One thing about being a Master’s racer is that for the most part, racing is just a small part of your life. You hardly get a chance to reflect as your life and daily responsibilities don’t stop, even for National Champions.
I pulled this Facebook post from Nick, my coach at BIC, who I convinced last minute to do the Individual Pursuit. I registered him the night before and he drove up that morning. Here’s what he posted after he got home that day:
I also fell right back into my routine after Nationals and barely got a rough draft of this post in when it’s been almost 2 months! Well, finally, here is a recap of my unexpectedly amazing Master’s Nationals experience!
The first race was the individual pursuit on Wednesday 8/19/2009. I was in one of the last heats of the morning so I had a lot of time to get ready, prep and honestly, the main goal was to keep from getting too hot and to keep hydrated while warming up on the hot infield. I pulled a personal best time (mostly because I can’t remember my times from 1992*) of 2:39.7, which earned me the silver medal.
I missed the gold by .25 seconds to Renee Eastman, not too shabby. That girl is fast (and little like me!)
Thursday the 20th were the Match Sprints, an event I did not participate in as a junior back in the early 1990s. So, I was out here just to have fun. I felt a little under-geared in the 200 meter TT, but pulled out the 3rd fastest time at 12.6 seconds, so far my fasted recorded time. Here I am about to dive down and kill it:
The match sprints are some of the toughest events on the track. Especially when the competitors are evenly matched. I could no longer rely on just my leg speed and talent, I had to use tactics and I was outsmarted by more experienced riders. I was proud to get 4th, especially since sprinters and pursuit riders often stay away from competing in each other’s events. Here’s I am, barely winning one of the rounds in the semis:
Another thing that is difficult about match sprints is that they last all day. So, you spend the day trying to stay warm, yet rested and hydrated. Fatigue is definitely an issue if you’re out on the infield all day preparing to sprint. Then, dealing with recovering mentally when you lose a sprint can also be tough. I did have a great time. Here I am on the podium. As you can see, match sprinters are tall:
The Women’s 35-39 points race was originally scheduled for Saturday morning, but got moved to Friday night to be combined with the Women 30-34 riders. Thus, I didn’t get the rest day I was hoping for after the grueling day of Match Sprints. I barely hung on the entire race and didn’t take any points. I made it in at 9th in the end. Here I am at the top of the track:
Finally had a rest day on Saturday, and ate the best recovery meal at Cherry Cricket in Denver. The plan was to drive back to Colorado Springs on Sunday morning for the team events, but I got the call that my dad had broken his collarbone in the points race Saturday night–he was at the bottom of a major pileup just as he had bridged back up to the main field. So, a quick bit of packing and hotel reservation away and we were back in the Springs for a late night. Here’s my dad doing his first pursuit:
The next morning, I had 2 final events, Team Sprint and Team Pursuit. Without much practice, Carol Kauder and I did the Team Sprint together. In the team sprint, each rider does one full lap. With just 2 riders, you’ve got a total of 2 laps as fast as possible. It’s crazy how close to Carol I thought I was in this picture, just after the start (she lead the first lap) but in reality I’m pretty far off her wheel. I bridged the gap, but a bit more practice will make us a tighter unit for next year:
Finally, I was asked to be on a Team Pursuit team with Renee Eastman and Kate Gracheck last minute. Thanks to Amy Creed for giving up her spot for me. We didn’t get a chance to practice much, but with Renee and I having the two fastest Individual Pursuit times of the competition and our prior experience with Team Pursuit (albeit mine being 17 years old) we knew we’d have a great time riding together. It was a total surprise that we won!
Finally! A National Championship jersey of my very own! And, we set the National Record for Team Pursuit!
(On a side note, I had some silver medals from Nationals as a junior, but never won a jersey. And, I was on the first junior women’s team pursuit team to set the national record in 1992, but as it was not an official event, we didn’t get jerseys. We did get our names in the record books though! The junior women’s record has since been broken.)
So, of course I had a lot of amazing supporters during this somewhat tumultuous year. Maybe someday I’ll write about all that, but for now, a generous thank you to (and I’m sure I forgot a ton of folks..)
Andy Carlson for taking time off work during Nationals to be my loving and supporting right hand man. Not to mention his expert Team Pursuit advice (he’s a former Junior World Team Pursuiter)
Steven Herzfeld for being an awesome face for BIC and letting me borrow his fast wheels. They made all the difference.
Nick Traggis for being my unpretentious coach at BIC. I say unpretentous because I spent most of the year wearing a t-shirt and struggling to get back into shape.
Emanuel Alongi, my dad, for trying out the track and doing Nationals with me!
Jud Valeski for being a stellar friend and supporter.
Chris Echelemeier for bugging me to get back on the track last winter, even when I kept saying no or postponing a million times.
Cari Higgins for being really encouraging and a wonderful pro rider to look up to.
David Tiemeyer for making some comment about I should consider setting a Master’s record even though I was fat and out of shape in February when I went to get fit for my bike. Glad he saw something that I did not.
Rob Johnson for texting me on January 2nd to make sure I had signed up for the Triple Bypass, even though I was out of shape, discouraged and didn’t want to do it.
Eddie O’Neil for being a really fun training partner and coworker.
Carol Kauder for getting started on the track racing in February. We make a good team!
Starting this week, I will be competing in Master’s Track National Championships at the 7-11 Olympic Velodrome in Colorado Springs. For those not familiar, Master’s categories are age grouped starting at 30 years and older. I’ll be competing in the women’s 35-39 group.
I never intended to race again, let alone compete in a nationals event. I was a former US National Cycling Team member when I was young and gave up the sport in 1993. In those days it was very difficult to make a living as woman cyclist and they didn’t even yet have a pro category for women yet. Not to mention the amount of time involved to properly train to that caliber. I opted for the college/grad school/work route instead.
After moving back to Boulder a few years ago to work at OneRiot (formerly Me.dium), I started to get interested in my bike again. My very first blog post was inspired by one of those first rides I did last summer. Then, they opened the indoor velodrome in Boulder this winter and I got a chance to ride the fixed gear again, which is great for folks that work during the day as you can ride it at night and in the cold winter weather.
Competing again after 15 years has been an interesting experience for me. There’s the excitement, the goals, the pressure, the bad days. All of the emotional aspects of preparing for a race are completely different from just simply riding and being in shape, and all the memories, insecurities, and self identity based on results stuff from when I was competing before have come out of the woodwork. But, during this year, I’ve been able to redefine my relationship with cycling and competition.
This redefinition has been the most fun and eye opening experience out of all of this, and I feel lucky that I’ve gotten a chance to revisit something I love and remember why I love it. So, of course I want to do well this week, but I also know that it doesn’t matter. I’ve already gotten what I need.
Here’s my schedule:
Wednesday, August 19th, 9:00am: 2k TT (pursuit)
Thursday, August 20th, all day: Match Sprints
Saturday, August 22, 9:00am: Points Race
Sunday, August 23, 9:00am: Team Sprint (with Carol Kauder)
I was going to race the Omnium today at Boulder Indoor Cycling, and in my usual fashion of being slightly late, I don’t leave much time for errors, like forgetting my pedals. Being that it’s a bit of a gloomy day, I decided to take the opportunity to do something I haven’t done in a while–blog–and what better subject than the reason I got into blogging, cycling!
But soon, I won’t have to worry about forgetting the pedals because they’ll be permanently attached to my bike. BIC rents Fujis and Blues, which are fabulous to ride, but having one of my own will be even more fabulous!
David Tiemeyer ran a special for BIC members this winter on a custom track frame, so I decided to go for it. David has a rich background in building aerodynamic frames for some of the best cyclists in the world. He worked on the US National team frames with GT in the early 90′s, then went on to design the frames used in the Atlanta, Sydney and Athens Olympic games.
I went in for a custom fitting in February at his studio in Estes Park. As an engineer, I was truly impressed with the level of technology he employed for the fitting, which included measuring my heart rate and work output to decide what angles gave me the best advantage. After a few hours in his studio and a number of design revisions based on fork choices, etc, he came up with this:
Once the design was agreed upon, David set out to do the actual welding. He let me know that he spends most of his time on design, while a smaller fraction on actual welding. This frame is made of aluminum with titanium drop outs. The fork is pre-built carbon (I’ll be getting the JetStream Oval fork rather than the one shown below).
Now the bike is off to the paint shop, Spectrum Powder Works in Colorado Springs, to be exact, where they’ll give it a nice powder coat. Picking the color was the hardest part of the process and if I had a bigger budget, I would have done a few more fancy details. The nice thing is that I can always get this repainted in the future. For now, I’m going with the Red/Orange:
Stay tuned for part 2, when I show the actual built bike and maybe I can talk someone into taking some photos of me actually racing it. I would really love to have an all black long-sleeved skinsuit with the Gnip logo on the back (hint, hint!)
I got a chance to speak at the February edition of Ignite Boulder. It was a hoot!
The video is now on YouTube
The slideshow is here: