Thursday, June 13, 2013

Last few weeks in the USA

Better late then never: Here's my post of my last few weeks of training and racing for Team TIBCO in the USA in May and June.

When I returned back to California after a successful few days in Canada, I noticed that while I was on the road for racing, my total weekly time in the saddle would only amount to about 11-12hours a week. So I stupidly decided to make this week a big one. I felt good after Canada, full of motivation and with the National Champs as my main goal, I felt it was time to put in some good long hours. I did the
I finished off an already hard week with the Mt. Hamilton Classic Road Race (100km race + 70km to get back to the start), to make it a total of 25 hours on the bike. I was already tired going into the race and nearly bonked half way up on the long climb up Mt. Hamilton, crawling over the top with an average HR of 150bpm, suffering all the way on the dead heavy roads after the climb, finishing in 7th place. In hindsight I think it would have been better to take the week off, having just returned from 12 races in 24 days across the USA, China and Canada, constantly changing time zones and chasing sleep, so I really needed a recovery week now.

View from Skyline
Obligatory stop in Half Moon Bay on the Wednesday Ride
I felt really crap for about 3 days, barely able to get out of bed, let alone do some easy riding. I actually don't like recovery weeks for that reason, it's like once I allow my body to rest it makes me feel so sh*t just to make sure that I loose any desire to start back into training too hard too soon. Motivation can also be at an all-time low during that time. But I understand the necessity of it and to be honest, I don't think I could have done any real training anyway. So I decided to go down and ride around the bay for the first time in my 4 years of visiting the bay area.

Art installation in the bay area
My Fuji :)
More beautiful views of the bay
My recovery week was followed up by a criterium in Glencoe, near Chicago. We had a good team entered with Rushlee, Meredith, Sam, Skylar and I. Glencoe is right next to Lake Michigan and the whole village put on a great show for the race and we stayed with another amazing host family. The organizers even printed trading cards for each of the pro riders. Unfortunately the heavens opened just as we started to race. And by heavens opened I mean a downpour of biblical proportions. There was so much water coming down so quickly that the water was coming back out of the gullies and flooded the road in some of the corners of the race. The speed went down drastically and I had lost most of my braking due to the rain (like the rest of the field), making the race really slow. I could also hardly see with all this rain coming down. This seemed to work in our favour as Sam managed to sneak away into a break with Erica Allar when a small gap had opened after a prime sprint. Our task was just to control the race from there on to make sure they won't get caught again. It all worked out well, with the brake staying away and Sam sprinting into 2nd place.

My leftover trading cards set of the suspicion of the airport security in the luggage scanner....
Quick pit stop for raw juice
View of Lake Michigan
A bit of rain during the Glencoe crit
After Glencoe I returned back to California for another few days of training before my last 2 races in the USA before my return back home to Ireland: the Air Force Association Cycling Classic Criteriums in Washington, DC.
View of Half Moon Bay

Approaching Washington, DC
We had a full team of six entered into these two crits: Rushlee, Amanda, Sam, Jo, our new team member Lauren Stephens and me. The weather was very hot and humid, with the sun burning down on us. The first race went really well with Amanda getting into an early 2-person brake, so that all we did was cover any attacks and control the race. Amanda won and with Jo and Sam finished 4th and 5th place, respectively. I came in 16th, still struggling to be in the right spot going into the final corner, since it's not my sprint power that is holding me back. After the race we took a little detour back to the hotel via some of the historical and political sites in Washington, like the Lincoln Memorial and the White House, finishing off the evening with a nice dinner in a great Italian restaurant.

TIBCO dominating the podium on Day 1
Sightseeing :)
More sightseeing :)
TIBCO in front of the Lincoln Memorial
The crit on Day 2 was more technical and my legs were heavy from the race the day before. I felt I was overheating and I found it hard to stay focused on the race as I was going to leave straight after to go the airport to fly back home to Ireland after 3 months on the go. I burnt my last few matches to get into some breaks, but all were unsuccessful. Finally, new addition Lauren showed us what she's worth by riding off the front solo, so that our task again was to control the race. I was happy to sit in and thought I was mistaken when I the last lap being announced only 43min into the 1hour race, so that I messed up in our lead out, but all was good since Lauren stayed away to take the solo win, and Jo finishing 4th again and Sam in 6th, enough for Jo to win the overall! I finished down in 17th place, with my head already on the flight back home to Ireland, where I would finally see my husband again who was to return from a stage race with his team in Indonesia a day after my arrival.

Definitely NOT traveling light.

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