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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Taking chances

My teacher from the homeschooling program I go to would just shake his head when seeing this title because it is so cliche; and although it sounds like a title of a cheesy romance movie, you just need to bear with me. This blog is not going to be cliche or romantic, but the title does sum up the message.

A couple of weeks ago, I raced the famous Berkeley Hills road race. I had ridden the course once before, but hardly remembered it, so the fam and I drove it the night before. While doing so, I was thinking, "Wow, this course is awesome... I think I can do really well tomorrow!". When we drove over the Three Bears, I thought, "Those are nothing! I will be able to spin right up them." Totally jazzed, I went to bed that night looking forward (maybe with a little to much eagerness) to race the next day.

After the crazy (but usual), get up, get dressed in five minutes, and rush to breakfast, then rush to the car, and speed along the highway, we made it alive to the start of the race.  I was even more jazzed when I saw the familiar kits of Vanderkitten and Now and Novartis. I always love the challenge of racing with the big girls! I signed up, warmed up, got a few tips from Beth Newell, then was off racing the Berkeley hills road race in the W1/2/3 category.

I look super happy at the start, but trust me, I did not look like this at the end.
I made sure I was on the right wheels, and in the right places, at the right times. I made it through the first few rollers and attacks, then before I knew it, we were at the base of the three bears climb. I was climbing... my heart rate was spiking, yet everyone was pulling ahead of me... I am pedaling backwards... the top is almost here.. almost... try to catch the next group.. ERR!!!

I watched the peleton pull away in the distance, while feeling helpless and cursing my legs, left in their dust...  I was not planning on finishing the race after that, but I was going to make myself do at least 3 laps. The rest of the race I was thinking, "ouch, ouch, ouch.....", with every pedal stroke "ouch, ouch, ouch". I was literally hobbling along. Half way into the second lap, I was caught by a Los Gatos rider. She was kind enough to let me sit on her wheel... the draft was like an oasis in a hot desert. At the end of the third lap, I was so ready to finish my race. Yet something was telling me to go on, not to stop... so on I went. In my 4 years of racing (130 races) I have only DNFed twice. So I think part of it was motivation to keep it at two for awhile longer, and the other part was just to get a good workout. A lap later, I was climbing up the Third Bear, hardly anyone was at the finish. I crossed the line, and felt a huge relief, I also felt zonked out of my mind. Yes, I still love this course, and I am definitely looking forward to next year.

Last weekend, was Folsom Criterium and Memorial Day Criterium. Both days I raced a W3 race and a W1/2/3 race. Both W1/2/3 races were so much fun, filled with so many attacks throughout the race. At Folsom, 2 riders got off the front in the last few laps. They were within sight. Before the first turn I thought, "Hmm. Maybe I can catch them". So I attacked going into the turn and immediately got a gap, which surprised me. I was so close to them, maybe within 4 bike lengths, just killing myself, before they picked the pace up and my legs said, "enough's enough!". Memorial day went down the same way, lots of attacks. I found myself bridging gaps, all in all, just having  a great time!

So the moral of the story is: to improve, you need to do the work. It does not come from sitting in the back and sprinting at the finish. Improvement comes from being in a little over your head, like at Berkeley Hills, but not dropping (and of course keeping a positive attitude). It comes from killing yourself and bridging attacks, or attacking. Improvement comes from taking chances. For me cycling is not about being on the podium every single race, it is a much larger picture. It is the hope of eventually being on a larger team, racing NRC races, and racing in Europe. All of this requires taking chances.

Now onto some news! This year I will not be at Nationals because I am going to race a huge Jr. stage race in Rimouski, Canada. Both are in July, so it would be to much traveling for me and also too expensive for me to do both. Here is the link to the site:

This is a huge trip, and I will be needing all the help I can get! Anything would be much appreciated! This is the site that you could donate to:

Thank you all for your support! Next up: Jr state TT championships!