August 17, 2008
I’m done. I had planned to do 2 more road races this season but I’m on the edge of burning out. I’ve decided that my season is over and it’s time to give my body (and brain) a rest. I feel like doing anything else would just get me closer to burning out.
Next year will be my final collegiate racing season and all of my current focus is on preparing for it. I’ve got lofty goals for next season that will require me to step up the volume and intensity of my training. The preparation begins with recovery from the past season and I’d rather come into training next season with a little too much rest than too little.
To wrap things up, here’s how I feel about my progress:
Time Trialing: I’ve gotten much better. I’ve been practicing on the TT bike and steadily improving my times, but this is still my most significant weakness.
Climbing: My climbing has improved as well, but I don’t feel like I am doing my capabilities justice. My body type favors climbing and I really need to start capitalizing on this advantage.
Sprinting: Sprinting was always a strength for me and it continues to be one. My climbing definitely needs to improve before I’ll have a good chance to use this ability.
Descending: In the past, descending was a serious weakness and on at least one occasion it cost me dearly. I am happy to say that this is no longer true. I am not great at going downhill, but I won’t lose ground anymore.
August 10, 2008
This thing was absolutely brutal. We did three laps, I hung on for two. The main climb came very soon after the start and was completely exposed to the heavy winds. Near the top of this climb the road kicked up and so did the wind. It was difficult just turning over the pedals, let alone trying to maintain pace with the pack. I made it over the climb with the pack on the first two laps but was gapped off on a minor climb. After a few minutes of hard work I caught back on and sat in for the ride.
Near the base of the climb on the last lap I had nothing left in the tank and was quickly dropped. I rode the rest of the lap by myself — had a little chat with teammates in the women’s field and stopped for a crash in another field. By the end of the race I was completely exhausted. That’s about it.
July 17, 2008
I decided not to train at all while sick. I’ve spent the past 3 days just sitting around eating, drinking, and sleeping. It seems like yesterday was the worst of it, since I woke up feeling significantly better this morning. If I’m feeling even better after work then I will consider going for an easy ride this evening.
Getting sick is really disappointing when training is going so well and you’re feeling stronger than ever. I had big plans for this week and it takes a good deal of restraint to hold back and stay off the bike. I can definitely see what motivates people to dig themselves deeper by pushing hard when their body is already suffering, but I’m confident that taking time off was the right decision.
I will be sticking with my training plan; next week will be mostly a rest week. I think I’ll do a 10mi TT and attempt to set a PR and achieve this month’s TT goal.
July 15, 2008
I had two good hard weeks and was about to go into my last one before a recovery week… and now I’m sick. I had a pretty bad sore throat but now it seems like it’s just going to be a typical cold — hopefully a mild one.
I’m still not quite sure how I feel about training when sick. A lot of folks say “if it’s above the neck, you can ride,” but I still tend toward believing that more rest is better. I guess if I’m feeling significantly better after work I will consider riding tonight.
Besides the cold, training is going very well. I’m increasing my weekly hours and still feeling relatively fresh and I think I’m getting consistently stronger. I’ve got a crit coming up, a few more road races, and that will be the end of the season.
July 7, 2008
The awful… I mean absolutely TERRIBLE… roads made this race fun. I tried to stay near the front through all the bad pavement before the climb. I stayed safe aside from having my front derailleur come out of adjustment (I couldn’t get into the big ring until I found time to make some adjustments). I blew up on the big climb and found myself in a group of about 20 with another 20 riders up the road. Without a real chance of bringing the front group back, we took it pretty easy on the way into the finish.
I guess a lot of folks don’t like the bad pavement, but I thought it made things interesting. Fun race — climbing was the weakness that got me this time.
July 6, 2008
The 4th of July Crit has lots of turns and only one real straightaway. The race was not very demanding fitness-wise, but required a good deal of pack skills to stay near the front. Of course, my pack skills aren’t so great so I ended up being filtered to the back. I was tail-gunning for the first half of the race and decided I should move up, so I sprinted hard into the finishing straightaway and made up quite a few spots… until someone decided to crash right in front of me. I avoided the downed rider and found myself right back where I started. Later on, I tried a different technique and moved up a few spots at a time on the straights and corners until I was somewhere in the first third of the pack. Following a prime, everything slowed down, the pack bunched, and I ended up at the back again. I stayed where I was for the last few laps, avoided a big pileup on the bell lap, and rolled across somewhere in the bottom 10.
This race definitely highlighted one of my weaknesses: maintaining position in the pack. In collegiate races, maintaining your position near the front of the pack isn’t as important because with the smaller fields, you can move up very quickly late in a race. In these USCF races, you can’t expect to be able to do that. I guess it’s a skill that will improve with time and experience.
June 25, 2008
The final stage was a 105mi Road Race that finished in an 8 mile 5-6% climb. The first 30 miles were mostly flat followed by 3 significant climbs and then a flat run up to the final climb. After popping off early on day 1, my major goal for the day was just to make it to the base of the final climb in the main group.
I stayed near the front near the front for the beginning of the race and made sure to move up before the first climb of the day. They drilled it hard up the first climb and I managed to stay with the front group for the majority of the hill. I started to lag climb and fall back as we approached the top, but only lost a little bit of ground. The group I ended up in chased back on the downhill quickly and it was time to start the second hill. The second hill was milder and I didn’t lose contact with the front group. The third hill was pretty much a repetition of the first one.
The rest of the day was pretty much just a flat ride to the base of the climb and then a matter of spinning up it. My legs were cramping and I was pretty well drained of energy by the time the climb hit so I did not have a shot at hanging on to the group. I’m just glad I made it to the climb with the pack.
Elkhorn was a great learning experience. My poor tactics put me in a world of hurt on day 1 — I certainly wasn’t racing my strengths. The race put into perspective how weak my weaknesses are and how not-very-strong my strengths are. I need to work on time trialing/muscular endurance and I really need to think more about tactics. It was an enjoyable race and I know exactly what I need to work on now — I’ll probably be back next year.