28 June 2008

Six Day: Day Six-Hotness and the Laziest Bike Racer EVER!

So today was hot, hot. My warm-up consisted of airing up my tires, which immediately fatigued my upper body and left me drenched with sweat, and I was in the shade. Good enough for the last day of Six Day. I did ride a couple of circles on the track. I was curious to find out if the heat actually decreased the traction speed required to stay upright through the turns. In my brain baked state it made sense that heat makes tires stickier. I just needed something lame and stupid to obsess over to avoid thinking about how hot it was. I never did test the theory for fear I would be wrong. I was rocking my Paola Pezzo shiny silver Castelli shorts today and I didn't want to do them in.

Today I was probably the laziest bike racer ever. Our first race was my super favorite, the Point a Lap, where you get to work really hard to probably NOT win a point if a really good sprinter is behind you. Basically, I just followed wheels with some girls and ended up off the front in a small group. The one time I actually ended up in the lead of our group I thought I might actually get a point, Jen F. came up next to me and was obviously going to make me work for it. I think I actually started to pedal slower, I really didn't care. Seriously, was this even a race for me? I think not, kind of pathetic. I just wanted to get it over with. Next!

My second super favorite race, the Progressive Points. Lap 1=1 point, Lap 2=2 points and so on until the race is over at 10 laps and 10 points. My only strategy against good sprinters in this race is to get off the front and stay there. Well, that was not going to happen. I went with Fiona when she attacked on lap 1 and I got 2 meager points without having to work too hard. The field seemed to split and I just kind of zoned out for about 4 laps until Jen F. took off and won laps 7,8 and 9. We then worked to get he back and on the last lap my super teammate Andrea launched a huge flyer and caught Jen before turn 4. She won the lap and 10 points for us. I love Andrea, thanks for making my life easy.

The Madison. Wow it was hot and the thought of doing a 20 minute Madison was excruciating. We had a good start and good exchanges. I somehow lucked out and ended up being in for all the sprints, when we get better we can plan on rotating the sprints between us. The first sprint I came in 3rd, won the second sprint and got 2nd in the third sprint. It was a good race, I really did think I was going to die about half way through. Kudos to Darien who rode her teams Madison ironwoman style (by herself). You are my hero. Here's a cool video David Hart took of our Madison.

Results? The big suprise for us was that we won the daily points placing. During the Six Day you can place according to your daily points and laps (kind of like a stage win in a stage race) those points and laps all go into the tally for the overall win (kind of like the GC). Up until today Miranda and Jen had creamed us in points on a daily basis, so we were always in 2nd or 3rd for the daily points. We were so elated when we found out we had won for the day. We also kept our 2nd place overall. Here's our podium shots courtesy of David.

On the podium in 1st for the day

Congrats to everyone. If you look closely you can see the big loopy bows we wore in our hair. For the past three days we kept adding ribbons, so they were pretty obnoxious by today.

Final podium shot. Thanks to all the ladies who came out to make it a great week of racing. See you next year!

Six Day: Day Five-Are we done yet?

As I was warming up tonight (it was more being near the bike in the heat than an actual warm up) I was trying to relate Six Day to other types of racing I have done. It's kind of like stage racing only it's more violent. Yes, violent is a good word. There is no easy pace in any of the Six Day races that you do. Once you start racing, you are on the gas all the time. It hurts. Tonight it hurt really bad. 20 lap points race, nothing great. We tried to get as many points as possible. Nothing stayed off the front so that made it hard. Next was a Miss and Out. I had a sweet spot at the front setting pace with Jen T.. With 5 girls left, I was tired and literally just sat up to get pulled. I was tired, the legs hurt and I wanted to save something for the Madison since doing poorly could hurt us right now if the right teams were able to gain laps on us.

The 20 minute Madison was a suffer fest. We had good exchanges and good positioning. I was in for back to back sprints and let Jen. T get away from me. I just could not close a gap that I know I could close yesterday. I am getting tired. We finished 2nd in the Madison but were bummed because they counted us as a lap down from Jen and Miranda even though they never lapped us. I guess they had lapped everyone else in the field when the race ended so we were counted in that group as well. Oh well, still in 2nd overall and only ONE MORE DAY!

26 June 2008

Six Day: Day Four-Ouch

Tonight hurt. All the races were short because they had some regular Thursday night racing fields. The racing was fast and it gave the good sprinters in our group a chance to put the hurt on. Andrea had her A game on so I was super happy. First up was a 9 lap Scratch race. Andrea and I attacked and countered and I set some pace at the front coming into the final few laps. Andrea launched a huge attack from the back that no one could catch. Jen F. got close, but in the end my awesome teammate took the win. We also had a 15 lap points race, does that even count? Andrea and I did well, just taking points in every sprint and not worrying about it too much. Yeah, it would be nice to go out there and win every sprint, but at some point you have to realize what is important and what is not. At this point in the race it's all going to come down to the Madison. We could really hurt ourselves if we blow up in the mass start races and then start losing laps in the Madison. We are not going to gain laps on Jen and Miranda so we need to keep the cushion we have for 2nd place. All part of the Six Day strategy I guess.

The Madison went okay, it was only 10 minutes of sheer torture. I wanted to die. We came in 3rd and stayed on lap so we still have our 2nd place overall. Yeah, off to bed.

25 June 2008

Six Day: Day Three-The Big Comeback

Still feeling strong and like my legs have some kick. Tonight suited Andrea and I very well. We had a 25 lap points race and 20 lap Tempo race. As tired as we were, the longer races are better for us. We were nervous knowing that we had laps to make up and not entirely sure how to execute in order to make that happen. In the end, we had nothing to worry about.

In the points race there was a group that got off the front at the first sprint: Andrea, Jen F., Jen T. and Miranda. We needed laps and Andrea was in a prime location to gain a lap which would put us on even laps with 2nd place and in the lead since we had more points. I was in a chase group with Anita and Darien. I didn't chase to allow the leaders to hopefully gain a lap. Anita and Darien worked hard and brought us within 1/2 lap of the leaders that were now lapping the field. At this point I realized, in my hypoxic and tired state, that if I lapped the field also we would gain two laps and then be one lap ahead of 3rd place, which would pretty much secure our podium spot. So after my major "Ah-Ha" moment I attacked Darien and Anita and lapped the field and caught the leaders. We duked it out for the rest of the sprints but I wasn't too concerned knowing that we had gained 2nd place overall. It's amazing what kind of math you learn to do in your head while you are racing at balls-to-the-wall speed.

The Point a Lap (Tempo) race went okay. I hate that race, you have to work so hard for one friggin' point. I was in a good spot after the neutral lap and got off the front with Jen F. and Darien and we paced and shared the points as we pulled through. That changed when Miranda and Jen T. caught us and it was every woman for herself. My legs felt like absolute crap at this point so with a few laps to go I quit contesting sprints and just sat in to save some for the Madison.

The Madison went well, we were able to stay on lap with Jen and Miranda and had some solid exchanges. We were 2nd in the Madison so that made us super happy. We are getting smoother and our timing is better. Whew, only 3 more days.

24 June 2008

Six Day: Day Two-The Comeback

Racing smart was the game plan for tonight. We were ahead of the 2nd and 3rd place teams in points, just two laps down. Main goal, try to get back some laps and some points and creep our way back into the top 3.

Andrea and I raced like rockstars tonight. We worked together so well and ended up leading in points in the omnium races giving us the lead going into the Madison. The 20 minute Madison went really well for us. We ended up lapping the 3rd place team and everyone was lapped by Jen and Miranda (they are so stinking strong). We got 2nd in the Madison and are now sitting in 3rd place overall. This was a huge boost for us after such a bad night on Monday. We were stoked at the end of the night. We are still a lap down from the 2nd place team, but we have big plans for tomorrow.

23 June 2008

Six Day:Day One-The Rough Start

Six Day is here. This year we have a separate women's field with 7 teams, totally awesome. The first all-women's Six Day was held January 6, 1896 in Madison Square Garden (where Madison racing was born) and there was only one race in 1909 that had a separate field for women. I am hoping that we are starting something here.

So yes, tonight was a rough start for Andrea and I. We hadn't practiced exchanges a whole lot because Andrea had pulled a intercostal muscle between her ribs and trying to do exchanges put her in a lot of pain. Tonight we did the 3k Madison pursuit. We did not have good exchanges at all, but managed to come in 2nd which was good since we got points for placings in the pursuit. Next we did a 15 minute Madison and that went really bad. We missed our first exchange which resulted in us getting gapped off of the Jen/Miranda and Emily/Anita teams. We finally got in some sort of a rhythm, but we ended up two laps down and in 4th place overall. We both feel kind of demoralized but know that it's a long week of racing and with some smart racing we can turn things around.

22 June 2008

San Jose AVC

The next 9 days of my life will include 8 days of track racing. I am pretty certain that by the time I am done I will be sick of the track bike and tired of going around in circles to the left.

AVC was a good race for me. It was the first big track race I have been too and I was really nervous when we got there. It didn't help that San Jose was having a fluke heat wave and when we got to the track on Friday night the thermometer in Heather's car registered 108, just peachy. The Hellyer Park Velodrome is like a freeway compared to Alpenrose. You can move around easily and there is no minimum traction speed in the turns. This is the track I will race on at Master's Nationals so it was a good reconnaissance trip for me.

Friday night we raced a Keirin and a Points Race. I knew I would need a bigger gear on my bike, but I didn't anticipate how big. I was way undergeared in the Keirin. I was riding an 88" gear and I should have been on a 92". Hmm, lesson #1 learned. The best part of the Keirin was watching Jen Featheringill win and Andrea Fisk, my Six Day partner, take 8th. Needing a 50 tooth chainring to get a 90" gear, I lucked out and found Darryl from the Guiness team that had a brand new one to sell me. Awesome. The 90" gear for the Points Race was a great idea, that race was fast. The best part was that we raced after the sun went down and the lights came on. I totally loved that, it took me back to the days when I used to adventure race and do 24 hour mountain bike races. I love racing at night. Plus, the temperature outside was perfect at that point. The Points Race was fast and I stayed with the group the entire race. I was happy with that.

Saturday morning was another scorcher. I went to the Saturday morning session to race the Match Sprints. Nothing exciting there for me as I suck at those. Jen F. won and Andrea got 4th. That was fun to watch. The Saturday evening session was fun. We did a Miss and Out, which I really hate, but I actually got in the results. Check it out:

Miss n out

1 Jennifer Triplett
2 Jen Featheringill
3 Larssyn Rueegg
4 Megan Guarnier
5 Amanda Seigle
6 Kelly Bartholomew
7 Annette Williams
8 Jeanie Bihlmaier
9 Shelley Olds
10 Amara Boursaw

What is awesome is that the girls in 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 10 place are all from the Portland or Seattle area. We had a pretty impressive showing.

Later we did a Scratch Race, basically a crit with primes and a sprint for the win at the finish. I went with some breaks to hopefully get away, but it didn't happen. Unfortunately I missed the winning break that did get away and lapped the field. I was cooked at that point so I just stayed with the group for the finish. It was a hard race.

Now I get to look forward to Six Day, which starts tomorrow. Should be super fun!

10 June 2008

My Three Step Program to Coping with the Weather

So, after freezing my butt off racing PIR last night I woke up to what was it? Oh yeah, 45 degrees and rain. Last week PIR was a dumpfest as it poured during our entire race (it was actually kind of fun in a weird, demented sort of way). Seriously, it's June, or should I call it Junuary. The motivation to ride, yet again, the rain bike and wear all the necessary cold weather accouterments is starting to wane. As I rode to work, getting soaked I started to think about the stages of DENIAL I have been going through the last few months. I always think it's going to get better, and it doesn't. This pretty much sums it up:

April-Stage 1: The optimist/denial. I am not known for being an optimist so I can't figure out why I ever thought that things would improve. At this point I am in a perpetual state of thinking that tomorrow will be better. It's not.

May-Stage 2: Rage/Anger/Hatred. WTF? Yeah, I pretty much have a coronary when I see the weather report each day. I begin to consider moving to Arizona.

June-Stage 3: Submission/Abandonement of all Hope. Racing PIR in the rain pretty much pushed me into this phase, finally. I felt like I was going to be stuck in Stage 2 forever. I embrace the crappyness and learn to love it, or at least trick myself into thinking that. I long for nice days but do the training and work I need to even when the weather sucks.

Please sun, come back to play!