Where I've Been

Monday, January 25, 2010

Review of 2009

Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world.....

I thought that I would start the new year of 2010 recounting the past year. My first race was in the month of February, which being from Saskatchewan would be impossible because of the snow and cold weather, but I was lucky enough to be in sunny Phoenix AZ. As with most first races of a new year, I was a bit nervous not knowing if I was up to snuff. I was racing as a cat.3 woman but with the pro ½ women. It was the biggest race that I had yet raced with 85 racers, and I had no idea how I would do. I ended up doing pretty well to my surprised, coming in 3rd in my cat. And in the pro women I would have been in the middle of the pack. The race was different from the races in Canada - firstly more racers and secondly lots of crashes. There were crashes left right and center and for no reason other than being sketchy and not paying attention. I missed all of the crashes some just by the skin of my teeth hey but still a missed crash is still that.

After the races, we drove to Palm Springs - who doesn't want to go there eh? So I'm in sunny Cali and guess what it rains the whole first day... in the desert. When does that happen? Well I guess in February it does. I got a cold the next day and got pretty sick felt like crap and didn't get as much riding in as I would have liked. I was ready to get home by the end of the camp. I was flying into Calgary, and the plane just got colder, I knew I was back in Canada. I was pretty thrilled to land in Saskatoon until I saw the snow had not gone, and it was still terribly cold. I can't say that I wanted to make any snow angels but would have liked to go back to Cali.

I was not able to ride outside for a long time. We had an awful spring, and the snow and ice decided to stay a long time. It was around May by the time that I could start riding outside - up to that time I didn't want to ride outside and had to make do with the trainer which is not fun after having a chance to ride in warm weather.

Between the time that I got back from the states, May rolled around and I went to BC for some track training and some of racing in the BC spring series. There wasn't much dry weather in BC which is normal. It rained lots and being a prairie girl I'm not a fan of racing or riding in the rain. The first race that I did there it poured rain and I was frozen by the end of it. I could not feel my hand nor my feet or my leg or arms for that matter. All in all though I was satisfied with the way things went - I rode strong (I think). There were no hills which was surprising for a BC race, but that was OK with me.

My next "major" race that year was Bikes on Broadway, the showing in the women's race was not great with only 16 or so. I was thrilled with my time trail, I was getting more, and more into the "zone" as the year went the year on. And my focus on the bike was getting better. I was able to ride at a higher heart rate and go faster. I place 2nd in the time trail which I was thrilled about been that was a monumental step up from the year before where I crashed and burned... bad. The road race the next day was in rural Sask and the course was rolling as much as a Sask course can be. I can't say that I was climbing well because there wasn't a hill as such to actually climb - but I was feeling enthusiastic and ready to race. I honestly burned my legs up toward the end of the race and had nothing for the sprint finish - which is typical for me. I need to learn to be a bit smarter in not burning myself out and save some for the sprint or make sure that there is no sprint to sprint for. The next day was the crit, and I was tired as ever and not feeling raring to go. My legs felt like lead warming up, and I was a bit worried that I would not be able to perform as I should. But soon as the race started the legs were fine, and all was forgotten.

I not sure which race I did next, but I think it was the Enumclaw stage race. I race in the cat. 3 women's but raced with the pro women. I wish that Canada had more races like these. It was on the smaller side and was more of the local teams that came, but there was still good competition and lots of strong racing. There's not much to say about the time trail it was a straight forward course that looped around in a 13km circuit. I didn't feel fabulous in the time trail - my legs felt slow and I was not pleased with it. I thought that for sure that I would not have a good time and to my shock I had the second fast time.

The road race was a tough course; it had a 2km long hill that was steep enough that no one could start sprinting early for the KOM (or queen of the mountain as it's called in a women's race. Pfft I don't care, I call it KOM anyways) at the top. We had to do the lap about 4 - 5 times I can't quite remember, but I was sure starting to suffer by the time the third lap rolled around. I got dropped from the group in the, second last, lap to go on the hill. I was seriously hurting, and my climbing form had gone for garbage. But at the top of the hill I had to grit my teeth (bit the bullet or any other form of cliché you want to use). Anyways it was tough and I yelled at myself a bit to get moving faster. But in the end I was able to chase about 5km to make my way back on to the rear of the small lead group right before the downhill. I had to sit at the back to get my wind back... but then the hill rolled around again.

Most people were feeling the hill this time and though those few lucky girls that are able to fly up hills without pedaling, attacked and got away. The crit was later that night. I always inwardly cringe when I see two races on the same day - what are people thinking...! I'm not a machine nor do I ride a motorbike. I like to rest after a race, put my feet up maybe watch TV but that was not the case. I had about 4 hours between races that was about enough time to ride back to the hotel, clean up, change and eat and then head over to the next race sight. Though as much as I was complaining about two races on the same day I was feeling really strong - I wasn't tired or feeling like crap. During the race I felt strong and surprised myself by doing a few attacked and getting away. It was a fast course; we were averaging about 43km an hour which is pretty decent for a local states race. What I found more shocking than the energy that I had in the race was that I had a kick at the end. I just want to touch a bit on the food here... fried and tasteless or teriyaki lots and lots of teriyaki (inward shudder).

I race the Banff Bike Fest stage race. It was not a fun week - it wasn't that the racing was too hard or the completion too tough it was the fact that I didn't sleep for 5 days. Not sleeping for 5 days can be challenging at best but then you through racing into the mix and you get an angry, mad, and cranky and pissed off girl. My racing did suffer because of this fact; I do think that it is a possibility that it could not. My time trial was just awful, I was slow on the flats and hills alike and for me this was a bit odd. I didn't get a proper warm up and I think that really killed me on the hills. It was one of the hardest time trials that I had done to date. I don't know if it's that fact that I had not slept or not gotten a good warm up but the thing that I think that it was a bit of both. The two days before though I did the hill climb and it went quite well but my climb in the TT was dreadful. The crit was fast and I was able to stick in there for the sprint getting 4th place but after I was not feeling too hot. I had a terrible headache and wanted to sleep but couldn't. The Road race was the next day and the best way to describe the way I was - the walking dead. I wanted to cry I was so tired, I didn't want to race on this cold wet day.

I don't think that there could had been anything that could have made me feel worst, well maybe snow and hail storm but then the race probably would have been cancels so that would have been a terrific thing but it had to be June so snow was mostly out of the question, unless, climate change went crazy and in this day in age you never know.... So from the start of the race I was suffering, a few girls got off the front and a couple others wanted to chase but I was in no way able to. There was no cool down for me after the race I put my bike away changed into dry clothes and got a warm decaff coffee and went and lied down in the van. If I have to find something good about this race, it at lease was memorable and I won't soon forget it.

Ah nationals - they were the next race in jolly old Quebec. We got lucky for the girls time trial, it was looking like it was going to rain but it held off till the afternoon so that the course for us was not slick. I had been working tremendously hard up to this point and the goal was to win (I guess I set the goal high). The few days before I would fly out, I was having second thought. I was quite stressed and feeling burnt out - not a good feeling going into a National event. I didn't think I was ready, I was unusually tired from training and to be frank worried on if I could meet the goal that I had set for myself. It was more than just the goal of winning the time trail, that was part of it, but the other part was to make it to worlds. I had to take a couple days off before I would fly out.

In Quebec I admit that I was pretty stressed with everything. It like the time trial was sitting on my shoulders and kicking me in the butt laughing. The day of the TT I tried to keep everything else from getting to me. I was able to focus and get a good warm up. By the time I got to the line I was just starting to get nervous again and got that twitchy jump in my muscles. I rode the start of the TT hard knowing that I had to climb the hills fast and make a decent split time. I was feeling good and hurting at the same time. By the time I had about 2km to go I finished the last part of the downhill and I started to crack hard. The ground leveled and started going up and I died, my legs got so slow and I had to put my gears in the smallest and spin it out. In the end I won that race and was super happy. It was one of my fastest times and I was able to ride at an average heart rate of 180 which was a new high for me. The road race... well it was just that. A one-person team against a team of 8. I wasn't able to get away nor do anything that would have a changed the race greatly. The race was terribly wet... not so cold but with the wind it wasn't fun.

I got to Worlds in August. I was surprised that I wasn't more nervous than I thought I would be. I was treating it like any other race. Sure the stress of being away from home and being in a country that is neither helpful to non Russian speaking people. The ITT was my best race yet... I was able to break my 40km an hour goal. Well the RR was short for me to say the lease. I got crashed out in the first 1km or so. I got some killer road rash, ripped up my bike a bit... though luckily nothing broke. I made the first lap trying to chase back onto the group but it wasn't possible, I just got too far back. I was in a lot of pain, bleeding, angry and to top it off I was out of water because some time in the crash the follow cars ran over then. Lucky me!

Aw Canada games what can I say that hasn't all ready be said by the hundreds of kids that were there. It was hot and muggy, the wind never stopped and the food was crap. The rooms were so small, like a prison cell but with 6 girls in the one room. The rooms were messy and cramped and to top it all off 10 girls to a bathroom. I just cringe at the thought of it, luckily we were all nice about it and there were no cat fights, haha. The races were good, nothing to say about the mountain bike though, I just spun. I have never not raced a race before, it was weird. Felt like I was cheating or something like that.

Well that kind of sums up my year of road. I did do cross but just for the fun of it. I raced didn't train, I crashed and fell ripped up my road rash 2 or 3 more times which is not fun. Waited at the medi clinic for an hour by myself while I bled. This time it was no biggie because I had gone so many times over the last couple of years I knew that drill. You would think that I need to learn to ride my bike better or something?

Julia *