Could I keep consistent lap times? Could I make the podium? How did my skinsuit do under mountain bike conditions?
Let’s Cut to the Conclusion
Mission, possible. 2nd place, behind a super strong (pro) Debbie, and in front of a damn good field.
I’m not going to give you play by play but here are cliff notes.
Went into the woods on first lap 3/4 behind the field. I simply didn’t have the gearing to power through the start which sucks as I’m normally good at stopped starts.
Through the woods, on the brakes, riding someone’s tire, over the rock and on the gravel. Picking off girls, calling my passes and not knowing how this was happening. I was “picking girls off”???? For a few laps I tried to work with Patty Smith. She’s fast in the short track, I could help her on the gravel and road but in the end I was giving up too much time on the road not pushing hard enough. Around lap 4 I put a gap between us, holding it steady (losing 5 seconds or so on the last last lap.) I could see Debbie through the trees, but the guys winner ended up between us, ending my last lap a lap down from her. I wish I knew the time gap better before that extra lap she did.
Hard Work Means Harder Work Ahead
Yes, I am super proud of my accomplishments in a short amount of time. It is two days after the race and I still don’t believe I placed 2nd as my goals of this series was to not get lapped.
My goals are still lofty, but feel a little closer after this past weeks performance.
Today was the first time in this race series I’ve been able to sleep in. Maybe the nerves are calming down and I am realizing I don’t have to wake up at 7am to dance around in spandex all morning. Restless. Excited. Hopeful. Is today the day I’ll earn myself a place on the podium?
My goals for today are simple. Solid, consistent, lap times. I won’t be relying on the Garmin for this, but my internal clock. My heart rate, my pounding heart, and the time gaps before or after my position.
My other goal is that today is skin suit rocking weather since it is going to be under 55º! This skinsuit, TwinSix team issue, has been in my arsenal all fall long but I haven’t been able to wear it so today is the day! On a side note, I don’t know which color sports bra to wear as the kit is black/silver. Thoughts? (Yes, these are the thoughts that go through my head…I am a girl!)
Lesbi-honest.…going into this race I was super pumped but had pretty realistic expectations. My legs would be loaded and weighed down from the previous day’s threshold test, plus I had a 3 hour mountain bike ride planned for Monday. I wanted to do well, but these Short Track races aren’t goals, they are pieces of a bigger puzzle!
Pre-Race Warm Up & Getting Jacked Up
This past weekend I honed in on a Pre-Race routine. Food, music choices and even received a few really stellar songs for my playlist from Facebook friends. I timed my ride to the race a bit closer, getting there around 1:15pm. I still ended up standing around for close to 45 minutes, so I’ll need to plan on being there even later next week. The 30 minute spin to the course is perfect, utilizing a couple spin up and short sprints right before the race line up.
A few key players including Bonnie and Elsa showed up, they hadn’t been there the week previous and replaced a couple girls that kicked my arse (Jane & Sarah.) It would be interesting to see what Bonnie did to the field and how I could respond.
Go Time, BRAAAPPP
I couldn’t get clipped in off the bat, but I still settled in 3rd going into the woods. I was happy, didn’t want to push it and needed to settle into a nice rhythm as we ticked off the laps. Finding my home between Jodi and Layla, I was putting time between Jodi (behind me) and trying to stay within a few seconds of Layla’s wheel. Going into the last lap I knew if I wanted 3rd I needed to make a move. Looking at my heart rate sitting at 185, I hadn’t hit my ceiling but my legs were. My quads simply did not have the snap left in them to attack that last lap full gas. Realizing no one was behind me, I slowed down a tick so that I would still have legs under me to get me home.
Where’s Your Head At?
Several people have commented that I should have attacked the last lap, and I agree to a point. These races are part of an interval training and part of a bigger, endurance, plan. Wrecking my legs for one place, while glorious, if it means I can’t ride the next day… is pointless. Sometimes you have to lose a pawn in the long term plan of check mate.
To the 5 or 6 friends that purposely got in their car to simply be there on the side of the trail, I am super grateful and humble.
The morning routine was off. I’m not used to racing in the afternoons, so I was up and “Ready” about 3 hours earlier than I needed to be. The plan was to ride to the course around 12:15, race time at 1:50. Next week I plan on making it a lot closer as there was a lot of sitting around and getting nervous.
BRAAAPPPP, Race Time
Lining up among 9 other pretty fast women I knew I could hold a strong line in the trail, but half of a lap is on a gravel road or asphalt parking lot. At the moment of go I settled in quickly. My starts from cyclocross paid off , though I could have easily been 2-3 in to the woods and I was comfortably seated behind fast girl, Sarah Matchett, in maybe 5-6th position. I was faster in the woods, she was faster on the straights. 9 laps, Sarah left me in her dust after the first lap. I settled into my heart rate, trying not to spew Perpetuam all over as it was 70 or so degrees. My body wasn’t used to zone 4/5 in these temperatures!!
Slowly I was picking girls off. My lap times were pretty consistent, but not as consistent as I would like. A goal for the series is to find my “pace” so that my lap times get faster, not slower, as we tick them off. I found myself in 4th with two girls within eye sight behind me. Going through the finish line with “Two laps to go!” I was trying to hit a hard effort through the parking lot and look across to the finish line to see the two girls being lapped by the finisher of single speed. I still had a lap to go, but does that mean they are done? Do I just need to stay up right?? With a fear of them working together and chasing after me I kept going. Not full effort, but pretty hard.
Improvement is Motivation
Pulling through the finish in 4th out of 10 pretty fast women I feel ecstatic with my results, along with knowing internally I’ve only been training “consistently” since Thanksgiving time. I’m sure these girls aren’t on their top game, but it feels pretty good to be in front of girls that have normally lapped me in the past! I realize it isn’t a true Expert field or length, but my goals of being able to CAT up this year to Expert seem a bit more obtainable!
Amazing motivation to continue to hit training hard, listen to my coach and make healthy decisions. I can say this is my best start of a racing season ever and the most overwhelmed feeling of encouragement and motivation from my friends.
Your first of a season are always nerve wracking. First group ride. First wreck. First long ride and so on. First are scary for the unknown and for the stress you put on yourself.
Tomorrow is my first race of 2013. The first race of the Charlotte Winter Short Track Series. A training race if you could call it that. A 45 minute interval set in the middle of a 3 hour ride. Riding to the course, pre-ride, race, and then another hour of riding after.
I can tell you now that I’m nervous, but in a healthy “I can’t wait to get my adrenaline pumping” kind of way. This afternoon, after I drive home from Chattanooga/Atlanta, I’ll be swapping out a front tire and riding down to the course to preview. From there I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, I don’t know where my legs stand against the girls that will show up and in a hyper focused way – I’m not too worried. This short track series holds so meaning to me and I’m super stoked to be able to race all 5 Sundays of the series!
This is going to totally happen this year. Now the question is, who’s going to drag me around??
A 50 mile road race featuring 10 miles of unpaved roads including the Koppenberg of the High Country will test riders, while the breathtaking scenery and unmatched hospitality will combine to make for one of the most memorable races of the year.
Super decent price ($35) and I would guess the ride will sell out.
On March 4th, 2013, timing around the National Bike Summit, the League of American Bicyclists are hosting the second annual National Women’s Bicycling Forum. I asked Carolyn, Director of Communications at the League of American Bicyclists, some follow up questions to learn more about what the League has planned for this Forum!
About the National Women’s Bicycling Forum
Join hundreds of fellow advocates and enthusiasts who are working to engage more women in bicycling at our next Women Bike event! Register now for the second annual National Women’s Bicycling Forum on March 4, 2013 in Washington, D.C.!
With a theme of “Women Mean Business,” this all-day event will showcase women leaders and entrepreneurs in the bicycle industry and highlight the economic impact and rising influence of women in the bicycle movement. (The Forum will end before the start of the National Bike Summit.)
With an opening keynote address from Georgena Terry, break-out sessions, lunch plenary, networking and so much more, the Women’s Forum will be an opportunity to learn, connect and network with advocates and leaders from across the country who are working to close the gender gap in American bicycling.
Both women AND men are encouraged to attend!
A Recap of the First National Women’s Bicycling Forum
Carolyn: The first National Women’s Bicycling Forum was really a toe in the water — it was a first attempt to bring the discussion about gender to the forefront and gauge the interest and trajectory of where that conversation could take us at the national level.
First, we tried to pour a number of different perspectives into a two-hour panel. With incredible speakers like Elysa Walk (GM of Giant Bicycle USA), Marla Streb (former world mountain bike champion) and Veronica Davis (founder of Black Women Bike DC) some incredible insight floated to the top — but it was crystal clear that tackling “women in bicycling” is NOT a single conversation. It’s an ocean of content!
Secondly, the response was a tidal wave. We packed the room with more than 300 people, all of whom were just buzzing with excitement and ideas and energy to keep the conversation going. So the take-away was simple: A two-hour forum is just the first drop in a really big bucket. In September, we expanded to a full-day event with more sessions with more specific content, like family biking and marketing to women. In 2013, we’re expanding and sustaining that effort with a full-time program, so we can compile and create new resources, share stories and work on targeted strategies to increase the number of women riding, in between these killer events.
What are the Main Reasons the League is Putting Energy into this Forum?
Carolyn: The Women Bike initiative is really part of a more big-picture effort by the League to change the face of bicycling — or better represent and include the voices of the many diverse communities and people who ride. Clearly, since we’re 50 percent of the population, we need to engage more women if we want to mainstream / normalize bicycling as a means of transportation (like we see in European countries) and recreation, too. And it’s not just about equity in numbers — our voices our powerful. Women are role models for the next generation, decision makers for their households, persuasive political constituencies and ingenious entrepreneurs. Bringing more women into all aspects of the bicycle movement, from lobbying on Capitol Hill to designing product at major bicycle manufactures, is in everyone’s best interests.
What is the Second Annual Forum Focused On?
Carolyn: The second annual National Women’s Bicycling Forum on March 4 in Washington, D.C. With a theme of “Women Mean Business,” we’re focusing on how the industry and retailers are working to close the gender gap and highlighting efforts that are changing the culture of cycling in new and innovative ways.
The speaker line-up is off the chain: Georgena Terry, Jacquie Phelan, leaders Red Bike & Green, reps from industry leaders like Specialized, Giant and ASI; editors from Bicycle Times and Momentum; the founder of Cyclofemme; the woman behind the nation’s largest bike share systems… and so many more. And we mean business when it comes to making this event accessible to all. Bring your kids: We’ll have free childcare. If the $85 registration fee is a barrier, apply for a scholarship.
It’s that time of the year that I’m doing slower and longer miles, mostly by myself. Having lots of time to think through intervals and the long road in front of me I seem to reflect the most on the bike from January to March due to the speed and lack of companionship (my choice.)
Yesterday I struggled through my workout for many reasons. #1 As I’m getting towards the end of a couple blocks and haven’t had a threshold test so I’m stronger than where my zones are set. #2 The gearing on a cross bike with slicks is much different than a standard compact. It’s my own doing and I can fix both of these things. Regardless, the workout left me frustrated with finding the right gear and terrain for workouts.
Today I entered my 2.5 hour ride with a bit more optimism. Without any intervals to chase after I stopped looking at the Garmin page that listed watts and went off my Perceived Exertion scale that I have internally built in me from 15 years of cycling. I focused on pedaling strokes, enjoying jumping the potholes and digging deep into the turns.
Then I focused on shifting.
Shifting covers so many pieces of our lives. Often in cycling I find that I allow myself to sit in the gear I’m in. Maybe even falling behind the cadence I need to turn over my gear comfortable. Then there is the fear of the shift to a harder gear as it may be too hard. Maybe I’ll need to shift back? Maybe there will be a miss shift at the wrong moment or maybe it will show that I’m weak?
Shifting gears is as much about the mental feeling as it is the physical. Picking up your cadence and finding that you can push the new, harder, gear just as well as the easier. Your speed increases and often, especially off road, you find that it is easier to ride at this faster pace as momentum and speed is your friend.
Much of life is learning when to shift, when to push yourself, when to be happy with your pace or when to slow down. As I pedal around for the next couple months my thoughts will be focusing on the shift. Shifting the bike, shifting my mind and shifting how I live my life.
It’s an amazing thing, the first day of a new year and everything that it allows a human to feel. You are able to have closure for the year past and take a deep breath to move forward into the next 365 days of progress.
First to Look at Personal Ties
Behind the scenes I took the past week to plot out a lot of restructure, efficiencies and honestly cleaning out clutter (including storage with lots of wheels for sale!)
Pulling back from the things that stretch me thin with small results and honing down on key things for more impact. Turning my personal life more to an in person life, while still utilizing social media aspects in my personal life. I’m focusing more on push channels such as Instagram, Spotify and Twitter which pushes out my content (or consuming music which pushes out the feed of what I am listening to.) An outsiders view of my Facebook wall will look active, populated with photos from Instagram or Flickr, my Spotify tunes in the corner, and morning inspirational quotes that I am timing out through Hootsuite two weeks at a time to deliver around 7am EST to both my personal Facebook and Twitter accounts. I won’t be on Facebook though, I won’t be sucked into looking at hundreds of photos, liking post or reading random post that get me riled up and losing time that I didn’t have to lose.
Pushing Bike Shop Girl into 2013
In the past I’ve spoken about finding my words for Bike Shop Girl now that I work as a rep within the industry. Reviews have to be sparse, advertising limited as I’m really trying to promote local bike shops, and I don’t want this outlet to only be a personal blog for rants (those will always be apart of the structure.)
Motivation, Inspiration and Empowerment
Three words to live by in our daily life. To leave this world a better place then we found it, that is how we all should look back at our life!
In 2013 my goal is to motivate, inspire and empower you as a cyclist and maybe even a bit as a human being. We are an interesting group, those that chose two wheels for hobby, transportation or passion. At the end we use the same style of vehicle to move us forward in life. Let’s all pull together and focus on making our community stronger, smarter and safer.
Design and Feel
One of the pieces that kept me up late over the past few weeks was the look and feel of Bike Shop Girl for 2013 to support the above goals. What will the site look like, a personal blog, a magazine and how will that flow? I’m pulling in a couple friends to consult on this and you should see the end result soon.
While I’m still focused on women, I realize that guys will come along for the ride. All of us need motivated, inspired and empowered! Looking at the demographic of my followers on Facebook it is split pretty evenly women to men. The reviews, product and mission of this site is not changing, but you may see more guys writing as guest authors.
Guest and Monthly Columns
Bringing in guest writers and friends to author columns will be part of reaching more computer screens, minds, interest and people.
Focusing on specific topics for a week, month or quarter of time. The first series will be from now through first quarter focused on keeping people riding when the weather is crappy. Articles of motivation, tips to keep your bike running, ideas of staying warm and maybe just great photos of playing in the snow.
If you are interested in helping feel free to drop me a line! arleigh at gmail.com
Let’s Do This!
Keep the words flowing, keep the ideas and questions pushing at me. Let’s make 2013 our best year yet, together we can motivate, inspire and empower each other.