Monday, May 16, 2011

Frankie Says Relax

A lot can change in a month. I've learned so many lessons in the past month and my mood has been such an emotional roller coaster that I just wanted to wait until I was grounded before I posted again.

So here come the personal lessons. (Do you see a trend with this? First year of pro cycling, every post about lessons learned? Hmm...and to think I thought I knew everything...)

Lesson for the Month: Frankie Says Relax
This past month, I have podiumed three times. Each of the three times, I had a relaxed attitude going into the race, thinking, "Well, let's give this a go today, shall we?" Minimal expectations, little thought, just a "Here goes nothing" approach. Every time I bring a clean chamois in case of a potential podium, I don't race well. Every time I try to pump myself up and visualize my success, I don't do well. I do well when I relax and just go out there and have fun.

Let me tell you the stories of my podiums. Gather round.

1.Sea Otter Time Trial 3rd Place

That morning I had worked with the mechanic to try to fit my Shiv. We cut the bars and tried to get myself in a suitable position. I remember him riding by me and trying to evaluate my position. Then we saw a snake on the driveway (That's not relevant to the story. I just thought I would share.) Anyway, I was like BAH! We'll give a go. I pre-rode the TT course for my warm up and listened to some music and really just was feeling like what do I have to lose? Nothing. So I just held on tight and went for it. There were times flying down the the hills, especially before the sharp turn for the climb, that I was bouncing on the saddle thinking "Ohhhhh, F*****CK!" I wasn't quite used to the stiff carbon shifters and for the life of me could not shift into the small ring. I remember the course marshall waving at me frantically to try to indicate there was a left turn approaching. I think he might have been fearful for his life, as according to my Garmin at that point I was approaching 47mph. (I don't use K's yet. That's saved for 2nd year pros.) Anyway, I was pleased with my result and my first podium.

2. Sandy Springs Crit in Speedweek: 1st Place

This was a big one for me because it was my first NRC win. This one was the last of seven crits at speedweek and instead of being a designated workhorse, my director instructed us all to look for opportunities. I attacked a bit in the beginning of the race, but my legs were really feeling shitty that day. There was a little hill to the finish and I'd feel it each time up the 40 laps. I wondered why I was getting gapped after turns and realized that I was still overgeared. I tried more spinning (putting it into an even easier gear than I thought I needed, and I was FINALLY able to not lose ground). Anyway, after that, I just sat in patiently. I wasn't planning anything. I was just chilling and staying relaxed, watching people--especially the sneaky ones (You always have to know who the sneaky ones are...), evaluating moves--did I mention I was RELAXED? Anyway, then I saw a move go at two laps to go, and it felt almost like instinct when I made a move to bridge to it. I basically just rode as hard as I could for two laps and ended up with the win. I wish I could have been more relaxed to do the W salute instead of the one-hand fist pump, but well, whatever. I guess you can take the girl out of the derby (i.e., Arsenio Brawl+victorious jam=fist pump), but you can't take the derby out of the girl...

3. Tour de Grove: Dutchtown Classic: 3rd Place

So this was an epic day for me. The day before, Saturday, was a rainy crit. It was my second crit ever in the rain and well, after fishtailing, I was riding on the back for most of the race, scared and tense, praying that I would make it through without killing myself. It was horrible. It felt like I was starting over in racing--which was unfortunate because I had such a great race the day before. Anyway, so after checking four weather stations, watching the forecast by the hour, hoping it would be dry, my wishes were not granted and I had to race another rainy crit on Sunday, this one with downhills that led into turns. I had searched on the Internet for advice and texted friends, one who told me to HTFU, and realized I had no choice but to throw myself into the race because by golly, I wasn't going to be that kitten on the back again. I said, "Well, I'm going to be either crashed out or winning, but I will not be on the back again."
So, I went into the race with a F-it attitude, thinking it can't be worse than yesterday, here we go. After a lot of attacking, I ended up in a break with 2 of my teammates and 4 other girls. We had one of our top sprinters in our group, so it just made sense for my teammate Kendall (a.k.a. Ripper Ryan) and I to rotate on the front and kill it to make the break stick, protecting our sprinter. Because we had 3 riders in the break, we had a bit of obligation to drive the break. Anyway, I just put my head down and killed myself to make that break stick and get a gap on the peleton. We ended up with 1:10 on the bunch--with my teammates in the peleton killing any attempts to bridge to the group. I led my teammate up the finishing hill for the win and ended up rolling in for 3rd. I was like "Hot Damn! We won! And I'll be, I got 3rd. Cool."

So, lots of lessons learned on this day. 1) Don't underestimate yourself in the rain--or ever. If all these people can do it, so can you--well unless you're totally hopeless...it just might take you longer. 2)Relax. Don't brake. And push down real hard with your outside foot around those turns. 3).It  kicks ass to work your ass off and pull out the win. I get as excited for my team winning as I do for myself winning, especially when I can contribute. It's a really cool feeling.

Oh and fyi, I didn't pack a clean chamois that day. There's nothing like standing on the podium in a soaking wet, dirty chamois in the rain...but I wouldn't know because we decided not to get pneumonia and go with pants.