Death or Glory: Racing the Giro del Cielo

My first road race was all about planning. This weekend’s stage race, the Giro del Cielo in Sussex County, NJ, was just the opposite. People had been recommending the Giro to me for months, but I was hesitant to commit and a nagging injury had seriously cut into my training time. So when the Wednesday before the race rolled around, my husband and I agreed that if we had good legs and could hang with our A-group ride that we’d give the Giro the green light. Needless to say, the group couldn’t shake us, so we hit up Bike Reg later that night.

The race consisted of an uphill time trial followed by a crit. Then Sunday was a circuit race. To me this felt more like the Giro de New Scary Things. When I started racing, I swore I would never race a notoriously crash-filled crit, so what the hell was I doing signing up for one? Continue reading

Four ways to become a stronger, faster cyclist

After 18 weeks of preparation, it all came down to 3 hours and 46 minutes. That’s the time it took me to find the finish line after 65 grueling miles at the Tour of the Battenkill. I was elated and exhausted by the end. Sure I was ecstatic over my performance, but I was also extremely proud of (and a bit surprised by) the athlete I had become over those four months. I knew when I signed up that I wasn’t going to half-ass it until April. I tend to do things in a big way and this was no different. I planned to carefully follow my training plan and to use my diet and recovery tactics to see just how great I could become. It turns out these strategies paid off big time. Continue reading

Tour of the Battenkill (surviving my first race)

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Since I signed up for the Tour of the Battenkill months ago, people have been giving me strange looks. “Wow, that’s a tough first race,” one seasoned rider observed. “You’ve never raced before and you’re doing Battenkill?” questioned another. Sure it’s billed as the largest and toughest single-day race in North America, but since I did the preview ride two years ago (granted, it had 1,000 less feet of climbing) and watched my husband race it in 2011, the race has been on my mind. I found that the more people questioned me, the harder I trained. So when Saturday finally rolled around, I felt prepared and eager to enter as a recreational rider and emerge as a racer. Continue reading

Do you race?

Battenkill-Rob Race  10 100 (172) It was 2011 and I was standing at the top of Meeting House Road, a camera in one hand, my stomach giddy with anticipation as the racers screamed down the dirt descent and hammered over the stiff climb.

“Are you racing, too?” A woman about my age asked, turning toward me. “You look like someone who races.” I wasn’t sure how to answer this. No, I wasn’t racing. Yes, I regularly rode with racers, but I wasn’t one…yet. I was a pro at bottle hand-ups, but that’s as close as I’d come to participating in a road race. But after watching my husband compete in Battenkill in 2011 and riding the route the following fall, I made a promise to myself that I’d be back and not as the water girl. Continue reading

TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship

After watching local crits and obsessively tuning in to all the grand tours, I finally got to experience my first pro race today. We headed down to Philadelphia early this morning for the famed TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship and promptly sought out the Manayunk Wall, a sustained climb that hits 17 percent at one point. We were fortunate enough to have passes to Fuji’s VIP tent (unlimited beer, grilled meat and free schwag!) where we waited for the brutal ascent to start claiming its victims.

The men’s field was strong, but what I really enjoyed watching was the women. The group remained pretty much intact on the first run. But after four more circuits, things got ugly, with riders shed off the back. I loved watching the racers’ boundless determination as they struggled through the pain. In the end, Ina Teutenberg (Team Specialized-Lululemon) and Alexander Serebryakov (Team Type 1 Sanofi) took the win. Continue reading