Race Report: Texas State Road Race Championship Weekend by Joy Brott

The 9th annual Texas State Road Race Championship took place this year in  September at Ft Hood under the race direction of Andy Hollinger.  It’s normally a 33 mile no-center-line rule loop but was modified for 2017 due to construction. This year it was an out-and-back course that was 34.5 miles. Racers do either 1, 2 or 3 laps.

The Category Championship events take place on Saturday; the Age Group Championship events take place on Sunday.

As I’ve done for the past several years, I raced both days.  On the road, I’m a Cat 3, so I raced in the women’s Cat 3 event on Saturday (which was 69 miles total, or 2 laps).  On Sunday, I raced in the combined women’s Age Group wave in the…gulp…45-54 year old division for 1 lap.

This race is known as a tough, hilly road race with challenging climbs, wind, free-range cattle, great scenery, along with the occasional sighting of helicopters & tanks.

While the Women’s Cat 3 field on Saturday wasn’t huge, it had fast, experienced ladies.   It was an awesome change of pace to do this LONG (69 mile) road race in a morning timeslot (thank you, Andy!) since in previous years, the Cat 3 women raced in the afternoon.

More smiles at Ft Hood!

Lap #1 was hard & fast with an unexpected attack in the feed zone that had me scrambling along with Margie Monroy (who did me a HUGE favor by working hard to bridge us back up to the main field—thank you again, Margie!).  Things became even more tough on the 2nd lap with the eventual 1st & 2nd place finishers escaping the main peloton.

As sometimes happens, the remaining ladies in the main chase group just couldn’t get ourselves organized to catch these ladies.  So, when the main group made it to the finish line, we had a sprint finish for 3rd-5th place on the podium.  I came in 2nd in the group sprint, behind the wickedly-fast Natalie Pruitt, so that translated into a 4th place on the Women’s Cat 3 podium.

Women’s Cat 3 State Road Race Podium—that’s me in 4th place in the red jersey (of course!)

Sunday’s race was only 1 lap with a combined field of ALL women’s age group races.  Team ATC had the biggest presence with strong riders across all age group competitions.  Shortly after the start, the ladies of ATC moved to the front to set the pace.

It was no surprise that 2 of the strongest riders from Team ATC (Kat Hunter & Christie Tracy) broke away from the main field at different times & later joined forces to win their respective age groups: both are stellar time trialists at the national level.

On my end, I felt great the entire race: I spent much of the summer riding in the  mountains of Colorado & dropped quite a bit of weight during the past year.  And my coach (Chad Welch) has had me on a pretty intensive program since he started coaching me last November. So, that translated into my feeling great on all of the climbs.

Unfortunately for me, I hit a small, random rock in the road about 6 miles from the finish & flatted.  After a rear wheel change, I did my best to chase the main field.  But, I couldn’t quite make it up to them by the time they sprinted for the finish line so I came in solo a bit behind the main field.

After I finished, I texted Chad to give him the news about my flat: I was sure that I came in last place since I didn’t see anyone behind me & I knew I didn’t finish with the main field.  I was bummed but I couldn’t be too upset.  It was just bad luck: I’d had a great road race season with several wins & multiple podiums (not to mention that Leadville belt buckle!).

Post race smiles with 4 fellow podium ladies: Eileen Gaughran, Yulie Johnson & Roz Theesfeld (with me in red, of course!)

Then, about 10 minutes later, someone told me I should check the results anyway since I might have still made it onto the podium.  I wasn’t convinced, but I decided to hang out & wait for results to be posted.

Age group State RR podium time! Can you believe we’re all 45-54 years old?!…

Well, much to my surprise, I came in 2nd in my age group field.  What I hadn’t realized is that, with the combined age group fields, we had lost all but 2 people in my age group in the main pack. So, even though my flat caused me not to in finish with the main field, I still took 2nd place in my age group.  So, my mood went from feeling bummed & a bit disappointed to sheer happiness!  And, just as exciting, Margie had won her race in the sprint finish!

So, 2 days & 2 podiums at Ft Hood was a great way to wrap up the Texas road racing season.  Now…onto cyclocross season!…

All smiles after my 2nd place finish even with a flat!

Race Report: Chappell Hill Bank Classic Road Race by Joy Brott

Always a great time @ Chappell Hill!

One of the last races on the Texas road race calendar is the Chappell Hill Bank Classic Road Race.  2017 was the 21st year for this race…wow!  It’s well supported by the sponsoring club, @NorthWestCyclingClub (NWCC) & race director, Val Tiemann.  And proceeds benefit the NWCC Junior Racers: NWCC does a phenomenal job with their Junior Racers, so it’s great to help to support such a worthy cause by racing a bike.

Chappell Hill typically draws large fields because it’s a convenient location for riders from Dallas, Houston & Austin.   This year’s event took place just a couple of weeks after Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coastal areas.  This translated into a lot of hard work by Val & the NWCC in the days leading up to the race.

Fields in 2017 were understandably smaller than normal because so many riders were impacted directly or indirectly by Hurricane Harvey this year.  But it speaks volumes for the commitment of the race director team & sponsoring club to pull together so many people to pull off one of the biggest road races on the Texas calendar under challenging conditions.

Chappell Hill is an out-and-back course with a loop that’s raced 1-5 times depending upon the racer’s category.  I entered the Women’s 40+ 3/4/5 event, so my race was just 1 loop, which translated into 38 miles.

Chappell Hill takes place on rolling hills that typically don’t see a lot of traffic.  There are rolling climbs & it features a KOM/QOM hill on the back side of the loop.

That’s me in red enjoying things post-race with Kathy, Margie & Robyn!

My field raced in a combined start with the Women’s 4/5 & the Junior Men + Junior Women.  So, we had a fair amount of newer (and younger) racers in the field, which can be a test of the nerves at times. But I also got to race with some awesome 40+ ladies: Kathy Garrett, Margie Monroy, Yulie Johnson & Robyn Poulson.

It was great to see so many racing friends at the Chappell Hill Road Race.  And it was great to have Ino Sofjan riding in the lead vehicle: seeing Ino wave the QOM/KOM jersey from the roof of the car gave us all motivation to sprint for the QOM/KOM.

Me with the fun-loving Yulie Johnson!

I felt great during this race even though I was growing a bit weary of the yo-yoing of some of the riders.  Because of some missteps on my end, I found myself in a not-so-great position for the QOM/KOM sprint.  So I had to carefully thread my way through 2 of the Junior Men during my sprint, only to finish a hair behind the winner of the QOM.  But I have to admit, it was pretty cool to see the photo finish of the QOM: Robyn did a stellar job of timing her sprint for the QOM jersey.

 

 

How often do you see a QOM photo finish? That’s the speedy Robyn just edging me out for the QOM mid-race!

We finished the rest of the race mostly as a group & it seemed like it wasn’t a long time later when we were heading to the uphill finish.  I’ve had good luck at Chappell Hill over the years, so I was really happy to have a strong sprint finish as I pulled away from my competition on the last climb of the day and finished in 1st place.

Podium time…always extra sweet when it’s the top step!

Having a strong race at Chappell Hill told me that my legs were ready for the challenge of the Ft Hood State Championship Road Race weekend the next week.

Nick’s Leadville MTB 100 Trip Report by Nicholas Dickson

It all started about 7 months ago, on a Saturday evening in January, I received notification from the Leadville MTB 100 Race family that I had received a lottery slot for the 2017 MTB 100!  Needless to say, the reality of my situation became crystal clear.  Luckily, Chad and the crew at Tri-City Bicycles were there to provide amazing service, great bikes and help.  In fact, Chad offered to coach me as I trained up for the event.  

My first recommendation for anyone who wants to undertake this type of event, get a coach.  Of course, Chad is the best around.  Soon, months of training were complete, hours in the gym, more leg presses than I care to remember, and it was time to head up to Colorado for the race.  Luckily, my ride buddy, Joy, was already up there, and had a vast amount of experience in the area.  

Second recommendation, allow time for acclimatization and adequate pre rides.  Joy and I pre rode the majority of the course, to include the Columbine climb.  This was especially helpful because I had never undertook this magnitude of climb before, and it helped to know what was ahead during the actual race.  Joy was also instrumental in setting up the Crew team extraordinaire and providing great tips as to how to best crew during the day.  

As we lined up early on Saturday morning, I was nervous, and my crew was ready.  I was worried about my feet, which had often cramped during the long training rides, and worried about nutrition throughout the long day, a topic which would come back to impact me later in the afternoon.

My crew extraordinaire!

Since I had failed to qualify in an earlier event, I started in the last corral.  I anticipated that the corrals would stay up until the actual start, but they collapsed them a few minutes before the shotgun start.  If I had been paying attention a bit better I could have probably moved up a bunch more in the line.  

After the start, I followed advice from Joy and Tony and got as far left as possible and hammered it.  Of note, there is a guy who starts last every year, and Transamerica donates 1,000 bucks for every rider he passes.. well.. he passed me at the start of St. Kevin’s…so I figure I was hammering it pretty good, since I was already in the back.   This is where strategy comes in, my plan for pacing… not riding out of my mind (like I did in Austin) only to crater half way through.  Well,  I was riding about 10 bpm over my goal, however, I remembered to stick to my nutrition plan.   Every 30 min, I had my proportioned food, and drank to thirst.   St. Kevin’s was backed up, however by the time I caught a good train on the way to Hagerman’s and Sugarloaf, the race had opened up a bit.  

Powerline was next, 4 mile descent with bone rattling terrain, and washouts that were swallowing riders up left and right if they chose the wrong line.  Luckily I had ridden this with Joy and Tony earlier in the week, and felt very strong.  No issues with Powerline.  

Then it was the rollers and single track on the way into Twin Lakes, when I realized that I was going to make Twin Lakes under time cut, I was ecstatic.  The first of my many emotional swings during the day.  My left leg started to twinge a bit in the single tracks, and fearing an Austin type of experience (my legs totally locked up and I DNFd) I took Hotshot.  This seemed to work, but the impact was a very upset stomach.  I stuck to my eating every 30 min, and made it into the pit at Twin Lakes with no issues really.  My crew had everything ready…. Really, they were the reason why I finished this race to begin with .. without my wife, Sidonie, our friend Lita, my daughter, Mel and Joy’s Crew team of Tanya, I would have probably not finished.

The next hit was Columbine, I continued eating on schedule, but noticed that I was having trouble maintaining pace at the same heartrate.  I adjusted, fearing the super bonk, and made it up Columbine a bit slower than during my previous training ride.  Towards the top there was a rider down on the side of the trail cramping.  I talked to him, determined that he had not been eating/drinking enough, and gave him my electrolyte bottle.  He quickly drained it, on the way back down he was not there, so I hope it helped.  That left the last little bit to go without many liquids, but after a quick fill up on top, plus a coke that I maybe should have skipped, I refilled with liquids and started the decent of Columbine.  

This is a pretty high speed descent, and about halfway down I noticed that my chain had come off both in front and in back, and in fact it had actually come part way up my crank arm.  Emotions were high here and I was able to ascertain that I could fix it.  It took about 5 min, but I caught up with all the riders that passed me on the way down.  I knew I was near the tail end of the time cut, my chain (with a bent link) was shifting every third pedal stroke.  I used the barrel adjusters to try to limit it and made the time cut back at Twin Lakes with time to spare.  I took another hot shot (once again, maybe not a great idea) and asked my team to just fill my camelback with electrolytes and skip the water.  It was gut check time.  No pun intended, as I pedaled out of Twin Lakes into the long slow climb into and out of the single track and onto the long road uphill: I was hurting.    I saw a rider in the distance and gave it my all to reach him and then sat on his wheel in the very windy conditions on the open road.  I later thanked him.  His name was Gabe, he said he understood and that it was no issue, and that he was in a dark place too.  Gotta love bikers, always trying to help each other out.  

Back to gut check time, Gabe and I made it to the Powerline climb.  I lost a bunch of time on this climb as I was really unable to ride much of it at all.  Gabe, and a few others, were there with me and we slowly made it up the climb.  Having made all of the time cuts, and with an incredible feeling of nausea, I knew I had to make it to the finish line, no quitting now.  

On the long decent down St. Kevin’s, a rider came up next to me.  He said, don’t forget, we might not make the time cut for the buckle, but we can still be finishers.  I did not know about this and he explained it to me.  Hello emotional mood swing, I went from down to time to get down!  He and I took turns pounding out the next ten miles, and then I left him on the boulevard section determined to make it in and be a finisher.   

The finish line!!!!!

As I crested the last hill and saw the finish line I was pretty much full of emotion because I knew that with a bike that was shifting funky, and with a stomach that was wanting to empty its contents I was still going to be able to finish this epic ride.  Then I heard my wife scream my name and saw my youngest and eldest daughters come out of the crowd to run with me across the line, I pretty much lost it at that point.  Probably my most emotional experience ever on a bike.  

Me with the one & only Ken Chlouber (co-founder of the Leadville Race Series

So, while the military might keep me away from this next year, I’m ready and willing to get back to Leadville.  Ken Chlouber, the founder of all this craziness, said that once you come you are a member of the Leadville Family.  There is no truer statement.  Ken and his team put on an extremely professional and enjoyable race.  Chad and his crew at Tri City Bicycles taught me everything I needed to know for this race, and ensured that I was trained properly.  Joy encouraged me every step of the way.  Ken says you will have to reach down into that well of Guts, Grit, and Determination to finish this race, motivation will only get you to the start line.  He was right about that!  I can’t wait for my next Leadville experience!

Race report: Leadville Trail 100 MTB by Joy Brott

Start line for the 2017 Leadville Trail 100 MTB! 📷 to CenturyLink

My journey to the Leadville Trail 100 MTB (“LT100”) started when I qualified for Leadville in my 1st mountain bike race.   I’ve since started LT100 twice, but missed time cuts;  those 2 DNFs weighed heavily on me.

Motoring in the early stages of the race. 📷 credit to CenturyLink

Thanks to a lot of work & guidance from my coach (Chad Welch), I showed up to the LT100 this year in great form.  I also had a better starting corral, along with solid knowledge of the course.  But…did I have what it takes to finish this 100+ mile race under 12 hours & take home a Leadville buckle?

At the start, I picked my way through the crowd & moved up as much as I could before & during the 1st climb: St Kevin’s. Then I motored up Hagerman Pass & Sugarloaf Pass.  I love Sugarloaf:  I enjoy climbing that rocky pass!

After Sugarloaf came my least favorite section: the Powerline descent. Powerline’s steep & technical in sections; I am not a good descender.  So, before the race, I spent time in Leadville working on my skills with Marvin Sandoval & Jen Talley.  I made it down Powerline & breathed a sigh of relief: time to turn on my motor!

Some single track action! 📷 to CenturyLink

Things went well in the next section of the race. My crew person extraordinaire, Tanya Taylor, had everything running like a well-oiled machine when I made it to the Twin Lakes Aid Station (mile 40).

The Columbine climb came next & it’s HARD.  While I felt great going up Columbine in the Stage Race, I had moments when I felt light-headed & weak during the LT100

More singletrack action! 📷 to CenturyLink

I made it back to the Twin Lakes Aid Station (mile 60): Tanya got me in & out quickly.  While I lost time on Columbine, I knew I’d make it through the final time cut at the Pipeline Aid Station (mile 74).

But then I started to lose more time: a storm was brewing & the wind was strong on the open, road section.  Now..onto Powerline!

In the Stage Race, I felt GREAT going up Powerline. But, during the LT100, I struggled on Powerline… my legs felt fatigued: I struggled to turn over the pedals.  I finally reached the top & did a time calculation…I had lost quite a bit of time on Powerline.

The next section was the Sugarloaf descent. Thanks to a lesson with Marvin, I felt confident here.

It was a little chilly at this point in the race! 📷 to CenturyLink

With temps now in the 40s, it started to rain as I descended.  I was wearing only a jersey + arm warmers, so I was shivering.  As I climbed Carter Summit,  conversations with others confirmed that I was in danger of missing the 12 hour buckle deadline.

So I rode as quickly as I could down St Kevin’s. I reached the bottom safely & motored into town & onto “The Boulevard.”  Much of that section is a blur—that’s how hard & fast I was riding!

When I got to the Athlinks tent (3 miles from the finish), I cranked up the speed as hard as I could: I knew I was minutes away from the buckle.

I thought about the support I had from my coach, from my family (my husband, Merv Brott, and my Dad, Loren Seely), from my crew and so many others.  I thought about how I couldn’t face another Leadville DNF…  And, just when I got to the point when I didn’t think I could keep going, I crested the last rise before the finish line.  That’s when I saw the time clock in the distance, and I knew that I was just going to just make it.

At the finish line!!! 📷 to Century Link

I finished officially at 11:56:31 (my chip time).  I had put in so much effort from the bottom of St Kevin’s to the finish that I gasped for air for 5 minutes after I crossed the line.

All smiles at the awards ceremony with founders Ken Chlouber & Merilee Maupin
The Leadville Trail 100 MTB…the Race Across the Sky!

The next day, I received my Leadville belt buckle.  And I received an award from Athlinks for having the fastest finishing time in the last 3 miles out of all the women who finished in 11-12 hours.  Wow!

Race Report: Leadville Stage Race

The Leadville Stage Race follows the same course as the Leadville Trail 100 MTB (“LT100”) but takes place over 3 days. I decided to enter the Leadville Stage Race as a way of training on the Leadville course in a fully supported format.

Stage 1 was 40 miles. It featured challenging climbs (St Kevin’s, Sugarloaf Pass & Hagerman Pass), a wicked descent down Powerline, some rough riding on jeep trails & a bit of singletrack. Stage 1 ended at the Twin Lakes Dam.

Smiling on Powerline during Stage 1!…but only because it was one of the uphill sections on the descent. Photo credit: Athlinks

I felt really good: I was climbing better than I have ever climbed up St Kevin’s.  And, I surprised myself at how many people I passed going up & over Sugarloaf and Hagerman Pass.  But, for me, the Powerline descent was NOT fun:  I literally have nightmares about Powerline & hopped off the bike to walk sections that fell outside my comfort zone. Later, I crashed on a rugged jeep road by taking a sandy corner on a descent too fast.  At the end of Stage 1, I found myself in 10th place in my age group.

Stage 2: Climbing Columbine…are we there yet? Photo credit: Athlinks

Stage 2 was “only” 20 miles and started at Twin Lakes.  It went up the tough Columbine climb & down again.  It was a bumpy 2 miles to start with a bit of a false flat followed by 8 tough miles of climbing to the summit, which is just shy of 13,000 ft.  The top 1/3 of Columbine has sections in that are super steep & very rocky.

Stage 2: more Columbine fun. Photo credit: Athlinks

The day was drizzly, foggy & cold…not exactly my favorite kind of weather.  8 miles up Columbine Mine is a LONG time to climb with very little relief on the way up.  But, I felt good during the climb & passed a ton of people on the way up, which was really encouraging.  I had a solid time on the way up and a not-so-great time going down. So, at the end of Stage 2, I sat solidly in 9th place in my age group.

Stage 3 was 42 miles & began at Twin Lakes the following day.  It retraced the route (in reverse) of Stage 1 back to Leadville with the last couple of miles going up “The Boulevard.”

I love multi-day races: I almost always get stronger with each day that passes in these types of events.  So, I toed the line on Stage 3 feeling really good but nervous about hitting a sub 4 hour time that I needed to qualify for the Stage Race 10.5 hr belt buckle.  I knew it would be tough but I was ready to ride hard right out of the gate.

The beginning was slow with racers squeezing into a short single track section.  A  few miles later, things got jammed up again going up the single track that snakes up the hill towards the jeep trail that leads to the Pipeline aid station. But I hit the next couple of time checks with on-target times, including the bottom of the fearsome Powerline climb.  And, I surprised myself by being able to ride up virtually all but the super steep hike-a-bike sections.  Powerline takes a LONG time to climb but eventually I made it to the top and then had to grit my teeth & descend down from 11,000 ft down the rocky & wet Hagerman and Sugarloaf Passes.

Then, I climbed up to Carter Summit with little to no time cushion and I knew I’d have to push things down St Kevins and all the way back into Leadville in order to make the time cut for the Stage Race belt buckle.  I gritted my teeth & did my best to minimize time loss going down St Kevins. With that last descent behind me, I motored into Leadville—passing all kinds of people in the last couple of miles (being a strong time trialist helps—even at Leadville!).

The Leadville Stage Race was a great opportunity to spend 3 days riding on the Leadville course: it should really help me out a lot at the LT100 race in 2 weeks.  In the end, I finished 8th in the women’s 40-49 general classification. But, I came in a few minutes over the 10.5 hr Stage Race belt buckle time limit (sigh).  After reviewing my race data & connecting with a number of people (including my coach, Chad Welch), it’s clear to me that I’m losing too much time on every single descent on the LT100 course.  So, as they say, it’s time to take those lemons & make some lemonade, which for me, translates into some focused descending skills work this week.

Stage 2: Finish line! Photo credit: Athlinks

Leadville crunch time!

Lots of gravel riding on the MTB!

The last few weeks have been a blur of hard training, a much-needed recovery week, dealing with a personal loss & a quick business trip.  With the Leadville Trail 100 MTB only 6 weeks away, it’s crunch time…

Anyone who lives in Texas knows that the heat has arrived: it’s hot out there, ya’ll! So, I’ve been balancing my rides outdoors with some indoor riding.  For example, I did a hot gravel grinder with the Gritty Teeth Racing crew this morning.  Then, after returning home & getting in some hydration & nutrition, I spent more time in the saddle on the wind trainer (watching Tour de France coverage, bien sûr, since it is July after all!).  Although, it’s always more fun to do an entire ride outside, this combo of outdoor/indoor training will help me recover more quickly so I can train hard again this week.

The strength training I’ve been doing with my coach, Chad Welch, since early November of last year is paying dividends.  Those early morning strength training workouts followed by post-gym recovery rides are hard but amazingly effective.

This past Friday, I decided to hop out on some singletrack on my MTB for the first time in a LONG time.  It was a nice change of pace: being outside in the woods always makes me happy…  But I was pleasantly surprised by how fast & smooth I was riding.  I’m not sure if it’s due to all the time I’ve spent riding rollers or the fact that I’ve dropped weight or that I’ve watched a lot of MTB racing (so I can channel my inner @jolandaneff )…or some combination of all of these things.  But, it was a surprise & it gave me more confidence with the Leadville Stage Race & Leadville Trail 100 MTB on the horizon.

I’ll be heading to Colorado soon in the RV with my dog & my bikes, so look for more training & racing updates with lots of gorgeous mountain scenery!

 

Leadville Training Report: Alpine & Fort Davis Texas

It takes months of training to get ready to toe the line at the Leadville Trail 100 MTB (LT100).  But, it can be challenging to train for a 100 mile MTB race in the mountains when you live at only 600 ft in Central Texas.

So, what’s a girl to do to train for LT100 if she lives in Central Texas? Well, I decided to take advantage of a visit from my husband (who’s working overseas), a big anniversary and a purchase of a new motorhome to make a trek out to West Texas to get in some altitude training & to ride in the mountains.

Feeling “very pro” while I ride rollers in Alpine!

We made the small town of Alpine our home for the week.  Alpine was pretty but I was surprised that it was flat: much of the mountainous terrain either had no roads & or the cool gravel roads were all on private property.  So I had to get more creative than anticipated to get in some climbing although it was a nice change of pace to be riding at altitude (5,000-6,000 ft versus 600 ft back home).

Time for a roller spin!

That’s when my coach (Chad Welch) suggested that I should do the McDonald Observatory Climb on my MTB.  If you’re familiar with the Fort Davis Hammerfest Stage Race, you know that it’s a stage race with an individual time trial stage that is a 14-16 mile climb (depending upon category raced) up to the Observatory.

My Dad agreed to be my support vehicle for my climb up to the Observatory, so he & I went out to Fort Davis the next day.  Dad dropped me off in Downtown Fort Davis.  The plan was that he would check in on me periodically throughout the 16 mile climb to make sure I was doing ok, exchange water bottles, etc.

Climb climb climb!

I estimated it would take me 2 hours on a MTB to make it to the top of the climb (where the road ends at McDonald Observatory).  I took off a bit excited & uncertain since I had never done this climb on any sort of bike, much less a MTB.

My Dad was both my support vehicle & my unofficial cheerleader. He would zip up the road, pull over & then took lots of video along with photos as I passed by.  It was pretty fun, actually & my Dad had a blast as well.  I paced myself & ended up being surprisingly fast: I reached the top of the climb 30 minutes faster than I anticipated.

All smiles at the summit of the climb!
At McDonald Observatory

McDonald Observatory is located at 6,791 feet at the summit of Mount Locke:  it’s the highest paved road in Texas. While the last part of the climb was tough (it’s very steep), I felt surprisingly good & wondered if I shouldn’t have pushed myself a bit harder….

At any rate, after taking some fun photos, we loaded up my bike & headed down the mountain and back into the town of Fort Davis.

Loading up at the top of the climb to head down the mountain

Then, just outside of Alpine, I had him drop me off so that I could do a cool down ride back into town.  Much to my surprise, my husband met me at that point on his MTB, so I had some company on my cool down ride. (!!!)  However, I made the mistake of not doing a good job of refueling after I finished the ascent to McDonald Observatory & I had a mini bonk during my cool down ride.. (ouch…!).

All in all, I had a lot of fun in Alpine & am really happy I had the experience of riding the climb up to McDonald Observatory.  I can’t wait to climb more mountains in 5 weeks when I head to Leadville to do the Leadville Stage Race & the Leadville Trail 100 MTB this summer!

 

Texas State Time Trial Championship Weekend Race Report

Photo credit to Corvin Alstot

Most cyclists who race either love or hate doing time trials.  I fell in love with this discipline many years ago:  it came out of my roots as a triathlete.

Once I moved back to Texas, I participated in the Texas State Time Trial Championship races every year.  It’s a 2 day event: Saturday is the Individual Time Trial (ITT) day & then my favorite event comes on Sunday: the Team Time Trial (TTT) event.

Several years ago, this event re-located to Hempstead, Texas. It’s a convenient location for competitors coming from DFW, Houston & Austin.  The smooth asphalt, flat course & strong winds make it ideal for time trial racing.

This year’s edition was co-directed by the dynamic duo of Ino Sofjan & Nancy  Kotinek from the Houston-based Northwest Cycling Club  (NWCC).  Once again, Ino, Nancy & the NWCC crew did an outstanding job of putting on one of the best events in Texas road racing.

Camping at the race venue was awesome…thanks, Ino!

I’ve done a fair amount of road racing this year but didn’t focus much on time trial training.  So, I came to Hempstead not expecting to do well: I was looking forward to camping out at the race venue & enjoying time with friends.

I toed the line for my ITT on Saturday a bit nervous: there was a good-sized field in the women’s 40+ race.  I felt good at the start: an issue with my power meter forced me to race by feel (it was liberating not to focus only on the power numbers).   I kept passing people who started in front of me, which is always a good thing in a time trial race.

Even after my race, I didn’t think that I placed well.  A volunteer showed me a  chip timing report that showed me finishing in 2nd place.  But, I didn’t believe that I had placed that high so I went back to my RV for a cool-down.  Then, results were posted showing me placing 2nd…wow!!  But, I miscalculated the timing of the podiums & I missed the podium ceremony.  Thankfully, Nancy graciously called everyone back so that I could pose with the other ladies who finished on the podium.

Wow…2nd place!!!! Thanks to Vie13 for the awesome medals & fabric bibs

Fast forward to day #2: the Team Time Trial (TTT) event.  The TTT is hard but fun: there’s nothing like being in a line of 4 fast ladies motoring across a road for an hour.  And I was really excited because I was racing on an ad-hoc team made up of 3 super strong women:  Debbie Randall, Melissa Kuliska & Angela Man.

At the TTT start line! Photo credit to Venny Wilmeth/Cantu Wheels

All of them are experienced in this discipline, really fast, super nice & they all hold a rock-solid line.  So I was really pumped to be racing with these ladies:  I knew we’d have tough competition but I was confident we’d place well.

That’s me in front, followed by Debbie, then Melissa & Angela. Photo credit to Lisa Lauter

The 4 of us did a very solid TTT with a super-fast initial 20K.  But, we lost more speed than anticipated after the turnaround on the out-and-back course: the wind really had kicked up by the point and made the 2nd half of the race feel brutally tough.  Since we all raced solid ITTs the previous day, I think we were all spent by the time we saw the 5K banner but we motored on….

We ended up placing 3rd in the women’s Cat 3 TTT event (another day, another podium!).  It was great to be on that podium with the 1st place team (Fresh Racing + Pamela Ferguson from Haute Wheels) and the 2nd place team (Team ATC).  And, it was awesome doing the tough but fun TTT with Debbie, Melissa & Angela!  Most of all, it was great to spend time before & after the races with good friends…and to bring home some awesome hardware, too!

Photo credit to Lisa Lauter

Medical Colleagues of Texas Road Race @ Coldspring Race Report by Joy Brott

(Featured photo: credit to Corvin Alstot)

The Medical Colleagues of Texas Road Race at Coldspring, Texas is a long-time road race on the Texas road racing calendar. Called simply “Coldspring,” this road race features a loop-style course with a neutral rollout.  Racers do between 1-5 laps of a 16 mile loop. This comes out to between 14 miles for the Junior racers up to 81 miles for the men P/1/2 (most waves race 30-46 miles).

Climb to the finish line on one of the laps. That’s me in the red jersey/black helmet to the far right (Photo credit to Corvin Alstot)

The course is well-shielded from the wind, thanks to the very tall trees that line most sections of the course.  And it features some short but punchy climbs, with a finish on top of a long hill that’s moderately steep.  The start area is hosted out of Coldspring High School, which has tons of parking (I brought my motorhome & had plenty of room to park). This is a well organized event that’s hosted by Southern Elite & it’s been one of my favorites over the years.

Feeling “so pro” with the motorhome!

 

 

Unlike my previous week’s road race (Bat City Classic at Apache Pass), the wind really wasn’t a factor at Coldspring.  I raced in the Women’s Cat 3, which started with the Women’s P/1/2 in the same race wave with a combined prize list:  we did 3 laps of the course, which came out 46 miles of road racing.

I definitely enjoyed the Coldspring race:  it’s a fun course that has enough hills to make things challenging.  All of the ladies worked well together & seemed to genuinely have FUN racing.  The main field yo-yo’ed during the course of the 46 miles with some solo attacks, then some painfully slow recovery periods followed by, you guessed it, more attacks.  But the majority of the ladies made it to the uphill finish in the main field.

I have to admit that I do like an uphill sprint finish in a road race. But I was starting to fade a bit in the final couple of miles of the race:  I think it was an issue of nutrition more than anything else: I should have taken more than a single serving of my race nutrition.  So while I started near the front of the group on the finishing hill, I definitely faded.  But happily, I pulled out enough of a sprint to finish 3rd in the Women’s Cat 3 (woo hoo! Another weekend…another podium!).

Podium time! (photo credit to Katie Kantzes)

Bat City Classic Road Race by Joy Brott

Time to go racing!

To road race aficionados in Texas, the Bat City Classic at Apache Pass road race is the race formerly known as “Walburg.”  This is because the town of Walburg for many years hosted a road race known for spring classic-like conditions.  Walburg’s windy conditions became the stuff of Texas racing legend: the wide open terrain & pervasive winds made for a challenging event.

In 2016, the race formerly known as Walburg moved to its new home at Apache Pass.  Apache Pass is located in Downtown Texas, Texas (a few miles outside of Rockdale).   This race is run by Bat City Cycling Club;  2017 was the 2nd year for the Bat City Classic at Apache Pass.

The route features a large loop that is raced one, two or three times for 28, 55 or 83 miles.  The terrain is mostly flat & wide open with a couple of hills.  The last couple of miles are false flat with a finish line at the tope of a hill.  This race also features a rough section of road (“Texas pavé”) on County Road 302 to give Texas road racers a feel of a Spring Classic road race.

Weather at the 2017 event did not disappoint: thanks to a big storm blowing through the night before, winds were very strong on race day.  Racers had to content with 20+mph sustained winds:  without a doubt the winds at this year’s Bat City Classic road race were even stronger than I remember them being at Walburg.

The Women’s Cat 3 and the Women’s P/1/2 fields were combined into the same start wave, so my race was fast & hard:  the field was strong with some of the fastest ladies in the state.  About 2/3 of the way through lap #1, a breakaway formed with the eventual combined field 1st-4th place finishers.

The wind was relentless for all 55 miles of my race & there was little to no shelter from the wind.  The ladies did not echelon at all, so it was a very long day for all of us dealing with the wind (let’s just say that heart rate & power averages were high).

I had a strong race, staying with the main pack until the last few miles just before the end of the Texas pavé section (that’s when my legs decided to finally hang it up for the day).  Those last few miles were hard: it was a false flat straight into a headwind.  I did get a bit of relief when Sam Goldenstein caught up with me: we worked together to give each other a bit of recovery from the wind & we stayed together to the finish.

I finished my race with a mini sprint, having no idea at the time that Sam & I were the 3rd & 4th place finishers for the Women’s Cat 3.  I also thought that the P/1/2 and Cat 3 Women were racing for a single prize list (based upon info conveyed at packet pickup).  So, I was pleasantly surprised when results were posted showing that I finished 3rd in the Women’s Cat 3 & 11th in the combined field.  Even better, the race offered separate prize lists so the women’s Cat 3 winner (Caitlin Friesen), 2nd place (Jolene Holland), Sam & I scored a bit of prize money at the end as well.

In 2017, the Bat City Classic at Apache Pass definitely came into its own as a true Texas spring classic road race.  Many thanks to the Bat City Cycling Club , volunteers and officials for a well-organized & successful event.  I’ll look forward to racing it again in 2018!

Thrilled to share the podium with these fast ladies! Photo credit to Yulie Johnson