The first races of the 2014 NECX season have been posted to Bikereg. Like a freak, I’ve been obsessively checking the site a few times a week. Finally a few days ago, The first races of the season were posted: Monson and Blunt Park.
A lot of people feel August is too early for CX. I’m not such a purist. With my schedule–I am quite happy for an opportunity for the season to start early.
August 23, 2014 CompEdge Cyclocross Race in
Monson, MA pretty tough–eating tires and spitting them out. Last year it was a hot, dry dust bowl. I felt like there was a film of dirt in my mouth by the third lap. Very technical race, very fun. still being built. Complaints abut last year’s course has prompted organizers to move the venue to Forest Park in Springfield. It’s still supposed to be a rough and tumble course, just not as tire – eating as Monson.
August 24, 2014 Blunt Park Cyclocross Race in Springfield, MA I didn’t do this race last year. I hear it’s fast, fast, fast–a course that doesn’t really favor me. I’ll take the technical stuff over the flat and fast any day. I doubt I’ll do this one.
September 6, 2014 Big Elm Brewing Cyclocross Challenge in Great Barrington, MA This race had the great misfortunate of being scheduled last year during the same weekend as the Gloucester Gran Prix. The turnout was less than 100 racers. This year it’s been moved up so the turnout should be much improved.
September 7, 2014 Quad CX in Maynard, MA This isn’t posted yet but I’m 99% sure this is the date. This race was SO FUN last year. Fast spots, twisty, turny, technical, and loads of fun. Turnouts are strong being in Metrowest of Boston. I’d really like to do this one again.
September 13, 2014 Aetna Silk City Cyclocross in Manchester, CT The first race I ever did! In 2012 it was pretty technical. In 2013, it was a freaking mountain bike course with all the gnar it had. Not for the faint of heart! But a great race. Unfortunately I don’t think my schedule will allow me to race it, but I might drive down and watch Heather if she signs up.
The rest isn’t scheduled yet, but we already know Gloucester is happening the last weekend of September (27-28), Followed by Providence CX Festival my birthday weekend October 4-5. Northampton CSIcx will likely fall on it’s regular weekend too, November 1-2.
With cyclocross season starting up at the end of August, that means by mid July I’ll be switching to the Kona almost exclusively. I still need to invest in some file treads, and then there’s a the singlespeed cx bike–which still needs parts and to be built.
It’ll be a busy summer….
After the start….
I stole these from the organizer’s Facebook Page–hope he doesn’t mind–it was a great race! I’m #3677 in the black BIKE CAFE kit.
Tonight I learned a friend from high school passed away. We we not close, but she was on Facebook, I was on Facebook, and she actively shared her life with that community.
This sad event has given me some pause, as I read the outpouring of kind words of remembrance on her page. She always seemed overwhelmingly positive, openly expressing her joy with her fiancée, her small dog, and they life they had carved out together. I had gathered from her posts that she was dealing with a long term illness as she mentioned several times through the years about going to Mass General for procedures or treatments. She frequently dealt with migraines and fatigue as well. Beyond that, I do not know what she was fighting, but today she passed away in her sleep.
We all make plans and have dreams, and by this point in life we realize that the plans we once had might not work out the way we hoped. Some off us get distracted, are led astray, get wrapped up in careers and marriages that don’t always go the way we wanted. Some of us think that if we had just a little more money we’d be happier, or if we had a different job, or more time, we’d do those things we always wanted to. We’d see our family more. We’d reach out to our own communities. We’d give back more. We’d serve these people in our lives they way we want to, if we had the time.
I feel this way constantly, and this death has snapped these feelings into the front of my mind to deal with. They have been lingering in the background, growing larger as I advance into my forties, but the death of a peer really pushes them forward for me. I feel like a wait a lot. I don’t like waiting. I feel confined by my situation often. That’s a shitty way to feel about a relatively awesome life.
One thing I feel I’ve gotten right, with regard to living this life, is cycling. Pursuing this passion has made me a happier person. It’s been a companion through hard times, and happy times. Cycling helps me, heals me, makes me stronger, and invigorates my spirit. I think I’m proud to be a cyclist because I wasn’t always one. I decided to be one.
But even more important than the bike, I have an AMAZING son who I’m immeasurably grateful for. He is a sweet, generous, bright kid and I’m so very proud of him. I have a modest home in a fine neighborhood in a decent town. I have a job. I have a cat, and although he wakes me up to be feed and let out at 4am every day, I love him too. But I’d be lying if I said I don’t constantly, and I mean constantly, whirl my brain around the things that I want to change but don’t feel I can. The passing of this classmate really illustrates that life needs to be lived. Things don’t matter, people do. People and experiences, kindness, learning, and love. Love matters most of all.
Saturday was the planned #bikeschool New England ride. Somehow, I was to be the co-leader of this ride. I found a route, rode a recon ride, recorded it for everyone to check out. My co-partner in climb, Lou, created the event on Eventbrite and we both shared the hell out of it on social media. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t cooperating and we called the ride off. But the group got together anyway to enjoy brunch at Sylvester’s in Northampton, MA and chat about bikes.
My childcare had fallen through for the day anyway–so I was happy not to miss the ride, even though we all ended up missing it. We all strolled around Northampton afterwards, and a couple of us had our kids along–who were appropriately kid-like.
We all had a great time and it was nice to meet some “virtual” friends from the Twitterverse. I’m sure we will reschedule out ride for another time–hopefully the weather gods will be kinder next time.
In like a lion, out like a lamb.
Here we are mid-February and in the Northeast we have oh–about 3 feet of snow on the ground. Cycling outside has been curbed significantly. The trainer has been avoided, mostly because it’s the trainer. And even running has been difficult due to icy streets, sub zero temperatures, and my complete lack of a babysitter. I’m not making the goals I outlined for myself. At best, I’m working out 3x a week, not 5. That might seem like plenty, but in my mind, it feels like next to nothing.
Let’s review, these were my goals:
Chunk #1- Januaryish to Marchish
Ride 3x a week
Run 2x a week
Events planned: None.
I’ve always been an opportunist about working out. I really have no choice. I take what I can get. Not accounted for on Strava are the women’s pickup basketball I’m playing Saturday mornings now (this is my 3rd year). That at least keeps my cardio up. This week I had a short stay in Florida, where there is no snow. I did a lot of walking and swimming and even hit the treadmill for a 3 mile jog.
The good news is that it was in the 40′s today, and may reach 50 by the weekend. There is a huge melt underway. Colder temps are supposed to return next week, but this weekend, I’m riding outside, both days. I cannot wait.
This will be short & sweet. I should have written down my numbers for 2013 so I don’t have exact stats. Fortunately I still have enough brain cells to remember the ballpark….
Distance 2710 mi
Elev Gain 118,000+++ft (should have written this one down!)
148 miles run, walked, hiked or skied.
Time 173hr 44m
Elev Gain 81,385ft
Happy that I crushed last year. I took on more climbing and found that it really made me stronger and faster. More of that in 2014. I’m not sure I’ll be able to match these achievement given my heavy work schedule. But I’ll have a great time trying.
This race, Divine Providence as it’s called, was so much fun. I think it’s the most fun I’ve had so far. I regret not staying longer, I regret not taking Friday off and getting a hotel room and making it a long CX weekend experience. There is so much to get excited about, and I can’t talk about it all in one post. So for now–I’ll talk about the race. My race. The Women’s Cat 3/4 35+ race.
It was raining the whole way down to Providence. We left at 6:30AM and arrived a bit after 8:00AM. The rain backed off a bit, spitting and stopping and spitting again. The parking was crazy–it was much busier than last year. I hustled down to registration, grabbed a number, hustled back to the car, changed, pinned, and tried to make a full lap of a pre-ride. I got 1/2 lap before riders were pulled from the course for the Men’s Cat 4/5 9AM race. I scoped out some of the course from behind the barriers. There were several similarities to last year. The course was wet and a little muddy, but with the same rolling terrain with fun curves. I have to admit I was more than a little excited for the rain. This was going to be a real CX experience! I met up with my pal Vickie and met a few of her friends and we kibitzed about CX waiting for call up to start.
At the call up, I enjoyed chatting with more new friends. There were lots of familiar faces and the chatter was happy and friendly. I had an average start, but I made my way into the first 1/3 again. There were 135 racers and the pack was tight, especially in the corners. Things felt slow (and this is coming from me so they must have been awfully slow) and I felt excited. I jumped off the single file and onto the grass and started passing women. I rode wide into the corners and passed more. I was chasing a new friend, Natalie. She just started racing this year after lots of success on the mountain bike and she’s a better racer than I am. I knew if I could keep up with her, I’d be doing OK.
I caught Natalie, and passed her. I was riding aggressively, more aggressively than I have in a race. There were always other racers around me. In front, in back–I never lost contact with other riders throughout the entire race. I tried to find another carrot to chase. I was riding well and still had energy, but I knew I couldn’t keep the pace up much longer. Then Natalie appeared again. She was smiling, and yelled “I wish we lived closer, I’d love to train with you!”
That was the last I saw of her.
I faded a bit, but still pushed. Cat and mouse with several riders. I noticed something: in the mud and on the corners especially, other riders appeared timid. They slowed way down on the corners. I had to brake so I wouldn’t crash into them. I realized I could be faster in these areas and started to use it to my advantage. I even sprinted on a couple of straight areas. On the flyover, a series of tight “S” curves preceded the steep climb up the flyover. Many riders swung way out to get a running start. I didn’t need it, and picked up positions by cutting the corner shot and muscling up the flyover, then cutting the corners out of the flyover area.
These technical areas were wonderful fun. I love them. I delighted in managing my approach and tactics. Stronger riders still passed me on straight areas, but the cat and mouse game was enthralling. Then the third lap came.
On this lap, the rain was light but steady. I wasn’t concerned about the rain. I wear inserts in my glasses, so removing my glasses is problematic in the rain–my vision is blurry. But the rain obscured my vision from my left eye. Still–I managed. The real problem was that I felt like I was bonking. My heart rate was crazy high. That familiar pain in my right shoulder came back (I had that in Gloucester too). I felt totally cooked. I slowed way down. I grew dizzy. Riders passed me. I needed to de-escalate my heart rate but didn’t want to slow down anymore.
I recovered enough as I came to the bell lap–I knew I had just this last lap and then I was done, and I didn’t want to lose any more positions. I was still ambitious enough to think I might be able to gain a position or two. I was still cat and mousing with a couple of riders. As I came into the last section of grass and woods before the pavement to the finish line, I heard a guy cheering for the rider behind me. I didn’t know where she was, how close she was behind me or even what she looked like. But I held her off. Then I heard the man yell “Get her on the pavement!” I knew she’d hit the pavement and sprint for the finish, and I was worried about that. I’m a poor sprinter. So as soon as I jumped the curb off the grass, I pedaled as hard as I could. It was at least 100 yards, maybe more of sprinting. She passed me with about 30 feet to go to the finish line. But I had given it my all.
Afterwards, I almost threw up. My effort was so intense I was choking. I had taken a decongestants for what I thought were some mild allergies, but now I think I may have a mild cold. My throat was full of junk and breathing was complicated. After a little rest and some water, I could speak intelligibly again.
My result wasn’t too bad. I’m definitely landing in the middle of the pack. I place 70th of 135 riders. Only 91 finished. Honestly, I thought I had done better. I thought I had placed at least 10 more positions ahead of 70. I realize that this was the largest field I had raced in, with riders from all over the northeast, many of them quite a bit younger than me. 70 isn’t awful. I felt very happy with how I rode the first part of the race. I pushed hard the whole race-to the point I was dizzy and bile rose up in my throat. I gave it everything, but still I hoped for a better result.
The good and the bad:
- I love mud!
- I am approaching and handling corners faster and more confidently than some other riders.
- I rode more aggressively in this race than in any other.
- I am not afraid of riding in large groups
- I’m finding time in technical areas
- I have to find a way to maintain energy throughout the race
- I am curious if nutrition choices before the race can help me maintain energy in the 3rd and 4th laps
- I’m still losing time on the straits
This is my 5th race this year–which means I’m officially 1/2 way through cyclocross season. I’ve managed to reliably worm my way into the middle of the pack. My next goal is to break through the top 50%. I keep coming up short of that goal.
Next year I want to do both days. I had so much fun riding this course–it’s rolling and flows and just loads of fun. I have been thinking all week “I want to do that again!” But I have to wait a whole year for Holy Week.