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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Beverly Fat Tire Frenzy

I really didn't think this race was going to happen. But the thunder, lightning, and pouring rain finally gave way to sunny skies, and after a two hour delay the race was on! The trails even dried up enough to get in a pre lap.

I was really looking forward to a relatively short course - 3, 4 1/2 mile laps. However, right before the 10 second countdown to the start, the women's field learned that we would be doing 4 laps and that we would be starting at the same time as the men. Ready, set, go! What?!

How gorgeous is this? Photo by Eric Roccasecca.
It was a super fast start and I managed to get into the single track ahead of a few of the men's field, but Liz was further ahead and there were a few people between us. I normally like a fast start, but this was even faster than I was expecting!

The first section of the course was really nice and flowy, but you still had to watch out for some slick spots on corners. The berms (there were a lot of them -fun!) were great and allowed you to carry a lot of speed into the corners without worrying about slick spots. All you had to do was ride the berm high and you could completely avoid any mud.

Another favorite part of the trail system was where you shot of out the woods into a meadow - the flowers were gorgeous!
Photo by Angy Snoop
After the uphill switchbacks, there was another open section leading to the second half of the course. I no longer had sight of Liz ahead, so I knew she had quite a gap. The second half of the course was a lot more technical. There was a log over on an off camber section of trail, which was slick from the rain, tight uphill turns with plenty of roots, and an uphill turn with roots where you had to go through two very close together trees - man was that tough!

Since I no longer had Liz in my sight, I tried to use any of the guys that passed as motivation to keep up with them. I just didn't have it in me to stick with any of them for long though! I was really wishing that the 3rd lap was my last - that fourth lap was rough!

It turned into a hot and extremely humid day and while a lot of the muddy spots dried up, there were still plenty of sluggish semi wet sandy areas that sapped my energy. On the last lap though, I gave some of what I was calling my "trail nemesis'" a try - probably not the best idea, but what the heck? I knew Liz wasn't close enough to catch and there wasn't anyone close behind. I had fun and proved to myself that I shouldn't have been hesitant about giving them a try!

Photo by Angy Snoop.
My only big fail of the day was not packing a pair of shorts for after the race- it was way too hot for my jeans!

While there were a few glitches, some controllable like the start, and some not, like the weather, it turned out to be a great race. I'd love to come back to these trail when they are nice and dry and really fly around on those berms!

Katherine, Cara, Liz, Myself, and Karmen. Couldn't ask for a friendlier group of ladies to race with! Photo by Eric Roccasecca.
My only complaint *rant warning* was the serious discrepancy between the men's and women's payouts for the top finishers. My 2nd place finish paid out less than my husband's 4th place finish, we race the same category! Racing is obviously not about the money, but this sucks, and feels like a slap in the face, when the payouts aren't equal for the top finishers. I thought that in Iowa, in years past, that there was equal payout. This is always a good sign of a great series. I know there is an issue of the women's field not being nearly as large as the men's field, but a simple solution would be to not pay out as deep. After all, we pay the same entry fee, we train just as hard, and race just as hard.

/end rant


I'm really happy for the feedback received on my little payout equality rant. I'm glad for the willingness to have an open discussion on the issue. In my opinion the solution is incredibly easy; equal payout for the top finishers, but adjust the depth of payouts for the field size. WORS already does a variation of this and plenty of races in Iowa like the Chris Lillig Memorial Cup and Jingle Cross already have equal payouts in place. This has a huge positive effect on the women who do race. (How to get more women out there racing is another topic- also very important).

In my opinion the argument about the women's field being smaller and not deserving of equal payouts is bogus. The money for payouts comes from the entire race, not just the category 1 men's or category 1 women's fields.

I understand there are plenty of expenses that go into hosting a race, which can be overwhelming. We all want the races to be financially stable and really appreciate all the time and effort going into putting these events on. But really, if the race is capable of paying out higher amounts to the men's field, they should be certain they can afford to do the same for the women. The women aren't taking away money from the men. The men's field overall usually gets more money because of deeper payouts, and I see the rational of that when they have significantly larger fields.

As a final thought, I want to emphasize that most of us, men and women, are not out there racing for money (pros aside). This isn't a monetary issues, it's an EQUALITY issues.



Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Iowa City Road Race/Old Cap Crit

Well this was a weekend of highs and lows.

I was tempted not to race on Saturday because of the crummy weather, but I'm glad I did! The road race went far better than expected. With the strong wind I was simply hoping to not get dropped off the back of the group and be out there on my own, so I was elated to finish top 5, along with two teammates!

We had a pretty tame start, with everyone just trying to stay upright with the strong cross wind. Teammates Sandy and Ingrid started taking turns on the front of the group to get things going. I joined in as well, wanting to help do some work while I had a chance (still worried that I would get dropped quickly!).

After changing directions and going into more of a head wind Sandy got (most) everyone working together and eschlon-ing . Things remained pretty calm in the group until about the half way point of the first of the three laps. The course turns back toward the start, giving a strong tailwind, and there is a nice climb. Attacks almost always happen here, so I was ready when the first attack came. And then it was just attack after attack after attack. I was able to stay in the group and even cover a few attacks myself - careful to ensure that girls from other teams had to put in work to cover attacks as well.

This was a strong bunch of ladies, and only a few dropped from the group. On the second lap the group continued to work together and attacks were quickly neutralized. Not much changed until the second half of the third and final lap. With just a half lap to go, the pace started to pick up and as we got closer and closer to the finish, it was clear that it would come down to a bunch sprint.

I stayed toward the front of the group, but still managed to get boxed in when the final sprint really got going. I eased off slightly so I could get around the racer to my left (I still had someone right in front of me and to my right). As soon as I got around them I kicked as hard as I could and managed a 5th place finish! And two teammates finished right ahead, in 3rd and 4th.

Next time we will have to be more organized for the final sprint, and have a lead out planned. But I'm incredibly happy with the results!


Old Capitol Crit
Women's Pro 1/2/3 start line. Photo by Karen Stierler
Ugh, this race went awfully for me! I went into the race with high hops after the previous day's race going so well. But on the first lap, I was cornering badly enough to get dropped on the downhill and then had to use a great deal of effort in the flat headwind section and following step climb in order to catch back up to the lead group. And then I would drop off the back on the downhill corner on the next lap and have to fight to try and get back to the group... So frustrating! I fell completely off the lead group after what I think was two laps and went solo for a lap before noticing two teammates not far behind. I slowed down so we could all work together to try and get back on the lead. This plan of mine failed miserably and I was again off the back from cornering badly - I don't know what happened to my confidence in this race??

Mentally preparing for that darn downhill corner. Photo by Natalie Rekemeyer.
Although highly frustrated and annoyed with myself, I kept pushing hard in the flat sections and on the climb - riding most of the 20 laps one my own. I was so happy to be done with the race, but so not happy with how it went. At least I have plenty to learn from this experience!