Sunday, October 18, 2015


I love cycling. But I didn't particularly want to ride my bike a total of 7.5 hours this weekend.  I begrudgingly wiggled into my VELOCIO wool socks, Wyman Signature RECON overpants, Wyman Signature thermal bib short, Wool Long Sleeve, Wind Vest, Riding Jersey, cycling hat, cycling shoes, Velocio Zero booties. Done.

And then I had to PEE.

It snowed here in New Hampshire.  The thermostat never clocked in above 38 degrees.  My toes were the first to tell me that.  They were frozen. I ran off the bike and my little feet felt more like little ice bricks.   

I love my BIKE. On most weekends, all I need is my bike, the workout, the outdoors and I am a happy camper.  I follow the training and keep to the basics because I know that is when fitness comes around.

Pretty! And then it snowed.

Fitness is stubborn and won't give in easily.  It has dogged determination despite your best efforts.  So you must put yourself in a position for fitness to find you. Everyday.  It's really no use to hope or to day dream.  You can't hope for fitness but it is attracted to the distinctive stench of sweat.  Put your nose to the grindstone and do the work. Even when your toes freeze.  The tough work you undertake will eventually pay off to the extent it may actually turn your life around.  And it is NOT simply a chance-thing.      

Done hoping for fitness? Ready to DO WORK? I am accepting applications for coached athletes now. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Triathlete goes to Green Mountain Stage Race

Timberman 70.3  - Character Reveal-er!
On August 16th I raced Timberman 70.3.  It was the much anticipated debut of the brand-spanking-new Velocio Speedsuit.  The plan was to go super fast with a smile and give credit to the Velocio Gods.  I have had more than enough time to digest what happened so here is how it went down.

I had a solid swim. I fought like a little honey badger to stay with the front pack.  I got out of the water in 5th and planned to bike hard to stay in good striking position.  I soon discovered that this would be one of those races where EVERY pedal stroke was an effort. Every step forward took too much work.  I felt lucky though. Racing for me is love.  It gives me energy that ties everything in my life together.  But it is one thing to race when the body is naturally flowing and gliding forward and it is quite another to race when you feel like you are biking with a monkey on your back.

But here is what I know. You've got a good thing going if you can mentally stay in the game when the physical body is cramping and crying, the breathing is labored, and the quads are quivering. You've got a good thing going because these kind of struggles don't build character, they reveal it.
Look at the smile. Not one clue I was about to embark on a 70.3 pain train.

GREEN MOUNTAIN STAGE RACE - Cyclists are NOT weenies.

A 4 day bike race in the hilly heart of Vermont sounded like one hell of a good time. I got the OK from the boss (Kurt Perham), packed the car and headed off with high hopes of building some biking mitochondria and channeling my inner quadzilla.

This stage race proved to be 'what it is all about.' And I don't mean it's all about winning. Don't get me wrong. It was way cool to win my very first crit AND overall stage race.  But 'what it's all about' is the journey, the detours, the new friends, the croissants (!) and the route that led there.  The awesomeness and the low points.  The roller coaster of sport.  I had a plan this March to re-qualify for Kona as a pro. It didn't happen. So I adjusted. I raced an ultra trail race, I kept my chin up and head down. I embraced the daily training grind.  

Stage 1: The Time Trial
OWWWW!!! OUCH OUCH OUCH.  Time trials hurt so badly it makes me want to say mean things but I won't.

I won by 11 seconds.  And I won only because of my VELOCIO speedsuit.  This is a proven fact.  
That is all I have to report after this first stage.  Also, you should get yourself a Velocio speedsuit.

Stage 2: The Circuit Race
I entered this stage with the yellow jersey.  The yellow jersey (a.k.a humongo jumbo target on your back).

All I wanted during the circuit race was to snag the Queen of the Mountain title. Mainly because the polka dot jersey is the BOMB. (Yellow is not really my color and we all know I am very fashion forward).

However, it has been proven time and time again that the faster I race the dumber I get. Bigger quads = smaller IQ. So with this in mind, it will make perfect sense to you that my plan would be to ride at the front of the circuit race for as long as I could and then sprint up the mountain to take the polka dot prize!  

After 20 miles of drilling the pace and covering every surge I thought: Good lord, I'm only half way done and I'm smashed.  It was also at this exact moment I saw the gigantic sign at the base of a mountain for the QOM challenge. DOH! Time to sprint uphill. See what I mean about the IQ thing? Thank goodness for Infinit

I chugged a full strength bottle and went for it.  

Won by 2 seconds. 

Proceeded to draft my dumb a$$ to the finish.  

And then fell fast asleep that night in my polka dot jersey. Mission accomplished.

Stage 3: The Road Race
The road course was ferocious! Cyclists are NOT weenies.  The course had 3 Gap crossings.  The first crossing is via Middlebury Gap where the steepest grade is 18%.  Eighteen percent.  Sounds bad, huh? Well it is until you realize you have a 4K finishing climb with the steepest pitches of the day at 20% over the App Gap. OWWWWW!  While you're crying uphill the final pitch is lined with hundreds of cheering spectators to witness the cyclists as they nearly self destruct. 

Prior to the start I realized that I was practically an open book to the girls I was racing.  They knew a few things for sure.

1.) I was very, very dumb and will pretty much take the lead any chance I get.

2.) I had could push some watts but had absolutely NO wits. 

But what they didn't know was HOW MUCH DID I HAVE LEFT IN THE TANK!

Unfortunately, that is something I didn't know either. 

The start gun sounds and we all pedal like good pals through the neutral start section.  It was about 2 miles of 'no racing allowed' so I just tried to breath, and drink and convince myself to stay controlled until Middlebury Gap.  I used EVERY bit of self control I had. Off in the distance I see a sign for 10K to top of Middlebury Gap Queen of the Mountain Challenge. I was LOVING these 'within the race' races. Time to make these quads burn.  I took off at the sign and went for the win up and over the gap. But I didn't stop there. I had opened up a 3 min lead and decided to time trial away in a solo effort until I either imploded, or got caught.  
My lead car and moto were AMAZING.  They gave me updates on the chase pack behind me every few miles. I was feeling confident as I started to gain more and more time on my contenders. 

My confidence grew each pedal strong. I started to believe I could hold off the pack with a solo effort.  There was part of my that wanted it so badly. I loved being chased. I wanted to hurt and make the girls behind me hurt. And I wanted to win.  Suddenly I hit a dirt/off road section and immediately my lead car yelled: Move over! They are coming to pass.   

I was deflated. They caught me.  

Thirty seconds later a hundred quads came charging passed me.  The power in the group was unreal. I held on to my bike tight and pedaled like crazy, barely able to see with the dust from the dirt road being kicked up everywhere.  Screw winning now I was praying, eyes closed, that I would make it out alive.

Moments later I felt a pat on my back and male voices yelling: Up, Up, Up!  I open one eye (pleased that I was upright and pedaling) to see the male PRO pack riding away. 

I still had the lead and was at the base of the hardest climb of the day: App Gap. I knew at this point I had a 6 minute lead of the chase pack so I decided to enjoy the views and the climb.


Stage 4: The Crit
Very nervous going into this gnarly loop.  It was bike racing on steroids. All out sprints, crazy corning and bumping your cyclist rival if you moved off your line even a hair.   The announcer said it perfectly when he shouted: Look at this! Amber, the triathlete, has never had to corner in her life and she is leading crit.

You know what my secret was?

Just close the eyes tight before entering every turn. Yep.  Takes fear right out of the game and then it's all gravy from there. (Watts NOT wits...remember?)