Monday, March 30, 2009

Cycling spring break.

Notre Dame road race: three laps of a 10-mile loop with a good-size hill that dropped me further back each time. Not a great result, but it was my first B-race, so I didn't have many expectations anyway. Following the race, we drove the rest of the day to Georgia. Got lost on the way and finally arrived at 5am, exhausted.

Easy 35-mile recon ride to initially scope out the area. Realized quickly that flats don't exist, just rolling hills. Even the highways in Blairsville seem like heaven compared to the ugly pothole riding in Evanston.

Large group ride, all fifteen of us. 58 miles total, including a 4-mile climb up Neel's Gap. Already I'm learning how to shift more smoothly and what climbing style suits my body best, as well as how to descend with more control. By drafting a heavier rider down a descent, I managed to reach 44.1mph.

Eight of us completed a 35-mile route that took us over three gaps: Neels Gap, Woody Gap, and Wolf Pen Gap. The latter two climbs have been in the Tour de Georgia, and we could still see painted names of pro riders on the roads. I'm starting to understand the rhythm of climbing.

28-mile recovery ride. Legs and butt so very sore.

Last day in Georgia, all of us drove out to the famous Brasstown Bald mountain. Highest peak in Georgia, 2.5 miles of a beyond-category climb. The fog was so thick that it felt like I was riding right into the clouds. I went so slowly that it took me over half an hour to get up, but the feeling of reaching the summit was unbeatable.

Loaded up all the cars, said goodbye to the dear cabin, and drove all day to Michigan.

Pictures from Georgia: one, two, three.

Michigan State road race: four laps of a 5-mile loop. I was unable to mark an early attack by a strong UChicago girl, so I spent the majority of the race chasing the front group with my teammate Emma. We efficiently shared the work and managed to stave off the rest of the pack behind us, placing 9th and 10th.

UMichigan circuit race: six laps of a 2.2-mile loop. Damn UChicago girl again attacked up the first hill. Like an idiot, I chased her hard for a lap, and then was so out of breath that I immediately dropped back the next lap. Still, I finished with my teammate Hannah in 5th and 6th place.

Pictures from the race weekend: one, two, three, four


Spring break in Georgia introduced me to swallowing pain. I surprised myself every day with how I could continue going up and up despite the hurting. Knowing that my body can take much more than I think it can is a confidence-booster that I will use to hammer away at the remaining races this season.

Bike-racing is beautiful in its unpredictability and its vast room for improvement. There are lessons gained with each race that I do -- tactical lessons, as well as physical and mental ones. I feel like I'm nowhere near hitting my potential with racing, and that is huge incentive to keep learning and keep moving up. The end of this year will not be the end of my racing endeavors.

Riding bikes aside, spending time with my teammates made spring break so very memorable. We laughed hard and much, ate a lot, learned about each other, encouraged each other, suffered with each other, and enjoyed beautiful rides and different places together. These people are dear to me.

So sad to see the week end.


cecil said...

is it illegal to ride in a road race on one gear? not fixed, just single?

Faye said...

No. Just disadvantageous.

cecil said...

such as? legitimately curious

Nerdy G said...

Love this entry. Your discussion of your self-learning is spectacular, best of luck in your answers. Visit me in Seattle, we should ride together.

Nerdy G said...

Thanks for the post on my blog. I hope you had a good Easter! I'm actually thinking of taking up cycling - we should have coffee sometime and talk about it, given I'm a n00b.