Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bobke and Bob

Nicknames are interesting creatures. Some are bestowed upon us with love and adoration, i.e., waterbug (thanks mom). Others are thrown at us with spit and venom (too many to recount here). And then some attach themselves to us like remora. Remora are those parasitic fish that affix themselves to a host shark or whale, thus earning the name sharksucker or whalesucker.

I think I may have coined a new term for the wheelsuckers out there. Yeah, she's a remora.

Lord knows I sucked the wheel of Christine Wehlburg (nickname~CW) my whole first year as a Cat 4 because
  1. CW was a larger fish than I;
  2. CW was a steadier wheel than I; and
  3. My lofty goal for my first season was to work hard enough to be able to stay with CW.

Out of that host/feeder relationship, I aqcuired the nickname, Periscope.

i.e., when the larger fish has a good 6 inches of height on you as CW does on me when riding, you cannot see the road in front of you, unless you sit up and periscope over. Thus my non-aero bike nickname was born. And true to form, I am taking a peri-view position over Janet Olney above. All clear ahead!
Now last year when I had the privilege of riding for Route 1 Velo, I picked up another nickname. Badger. I think my finishing-face as I won my first Cat 4 race at Tysons explains that moniker.

So where does the nickname Bob come from?
In short, my college field hockey coach also taught kindergarten. Thus she spoke to her collegiate players just as she spoke to her 4-yr olds. One day a teammate noticed that every start list or scrimmage line-up listed me as Robbin-Bobbin. That nickname later shortened to Bobbin and then Bob. Yikes. When lacrosse season hit, it was discovered that I had this uncharacteristic "head bob" thing I did before making a shot on goal. (I called it a fake shot.) Thus, Bob stuck with me throughout my college years.
That's a recent pic of Bobke and Bob in the photo to the right. I asked Bobke to squeeze into a CycleLife vest. He made a comment about his chest being too big.

I found that very funny. Wendy just laughed because we have a cue worked out for that. I tell a joke. She laughs.

Race report? Oh yeah. The ladies of Team CycleLife hung with Bob Roll at the 2nd Annual Tour de Millersburg Stage Race in PA this past weekend. Awesome venue. Incredible town support. Major shout out and thanks to the promoter (Shane in orange on right), the volunteers and citizens of Millersburg, and of course, Bobke.
For more info on the weekend, Wendy has also posted a blog about the racing this past weekend and some of the frustrations that come with this sport we love.
I guess I should add I picked up another nickname during the RR. "Peloton Patrol." Aww yeah. I saw a girl with plenty of gauze wrapped around her elbows trying to sneak up in the gravel and grass beside Beth Mason without giving as much as a "heads up." I let her know that alerting Beth to her presence might be a safer move before spinning out in gravel. Ironic that a rider donning a kit called "Sturdy Girl" is wrapped in gauze--suggesting she is not all that sturdy. Regardless, Beth is a smart and gracious rider and would have moved left a bit, or moved right and closed down the move. Either way, my commentary to the rider was pure self-preservation. I was behind Beth and moves like Sturdy Girl's were more than my comfort-level would allow. I like the skin I have right now. I'd like to keep it. Sturdy Girl that was your first warning. Next race, I'll be issuing tickets.
Peloton Patrol Out. Roger that.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lessons in Time Trialing

The district championship TT was held this year at Church Creek - this year's second edition of the classic time trial on a flat, fast and windy course. We had 4 women competing - Leslie and Wendy in the 1/2s and Sara and Mel in the Cat3s - all competitors, all with a chance to do something for the championship. Robin volunteered to be support and resident soigneur.

Traffic heading toward the beach on a warm, summer weekend sucks. Our start times were much later than normal for this race so our travel times were later - instead of watching the sun rise as we crossed the Bay Bridge, we suffered in beach traffic, crawling at a snail's pace toward our destination. Poor Mel arrived about a 1/2 hr before her start time ... nothing like rushing toward the start line to get your heart rate up. Who needs a warm-up, anyway?!?

Have all your equipment together, do not count on equipment to be delivered to you.
Thankfully Robin and Mel did arrive before Wendy's start time - otherwise she was sans disc wheel (thank you, Jason) and aero-helmet (thank you, Robin).

Check the official clock and don't miss your start time. Leslie was strolling around the start area thinking she had another 15m or so ... luckily she rode up to the official's tent and asked for the time ... they politely informed her to GO-NOW since she was about 3mins past her start time.

When you miss your start time, the first half of the TT goes by quickly as you mutter expletives to yourself and push yourself harder than ever. Leslie had her best TT ever on that course and the fastest women's time if you take away the ~3min late start ... congrats on a great ride !

Your bike fit will make a huge difference. Wendy was within 2seconds of the jersey after posting dismal TT results all year. A last-minute bike fit by Josh Frick, Performance Director at CycleLife, made a huge difference in her time and comfort level. Her write up is here. Suffice it to say, she was a happy camper.

Sara learned the same lesson in a different way: by the end of the TT her legs were so sore she could barely pedal and her saddle had violated her in a variety of ways. Sara is going to CycleLife to get her fit done this week after seeing how much of a difference it made for Wendy.

Despite all of these lessons learned, we still claimed 2 silver medals and 2-4th place finishes. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Racing in North Carolina

The Presbyterian Hospital Twilight Crit was the most exciting race of the year with all the strongest professional teams bringing full squads and a number of Olympians to compete for the $15,000+ prize purse. The crit is in downtown Charlotte and the crowds were unbelievable with spectators lining the entire course. The pace was ballistic throughout, with two technical sections that tested the cornering skills and two straightaways which never seemed to allow for recovery.

The field started with 85 riders and was down to less than 30 by the finish. In the last few laps I could hear MABRA people yelling "move up Leslie", "great job CycleLife", etc. Unfortunately I was at my limit just clinging to what was left of the field. But the voices helped ensure I stayed with them in the last few laps when it would have been way easier to just let them go.

Somehow an Aaron's rider got away (Kat Carroll) while Tibco, Cheerwine, Colavita, and Advil chased. The Aaron's rider held on to win with Brooke Miller (Tibco) winning the field sprint for 2nd, and Tina Pic (Colavita) 3rd. I held on by my fingernails to finish 21st.

The best part was that with the generous purse, I earned just enough to pay for the speeding ticket acquired in VA on the way down!

Complete results and a more comprehensive race report are here.

Sunday's Hanes Park Classic was another story. It was hot and everyone was exhausted from the day before. While the course is somewhat hilly and twisty, it wasn't quite as selective and the field stayed mostly together.

With 3 laps to go riders started diving for position and it got dangerous. I was having no part of any crashes and started backing off which turned out to be a good thing. No teams could keep the pace high enough and riders kept trying to get towards the front. With one lap to go the field mushroomed across the road at the start/finish and a huge crash took out about 20 riders. Bodies were everywhere!

After unclipping and stepping over the carnage, I realized the riders ahead of the crash were out of sight. I waivered on whether to keep going but decided to roll around with a Verducci rider just to finish. When we crossed the finish line they were still dealing with the mayhem and a number of riders that weren't in the crash were standing on the sidelines. I thought the race was over, but apparently they neutralized and restarted the field and they still hadn't finished. We watched from the sidelines as Brook Miller (Tibco) ended up beating Tina Pic (Colavita) again in the sprint with Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Verducci) getting 3rd. There were a number of us standing around who thought we had finished, but hadn't realized they had added another lap until the riders in contention came through. I wasn't sticking around to sort it out though. 30th? 40th? 50th? DNF? I'd lived to fight another day and am happy enough with that. Unfortunately Lorena Candrian (HPC) was caught up in the crash and may need a new bike. So if anyone has extras lying around...