Battenkill is my absolute favorite race. It was my favorite race last year with the Cat 3 field and Lindsay; it is this year with thePro/1/2 and Ky.
The atmosphere is fantastic with over 2,000 racers pilgrimaging to Cambridge, NY. You run into racers everywhere even in the small hotel over in Vermont where we stayed; most guests were here for the battle.
In addition to an outstanding atmosphere the race itself is absolutely epic. The steep climbs and the dirt makes the race very unique. Since it hasn’t rained in a while, the dirt was dusty but smooth.
In both years I’ve raced, I learned that it’s not so much one attack that brings up the winner of the race but rather the consistent drain of energy with each of the 10 dirt sections and with each hill.
It’s like a frog sitting in a pot of cold water. It won’t jump out of the pot if the water temperature changes ever so slightly until it is too late that it’s cooking. Well, I was cooked with 15 miles to go when a small group rode away at the second to last dirt section.
I found myself in a chase group that grew bigger and bigger since we rode slower and slower. Once over the last climb, there was no terrain feature that could have dropped racers so we were rolling at around 15 mph to the finish line. I was sitting somewhere in the front of the group and sprinted for 12th.
The finish of our chase group is here.
Results are posted here.
After racing a few races with the Cat 3 guys in the South, a very brutal race on the West Coast and some morning pathathlons on the way to work, I was looking forward to race in MABRA land again. I was very excited to race with Lindsay. Our new teammate, Ky, was unfortunately out of town.
The plan was to get Lindsay the pro qualifier for Nature Valley Grand Prix. After some super sloooow laps, some chasing, some neutralizing, and some more chasing, Lindsay crossed second the line and since the winner will not race Nature Valley, Lindsay is going! I am very proud of her! Congratulations!
I will cheer Lindsay on from Germany. While she will kick ass in Minnesota, I will race with a German team called Team Stuttgart for a month. This is my very first time racing in Europe. The only advantage I might have over my fellow American racers is that I understand what my competition will yell at me and I am not so sure if that’s an advantage. I hear it’s very aggressive racing on narrow cobble roads with constant attacking.
Until then, I am looking forward to race with my teammates along the East Coast.
I cant believe I am writing this because this is my end-of-season report. The 2011 Season is done. Wow, what a year!
I had no idea what this year would bring. It was my first full road season.
I had no real goals, no training schedule, and no idea what was ahead of me. I just wanted to have fun, do my group rides and see where it would lead me.
It’s been a thrilling year covering the range from the local group ride to 20 degree Winter Bike Leage rides to fun MABRA races to tough NRC races and one eye-opening UCI race.
Since I only did a few races last year and realized how much I like cycling, I wanted to start my season early and so I drove down to Greenville, South Carolina every weekend in February. I wanted more racing and I signed up for basically every race possible, going all over the country – up and down the East Coast and one trip to the West Coast. I loved it!
Early in the season, I got a teammate, Lindsay. We didn’t know each other and our first adventure together was SpeedWeek in GA, SC and NC. We spent 10 days in one car, traveling through three states and suffering together through six hard races. That was definitely a test if we would get along. It worked out great and we actually became close friends!
With a loaded schedule I ended up doing 60+ races and several NRC races including Wilmington, Airforce Cycling Classic, Tour de Toona, and Cascades Cycling Classic.
My favorite road race this year was Battenkill. It’s long, hilly and hard! Just my style! My favorite crit was Reston. Fun course! Airforce Cycling Classic was the toughest race this year for me! Just brutal!
Racing in MABRA is always fun and exciting. The MABRA competition is tough and makes racing in our region very competitive! I was able to sneak medals in all five MABRA Championships. But for the BAR it wasn’t enough.
Funny, my goal shifted half way through the season from upgrading to winning the BAR. At the end, it turned out the other way. I lost the BAR but managed to upgrade to Cat 1.
I saw the 2011 season as a try-out whether I like racing. Hell yes! So much that I just moved and changed my job to focus more on racing. If you have a passion, you gotta go for it and make the best out of it.
Next year will be more organized: an actual training schedule and maybe some proper goal setting wouldn’t be bad.
I would have never gone so far if I haven’t met so many helpful and forthcoming people. The MABRA community is a very friendly, welcoming, and competitive group of people. I’m happy to have made friends with so many racers, promoters, and refs.
I love the local racing scene. It’s never just a race. It has connected me with friends, provided me my daily dose of the outdoors, and it’s where my competition makes sure I get a really good workout!
I want to especially thank everyone in the group rides I attended who seem to make it a primary goal to kick my butt. 🙂
It was a fun year and I am looking forward to the 2012 season. But before that, you will see me behind the tape cheering for all the crazy ‘crossers! (And maybe as a tail gunner on a tandem…)
In short, I lost the BAR by one point! It came all down to the track championships.
It all started shortly before the Page Valley Road Race when I found myself in second place to Ainhoa, a Spanish racer from MD with an amazing sprint.
I made some hypothetical analysis of my chances against her and it looked like I had a chance to win the Best All-Around Rider (BAR) competition.
I had to make a decision whether to go for upgrade points or the BAR because some of the MABRA time trials conflicted with road races and crits which could get me some upgrade points.
Since I wasnt too far away from Ainhoa point-wise, I chose to go for the BAR. After winning the CAT 4 BAR last year, it would be sweet to win the Cat 1,2 BAR this year.
I chose not to go to the Green Mountain Stage Race in Vermont, which was my kind of racing, so I could race BAR races which brought me into the lead by 2 points and only the Track Championships were left.
Since I have never been on a track, I decided that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to at least ride the track one time before the championship.
I signed up for the clinic a week before. It was a great experience and very much needed. I had no clue what to expect though for the race.
I drove up to PA for the Track championships and I was glad to see so many familiar faces who gave me advice and support.
My events were 200m qualifier, 500m, 3k and points race and sprints. I knew that this was basically a battle of a climber against a sprinter. The longer the distances, the better my chances would be.
I totally screwed up the first event, the 200m. My legs felt like I left them on the start line.
I was less than happy and optimistic that I could even compete in the track. I got third. But since it was only a qualifier, it didn’t count yet.
I realized that my gearing was too easy but I had to race the 500m with the same gearing. Although I felt much better during that event, I lost by one second to Ainhoa.
So I hoped for the 3k. The longer the race, the better for me so I hoped. It was a pursuit. Ainhoa started on the other side. It was a 9 lap race.
The announcer told us every lap who was ahead and it seemed that it was me the first 3 laps but then he didn’t say anything anymore so I got worried.
At some point, I saw movement in my periphery and Ainhoa ahead of me; that was huge motivation. I finished with 12 seconds ahead, which put us even for points.
But then it started raining and it looked like all other events might be cancelled. We waited.
After a while it cleared up though and it was announced that the points races were definitely to be held but not sure about the sprints.
That meant the points race decided who would win the BAR, a season long effort would be decided in 15 laps on a track neither Ainhoa nor I are familiar with. This would be interesting!
Every 5 laps was a sprint which counted 4 points deep. Whoever gets the most points wins the race.
The women’s field was combined with the juniors and 65+ men. I knew I had to do something different than just waiting for the sprint. Ainhoa showed me plenty during the season that she is a great sprinter.
I tried an attack in the 3rd lap to get away from her but it didn’t work out and Ainhoa won the first sprint while I got third. I was not comfortable on the track with so many people and no brakes. I was hesitant which made me either sit in the wind or trail off in the back. I lost the first sprint (besides the fact I am not a sprinter) because I was too far back.
The second sprint was a battle between Ainhoa and me and she got me by half a wheel.
Now I had nothing to lose anymore so I was sitting in the wind for the rest, 5 laps and accelerated with 400m to go. I pulled the field around and expected to get passed any second but no one came around and I won the last sprint. Ainhoa got second and thus won the points race, the track omnium and the BAR…by one point! (329 points :328 points)
One point could have been one placing better, one second faster or one pedal stroke stronger.
I don’t need to tell anyone how I feel. I knew racing Track against an incredible sprinter would be tough. Ainhoa is a great racer and it was fun racing against her this season. She is the deserved BAR champion. Congratulations, Ainhoa!!
Today, I wanted to give myself a great birthday present by winning the Championship jersey but apparently the age increase became immediately apparent.
In contrast to last time, I had no excuses.
I did some overwhelmingly un-monika-like preparation for a race. Usually I just show up and hope for the best. This time, I made sure the TT position (although on a road bike) was perfect, I borrowed a disc wheel and a nice front wheel, did even some leg openers at Hains Point the day before. This was the most preparation I ever did for a race. So I felt actually pretty confident that I could do well.
The only concern I had was my starting position…I started first. There was no single soul in front of me. No one! The 15 min break between the categories before ours made sure that I really wouldn’t see anyone. Not even those who flatted or took the wrong turn or bonked. That concerned me. I thrive through competition. I was so concerned that I even made a time sheet I could stare at to keep my motivation up or at least my mind in the race.
So I started the TT and felt already slower than during the last Church Creek earlier this year. The wind condition changed. So I rode and rode and rode and got bored and dazed off and snapped back and rode more and finally….I got passed! Jenn Rasmusson who would win and beat me by impressive four minutes or more came by. And the following thought process shows that I was mentally not in the right state. I was happy! Yes, I finally wasn’t by myself anymore and yes, I am still on the course and didn’t take the wrong turn and finally I could look at someone’s rear…the motivation lasted for about 4 minutes and then she was nowhere to beseen.
Katy Giles passed me too. I don’t even want to mention how many minutes she started behind me but by a lot! The race became a little bit more interesting since finally some people (including the Cat 1/2 guys) were around. One time I thought a car passes me…nope it was a dude with a disc wheel! He was that much faster than me! So time and pain went on and I thought I could at least make the one hour mark but nope (there are no excuses!).
So what did I learn from this experience? I don’t like to start first.
What I also learned it’s not all about equipment! At least not for me! Despite my upgrade of wheels, position, and consequential complacency I achieved a worse time than the last TT on the same course!
Moreover, I am not convinced about the disc wheel. I couldnt hear my own swoosh-swoosh sound! I was so looking forward to sounding fast! But I didn’t hear it!
All in all, I am happy though that I was able to get third, bringing a bronze medal home.
I wasn’t sure if it was my kind of race. It’s uphill –good. It’s short – bad. It didn’t take Ainhoa long to give me the answer to my question!
It was NOT my kind of race.
I lost by 20 seconds.
So you might think, not too bad. But not when I tell you I lost 20 seconds on her in eight tenths of a mile! (For clarification, no, I did not walk it!)
So how could I possibly justify 20 seconds on a 0.8 mile race? I ran through my head all the well-established and proven excuses but realized soon: There was no excuse!
When I pre-drove the course, I was intrigued. The start was on the 18% grade then flattens out a little, then kicks up again and flattens out at the end.
Yeah, apparently my strategy of going hard right from the start didn’t quite pay off, because my legs felt torn…. I guess that would be the condition one level higher than burning?
In addition to my rather lamentable look for the spectators, I couldn’t get my breathing right so I hyperventilated my way up and felt sorry for anyone who had to listen to me. It took me entire 4min and 39 seconds to get to the finish!
So…..Ainhoa who won with a respectable 20 second advantage (and broke the record) has just made my winter a little harder.
No screwing around anymore. I think it’s time to actually have a training and racing plan. My previous motto, do as many group rides and races (counting 55 as of now) as possible, doesn’t fly anymore.
However, before I can start working on my list of weaknesses in the off season, finishing the racing season takes priority.
I am probably the last person who found out but one good news I got today is I am VA State Champion… I take that!
After a tough stage race in Oregon, it was good to race in the MABRA region again. I was looking forward to see familiar faces and race in known terrain.
My legs had been dead all week. I had to cut an attempted ride on Wednesday short because my they were not responding. So the Shenandoah TT was a test of how much my legs have recovered.
The course was not flat. There were definitely some hills involved. I liked it!
A friend and I drove the course prior to the race to see what to expect, which I think was crucial to race the course right. I would call the beginning 4 miles definitely as rolling, then a false flat for about 7 miles, turnaround and then false flat downhill onto a turn to a hilly loop. The hilly loop was probably the biggest challenge of the course. The last 10k was a false flat uphill and then rolling uphill.
There were only 2 people in my category and I started second. When I passed my 30 second girl, there was no one in front of me since the Men 1,2 were ahead of us and there was no way I would catch any of them.
My initial motivation was not to get passed again but after a while when the first half of the race went really well, I extended my goal/motivation to sub-one hour. (A lot of people who raced this course probably start laughing out loud right now!). Hey, it went really well for the first 25k or so…and then I hit this hilly loop: the end to my goal #2.
Apart from a minor disturbance, my chain fell off, I tried to find a new goal for the last 4 miles. The time span thinking of one took so long that I already saw the 1k mark.
I have really started enjoying time trials and the hilly terrain made it even more fun! (I know a lot of people might disagree right now 🙂 )
Full results are here: https://www.usacycling.org/results/index.php?year=2011&id=2300&info_id=40322
Thank you, Chris, for putting on a really interesting and challenging TT course!
It’s over…6 days of racing against a tough competition. 2mi prologue, 74mi Road Race, 14mi TT, 71mi Road Race, 50min crit, and 67mi Road Race without a rest day.
Bend is great! The weather was gorgeous and the scenery is incredible. The residents are very supportive of the race. We stayed with a host family, which made it even more fun! You had a choice of 50 neutral bottles in the feed zone, where do you get that! The town is small so no matter where you go you run into other racers. I loved it!
The races were tough! We had all sort of National Champions in the stage race.We started with 105 racers on Tuesday and ended up with 64 by the end of Sunday.
Those girls are no joke! When I thought I have some sort of advantage in a race, I was proven wrong within the first few miles of the race! Any minor weakness became immediately apparent and the list is not short.
But hey, that was the perfect way to see how much training I got to do during the winter. So I am looking for a place somewhere warm, a lot of mountains, and a great cycling scene. (Any recommendations are highly appreciated)
I know what to expect at Cascades and I am coming back next year with a bigger goal in mind.
Thank you, residents of Bend, for your support, especially thanks to Sami F., Liana O., and Chuck M. for host housing and race support!