Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Duluth Classic Stage Race, Stage 1 - Wrenshall TT

As you can tell, I'm writing up my summary retrospectively. What can I say? Without a laptop, I have to keep to the archaic method of waiting until I get home. So, to make it easier for the handful of readers, I wrote it so Day One is at the top, and you can just work your way down. Again, its all a jumble of memories at this point, so it'll be a brief summary of the weekend. Stop me sometime and ask...I know there's a lot I'll leave out. :O)

Stage One was a 16 mile TT in Wrenshall, MN. Still early in my experience with El Gato, I was so excited to get 'em back out there for another ride. The rollers were of little worry for me, as we cruised over them gently. I couldn't believe the speed I could keep up and feel my heart so under control. For the first time, I was so comfortable and in control that I didn't even look at my mileage until I'd already gone 10 miles. Knowing I only had 6 miles to go, I dug as deep as I could and dropped it into a harder gear.

I was so cross-eyed that I didn't even see the officials as I blew by them. Two miles later with no cyclists or officials in sight, my eyes welled up with moisture and my breath disappeared. In a panic, I turned around and sprinted back to miles in some attempt to make sure I hadn't missed a turn. Luckily, I found the finish line conveniently located in my original path, and they giggled at me when I asked if I finished. Talk about being deep inside the hurt locker....I didn't even know I was done. To my surprise, I finished in 5th place in a time of 45:10, with an average speed of 21.5. Sure I would have loved to come up with some wicked fast time, blowing the field away but, hey! I'm just not there....yet.

Zach did fabulously, riding his tail off on his stock Fara, finishing 16th in 48:45. Jay rode great, too, only 2 minutes down from the winner in his field. Nice work, guys! You two never cease to amaze me!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Stage 2 - South Range Road Race

Saturday was exciting, as we woke early for the drive to South Range, WI. This was to be my bro's first big road race, and I couldn't have been more amped for him.

Jay followed behind my field in Tone's support truck for the duration of our race. This was the first time Amy, Jacki and I got to ride as a team together - what a joy. The pack held tight through the first lap, not shelling any riders until we neared the 2nd. The pace was awesome! We got into some sections when we'd just FLY!

Yep, Dad, that's us cruising at 33mph. :O)

Jacki is by far our strongest rider, so I pulled her up to the front and tried to split the field when a gal went off the front. I got her up there, adn we continued to work hard until the finish. Coming up the finishing hill with less than 500m to go, I was sitting around 9th in our 10+ pack. As the riders started to attack, I frogger'd my way out of my cage and unleashed my best sprint ever...taking 4th in the sprint, and 3rd in my Category!! Yowza, that was bad a$$! Jacki rocked out a sweet 1st place finish, throwing her hands high in the air. Amy came in right with the pack too, having kept a great pace all day.

After us, the boys went. The 35+ Open Men's field was off the chain - making up over 5 minutes on the 1/2's to finish the 17 mile loop before them on t he first lap! Unfortunately, that whipped Jay off the back early, but he kept 'er steady to finish off the stage and compete again the next day.

Zach had a pretty rough time, having missed a turn on his second lap due to an out of control car.... I guess someone snapped a tie-rod and careened through the turn, into a ditch, and the corner marshall left his post to help out. Luckily, someone caught up with him and the rider at his side and got them to turn around. Weary, road worn, and red faced, Zach finished out his first road race! I'm so proud!!! Nice work, kid!
Afterwards, what else would we do than grab some burgers and beers at a local hangout? We headed into Superior on our way back to the hotel and filled up at the Anchor Bar. And what do we see when we arrive? A Hollywood Cycles sticker under the address! And we didn't even put it there - it's been there for years. Yep, its true, he gets around.
Full, tired, and satisfied, we retreated to the hotel for some rest. We laid low all evening, grabbing some time in the hot tub, and a late dinner with friends. Before midnight, we were fast asleep.

Stage 3 - Duluth Road Race

Distance - 37 miles.
1 LARGE climb - need to climb 4 times.
Elevation change - more than 300 ft of elevation change in less than 1.5 miles. 235 feet of elevation change in last 1/2 mile of climb.

Stage 3 was the Duluth Road Race. This one was to be tough, even by Tone's standards, but I tried not to worry. The killer was a 1K+ climb we had to tackle 4 times.... Tone was sweet enough to start us at the bottom, and make us finish at the top 3 laps later (thanks Tone!). Keep in mind in this picture, we're only 2/3's of the way up.....
The fog was beautiful as we pedaled through the north woods. Fortunately, it burned off quick and the sun came out to warm us once again. So much so that the support vehicle slowed along side us on the first lap, entertaining us with music as we shed some layers.

The course was full of climbs and rollers alike and the field seemed to be having fun. We kept the group together until we hit the massive ascent again, shedding a few riders on the climb. Though the well planned meals and relaxing in the hot tub left me feeling great, I hung onto the back hoping to learn from the amazing group of women I was riding in. By the 3rd time up the hill, exhaustion was starting to reveal itself in some of us. The pack was smaller still and, as we got to the top, I got dropped. I bombed the following downhill, reaching 38mph in a desperate attempt to get back onto the lead group. Unfortunately, my solo pursuit and TT efforts weren't enough to catch back on, and I found myself alone on the road.

Jacki and Sue bridged up to me and gave me a rest after a few miles. We worked together as we tried to keep pace and finish the race. The 3 of us rocked it all the way to the final climb, only to go into solo mode for the final push. I ended up coming in 7th, Jacki in 8th, and Sue took first in her 40+ field. Amy (our little mountain goat), made the break, finishing 6th with the leaders!
Hollywood's Hellions on the attack

Hwood never ceases to surprise me, as he rode phenomonally in the race, finishing just outside the top 10. I know it's still early in the year, but I see that he's really starting to come on! Nice work, Sugar! It was a blast cheering for you, and having you out there cheering us on - Thanks.

Stage 4 - Cloquet Criterium

The morning started off sunny and warm as we packed the car for the final day of racing. Unfortunately, as we neared Cloquet, the clouds thickened and our car was dampened with drizzling rain. Nothing, however, could dampen our drive to get Jacki into first place for the GC.

My stomach turned as the wind whirled around us as we tried to warm our bodies on the trainers. All 3 of us, in a line of black n white Faras under the camper awning, readying ourselves for the race to come. The rain came down harder and harder as the temperatures dropped, making me question whether I really wanted to race another day. Luckily, it let up before our race, with enough time for the 50+ to dry up the course with a few quick laps.
The race began pretty smooth, with Barb leading the pace. Within a few laps, Jacki was already off the front for a few laps. Unfortunately, Amy and I were on the back of the pack when she took off, so we did everything we could not to get dropped in the pursuit...we had nothing left to counter when we all regrouped and the pack reformed again. Lap after lap, the group got more aggressive as we neared the bell.
When it finally rang, the energy in the pack became like a neon buzz...vibrating between us, electric in the cold, damp air. The climb after turn one was relaxed, each person contemplating their finishing move. As we ascended the second climb, you could hear the cadence increase and the gears drop in preparation of the decent. Sitting in 4th at the top of the hill, my mind was ready to win the final sprint. As we neared the bottom, I lost a place or two, but it was my rear wheel sliding out on the final turn that ended that fleeting thought. I spent the finishing stretch doing everything I could to at least retain my place in the pack. Luckily, I was able to nab a gal on the line with my final burst of energy leftover from the long weekend.
I ended up taking 5th in the crit (a few finishers in front of me were part of the 40+ field), taking 6th of 12 in the GC. Top 50% baby - my goal was met!!!! And what a blast it was! Jacki took 1st overall, and Amy came in right behind me in 7th. What a time it was racing with my new team!

Jay, however, was the big winner for the day! As the rain started again, the 35+ Masters sat on the starting line debating the length of the race. Once nothing could be solved, they reluctantly pedaled into the cold drizzle. Not 5 laps in, Jay spun his glasses along the wet pavement to me since they were doing him more harm than good. Lap after lap, though, he was sitting great and riding even better. With only 2 to go, Jay took off on a solo flyer and kept it going. The field couldn't catch him, as he bombed the wet downhill, prepped to slide out at the bottom, yet ecstatic when it didn't happen. As I waited impatiently at he finish line, I kept my fingers crossed that he'd at least keep the bike upright. To my surprise, Hwood rounded the final turn solo and rolled it in for an uncontested win, with enough time to open his rain coat and solute! And did I mention he did it all without his glasses?

Check out the finish...[warning - you may want to turn down your volume. Supposedly I can be pretty loud]

Way to go baby! I am so proud of you.
Tone & Crew, thank you SO MUCH for putting on such an amazing race! That was BY FAR the best race weekend I've ever had. Can't wait til next year!

Resting up,
Kristy Kreme

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Red Eye Ride

I sit here on Saturday night, almost shocked by the miles we've covered in the last 24 hours.

Yesterday, I kidnapped Jay from work and hour before close to make a bee line for Cable, WI by dark. We got up to Lakewoods in time for a beer, a soak, and some silly times watching Doug, Lance, Hwood, and Mr. Grand Stay waz out on Buck Hunter for hours! Sure, arcade games are not my typical race prep routine, but no one could deny how much fun it was to see Doug, AKA Dan's Brother, spaz out over shooting a doe, and Hwood enforce the "Nuge" rules in our first 'smoking' bar in months.

First thing this AM, we rolled out of our comfy bed to register for the Cable Off Road Classic, only to find the GS Three hacking away at Extreme Hunter yet again. Jay signed up for the full 23, while I got registered for the 18 mile course. This was my second time out (Jay's 100th or so), so I had an idea of what to expect. As I did last year, I brought out the Baloney Pony for some Single Speed action, but Jay was sweet enough to upgrade my bike with a suspension fork. It paid off huge over the rocky terrain and I'm still grateful to this moment!

The course was pretty gnarly, with a number of trees we actually had to dismount to get by. I figured it was the perfect venue to test my CX skills, but my remounts were a little rusty. My 32-16 was sweet as I danced on the pedals up the hills time and time again - I love that bike. And it was a total trip meeting a gal who reads my blog! Thanks for saying Hi, Heather! You did awesome, Wookie! :O) And thanks for reading.

Again, my goal was to beat my time from last year, so I pushed myself as hard as I could. With 3 miles to go, I got stuck in some mud and went down, bashing my knee into my handle bar on the way. I did everything I could to keep my food in and focus on breathing. I got back on my bike after I tried to walk it off for a few feet, and was able to push past it by the time we hit the mile mark.

Knowing we've got a TT tomorrow, I tucked into a smaller position, lightened my hands on the bars, and TT'd it all the way home. Picking off geared men one after another fueled my ride the entire way. Then, I crossed the finish as I saw my topless Hwood cheering at the top of his lungs! Unfortnately, my time was actually 27 minutes slower than last year, but it seemed as though those results spread far across the board.

I ended up taking 10th in the women, and 2nd in my age group! Jay finished 17th overall - Way to go my love!!!! We hit the road the second I got my fabulous award and headed home.Jay and I traded naps for driving....Almost exactly 24 hours later, we walked through the front door and straight into bed. Now, a couple of ibu's and ice packs later, we've finally risen from bed just in time to grab some grub before the midnight USELESS show at the Uptown Bar and Grill. Get out and rock!

Running on empty,
Kristy Kreme

TT-a-GoGo

Yep, it's that time of year, when races are a plenty and time is unheard of. After the fur-fight at the Dog, I was amped to take on the next TT challenge - the Bike Club TT Challenge in Withrow, MN. Somehow, Mother Nature decided to lay off on us after Ken Woods and Durand by gracing our presence with much milder winds and some temps in the upper 50's.

Having made buds with the beastly feline at Black Dog earlier in the week, my anxiety was decreased as I got El Gato ready for the race. With the only goal for my race being to beat my time from last year, I was calm as I joked with the ladies in line at the start.

I melted into my aero bars as I began the course, and focused on all the advice I'd ever been given. Focusing on the sound of my breath, I felt calm once again as I pushed myself to new standards I'd never known. I raced my heart out and was so excited to see Jacki and Adelle cheering just before the finish. I dropped her down a couple gears and blew through the finish at 29.6 mph! Holy frijole, I was cookin'!
Skinnyski

When the results were posted, I was still shocked to see that I got yet another PR, finishing 2:43 faster than my time last year with 38:43!!! I took 4th place in the Women's 4's group! Jacki was just seconds ahead of me in 3rd, and Amy finished strong for her first showing in 11th. Afterwards, I was quick to replenish with a tasty barley soda and some fun times with friends.
TT Maniac,
Kristy Kreme

Monday, May 12, 2008

Round One: Cat vs Dog

Last year, one of my greatest learning experiences was racing the Black Dog Time Trials. Not only did I learn how to ride my bike faster, but how to shove my entire body into the pain locker and come out smilin'. And now, to my pleasure, Black Dog is back and kickin'.

Round one was perfect - beautiful weather, a parking lot of 120 of our closest friends, and some sweet bikes. This was my first race on El Gato Negro, my new Javelin Amarone done up in all black with HED. aero bars and Jet 60's. New to the TT bike scene, I tried to keep my cool before the race by chillin to my tunes on the trainer.

I was a little worried about racing, since our training day made my arm go numb again, but nothing could stop me from trying. I iced like crazy, kitted up, and rolled quietly to the line as my number neared. Once they released me from the start, my bike and I cozied up for the ride. Completely blowing me away, El Gato was the most comfortable thing I could have imagined. That, and I was almost a breeze riding at a higher speed than I did all last year.

Quiet....calm.....relaxed, I made my way past the factory. As the turn-around neared, I looked at my time for the first time.....I was on pace for a new PR! I kept my wits about me and tried to remember how to make that turn at speed (I really hope next time will go better, cuz I completely failed at the turn - oops). Sitting back into my aero bars, my breathing was relaxed as I tried desperately to stifle the excitement growing in my chest.

It was such a shock to me that my heart didn't even hit the next octave until I passed by the factory on the way back. My breathing finally caught up with me, but yet was still controllable. As I neared the shicane before the finish, I kicked it into a lower gear and cranked up another MPH or two more. I didn't have a sprint left for the finish, but I was able to dig deep all the way across the line. Seeing Jay right after the finish, I was ecstatic about a possible PR, talking wildly about each minute I'd spent on the course. Little did I know that the biggest surprise was yet to come....

Once the results were finally posted, I made my way across the parking lot somewhat reluctantly. My eyes near bugged out of my head when I saw a 6th place finish in a time of 18:17, 26 seconds faster than my personal record at the Dog, and 31 seconds faster than I did it on a TT bike last summer! YOWZA!!!!!

I definitely was one of those last year that thought a TT bike couldn't make that huge of a difference (as I rode all but 2 TT's in '07 on my stock Fara), but I was blatantly wrong. My bike was so comfortable, oi! Definitely, if you're a TT'er or even a roadie, GET FIT FOR YOUR BIKE! We've got some good time spent into just the fitting of El Gato, and I wouldn't have asked for less. Not only was it comfortable, but my power output was so efficient, that the race near felt effortless. And of course, go to the best....he knows his bikes!

Round One: Cat beats Dog into submission

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Monday, May 5, 2008

Rockin' and Ridin' as usual

Saturday was the Marty Road Race in Marty, MN. Sure, the calendar said May, but the March temps still lingered and the wind-chill kept the temps below 30 for the morning. The best part, though, was that it was the first race out with a 3-gal team in the field. Jacki, Amy, and I kitted up to Bleed Silver in the 20+ mph winds for 36 miles.

With strong cross winds bearing down on us from the get-go, a few minor attacks began on the opening stretch. Making sure I stayed on, cold legs and all, I threw myself after them each time. When my teammate Jacki was the one attacking, I instinctively sat up, watching her roll away with 4 gals giving chase. Before long, Amy and I formed a chase group with 4 other gals, but did little to try and chase them down. But, then again, I don't know if any of us were trying to chase down the leaders.... more like stay away from the riders we dropped.

I had a blast as we fought hard in the wind, but laughed and joked when climbing and riding out the tailwind. But I kept outta my own head and had fun. By the end of the race, we found out that the OC (Jacki) Bled Silver big time, taking home the Gold! Nice work, chica! I finished a satisfied 8th, with Amy close behind in 12th.
In the Men's field, Chad and Madness took 2nd & 3rd, with Jay in 7th in the 35+. In the 50+, Mark and the double Daves swept the entire field! My kid bro, unfortunately, had a major muscle let down and was unable to finish his first race. Hang in there kid, it gets better. Nice work, though, Silver! Keep it up.

After some major cat-nappin' that afternoon, we headed out late to catch Useless playing new-Cougar Noy's 40th birthday bash north of the loop. Groggy and noodle-legged, we didn't get there until almost 11:00, just in time to catch Randy tuning his guitar. Within no time, the show stepped aside for some Motley-Tuesday style fun.... entertaining us with Hollywood and Crossmax on the vocals, Wheels on the bass, and Randy leading the show of all shows. Hollywood even got to fulfill a childhood dream as he played KISS's 'God of Thunder' on the bass, and Stibbs didn't even have to come to the rescue! It was a great time, and the whole gang was there....Terri, Leslie, Jet Boy, Al, Stibbs, Wheels, and Crossmax.... I'm pretty sure I caught a glimps of my wedding reception that night.... I wonder if my parents really know what they're getting themselves into....??????

Sunday was a fabulous day of sleeping in, since we all know those days are sadly numbered. By noon, though, we were on the TT bikes, prepping for the week's events. The Jordan Slayer, sadly, has found a new home....but it pales in comparison to my new all-black beauty (pics and vids to come....they're currently housed at Hollywood Cycles).

That's right - Black Dog is just 2 days away kids! Make sure to get yerselves down there for some sweet TT'in, chillin' and pizza in the parking lot!

Aero-dreamin'
Kristy Kreme