Monday, May 28, 2007

Syracuse Race Weekend - a Bella success! May 26 & 27

It was a busy weekend - NY Bellas Jenn, Sue A, LiLynn and Kate took part in the omnium event known as The Syracuse Race Weekend this Memorial holiday - Bella Gaetane also raced the crit, and Michelle was there to support the team and, of course, J-Bird. Meanwhile, Jano raced the new Navarino Road Race and got 2nd in her category - "lots of plaques"
Many of the Bellas of NY enjoyed a raucous spaghetti and wine dinner to stoke up on carbos and ease the anxiety of the first stage race of the year. Saturday's start was at a civilized 11:00 am (while Jano's was at a beastly 8:00 am!) and LiLynn and I managed to arrive to Song Mountain Ski Hill at a very unusually early time for me. (Didn't hurt that LiLynn was grinding her coffee at 5:30. I could hear her being quiet.) We got a moment to pose for pictures, as you can see here.
The road race was 30 miles for the Cat 4s and 60 for the 1-2-3s with a 10 minute gap between the fields. My group (Kate) left first and knowing that I'd only ridden 60 miles once this year so far, my goals were not high: I wanted to not be last, and I also wanted to not have the 4s catch me. I managed to accomplish both (aim low, and you'll succeed!) though, I was just 2nd to last. If the race had been shorter, I would have been better off, because my first climb up Oak Hill had me in a much better spot. My second climb was a success only because the gruppetto I was riding with actually waited for me at the top, for which I was immensely grateful. The rest for me was a matter of dealing with the wind and the pace set by Margaret Thompson, a 53+ national champion time trialist who was driving us like cattle to get going. I hobbled pitifully up the last horrid climb, happy to see my pal Jano cheering me on at the top after finishing her own race at another location.
The other three Bellas had better than "just not last" finishes in their race - (well, Jenn had the same placing as I did..) LiLynn and Sue were within 7 seconds of each other and were not too many minutes behind the leaders. They had a group to ride with though there was a moment of exasperation when an unnecessarily paranoid racer kept trying to shake LiLynn off her wheel on a climb when our Bella was perfectly willing to work together.

Part II was the Inner Harbor One Mile Time Trial. A painfully short loop that was on city streets as well as a paved walking path and after a chance to get air off a ramp through a parking lot and around a tight turn back onto the road. What a hoot! Both Sue and LiLynn report riding "brain dead" and being not completely cognizant of the area. Nonetheless this tactic seemed to work for them, possibly after Jenn's powerful ride and her tips on how to take the jerky turns on the course. Jenn's previous life as a down hill ski racer provided us with the secret weapon to extra speed. All the Bellas were within 2 seconds of each other! This was very helpful in the overall GC standings and moved Jenn from 22nd up to 9th place!

Finally the crit was our last chance to move up - The Syracuse Crit is the best for crit-haters, those new to criteriums, and anyone afraid of potential crashes. Unfortunately, even a mellow course can have its hazards, as the road was very broken up and Sue found herself edged against the curb on the short climb and she experienced her first race crash. Thankfully it wasn't one that caused her a lot of physical injury, though she broke her saddle and was very disappointed not to have the opportunity to work in a pack finish, where she would surely have been if it hadn't been for one overzealous cornerer in her group. LiLynn did have terrific success in her first crit, and finished in 5th place, bringing her up to 6th overall. Jenn's endurance trained legs just didn't have it for the speedwork of the crit but thanks to her sprinting skills during the one mile TT, her overall placing was 12th while Sue's was 13th of a field of 23, not too shabby!
In the women's 1-2-3 crit, we were happy not to have the Austrailian national champion and T-Mobile team member racing that event - Gaetane unsurprisingly won not only a prime for a tire, but was 3rd. She loves crits. I was satisfied with 8th and was able to move up to 9th overall in the GC.
Here's a shot of Michelle at the Inner Harbor, hoping to race as soon as her PT gives her the green light. Thanks for reading and 'till next time...

Sterling Road Race Report - Ivy from Maine

News from Ivy in Maine:

The weekend started out with Susan and I traveling from Maine to a friends house in Southwestern Mass, they have offered to help me out with a place to stay if I am doing any races in that are relatively close by. It was so nice when we got there too, as my friends Jean & Doug had dinner all prepared for us. They know I love pasta, so Jean had made a wonderful sauce and some yummy cheesy breads to knosh along with that.

We had a wonderful evening conversing and gossiping, lol!

The next day we drove up to Sterling for the Race.

When we arrived in Sterling, it was a nice warm day temps in the low seventies, and all though I felt a bit cool at first I was able to done my gorgeous Bella skinsuit for the race. I've gotten so many positive comments about how kewl our team kit looks :o).

Our race was to go off at a 11:25 so I had plenty of time to warm up and make my usual multiple visits to the bathroom, and give anything not to be so nervous before Road races...they seem to work on my nerves more than Crits & time trials do.

Our race went off right on time. We had a neutral 15mph - 2 mile escort by the local police. When we climbed the hill to the start finish area we started to pick up the pace. The hill sent shivers through my body as I knew the next time we climbed this thing someone would be attacking, I was right on that mark, and there was going to be three laps of this thing for us Cat 4's.

The first lap we started to sort things out and I finally got myself placed towards the front to get away from this woman that was making my crazy with her squirrelly riding. We started the descent at the top of the course and group wanted to coast down the hill, but I wanted to start making this a race, so I got on front and inspired the group to start hammering over the rollers so we could string things out and make the yellow line rule more livable.

Other than that, the first lap was uneventful till we made the last turn for the climb for lap '2' where one of the women from International bike made an animalistic attack that shattered the field and made me the, non-climber, sink in my shoes, so it was time to hold on and limit my losses.

I lost about 150 yards to the two women that were in the front, but I started to gather up a string of riders and we worked....with some wonderful help from Amy Moralez from 'Team Wooly Mammouth' & Amy Wong of 'Harvard University' to reel in the breakaway that had escaped. I also used my speed & descending skills to shake off anymore passengers that might be with us and we settled into a group of 12 riders.

I was getting angry at some of the women because they were coasting down hills (racing negatively) where we needed to be pedaling down hill chasing after the two escapees, so I motivated them to do so as we sped over the rollers making our way to the bottom of the course. And when we got to the highway, the lowest portion of this RR, we set up for the right turn where I came hammering around at full bore, and about a half mile later with some help from Amy M, Amy W, and Bonnie Fletcher, I made the final surge to catch the last survivor of the breakaway - we had reeled them in :o).

Then I knew it was time for me to take it easy and ride conservatively. So we reached the last turn and it was time to climb the hill for the 'third lap'. We made our ascent of the hill pretty fast again and so I made this planned, yes planned, holding back on the hill for myself as I knew I could bring them back once we got going again. I gave them 50 yards distance, and I took it easy. It was easier for me to give them the distance than burning myself out trying to stay with the front runners on the climb.

I got my wattage cottage in gear and with the SRAM neutral support car blowing its horn behind me, I caught the group and we made the descent once more. This time the group worked a bit more with one another which made me happier and we rolled down the hill and over the rolly parts of the course once more and down to the highway where we rolled along at a decent tempo and everybody started to sort themselves out as best they could for the finish.

We made the last turn with Amy Moralez leading going around the bend, then the climbers in the group started doing their damage, I went as fast as I could up the hill trying to match them as we dropped two riders off the group, but I started to slip back and it wound up being me and my old teammate from last year, Tracy Clemons, fighting to stay in the top ten. I came across the line in tenth place, but, for me, it was the best thing that could happen because I had held on and represented myself well in a Road Race which is not something I did very well last year - most times I got dropped totally. So I was very happy and it showed this 46 year old lady that her hard work over the winter had paid off....and it's early in the season so things should only get better :o).

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Hollenbeck's Race - Virgil, NY May 6, 2007

While Bellas Carolyn and Jan-o were kicking butt running the 10 mile Mountain Goat, other CNY Bellas road raced just a bit more than that today for the 22 miler near Greek Peak Ski Center. The payoffs of doing this early race are as you can see from the pics, fun with friends, and amazing and enormous cookies from the Ithaca Bakery. (oh, yeah, and decent apples too) We were joined by a tri-geek (she was actually very nice) named Kira, from LiLynn's neck of the woods, who was a very "strong girl". So after a painful warmup climb and a quick group pee (and no, that isn't a CNY Bella tradition), we were off.

This reporter did the men's 35+ race, opting out of doing two loops with the 1-2-3 women, knowing at this state of the game I'd surely be riding at least one full loop, if not more, by myself and in the wind. Briefly, my race was uneventful, fun, I wasn't last, and I had a group of guys to work with, so it was a good choice.
Now the real racers: according to the grrrrls, things started out respectably gently until the hill, where naturally, things changed. LiLynn was surprised to be feeling as good as she did, considering she'd done an unexpected 50 mile adventure ride yesterday, and she decided maybe she was more of a hill climber than she had thought. Things broke up pretty seriously, and Sue and Jenn were in differing places on the climb.

LiLynn found herself in no-woman's land for a lot of the race, faster on the hill than her bella sisters, but not fast enough to be up with the bigger guns. With "the wall" behind them, the group with Sue did manage to catch up to LiLynn, who'd been tt-ing into the wind, and they got a little pace line going, but predictably, there was one woman who sat on their wheels and refused to pull, despite LiLynn's questioning, if "she knew how to work?" The group clawed their way up the final, cruel climb, and our Bellas had a great finish, though as expected, the non-worker nipped Sue at the line. (Boy, do I hate that!) Jenn came in not too much longer and was buoyed by our hoots and cheers as she grumpily chugged up the hill - to the crowd's pleasure, she hung on the brakes for a second just before crossing the finish line and neatly did a hint of a wheelie as she lifted her front wheel for effect across the line.
Final results, Lilynn 11th, Sue A. 12th, Jenn 19th. Way to go, grrrrls!

Ivy (Maine Bella) Wins Seacoast TT

Our friend of the NY Bellas, Ivy Luhrs, had a stellar day last week - here's her report:

I'm very happy to say that I won my age group in the Seacoast Time Trial today....I was also the fastest woman over all. It was a 12.8 mile rolling course with a slight, but ever present, breeze/light wind. Temperatures were in the High 50's low 60's which was a huge comfort when compared to what we have been having around these parts lately. Sue and I had to get up at 4:30am to eat a bit, pack up little red truck, and get ready for the drive down to Kennebunkport. Registration opened at 7:00am and then there was a riders meeting at 7:45 to discuss the road, traffic, course conditions/traffic issues.

My start time was at 8:30, so I had to get a wiggle on and give my bike it's shake down cruise to make sure all was well mechanically with it. I literally had just finished putting it together on Thursday having just got the special brake levers I needed. But after a brief cruise with it, I dubbed it AOK and proceeded to set it up on my kinetic trainer so I could get warmed up properly. Time went by fast and before I knew it was time to roll.

Susan was standing right at the start line with me and she handed me a warmed up hammer gel to down just before I got ready to start. She had the package stuck in her bra so it would flow out real easy, giggle, tasted like a gooey raspberry pie, then it got washed down with Gatorade lemon/lime Endurance formula....ah the fuel of Champions .

The start of a time trial is always tuff as it takes the body time to settle in and get used to the effort, it would be especially tuff on this day because of length of the race which would make it a virtual sprint. It took me some time to settle in, but then I got going. About a 1/4 of the way into the course I caught my minute man (yes a boy) so that made me feel things are going well today and I soon passed him and drove on. I was not familiar with the course so I had to pay special attention and watch for course marshals and turn markers so I could anticipate the turns before I got to problems, all went well :o).

Before I knew it I was up on Route 9 making the run for home when I was pulling so hard on the top of my time trial bars I knocked the front derailleur into the small chain ring (this was the second time I had done this) so I cursed like a stable girl....then quickly put it back into the big ring and announced a mental note; (note to self)...keep your F-ing hands off the top of time trial bars...lest yee shift the bike without wanting said event to occur! LOL!

But, no matter, 'mental notes in hand' aching arms and all, I made it across the line in 33:20 a minute and half ahead of my closest competitor :o).

This was such a special victory for me after just getting off antibiotics just two days ago. I had been fighting a nasty sinus infection that happened after a nasty cold I had gotten just after the Crit in Rhode Island on April 7th.

So here I go,

This was the first bout of a sixteen race series, (But It's best of your eight time trials) So I need to ride at least eight races to make it count, and to accumulate enough points to possibly win a Aegis Carbon Fiber Bike Frame at the end of September.

Wish me luck :o)