Race Report – 2017 Frostbite TT

Photo by Shawn Curry

Making my “I only race this on odd years” return to time trialing…

2013: 36:28.428

2015: 32:05.982

2017: 29:27.5

Umm… what?!  Sub 30 minutes?!

So this race kinda started out a bit hectic.  On Thursday I decided to schedule a bike fit for my new-to-me 2007 Felt B2 aero bike I had purchased off Ebay a few months prior.  Turns out it wasn’t the simple fit process that I thought it would be, and there would be chopping, and new parts, and many many shims to get the older technology to fit with modern day parts.  Patrick at Bicycle Station tidied up my fit at 5:30pm on Friday night, and I was sent out the door for a test ride in the impending darkness around the local neighborhood.  Procrastination almost got me, but they came through with a TT bike that now fit me perfectly!

Second hectic bit… I failed to correctly set my alarm on Saturday morning.  Saturday is not a weekday, or so my iPhone says, and I set an alarm for 7:05am on weekdays.  Luckily I received a wake up call, and I quickly threw on my skinsuit and some socks, and threw everything in my car.

Third hectic bit… the line to pick up bib numbers was insanely long… like 15-20 minutes long.

Breathe, Heidi, breathe.

So needless to say, I was on my trainer a bit later than anticipated for my warm up.  I haven’t really been feeling healthy lately, and was feeling rather apathetic about the pain to come.  I did about 20 minutes, with about one minute of actual true effort.  But it loosened up my legs.  I had enough time to braid my hair, get all aero-d up, pee, and head to the start line.

My start went good and I settled in for my half hour or so of pain.  There was a slight headwind on the southbound leg, and it really caused me to lose some motivation.  My chest and lungs burned.  I was coughing/puking up thick mucus that got stuck everywhere (my face, skinsuit, then my hand which smeared it all over my left aero bar).  To my surprise I caught several cat 4 women’s racers, which was a first, as usually I only catch the youngest of juniors.  I came into the turnaround point a smidge over 14 minutes.  I knew I was laying down a fast time, but wasn’t sure how that would translate going north, which is slight uphill (maybe 1% average, more rolling terrain than anything).  Usually I do well on this portion since I have the knack for laying down power on false flat climbs.  There didn’t seem to be a tailwind to help the efforts, in fact it felt more like a crosswind.  Booooo!

My kit coordination was on point! (Photo by Shawn Curry)

About two miles out it dawned on me that I could possibly break the 30 minute mark.  I was pretty unsure at how my 23 mph pace played into how fast I can ride a mile (I’m horrible at math).  Coming towards the finish there’s a downhill roller, flat stretch, than an uphill roller into the finish line.  I knew at a 1.5 minutes out from 30 that I just had to go for it, so I shifted and mashed down hard.  I ended up doing some weird out of the saddle, but still in the aero bars power sprint (butt was maybe a few inches above the saddle).  I passed another cat 4, and just put on the pain face and powered through with 32.5 seconds to spare!

Finish line pain face (Photo by Shareen Muldrow)

Woohoo!

Naturally, SW3 (oh, this was my first cat 3 race, yay!) is a competitive field.  I finished 10th, but only seconds out of several places higher.  It was nice to see how close we were all grouped.  I was 1:55 out of first, which is a pretty close margin for me, as historically it was much much much bigger!  I kinda whined once I saw I would’ve won the cat 4 race by 20 seconds, but hey, that’s what happens when you upgrade and play with the big girls!  Just happy it wasn’t a complete blow out, and that I rode the course faster than I thought I ever could!

(Trying something new for race reports, a summary of… things)

Bike: 2007 Felt B2

Equipment: Voler aero long sleeve skinsuit, Giro pretty lace up shoes, Giro TT helmet, Handlebar Mustache “winter in the city” socks, Smith sunglasses

Fueling: 24oz of tropical buzz Tailwind Nutrition consumed about 30 minutes before start, nothing during the race.

Race Report: Old Man Winter Bike Rally

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Is it a ride, a rally, or a race?!  Well, the Old Man Winter Bike Rally is a bit of all three.  This is the third year of this event, and until now only the 100km course was timed (with generous equal payouts to the top 5 of each gender).  This year they also timed and placed the 50km course participants.  So you can show up on whatever bike you choose (there’s a mix of everything… road, cross, fat, mountain, tandems, etc), and decide what you want Old Man Winter to be on it’s awesome gravel, paved, and single track course.

Pearl Izumi, one of my AMAZING 2017 sponsors, was kind enough to extend an invitation for me to attend, and I gladly signed up for the 50km course.  I had tried the 100km event during the inaugural 2015 event, but pulled out after 25 miles because my 2x geared cross bike had a horrid lack of climbing gears and my knees hurt, and it was super windy.  I knew the 50km course was a lot flatter, which much of it coming from a road race course I have ridden before.    The weather was looking sunny, not too windy, and highs in the mid 40s, which is quite nice for it being winter in Colorado!  I once again chose my 2x Specialized Crux, as rain/snow was predicted for the night before, and I figure if it would be muddy at all I’d rather muck up that bike.

I really had no game plan, as I’ve been very much in a limbo this off season/base training season and haven’t been riding a bike very much at all.  And the big factor: this would be my first mass start road “race” since the crash last June.  I was very nervous to say the least.  I met up with a few teammates before the race and tried to get close to the front at the start.  Of course at the start some chick next to me decides to ride diagonally across everyone, so I concentrated on getting as far away from her as possible.  Then the pace truck… oh goodness, that person could not hold a constant speed during the several mile long “neutral” rollout, and alternated between 10-15mph and slowing to a near stop, which caused everyone in the peloton to panic brake and swear out loud.  Luckily we all stayed upright and out of trouble, but it was just flat out stupid (the start is on a false downhill flat and the first year I did this event we rolled out at 20+mph which would’ve been much more appropriate than trying to hold us at 10mph).

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Rolling out, doing something I swore I’d never do again! (Photo by Shawn Curry)

Finally we turned onto the gravel and instantly a switch flipped and I went into competitive road racer mode and took off and passed a hefty amount of people.  It hurt, but felt oh so good to put those high watts through my legs.  I love riding and racing on dirt and gravel roads with skinny tires, and instantly knew I could’ve rode my road bike with no issue since it was hard pack and FAST!  But I would make due with Hank Sr.  There were a lot of fast looking girls on the start line, so I tried to pick them off as best I could, but really had no idea how many were in front of me.

Soon I found myself pretty much riding along as the fields spread out.  I didn’t quite have the legs to hang onto most of the guys’ wheels, and the only other girl I had seen, Christen (a fellow PI Amabador), had sped off.  So I just settled into hammering and enjoying the sun on my face.  It’s actually a very pretty course in Boulder County, but I was busy concentrating on going fast, with an occasional glance at the scenery.

They added in a fun little loop at the Reeb Ranch that was part of the 2015 Blue Sky Cup cyclocross race.  This was the only time I saw riding a road bike being a disadvantage on the 50km course, as it was, well, cyclocross-y.  I really enjoyed this stretch, and playfully opened it up.  I would repass Christen, who had to walk her road bike on parts, but she quickly passed me back once we were back on the roads and sped off.  I settled in again, and tried to keep up with drinking my “naked” flavored Tailwind.  I came through an intersection, and a course marshal yelled at me “You’re the second woman through!”

Dammit.

Dammit dammit dammit

This might seem weird, but I hate when people tell me how I’m doing.  Mostly because it tends to be wrong information (like when I was told I was 4th during the Laramie Enduro when I was really 6th).  I yelled back, “What, really?!”  I reasoned with myself that the guy had probably just missed some women who maybe didn’t stick out with “girly” kit colors or something.  But it lit a fire under my ass.  What if I really was in 2nd?  Shoot, podium?!  What?  Time to hammer harder and ignore the pain!

The long paved drag into Hygiene was hard with a headwind and the resistance of knobby tires.  Turning and heading north was even harder because it’s the slightest uphill.  I got stopped at the red light at the intersection to take you back to Lyons, and I was super nervous that another girl would catch me (they enforced red lights since it wasn’t really a “race.”).  Luckily it changed fairly quickly, and for a few miles I was able to pace line with a few guys that also got caught a light.  Lee Waldman peeled off and gave me a good push, which made me laugh and I took to trying to stick with the other two guys.  I would peel off the back a few miles before Lyons, but still tried to keep the power up.  I ended up sprinting across the line as I didn’t want a guy behind me catching me (I don’t care who you are when it comes down to the finish line, male or female).

Luckily this was chip timed and I ran quickly over to the Race Rite table to print my results.

1:42:08.08 and 2nd place!!!

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EEEEEKKK!

OK, that was super awesome!!

Only regret was not racing a road bike, as I think that would’ve been more appropriate for the course conditions, but hey, it was fun to get out and hammer on a bicycle that I never otherwise ride like that – not to mention my ’12 Crux is just a comfy bike.  A power meter would’ve been nice as well.  Strava did do an estimated 204 watt average, which seems right, with a decent amount in the 220-240 range, which I agree is correct, as I’m familiar with how that power range feels.  Most of this race felt like a solo time trial effort, and my heart rate certainly showed that!

Old Man Winter is just such a fun event.  You get awesome socks with your entry, and beer and a meal afterwards.  I also find it great to see friends, teammates, and the photographers in the off season and get caught up on the happenings!

And then it was all over!

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That’s a wrap on 2016’s cyclocross season!

December 3rd was the Rocky Mountain Regional Championships.  Super cold weather, I think maybe about 28 degrees or so for my 10:30am single speed race.  I decided to race both single speed and then women’s open to give my geared bike some love.

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I love love love the course used at regionals! (Photo by Shawn Curry)

Needless to say, single speed went well and I won!  And for the first time I ever I did a proper post up!  I love the course at this venue, even though it’s not super technical and just involves a lot of power riding.  This venue is where I had my first ever USAC cross podium back in January 2014, so I’ve just always been very fond of it.

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In SW Open I realized that riding a geared bike is a lot of hard work.  On the single speed I would be spun out on some parts, and it would be a bit of recovery.  With gears there’s always a harder gear to grab and keep pushing.  My average heart rate was around 190 for the 40+ minute race!  I went back and forth with a couple of other gals for a few laps, but the previous race was felt in my legs, and I hung on for 14th, which wasn’t last.  It was one of the first times I’ve really felt comfortable racing in the open category.

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My geared cross bike is just too pretty to not race once in awhile! (Photo by Brent Murphy)

Next up was states.  This would be the last chance for me to earn points for the Colorado Cross Cup, which I had set up to win, but I knew it would be hard with the depth of talented women in the single speed category.  My SSW race was at 3:30 on Saturday.  I actually didn’t feel like I had a good start, and I crashed hard on a grass corner that I took a little too hot.  I lost two positions, but was able to regain one of them on one of the (too) many cement/pavement sections.  I took beer hand ups on the final 3 laps, and enjoyed the beating of a really physically draining course.  I would finish 5th, which I’m happy about.

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The states course at Westminster City Park had a massive stair run up split in two… run up, ride up grassy off camber, run up some more. (Photo by Shawn Curry)

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The “backside” of the states course had a couple of super steep punchy climbs (Photo by Shawn Curry)

The next day on Sunday I awoke to snow, which was exciting!  My 8am race was the inaugural fat bike race, a non-championshp category.  I figured this would be just a fun race and a chance to ride around on my Dirt Components Thumper carbon wheelset.  Unfortunately I would have another very nasty crash on the first lap, and my left arm yanked around behind me and tweaked my shoulder which I had just completed two months of physical therapy on for the split bicep tendon I have.  I came through the start finish, and Larry (the announcer) called the medics over.  I was crying and felt like a hot mess, and so mad that I had wrecked and re-injured my shoulder.  But I pulled on my big girl skinsuit panties, and got back on my bike for another couple of laps!  Turns out my rear tire would also go flat, so I had to run maybe the last half mile of the final lap.  Man, it just wasn’t my race!

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At least it was fat bike weather for the fat bike race! (Photo by Brent Murphy)

 

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Running my bike through the finish (Photo by Reid Neureiter)

For once I was smart and decided to not start my SW3 race at 10:30.  My shoulder was very tender, and I didn’t want to risk hurting it further.  Plus with two hard crashes and two leg draining races already under my belt, I was tired.

Race season 2016… officially done!

I would end up finishing in 2nd place in single speed for the Colorado Cross Cup.  Like the Shimano CycloX Series, I would miss winning by three points (if only I had earned the points I was banking on at Blue Sky Cup… sigh).  Kind of heartbroken over this, but I can’t really complain about having a cyclocross season that was like no other I had ever had!

4 wins… 9 podiums… 20 races total.

Whew.  So this is what a full cross season feels like!

Big thanks to my über supportive team, 9Seventy Racing; Rufus Design for working with me on an amazing custom skinsuit design; Dirt Components; Specialized Bicycles; Tailwind Nutrition; Qloom Bikewear; and all the photographers that comprise RacerShots that fulfilled my narcissistic race photo loving hopes and dreams!