Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Vail Pass Hill Climb TT: where are those 24 seconds?

It snowed near the finish of the Vail Pass Hill Climb on Sunday, just like last year.

Just like last year, I found myself just a hair short of landing in the money. I'm not really sure where I could have come up with 24 seconds worth of extra speed it would have taken to be in 4th place. As it was, I was 6th: one spot better than last year, but 20 seconds slower.

This hill climb is a bit deceptive. The first half is flat-to-rolling, but there are really only a couple of steepish sections on the climbing second half. Did I push too hard on the flat first half so that I didn't have enough left for the climb? Maybe it was a mistake not to put the easy gears on the bike, even though I never necessarily felt like I didn't have enough gears. Maybe I just can't wrap my head around how very short the whole race is. Maybe I was more tired from the XC this year.

Racing, racing. It's such a puzzle. Now I think I have to come back to Vail, again, for the Teva Games, just one more time...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Post-Race at the Teva Mountain Games

Part of the fun of going to the Teva Mountain Games is checking out all the other stuff going on. It's a great event that brings together all kinds of sports: cycling, mountain biking, running, kayaking, rock climbing, fly-fishing, and even distance-water-jumping for dogs. It's become a fixture on Vail's summer calendar and is very popular with athletes and spectators alike.

We didn't have a lot of time to hang out after the cross country race, but did take a quick lap through Vail Village to check out the haps.

Unfortunately this little reluctant guy was the only dog at the dog jump when we passed by.

Sonya heads into the Teva Village.

Bike shenanigans.

Sonya is incredulous. Can it possibly be as fun as pegging your heart rate for 2 hours?

Dog models. Everyone likes looking at them, but they're kind of a pain on dates.

Cookin' trout.

Waiting to watch some kayakers go under the bridge.

Sonya and I stopped in at this gelateria with an amazing array of gelato and an even more amazing 3-group Elektra Belle Epoque. It gives me heart palpitations just to look at that machine.

Dark chocolate sorbetto with vanilla gelato. I swear I didn't have any this good in Italy.
Heaven for $6 in a paper cup.

Dirty bikes have to wait outside while we go back to sample the espresso.

Meh. With a machine like that, they need to get some good beans.
Heartless to treat it that way.

Sonya had to head out for an event in Castle Rock, so I went back to Eagle and spent some hours getting the mountain bike clean and the road bike ready to go for the Vail Pass TT. They were having a block party down the road, complete with a band which entertained me with party tunes as I worked. Blondie the kitten helped by attacking the brushes and playing under the bike stand.

Teva Mountain Games: XC

Noon starts are the best. There's nothing like getting up 2 hours later than I usually have to and having time to enjoy coffee and a delicious breakfast before the race jitters set in.

Sonya and I stayed with a fabulous host family in their beautiful house in Eagle, whose kitchen we put to good use. Sonya made some amazing blueberry pancakes while I made coffee and distracted myself with the various kitties and Kaibab, the stick-obsessed cattle dog.

Best outdoor breakfast spot in the area.

Throw it one more time!

We arrived at the venue with enough time to get the bikes perfectly dialed for the race.

Sonya rocks the white lycra euro-pro look.

And then... the race. There was a great turnout of 25 or so pro women from around the country, including a few of the best racers in the world. I started out fairly conservatively and raced a pretty solid first lap without blowing myself up. I probably started out too conservatively, again. On the second lap my intestines siezed up a bit and I briefly considered stopping to go to the bathroom.

I started to feel better on the downhill and upped the pace a lot for the third lap. It was enough to catch a few girls who had dangled in front of me on the second lap, but not enough to get to the five who finished the race within a minute in front of me. I finished the race feeling fresher than I should have. While my finishing place of 11th was good, it just isn't satisfying feeling like you didn't leave it all out there.

It was great to race on such a fun course! The climbs were not ridiculously long and the descents were more than ridiculously fun.

Sonya Looney finished a respectable 18th... not bad when you train for 5+ hour races!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Teva Mountain Games, Vail, CO: Pre-ride

After a very long week involving too much work, errands, and general busy-ness, I made it to Vail to meet up with Sonya Looney for a ride on the mountain bike course for the Teva Mountain Games.

It's one of those race courses where to ride it is to feel like it's all downhill, but to race it is to climb, climb, climb, climb. Thank goodness for Friday pre-rides... the best part of the weekend after Friday morning coffee.

Here's some very shoddy helmet-cam footage of the main downhill on the course. Please don't watch unless you are related to me.

Thursday, June 4, 2009