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Going into the first race of the Charlotte Winter Short Track series I was nervous and unsure. How shell’ed off the back would I get? Would I clog up the berms for the fast single speed boys that needed to blow past me?
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.
Photo Credit: CLTPhotography.com
If you are a contant reader you will know my love of Strava. It keeps me motivated, up to date with my friends rides across the world and technology makes my world go around.
When I visit new places (which is weekly) I’m always trying to find new rides, routes and cue sheets. Using a split of Google, Garmin Connect and Map my Ride I’ve been doing okay. But now, Strava is allowing me download peoples routes to upload into my Garmin! I can dominate QOM’s all day long now.
This is the time of year that all you want to do is ride your bike, not take it in for maintenance. One of my favorite things I would tell good clients was to ride the bike to the shop for a quick check over. Make it part of a monthly or quarterly event. As long as there isn’t anything rattling or falling off you’ll be able to ride there, tell them exactly what might be acting different since you JUST rode it, example “the rear is shifting slow going to easier gears” or “my crank clicks going up hill.” It also makes it so the shop understands you don’t want to leave your bike there. *Normally calling a head and making sure your favorite mechanic is okay with this would be recommended, along with bringing their favorite 6 pack.*
Fastest wearing items on a bike:
- Bar tape/grips
- Seals on suspension (fork and shock)
Using Strava for Bike Maintenace
While I am a data geek, and spend too much time on Strava I have found that it is also an easy way for you to keep track of your equipment. Depending on your riding style you are normally able to start gauging how quickly you wear your equipment. It is also a good reminder of getting check overs. I’m able to look back since the first of the year and figure out what bikes have the most milage, do a mental check of which bikes have gotten love and which haven’t. Even if it is as simple as checking chain lube, tire wear and chain stretch. It will help save you money and headache as the season rolls on.
The goal from my coach today was 3.5-4 hours on the bike I’ll be racing next week at Burn 24. Every 30 minutes do 5 minutes of tempo leading into 5 minutes of threshold. My personal goal was to do 45 minute loops on the various trails at Lake Norman. Swinging by the car to dial in my new shoes and test out the 4 different saddles I brought with me.
Probably not the smartest thing to do a week before a 24 hour race, new shoes and new saddle. Yet, I seemed to find a good place for my rear on a Specialized Ruby saddle that I had picked up earlier this week at Motion Makers in Asheville. The new shoes, Specialized MotoDiva, still need dialing but mainly cleat position as the plate underneath is much different than that of my old Bontragers.
The ride was cut short with stomach issues and my legs dying by the 3rd round of threshold. 2.5 hours, one hour short, but I came home. Propping my legs up and getting a good nights rest. Tomorrow is another 4 hours on the mountain bike, planning on hitting up North Meck park for a ton of laps to test out the new lights.
My background in marketing and sales management have been specifically highlighted with my love of analytics, report running and data mining. I love theories, graphs and making decisions by gut and knowledge. (More gut than knowledge.)
Now, I don’t go as extreme with numbers around training as I do with marketing and sales..but it’s close. Normally I’m NOT tracking every movement, gear usage and PSI of tires or suspension pressure on EVERY ride. (I have my moments when I go through that cycle, mostly when I have a new bike to dial in.) For the past few years I’ve used Training Peaks for my HRM or in years past my power device, a Power Tap about 10 years ago. In roughly 2006 the invention of the Garmin GPS training unit for bicycling opened my eyes to what you can learn from data. From the ascents, decents, temperature and such, over laid with your speed, cadence and possibly power. You really turn yourself into a machine!
Welcome Strava, social media for bike rides
Two years ago I first heard of Strava. I didn’t really get it, another site to track your GPS files. They had put a bunch of pro’s on the site, and I feel like there was only a paid version when it first started. In the beginning of the year when I purchased my new Garmin Edge 800 I started uploading some files to Strava when I remembered. It was cool as it tracked my data, and also compared it to my friends.
Strava Segments are Virtual Group Rides
I ride my bike alone most of the time. My job makes my ride hours vary, and I don’t like the extra stress of having set rides too often with groups. Two months ago Strava started the coolest things called segments. Basically it overlays your GPS file with set parts of trails, roads, or whatever to show how you compare to other Strava users on that section. Some examples are from the base of a climb to the top, or a full loop of a specific trail system.
It really excites me to try different places, or when I visit new places to do rides around these segments I can find on Strava.com. Comparing myself to others that have done that ride, climb, descent or loop. You can also make your own segments to see how you are improving. If you have a loop that you use for recovery, or maybe for testing purposes – this is a great function.
Ease of Use and Design
Strava has done a few things very cool and user friendly with their design.
Uploading is super simple. The first time you click Upload Activity it asks to download this sync thing. You don’t ever have to open it again, everytime you go to upload it finds your Garmin and all activity you haven’t uploaded this far.
No software needed. As noted above it downloads (what I think is a cookie) the first time you try to upload. I am able to upload from my laptop and desktop, not needing to open any software other than the internet browser I already use.
Stats and Activities are clean. Rides, performance, averages and such are easy to find on your profile. It also will compare you to someone else when you click on their profile.
Strava on your iPhone or Android
Strava functions mostly off Garmin but they have really great phone apps that will track and upload straight from it! This is an easy way to get into the social group ride without plunking down on a Garmin.
This is super handy also as every once in a blue moon I’ll forget my Garmin or forget to charge it. I don’t miss tracking a ride when this happens!
Other notes of Strava
Follow me on Strava!
I recently upgraded to Premium mainly as I’ll be adding a Powertap to my arsenal soon, the site has a great Powertap analysis and keeper of data for later use.
You can also do all of the above for running as well! Pretty handy for triathletes or runners that want to get social with their runs!
I wasn’t paid or even asked to write this by Strava. Simply really digging the design and use of the site!