Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

oh yeah, you've heard parts of this

A friend o mine sent me a link to this. I was entertained.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Kicking off 2010


I've been mighty quiet lately with the exception of a bit of tweeting.

Here's the scoop:

Writing
I'm writing my dissertation proposal with lofty ambitions of having it ready for critics to shred by 12/15/09, so I'm getting up in the wee hours to write each morning. I've been ABD (All But Dissertation) for multiple YEARS and even thought I could let it go, but I can't. It sits on my brain as unfinished business and after investing so much, it would be an exceedingly stupid thing to forgo it now that my advisor and I have identified a topic we both find interesting and doable.

Riding
Being out of travel time and money as well as needing a break, I haven't been racing any cross. Instead, I'm doing a proper break and base season. This opens the time up for the writing and is freshening my mind for the upcoming 2010 race season, which I am quite excited about.

I'll be riding national events (NRC) as part of the Treads.com/DFT elite squad (http://www.definedfitnesstraining.com/eliteroad).  Locally, I'll be sporting Joyride Bicycle's colors. In both cases, a huge thank you goes out to my local support Rightway Personal Training, Joyride Bicycles and PepsiCo./Rockstar Energy Drink). as well as to the Treads.com/DFT sponsors. Without all this help, I certainly couldn't race on a national level, especially not living on the coasts or in a major metro area like Chicago.

I also need to give a shout-out to my employer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, specifically Extended Education and Outreach. I feel so fortunate to work in an environment with people I enjoy and respect, and who also support my commitment to riding and racing. Without the flexibility on the parts of my employer and the faculty I serve, it would be difficult if not impossible to ride at the level I do.

As you can probably figure out, my time, especially Monday through Friday, is ridiculously scheduled and I'm opting to ride the trainer or rollers those days, simply because it's so much more time efficient. Moreover, inside cycling allows you to be extraordinarily precise in your workouts. I've set up a big screen monitor so I can watch cycling.tv and don't find it bad at all.

However, I am considering the purchase of a computrainer. I know, total tech nerd, but the lure of downloading and riding the routes I'll be racing next season is irresistible, so let me know if you're interested in a set or two of Bontrager Race X Lite wheels for tubular tires. I also have a Trek XO2 up for sale.  O gosh, I know, CX bikes going. Egads. Believe me, it hurts to type it, but the reality of things are thus:

  1. I enjoy the career I already have and that I'm building by finishing off that PhD.
  2. In academia, Fall and winter are busy, busy times, not so amenable to taking off every weekend. Road racing is much more compatible with an academic schedule.
  3. I need an off-season, mentally and physically. 
So, you're going to see me at some local and regional cross events for fun, but my focus will be road. Though, Megan is going to have us play on the track at the team meeting the end of January. Looking forward to seeing what that's like.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Gravel indulgences


From Gravel rides 2009

This weekend marked the second of long gravel rides. This pic shows Jesse and Cornbread checking out a small graveyard we found in the middle of the field. Check out Cornbread's blog for the full write-up. He even surfed up some interesting facts.

Riding the gravel has been fun. I've done so little of it despite the plethora of options around here, mostly because I didn't have any idea of the routes and especially because of the dogs.  Now that I've had escorts for some long trips, I'm feeling more confident and will be up for solo-ing it when the long miles come due in my program. Thanks guys!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Location & integration test


Location & integration test
Originally uploaded by sydney_b.
From the loading dock area of nebraska hall

Monday, October 26, 2009

Apartment Therapy's Color Contest

We're heading into the gray of winter here in the Midwest and I've been enjoying participating in Apartment Therapy's color contest as a voter. There's some folks around the country who have done some wonderful designs. Check it out. You might even want to register and place a few votes yourself. 


From Apartment Therapy...
<< Colorful rooms are the heart of great homes, and adding color is the most affordable way to change a room, but few feel comfortable using it. To inspire confidence and improve homes, we're inviting readers to share their colorful rooms, tips and sources. >>
 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Need some Nebraska HS Cycling

If we can get archery into the Lincoln Public Schools, what would it take to get some bike racing in?

in reference to:

"Colorado teens will likely get a chance to race in the state's first high school mountain bike league in September next year.

Supporters recently formed the Colorado High School Cycling League and plan a fundraising ride this weekend, led by Tom Danielson of the Garmin-Slipstream team. The ride departs at 9 am from the Bácaro Venetian Tavern in Boulder, Colorado.

The new league is part of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), and is based on the high school mountain biking program established in California, where mountain bike racing has become a varsity high school sport."
- Colorado launches high school mountain bike league - VeloNews (view on Google Sidewiki)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Slow faucet - I love the Internet


Talk about timely.... for a few weeks we've been suffering from a slow-running faucet in the bathroom. I figured it was something to do with the sink, because the shower water comes out fine, despite Nick's crazy temperature alert showerhead. ;)

Wednesday, this came out on one of my favorite blogs: Apartment Therapy. Gonna give it a go this weekend and see if it works.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

On water bottles

I have a lot of water bottles and my house is small and kitchen storage, especially, is at a premium. Currently, the bottles take up an entire shelf above the dishes. That's ok, except the shelf isn't tall enough to accommodate a tall bottle with its inverted lid, so the lids get put in a basket, creating the problem of mismatched bottles and lids. Color issue aside, mismatches create opportunity for dribbles at best, precious ounces of lost hydration opportunity at worst. You would think manufacturers would agree on a bottle/cap standard, but no. I have two kinds: like the lids you see in the picture above, and lids with a more rounded pattern. I prefer the latter and have more of the former, but I don't really care so long as I don't have to spend any time playing "try-and-match" when I'm in a hurry to get on the bike.

Also, I don't like all the bottles equally. I have a favorite few I use nearly daily, that I really don't want to lose. I also have a set that's ok -- they have good squeeze factor and whatnot, but if they should go missing, I wouldn't spend too much time mourning. These, I take to supported stage races. I've been fortunate enough so far to enjoy the company of teammates at many such races, but only once were we supported to the point of not having to pony up 8-10 bottles for the support vehicle and hand-up crew (Nature Valley Pro Ride Team). Every other time, each team member puts bottles in and tries to go home with the same number she arrived with, and if she's lucky, she'll get the ones she brought.

The final category of bottles are those I wouldn't mind losing. I loan these, let the boys use them, or put them to work as sauce dispensing containers in the kitchen.

Thus, the problem is to categorize the bottles and sort the lids in a space efficient way such that everyone knows which bottles they're free to use and can easily get an appropriate lid.

Thanks to all the input yesterday, I believe I have a solution meeting my requirements:
  • Rectangular containers, like those used for flatware, for the lids. They will also serve to divide the bottles on the shelf.
  • Some labels, so everyone knows which bottles they can use and which lids are compatible with those bottles.
I know. Sounds like over-analysis, but I'll tell you, it's the little, completely unnecessary, time stealing annoyances all through the day that put me on edge -- not big issues.

Setting the standard

My mom just keeps raising the bar.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kevin Burke to go to XTERRA Worlds


From  Kevin's blog:
<<< At the US Championship race I was 7th in the age group. Turns out the top 5 finishers were already Worlds qualifiers, so the two slots roll down to 6th and 7th...one of which was me.


Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I immediately began trying to figure out how to pull the trip off...not easy considering Worlds is in Maui...this Sunday Oct 25th.>>>
 
I can't imagine finding this out just a few days before the event, then figuring out how to get there, but if anyone can swing it, it'll be Burke. 

GOOD LUCK and hope to see good news this Sunday!

Winter clothing guide from MTB Omaha

Mod has again published his "what to wear at what temps around here" list. It's a good guide and about the same as what I do.

You might want to print it out and put it with your gear. In your training log, note whether it was a good match and pretty soon you'll have your own personal perfect guide to what to wear.

in reference to:

"Yep, it's almost that time of year again. So I'm re-posted my clothing guide. I've been using this winter clothing guide for a long time and it's never let me down. Hopefully it will come in handy for some of you. The temp ranges are for off-road riding, if you're going out on the road dress for the next coldest range."
- MTB Omaha: Winter Clothing Guide (view on Google Sidewiki)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Nebraska vs. Iowa

This sounds like fun... a little state vs. state rivalry. Think we could take Iowa? What about KS?

in reference to:

"In the classic spirit of great OR vs WA football games of past the NW border state clash was renewed today when Oregon (unicorns) and Washington (sasquatches) crossers unleashed their fury today in Steilacoom, WA."
- Seattle’s MFG #4 - Sasquatches vs. Unicorns : Cyclocross Magazine - CX News, Races, Photos, Videos (view on Google Sidewiki)

Friday, October 09, 2009

Testing blogger mobile updates

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

"I've Seen the Enemy and the Enemy is Us"

As I prepare to step into preparation for the 2010 road season, this timely article popped up on Pez Cycling. I think y'all should read it too, especially those of you determined to improve for next year.

<< I’ve Seen The Enemy And The Enemy Is Us
So what does it mean to be a good client? I don’t mean paying your bills on time and tracking all your power data. There are riders who are coachable and then there are those who aren’t. Just as there is an art to being a coach, there is an art to being coached.

Much of it has to do with listening. With all the information about training out there and our preconceived assumptions about ourselves and how our bodies work, we often hear what we want to hear. There are riders who read a great coaching article, follow 90% of it and throw out the other 10% because it isn’t convenient, they don’t think it applies to them or they just don’t agree with it. The problem is that the 10% they are skipping is the difference between a training plan that works and one that doesn’t and it often nullifies the other 90% of the program. >>

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Fav chutney


Fav chutney
Originally uploaded by sydney_b.
Yum. One of my staple condiments.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cyclocross

The Gimp called me over to his computer to show me the live feed from the Vegas CX race. As the familiar names popped up on the screen, I was briefly and deeply struck with a desire to be among them, jealous that they were racing their bikes in Vegas and I was wrestling with a computer issue for work in Lincoln. Sighing deeply, I felt the pain of my healing ribs, and comforted myself with the thought that even if I had saved the money and vacation time to go, it would have been a waste b/c of injury.  Returning to my work, my envious feelings were further dissipated with the knowledge that although few would want to do the work I do, I'm good at it, find it enjoyable and it probably pays better, especially over the long term, than professional women's bike racing.


"Besides, who races cx in September?! Oughtta be in Nebraska in December." Further consolation from the sofa.

No kidding, I thought. There's something to the  seasonal aspect of sport and food. One needs to maximize the pleasure of things, keep it special. Things to look forward to and things to be glad have passed. However, CX is one of the few things in my life falling full measure into both those categories.

Thus, my answer, despite the many good reasons not to care one whit about missing Vegas CX and Mad CX in WI this weekend, if I had the $, time and form, I would love to race cx in September, especially in the Vegas heat. Oh well, maybe next year.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

Don't gain weight during the off-season

It's really CX season, but for me, at least this year, it's off-season. Any cx race I do will be purely for fun and I'll be focusing on nutrition and other aspects of both body and life until it's time to start base.

The first week off, it felt so weird not to have scripted workouts that it even threw me off my nutrition plan. But, I've regrouped and am back on track. I came across this article that might be of use to those of you who find the kind of detailed tracking I do (online system of everything) overly tedious.

Calories in Foods - Learn to Estimate

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Nutrition Tracking: CalorieCount's finest feature

I made a quick video (1:11 min) of CalorieCount's best feature: the 'new recipe.'

http://CalorieCount.About.com

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Time for off season commuter challenge?

Lovely morning to toodle to work (or anywhere else)

Monday, September 07, 2009

Warm-up interrupted by toyota t-bone

Marc in saint louis university hospital awaiting surgery for broken kneecap. Also suffered skull and vertebrae cracks.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Corn Syrup vs. Cane Sugar

"Today I [Nutritionist Becky Hand - Sparkpeople.com] am here to confess that as a trained, nutrition professional, I blatantly ignored the No. 1 rule of providing reliable nutrition education for the public. I forgot to rely on published research and evidence for my nutrition recommendations! So today, I am going to set the record straight after reviewing not just one research study but all of them. Read on to find out whether high fructose corn syrup deserves its bad rap and how it really compares with regular sugar. "

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Nau returns!


I have 4 pair of pants from Nau that I just love. When Nau closed its online doors last year, I thought I'd seen the last of this retailer. Just got an email this morning, though, that they're back in business. Hoorah. Yes, the prices may seem a little high inititally, but if the construction remains as good as what I bought from them before, the per wear cost is minimal. Check 'em out.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Women's Tour of Missouri aka Gateway Cup

Woo hoo. Got registered this morning for the Womens Tour of Missouri Omnium aka Gateway Cup for the Pro/1/2 Women. Looking at the registered athlete list it kind of reads like a Who's Who of the U.S. Pro peleton, short Proman and Tibco. Lafayette is gonna be screamin' fast.

ToM puts the lid on my 2009 road season. Per usual, the feeling is somewhat bittersweet. Part of me is so looking forward to the mental and physical break, the other, well, cringes at letting the fitness go.

Oh wait. We do something else in the Fall. Something that makes my lungs burn. Requires a kind of  road bike, but a bit meaner. That's right.... PSYCHO CROSS. Uh, or is that Psychlo-cx? Stay tuned. More on this later.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Dry foods in your car

What a painfully obvious idea. Turn that automobile into a food dehydrator while it's sitting parked. Simple genius. Check it out. I wonder how The Big Black will feel about it?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Munson in the Morning - about choked to death on my coffee

If you haven't watched this yet, you should. Cautionary note: You will laugh aloud. Don't watch if you're supposed to maintain a serious demeanor. Thx Munson... Munsoned in the Middle

Friday, August 07, 2009

Evelyn Stevens, innately gifted freak, or making diligent use of a basic necessary component?

Kristin Armstrong said she did her last US race this season and Marc said, "when one superstar leaves, another will fill her place."

Sure enough, all the sudden there's this name popping up all over atop NRC podiums and the only thing I hear is "she just got her first bike 10 months ago." Egads!

So you can imagine my relief to find she's gone about it all in a research supported manner. She's got an athletic background and worked with a coach in a focused way (deliberate practice) all winter. Whew. Why the relief? Because, if she just truly came out of nowhere and simply "ran a little bit when she could," then I would hold my masters degree suspect and my beliefs about achievement would be wholly undermined resulting in diminished motivation in my own training.

The data support a few critical components of superior performances: basic, perhaps innate, attributes suited to the task; willingness to engage in deliberate practice; a supportive environment and at least 10 years prior experience (Ericsson et al, 1993).

Stevens must have a great VO2 max. That she comes by genetically. We know she's driven and competitive by her choice of careers and her previous athletic endeavors. She's got experience. While not cycling per se, the strategic elements and athleticism in her life prior to getting on a bike support the assertion she will make a rapid transition because she is primarily transferring many years' experience and knowledge to a new domain -- not building that knowledge structure from scratch, which is much more difficult. Moreover, she's doing it with a coach, which is the "deliberate practice" component of success.

If you want to know more about acquiring expertise, K. Anders Ericsson is the best place to start. My graduate advisor, Dr. David Brooks, introduced me to the following article and I encourage you to read it.

What's deliberate practice?
Get plan. Follow the plan.
Learn and practice each skill till they're automatic.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Good Life Gravel Adventure

 
I don't know what you're doing August 29th, but the Good Life Gravel Adventure has my name on its list.  If you're from out of town and what to do this, let me know. I might be able to help you out with some host housing.
Also, there's also a couple of races in the Des Moines area.
The Big Creek Road Race and the East Village Crit

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Wednesday Rides

We have "Wednesday Night Worlds" but in Tijuana, Wednesdays in Tijuana, a whole different kind of ride rolls out. (btw, if you want to join Lincon's WNW, it starts at 5pm, 1 block north of 33rd & South ST).http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111100400

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Entertainments

Without a race to go to over the weekend, I gawked at shoes and clothes, but kept my plastic in my purse... cx season's coming you know, and settled for watching "Slither," and recommend it, if you're seeking a bit o entertainment.

"Slither"


I think I'd also enjoy this one: "I Sell the Dead"

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Infatuation


Infatuation
Originally uploaded by sydney_b.
See, I understand Imelda. Sigh.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

Women's 3/4


Women's 3/4
Originally uploaded by sydney_b.
Good sized womens 3/4 field. Superweek is great for getting much needed experience.

4.50 per person!?


4.50 per person!?
Originally uploaded by sydney_b.
Ok, we'll make one donation for parking, but not two. Hide the skinny guy in the back.

A break


A break
Originally uploaded by sydney_b.
Marc initiated the break that stuck.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Got a little press... Omaha World Herald


There were some important points left out the article published today:

The author didn't talk about the sponsorships, which are critical to my success. Without the annual training plans and disc wheel provided by Rightway Training, the Specialized Transition time trial bicycle from Joyride Bicycles, and a supportive family to cover the home base while I travel, there'd be no national jersey mismatching the pink Mercy kit. (Gotta love cycling fashion)

Thank you all so much for your support and attention. I'm off to Wisconsin tonight for eight races at Superweek. You can view results on the website. I'll try and do you proud. Have a great week. Looks like the weather will be spectacular, so you best not be inside on the computer.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Omaha Cycling Weekend & Joyride Bicycles Women's Night

Fantastic photo taken by John Peterson

A huge thank you to everyone who turned out for the Omaha Cycling Weekend, especially the women. It was great to see some new faces and some old friends. The highlights for me included a solid time trial effort and being able to help my teammate, Jennifer Herrell-Rhoades, get second in both the criterium and the road race. I'm feeling good and looking forward to Superweek. Nothing like a solid training plan to hit form on schedule.

In other news, Joyride Bicycles, my sponsoring shop, is letting me host a women's night at the shop this Thursday, 7/16, from 6-9pm. We'll have basic bike maintenance and tire change demonstrations and opportunities to practice, along with presentations from area women on nutrition and how a training plan can make the critical difference in reaching your goals or not. Additionally, there will be food and drink along with store wide sales -- complete bikes 10% off, everything else, including special order items, has been reduced 20%.

Even if you just have a few minutes, stop by and say hi.

Download the flyer: http://tinyurl.com/joyrideflyer

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Echelon Basics - You race? Do fast group rides?

"This is where most amateur racers make big mistakes. They struggle in the gutter for far too long, searching for a non-existent draft on the very edge of the road. Eventually someone in that line loses contact with the wheel ahead of him and a gap quickly forms. But because everyone’s been fighting through the wind, no one in that long line is fresh enough to cover the gap or mount an effective chase, so the gap grows very rapidly."



Monday, July 06, 2009

What a week....Masters Nationals & Tour of Lawrence

Masters Nationals was a success. Mom got 3rd in her TT and I won mine. Was second in the crit by the width of a tire. Went directly to the inaugural Tour of

Lawrence and raced with a small group of 8, but the 8 were strong riders, so felt good about Sunday's win. Was less thrilled about finishing first loser in Saturday's crit, but hey, that's racing. If you swing the line wide and open the inside, some speedy smarty is likely to take it and beat you to the line on a downhill finish. That's just the way it is.

The women of Mercy finally got their new kits. They're pretty darn cool and looked awesome on Jen who sprinted to a win in Friday night's street sprints. Here's a pic of Sunday's hill climb taken by Craig Sparks.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Louisville


Louisville
Originally uploaded by sydney_b.
Louisville

Monday, June 29, 2009

ChitChat Monday


ChitChat Monday
Originally uploaded by sydney_b.
Lotta folks out to enjoy the lovely weather on the ChitChat.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Overdue race report - Nature Valley Grand Prix 2009

What an adventure.
To begin, let me say I did this race for the first, and I swore it would be the final, time in 2008.
Let's do a recap of the '08 event:
  • Make the time cut on the first crit because everybody did. Because of the rain and number of crashes, no one got cut.
  • Place 28th in the TT
  • Barely hold on to the field during the finishing Cannon Falls circuits
  • Cling to the very last of the field during the Minneapolis criterium
  • Get annihilated on Mankato's finishing circuit climb. Sit on the curb and want to cry from suffering, but it was too hot and I simply didn't have the energy.
  • Make the bare minium of Stillwater crit laps to still finish the race
  • Finish 8th in the amateur standings, 43rd in the general classification (GC)
Fast forward to 2009. In planning my season, I did not include the NVGP since it had been hellish from my perspective and this is a hobby. No reason to torture oneself, but as you know, time takes the edge off and about a month before the Hillsboro qualifying race, I began to consider how much I'd learned since then. I figured if any measure of progress would have validity, it would be the NVGP. Of course, I kept it to myself, reminding myself I couldn't afford it, it would take too much time, the fact it wasn't even on my training/race annual plan, so my coach had not been prepping me for it and so on. There were many excellent reasons to forgo the event. Nonetheless, when I approached the table at Hillsboro and saw the sign-up sheet for the Nature Valley Pro Ride amateur team, I paused. If I got the Pro Ride spot, that would solve the money problem. I could probably sort the other challenges out. I  signed, rode hard and secured the berth.
"It's not going to be like you're on a real team. Everyone will be out to prove themselves, etc.," some warned.
I decided that didn't matter. I would ride as if it were a cohesive team because my goal was to demonstrate I knew how to do that and that I'd be a dependable composite or guest rider if I got that opportunity.
After Matt Anderson sent out the contact sheets, I popped an email to the other women, and all sounded friendly. I checked their results. All appeared to be solid riders and I began to get excited about our teamwork prospects.

The date crept closer - two days till I was to meet them.

Oh no. There was that tell-tale tickle in the back of my sore throat. Please let it be allergies, but I knew in my heart it was a head-cold. I needed to be at my best and here I would be fighting illness and fatigue. I couldn't breath well. Consequently, I couldn't sleep. I was tired. Sick. And bummed. The only bright spot was that I heal up from those things fairly quickly and the TT would be first. I was confident I could make the time cut there and then, if I could just stay with the lead group during the St. Paul crit that evening, even if I was dead last with that group, I would have the same time going into the 2nd day. My plan was to sit in, hang on and hope I could do whatever I was tasked with for the team beginning stage 3.
Our squad was blessed with excellent support supplied by Penn Cycle and directed by Michael Ingleman. If you don't know who he is, you should. He was also directing Kristin Armstrong. Engleman supplied me with a disc for my TT bike and after warming up, I went out and did what I thought I could do. When the results were posted, I was shocked to find I'd cut 25 seconds off of the previous year's attempt on the same course and ended up 19th in the GC and 2nd in the amateur standings, 6 seconds down from Kate Veronneau, who's from Pennsylvania, I think.

At first I was pleased, then after seeing I was the highest placed woman on my team in the GC, I knew that if we were going to function as a team, I was now the lead rider, and quite honestly, I had been hoping it would be someone else. I was sick, lacking confidence for the event, and unsure I could deliver.

For those of you new to the sport, or uninitiated entirely, road racing is a team game. The lead rider gets the support of her teammates, who sacrifice their own ambitions to help preserve and further the lead rider's positioning. Because of the sacrifices others make, the burden of performance weighs heavy on a lead rider and she must never squander the energy put forth on her behalf and she must never forget her results represent the team's efforts, so she must give everything she's got.
Our composite group went into team mode immediately and without prompting. After I met them the first evening, I knew they were competent and friendly, but I don't think anyone expected the kind of teamwork that immediately came about. We were watchful of each other and every time I needed a little help getting further to the front, it seemed a teammate was coming up and onto her wheel I would jump.
After stage 3, the Cannon Falls race, I moved to 11th in the GC because of a huge crash which took out many of the leaders. I was shocked. I was within sight of the top 10. I sat in during the Minneapolis Uptown crit (stage 4) and came into the 86 mile Mankato race with a single objective: hang on to the front group no matter what.

I stayed on mission. I kept out of the wind and towards the front, but never on the front. My teammates made sure I had water. I ate on schedule. If anyone was ever preserved for the final trial, it was me. We descended into Mankato at high speed and hit the circuit of which we must do 4 laps. The loop has .4 mile, 14% average grade climb followed by a screaming descent onto a flat. My first ascent, I do OK, but slip backwards a bit. I work to recover some ground on the descent. I steeled myself for the second time. I told myself I must do better. I must not lose this group, but my legs didn't hear. I couldn't figure out how to get them to push a bigger gear or turn the cranks a little faster. A bit of panic crept in. I felt my body stiffen.

"Don't fight your bike. Relax. Let it move. Find a rhythm."

I focused on this and sure enough the bike moved forward better, but it was too little too late. The selection had been made. I quelled the disappointment and resolved to not let the group I was in, which include Veronneau, get the best of me. I might not have been able to take the top spot from Kate, but I could surely irretrievably lose it. I simply couldn't let this happen. I knew I'd lost the GC positioning despite my team's efforts. I couldn't lose the bid for the amateur spot, too. I held on and even gave a little sprint to come across the line first in my group, though it counted for little beyond emotional satisfaction. It would have been much smarter to have attacked the group earlier on the circuit and tried to regain some precious seconds. Losing the lead group moved me from 11th to 21st in the GC. I remained 2nd in the amateur by the same 6 sec. Although I felt like I let the team down, I did perform much better than the previous year. Fortunately, Olivia Dillion, brought some glory to the team with her bridge to the break and eventual 4th place finish.

Stillwater was the final and most challenging stage. The circuit has a race-defining climb with a 19% grade. I got a call-up, so had great positioning and made the first lap with the leaders. Gap opened midway up the climb on the 2nd lap and just got bigger. I was hurting terribly and my teammates were invaluable  in their encouragement. More than once  I grabbed their wheels and recovered ground. In fact, had I been able to hold onto Tricia, I would have finished with the second group. She did fabulously well and completed all 13 laps.

On lap 4 o 5, I thought I had lost Veronneau. She was about two blocks in front of me, but I just told myself to pace like a TT and hang on. Finally I came by her and while I kept looking over my shoulder to see her coming, she never did. I wonder if she had a mechanical or something? Kate was a strong rider and made those six seconds seem as insurmountable as 10 minutes or even an hour.

I ended the week with a win in the amateur division and 31st in the GC. I heard 130 women started, but those not making the time cut were not published, so that could be in error. In any case, I was pleased with the progress from last year and am proud to wear the Nature Valley jersey.

I'd like to give a huge thank you to everyone who makes my racing possible.

Thank you to my dad and mom who welcome my boys to their home so I can travel. I especially appreciate my dear mom who takes over my spin classes. My coach must not be forgotten. It takes a lot of time to analyze power files and craft an annual plan for someone with high aspirations. Without a good bike, you won't do much bike racing, so I'd like to extend gratitude to Joyride Bicycles whose sponsorship put me aboard a Specialized Ruby SL and Transition this season.

Finally, a HUGE thanks goes out to Michael Ingleman and everyone involved in the Nature Valley Pro Ride and event. Ingleman volunteered his time and advice. I know I learned a great deal. I also thought the program was well run. The stipend as adequate and expenses were reimbursed quickly. The mechanics were superb. The tent was always stocked with food and drink. Someone was always telling me to sit down and let them take care of it. I thought that if this was the kind of treatment pros got, it's a huge advantage.

THANK YOU NATURE VALLEY. I'm going to figure out how to get back there next year and see if my focus on climbing pays off.  

Longo, age 50, wins again

This is one autograph I'd be tempted to get if I could. Having come to the racing scene so late, I find stories like Longo's to be rather inspiring.  I mean, seriously, her 56th national championship win?!

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At 50, Jeannie Longo is showing no sign of slowing down as she won her 56th national champion’s jersey, successfully defending her French national time trial title in Saint-Brieuc on Thursday. 
Read it on Velonews
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Saturday, June 20, 2009