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Monday, July 18, 2011

"Bless those who fall off and get back on again!"-Rachel Wolford (Traficante)

 Every time I would fall off a horse, my Mom would always make me ride it again. Every time I fell, I would get back in the saddle. So when I crashed at the Davis 4th of July crit, the first thing I thought about doing (after I got over the shock of crashing) was to hop on my bike and proceed to race. After realizing that I could NOT get back in my saddle again, because it was totally bent, I felt like I was going to explode and burst into millions of pieces. I was mad. And frustrated. I cried. One of my objectives, after nationals, was to become more aware of my positioning when I race. I came to the Davis crit, yearning to begin to master my new goal, and I couldn't. This is what most upset me, when I crashed out.

I was eager for my next race, the Lodi Crit. Most people would think that I would feel a little intimidated, in fear that I might crash again, I didn't.  I wanted to race and I wanted to start achieving my goal. I wasn't going to let the fear of crashing get in my way. Crashing is part of this sport, you either deal with it and know its going to happen, or you run home with your tail in-between your legs!!!

The Lodi course was fun to race, it had 8 corners and looked like a figure-eight! The night before the race, Mark and I went out to practice cornering skills, that are very essential to know, especially with this type of course. Learning thoughs skills definitely helped me the next day. I was close to the front the whole race, and ended up getting 10th place (I also won 7 bucks)!

The thing is, when I race, and do well in the race... I WANT TO RACE MORE!!! I was supposed to take last weekend off from racing, that didn't happen! I ended up down in Berkeley, last Sunday, racing the Berkeley crit. Now this course is also fun! It is simply 4 corners, but within the 4 corners is a false flat, a smallish climb and a downhill section. The start/finish line is on the down hill section, after the first turn you run into the false flat. If you do not pedal through the second corner, and get up out of the saddle, that little hill on the back side of the course, is going to feel a lot harder then it looks! After you go around the 3rd turn you begin to slightly go downhill, then the 4th corner brings you to the start/finish line.

I am proud to say that in most races I am in the first 5 people, working the race, but I am prouder to say that I REALLY worked my BUTT off in this race! As usual, I was in the top 5 people most of the time. The rest of the time I was either, pulling the group, attacking, counter attacking, or covering attacks! Until the last two laps, I was working. The last two laps were fast! I lost the positioning I wanted to have, but still came in 7th place!

I learned a lot from those races, and after the Berkeley crit, I am even more on fire to race again, soon. Even though I was not physically back in the saddle, after I crashed at Davis, I already mentally was; and it paid off in my last two races.

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Nationals!

Confidence is what I felt before Nationals. All year long I have been training for these three days I would race against girls from all over the country. I did not know how strong the girls I would race against were,  but I knew my own strength; which was more valuable.

The first  race was the road race. I felt excited beforehand, not nervous. I also felt confident. Soon after the whistle blew and the race had begun, my excited, confident feeling began to fade. I began to feel  apprehensive and jumpy. Some of the girls were very scary to ride behind. The random lateral movements caused me to feel apprehensive and I soon found myself jumping at every sudden movement. Girls were screaming and crashing all around me. There were many times when I, also, came close to crashing. Every now and then I'd get boxed in and feel like I couldn't move.

 Apprehension had consumed my mind. I let all of that chaos get to me, instead of doing something about it. What could I have done differently? Well, I could have said, "I'm not going to let their crazy riding get to me!" and then could have found out a way to get to the front of the peleton and stay there. I received 13th place when I rolled in across the finish line. By the end of the day, I knew what I was going to do differently for the criterium: stay on the front and keep the pace fast.

I was very relieved that the time trial was the next day. I would be on my own and I liked that idea especially after my experience at the road race. I just needed a day out on my own, to recollect. The day of the time trial dawned. It began to rain when I was warming up, but as I got off the trainer, the sun came out. The weather was perfect. I was ready to ride.

There was a lot of time before my start so I moseyed on down to where the roll-out would be. Most of the other girls were there, also. I struck up a conversation with a girl who rode for Frazier Cycling. In mid conversation, my race number was called. I scooted my bike over to the man who called my number, and he rolled out my bike, then I sat in line.

The first girl was off! Then in 30 second intervals two more girls took of before it was my turn. I was called up, I took a deep breath and exhaled. I pushed my bike up to the starting line. The seconds seemed to draw on like hours, I was anxious to be released into, what was going to be the hardest 10k in my life.

Then suddenly there was only 10 seconds to go. The last 10 seconds seemed to fly by a little too quickly! My eyes were glued on the clock. 5, 4, 3, 2, and precisely at 1, I gave a large HEAVE and was off and rolling! I did not have my cycling computer so I don't know what my exact speed was, but I was going fast, that's for sure! I was amazed, already in the first half mile two girls were in sight! Soon I zipped past them. In a couple more minutes, another girl was in eyesight, and in know time at all, I was past her.
I could see it, it was small but growing larger; it was the finish line. I pushed harder and harder, my speed kept excelling; and soon, I was also, past the finish line. 4th to start, and 1st back.

I slowly cruised around to cool down then went back to the finish line to find my parents. I was currently 3rd. I was excited and just kept hoping the results would stay the same. What happened next was like a dream, girl after girl came speeding in and it was difficult to watch the clock and see if their time had beat mine or not. I was pushed back into 6th place. The most frustrating part was that the girl in 5th place was only 3 seconds ahead of me... 3 SECONDS!!! Well that's time trialing for you, every little second counts.

Afterwards, I was a little disappointed, but soon realized that all of the other girls who placed ahead of me were on time trial bikes. If there was a Merchx's division at nationals, I would have placed 1st!!! I also realized, my time was not to far behind the 1st place winner! After that, I was proud of my time!

My plan for the criterium was to keep the race fast and get a top 10 finish. I accomplished both! I'd rather work my butt off in a race and get a top 10 finish, then sit in the whole time, not doing any work then win at the end. The course was simple, just a big rectangle; but the roads were nasty! There was potholes and bumps all over!

The race was fast, one other girl and I kept the pace up. I was surprised at how many attacks and counter attacks there were! I experienced some in the W4 races, but not as many as I experienced in that race! On the last lap, I had good positioning. On the final corner a girl swung in front of me, almost pushing me into the gutter, causing my to slow down. I soon had my speed up, I then just put my head down and hammered all the way to the finish line.

I came out of that race feeling great! Not only did I get 10th place after working the front most of the race, I also helped my teammate, Skylar win the race!

Triumph is what I felt after Nationals. I had worked very hard in the time trial and criterium, and was happy with my placings. I feel honored, I get to race with a group of very hardcore girls! These are the best in the country. I am already looking forward to racing with them next year. I now know what to expect out of these girls, and I will be ready for it!