now there were probably 15 women in my overall category. Sweet.

So I lay the Marathon on the ground and walked away. No, not bowing out...lining up for the goofy Le Mans start. Standing on a ski hill, staring uphill at your bike, which is lying on the ground like a dead horse, is one of the stranger sensations of bike racing. But anyway, the gun went off (finally, huh?) and I started to sprint. It's funny -- sprinting is my only natural ability, but it's pretty worthless when you can't capitalize on it. So I make a great start, passing people on the run and leaping on my bike with aplomb, only to have girls cruising by me like it never happened. Sigh.

But I refused to back down, cranking as hard as I could to limit my losses. But in spite of bleeding out my eyes, I still found myself at the back of a five-woman train, all held up by one slow chick ahead. With no place to pass for some time. We were tailgating each other for all we were worth, buzzing each other's tires and grabbing the brakes hard when the slow girl got scared by anything. Finally, the two women behind her got around, but there wasn't time for number three and I to shoot the gap. Arrrgh.

After more tailgating and internal steaming, #3 and I dash past. Liberation! But as luck would have it, we reached a fire-road section and another girl behind me made a pass before I could react. And lo and behold, the second climb arrived (cue soundtrack slowing into distorted, drawn-out guttural noise) and the damn slow chick made her way by me. Nooooo!

I gamely pushed as hard as I could make my hollowed-out legs go, and was definitely on the verge of hyperventilation. I was glad I was riding alone just then, because I was literally gasping and squeaking when I breathed. But that's what you gotta do to make Super D success happen, and I knew that. 

Descending again, I charged down the remaining portion of that singletrack, desperately aware that there was only one more passing spot before the finishing section. I hit the fireroad below and forced myself to downshift, even though I already felt like I was at my limit. I cranked past two women right there -- how, I have no idea. And as I dropped into the final section, I hauled through the rubble to re-pass Slow Chick. Hooray!! I can't believe I made A Significant Move in the last few minutes of a race. Kick ass.

I hurtled down the final switchbacks and water bars, almost at the edge of control, trying to make up time. It wasn't pretty. But it felt good, and I was super stoked. 

Turned out, in spite of my terrible climbing, that I pulled out a fifth place, less than a minute off the podium. Awesome. 

After learning that Rob hauled down a bunch of people after a similarly crappy start to place 2nd, my day was complete. 

We wrapped up the afternoon by taking a run down the Crankworx course, and it should prove to be a lot more fun. Probably more hotly contested by real gravity types, but blessed by less climbing. Giggity! What could possibly go wrong?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Firecracker's Last Spark

A friend sent me a couple of photos from the race.... I'm laughing through the pain because he was yelling at me so loudly that it could be heard from the bottom of the climb. Drill sergeants everywhere should take note.

Thanks, Tom! And while I'm giving credit where credit is due, I should mention that a lot of the photos taken in my recent posts are by Rob Love, who manages to squeeze them in while wrenching on my bike, wrenching on everyone else's bike, wrenching on his own bike, setting up gear, reminding me of how much time remains until my start, etc. etc. He rules.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Firecracker 50

This race rocked the free world on a day to celebrate our fine country...what could be better?

Not much, but the day was certainly enhanced by the fact that the start/finish was officially GT Central. Rob, Ryan and I set up the Dirt Coalition Compound right next to the Demo Program, and the Golden Race Series folks were right next to that, rocking some tunes and polishing the Golden Bike for four-time winner Vincent Lombardi. This resulted in a six-tent city that attracted all kinds of people.

There were GT fans of all shapes and sizes:

Then Mick Hannah made his appearance. What a nice, laid back guy. I felt like he deserved just as much attention, if not more, than Vincent Lombardi, but he didn't seem to mind flying under the radar. These cross-country weenies don't know who he is, anyway.

Here, he checks out GT's new 5" travel bike, the Sensor, with Rob and Louis, the GT Demo Program go-to guy. Louis was super nice to us, helping us set up our tents, loaning us stuff, and going over my bike after the race. All I had to offer was chocolate chip cookies to go with his beer, but let's hope that was sufficient thanks.

Here's a close-up of the new rig. The suspension's been tweaked a bit; I wish I'd been able to test ride it after the race, but it was raining intermittently by then, and I was pretty cooked.

So after getting our setup dialed, Ryan and I started pressing the flesh.
The staging area at Carter Park was full of people, from runners who had just finished their race prior to our event, to families and friends of bike racers. It was great. Everyone had to scope out the Golden Bike and the Gold Digger cheerleaders, who could be spotted practicing their routines behind the tents.

But eventually, Ryan and I had to pose for one last photo before warming up for the big event. Ryan was doing the whole enchilada; Rob and I were each having a taco. Ha. :)

Rob was kind enough to give me the first lap, which means I got to start as part of Breckenridge's Fourth of July Parade. It was a madhouse down there.

Rob had intended to be my umbrella boy, but there was barely room in the crush of people to maneuver your bike, much less put up an umbrella. I found my wave, the co-ed Maverick Teams, and got in place. One last fun photo and we were off.

It was such a good time to ride through the walls of people and be part of the parade. Little kids stand out in the street in long lines, holding out their hands for high-fives. I made contact with as many little hands as I could, taking care to do so lightly. :) I even got a few tiny little dudes, hanging out in dad's arms. It was cute, and made for the mellowest race start I have ever experienced.

As I made the turn out of town, I heard a holler from a friend of mine, and it was great to begin the race with a friendly cheer. I started up the road and found that I felt pretty good. I was climbing well for me, which was a pleasant surprise. I took care to conserve some energy, though, since I knew it was going to be a long 25 miles.

Just as Rob described it, though, it was actually less taxing than last weekend's Winter Park race. Decent-sized stretches of this course went quickly, especially the descents, where I roosted off rocks and tree roots and got a grin on my face before the next climb. I also took my iPod for the first time ever in a race, which was the best idea I'd had all week. I only ran the right-side ear bud, so I could hear other racers and still enjoy the sounds of nature. But a steep descent with Tool's "Vicarious" as a soundtrack was one of the highlights of the race. Hell yeah! And by the next descent, a male racer I hadn't even been paying attention to said,"I definitely don't want to be in front of you on this downhill!" I had to take some small pleasure from that, since I knew I was climbing like a snail on quaaludes.

I pushed hard, for being recently injured and out of shape, and only stopped once. I was trying my damndest to make it in three hours, but just couldn't go any faster. I got some friendly cheers on one of the final climbs from a couple more friends, which was a welcome boost, and then finally started the twisty, switchbacked descent into Carter Park. It was a great finish to a really fun course, and I still felt reasonably human.

Rob snapped a quick pic of me crossing the finish line:

I tried to pass on some good energy to him, especially since it was starting to rain. But he looked amped and ready to go, rocking the pirate kit given to him by a buddy who used to work for GT's new relative, Cannondale. He told me to look for him in 2:30, and took off like he was shot out of a cannon. I got some lunch, washed the Marathon, put my feet up for a few minutes, and then at two hours I had a feeling. I bet Rob's feeling great, too, and will be faster than he thinks. I grabbed the Dirt Coalition umbrella, the camera, and hiked up the switchbacks. Sure enough, in about ten more minutes, Il Pirata made his appearance, rocking the pants off everyone else in the turns.

While we didn't have the world's best finish, seeing as how neither of us have been able to train effectively, we still had a fantastic time. It was great to actually feel good and work the course, rather than having it work us. I couldn't have asked for a better weekend.

Meanwhile, the Golden Bike has found a new engine. Vincent Lombardi suffered at altitude (plus he couldn't go to the next race anyway), so now the series lies in the hands of a Coloradoan. I'm supremely embarrassed to say I'm not entirely sure of this guy's name right now. I think it's Ryan Dorsey of Woodland Park. It's too soon for the Golden Race folks to have updated the GT site, and the Firecracker results are a maze of amateur categories that I can't wade through just now. But here he is getting the bling:

But with a graphic like this on the back of your jersey, the pressure is definitely on.

As for me, I will be making my next race appearance at the Winter Park Super D this coming weekend. I will be rested and ready to sprint up that damn hill for the holeshot!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Winter Park Series is a Go!

I skipped the hill climb two weeks ago in favor of training, so I began my yearly Winter Park campaign with the first mountain circuit. Here I am rocking the old-school t-shirt from my early days with GT:

You can see from the mud all over the bike that it was a good race. I always enjoy a race that has technical challenges, and that includes adverse conditions. It's my only hope against women that are faster than me but more tentative. :)

But first, we had to overcome a tent setup problem. When DC rider Ryan Amirault contacted the Winter Park people, an underling told him he couldn't set up in the start/finish because the tent would "compete with the current sponsors." Considering that we're a race team, not expo workers, we were frustrated by this. Yes, we're promoting GT, but we're doing that in the course of trying to race and being athletes. Being barred from the start/finish when every other race team was setting up there was definitely not cool.

So when we arrived, my man Rob and I went to seek out the race organizer, Jon, who has always been a very nice person and a patient, enthusiastic promoter. We explained that the tents are for a race team, and he said it was no problem for us to set up with the other teams. We just couldn't be next to the sponsor tents, which was fine.

On to the tent on the left, Ryan putting up his on the far end.

After talking to people and handing out a bunch of our blue Sport Beans (always makes the tent a popular spot!) we had to settle down to racing.

The course was a long-feeling 18 miles, with plenty of rocky, muddy, rooty singletrack. You had to push for every pedal stroke, for sure. In spite of that, the downhills were a blast, as always, and the Marathon felt like a million bucks. I made some girls that were younger than me nervous (finally I broke down and told them that I wasn't in competition with them) but that's about all I can brag about. My lack of fitness is still apparent, and Colorado is a tough place to be not-quite-in-shape. :)

But I had a great time, and got to talk to some more people about the bike afterward, so I consider the race a success.

I spent the next day doing lift-assisted downhill runs, working on my speed and skills for the upcoming Super D race in two weeks. FUN!! I hope to make a decent showing there, but since the Winter Park people can't resist starting their Super D up a steep access road, that puts me at a bit of a disadvantage.

Heck, maybe I should just switch to downhill racing. Especially with this beauty available:

Now I have a week to pull myself together for the Firecracker 50. It's going to be a crazy scene, with the GT Golden Bike Series there as well as the Demo Program. Sweet!