In the last newsletter we were playing catch up on our summer and now we’re into fall, already three weeks into the cyclocross season. For the first time ever, this year I have earned a title sponsor, Bob’s Red Mill, which will allow me to pursue a full season of elite level competition with hopes to qualify for the World Championships in Germany. In case you missed it the first time, check out the press release from Bob’s Red Mill here.
This will be the first season that I am able to pursue the full USGP of Cyclocross Series as well as several other elite level events. This ambitious schedule of events will require extensive travel around the US, an increased training schedule and sponsorship commitments. Over the past few seasons, I’ve come to realize that working full time on my feet doing deep tissue massage five days a week is probably not the best way for me to recover from racing, travel and training. However, working full time and fundraising have been the only ways that I have been able to afford to race at all. Having a title sponsor makes things even that much sweeter when it means that starting the last week in September, I will be reducing my business hours to part time for the duration of the 2010 cyclocross season. It’s a little bit scary but really exciting to see what kind if improvements I can make this season.
Before my cyclocross season began, Matt had one last item on his To Do list before it got to tire-gluing time! On August 23rd, in conditions that could only be described as unrelenting, Matt set the first ever Maine West to East cross-state record. In 15 mph daylong headwinds, Matt rode from Fryeburg to the easternmost point in the United States at Quoddy Head State Park, near Lubec, covering 248.3 miles and ascending more than 16,000 feet, in 14 hour and 45 minutes. It was an incredibly tough day for Matt but he now holds the North to South and West to East records for the state of Maine! Our good friend and MM Racing photographer, Natasha Boltukhova of PedalPower Photography fame, put together an amazing stills video of Matt’s monster ride. You can check it out on here on Vimeo.
Speaking of Vimeo, Matt posted a video compiling my 2009/2010 ‘cross season. He put this together for our raffle night at the Ride Studio Cafe back in April. Watching this makes me want the mud to start flying now! Check it out here.
After wrapping up a summer vacation with some big miles on the mountain bike at the Kingdom Trails in East Burke, VT, I switched to the skinnier tires of the ‘cross bike. To get back into the swing of things, I kicked off the start of the cyclocross season with some regional training races. The first trip was to Pennsylvania for the Nittany Lion Cross race where I placed second on a hot, fast, dry and dusty course. Next up was the hilly state of Vermont for a challenging race that played out like a grassy time trial. I placed third in a 2-up sprint for second edged out at the line. Check out the coverage of these races on Cyclingnews here and here. The folks at Bob’s Red Mill have also posted a recent update on their blog following the race in Vermont.
The next trip took some serious planning and logistics and would not have been possible without the support and sponsorship from Bob’s Red Mill and my other sponsors.
The highlight of the Interbike Trade Show in Las Vegas is the nighttime cyclocross race that takes place under the lights on the grounds of a soccer complex. We arrived in Vegas midday Tuesday and after a battle with the folks at the airport shuttle services, finally got a cab to fit the bike bag and luggage to take us to our hotel/casino.
From the 98-degree dry desert air, into the smoky slot machine filled lobby and then into our recycled air-conditioned air hotel room, we began the Las Vegas adventure. After a ridiculous attempt to walk somewhere to find lunch (apparently, no one walks outside because the air is downright hostile) we settled for a Mexican chain restaurant at another hotel/casino, hot, exhausted and feeling puffy-legged from our day of travel. Later that day, feeling sufficiently trapped inside the hotel room, we actually had a nice relaxing rest by the pool until the sun began to set and I could get out on the bike for a spin.
That night we headed over to the Lazer Oasiz party at the Hard Rock Café for a poolside soiree where we met up with sponsors and fellow racers. The three-hour time difference sent us home from the party before witnessing any “whatever happens in Vegas…”
The following day I went for an early ride before the sun got too hot and then we hit up the Interbike trade show to meet up with some sponsors before getting a quick lunch in the hotel/casino lobby and then I rested up for the race that night under the lights! At 8:30 PM I lined up with many of the top racers in the US to duke it out in the desert air for 40 minutes of fast, flat, painful racing. Unsure of how all of my summer training would translate into the fast pace of the ‘cross races, I hoped for a strong race. I spent much of the race with three other riders, not too far from the lead group. We were all trying to find places to get away from one another but it came down to a last corner sprint where I finished lucky 13th with a hacking cough and a voice that sounded like I had just smoked a pack of cigarettes from the lack of moisture in the air. Vegas, baby!
USGP Rounds 1 & 2 – Planet Bike Cup
The following day we left the “magical” land of Las Vegas and headed to the wholesome prairie lands of Wisconsin where the Planet Bike Cup would kick off the 8-race USGP National Series with two races in Madison. Ahhh…lush green fields, fresh food markets and people walking outdoors – that’s more like it!
We arrived at our hotel in Madison and relaxed for the evening making dinner in our kitchen suite. We even managed to squeeze in a trip to the hotel pool. The next day I headed to the race course for inspection and to loosen up the legs for a weekend of blistering fast races. On Friday I was able to inspect the course and meet Renee Callaway, the Regional Director of the USGP Planet Bike Cup. Renee had contacted me a week earlier to award me with one of the Women’s Travel Grants for the Wisconsin USGP event. The grant program was established by Renee to assist elite women with their travel expenses to the event. When I met Renee, I found that she was not only the event director and grant organizer, she was also hammering stakes into the ground and setting up the racecourse… amazing!
The best part about booking a hotel with a kitchen is being able to make breakfast before the races. As many athletes have their superstitions and rituals, food is definitely one of those things to keep consistent. Good news for my sponsor Bob’s Red Mill, I have made steel cut oats part of my morning ritual and I’m convinced that it’s the best pre-race meal ever!
Saturday’s race was fast and aggressive and although I had a decent start, a first lap crash set me back a few places. Sometimes a simple crash can just shift your momentum and my lack of aggressive recovery led me to spend the remainder of the day chasing the leaders but unable to close the gaps, finishing 9th for the day. Cyclocross Magazine and Cyclingnews coverage can be found here and here.
Sunday’s race played out much the same as the day before, minus the crash. The course was changed up to be even a bit faster. It was a straightforward race… simply stay on the gas. I had a much better start and pushed the pace as much as I could to stay in the top group although a few small errors was all it took to allow small time gaps to open up. Halfway through the race, the field had pulled apart with 10 and 20 second gaps between riders that few seemed able to close down. I finished the race in 10th. I was somewhat disappointed in my overall performances to start the season but hopeful that my training plan will have me building up speed as the season progresses and when the mud shows up, it will make things that much more fun!