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)

HTFU Roubaix 2017 Race Report

2017 was the 2nd year for the HTFU Roubaix gravel race. HTFU stands for Harden the F— Up, a name that suits it well: like many gravel events, it’s HARD. It takes place in the scenic Sam Houston National Forest.

HTFU Roubaix is a gravel race put on by Bryan Voytilla & the crew at Kolo Promotions.  And, even better: a portion of each entry fee benefits the Sam Houston Trails Coalition with $950 donated because of HTFU Roubaix.

HTFU features a beautifully scenic 36 mile loop, which translates into 3 distance options: 36 miles; 72 miles & 108 miles. HTFU offers a mix of gravel & pavement.  Since the venue is somewhat remote, participants either camped on-site in the Overflow Campground area or stayed in New Waverly or Huntsville.

As I did in 2016, I raced in the 72 mile (2 lap) Women’s Open event on my Niner BSB9 RDO bike.  HTFU female participation in my event was up in 2016 vs 2017, which was GREAT to see.  The 2  lap event had a mass start together of 73 men & women.

Starting the solo portion of my race…but isn’t the forest GORGEOUS?…. (photo credit to Corvin Alstot)

Very quickly into my race, I knew I was in trouble: I had been sick & hadn’t fully recovered when I toed the start line at HTFU. So, as they say, when things don’t go as planned, just turn your race into a training ride…which is exactly what I did.

After 4 1/2 hours on the bike, I was very happy to see the finish line.  HTFU 2017  wasn’t a great race for me with an 8th place finish in my field.  But, thanks to some good luck & a through pre-race service by Tri-City Bicycles, I didn’t have any mechanicals, I didn’t crash & I had zero flats.  And despite not feeling great on the bike, HTFU gave me both a mental as well as a physical challenge…AND I also had fun, too.

72 miles later as I take back some of my gear…I’m tired but still smiling…(photo credit to Corvin Alstot)
Photo credit to Kenny Lim
Sam Houston National Forest (photo credit to Kenny Lim)