Tuesday, July 31, 2007

New Realizations

After racing two big stage races in a row and being on the road for a while, I have come to realize a few important things.

-I have an Oreo tan that is good enough to last the entire winter (tan legs, white torso, tan arms). It's hot!

-There are certain things you hope to have in a host house; big cereal bowls, an espresso maker, (drip coffee just isn't good enough anymore), and a nice kitchen.

-I am a road rider/racer. If I were a mountain biker, I wouldn't mind crashing into a tree. I DO NOT like crashing into anything, that's why I am a roadie.

-It's good to pay attention when driving massive amounts of time from one race to another because you never know what kind of road kill you could miss (we saw bear road kill in Virgina driving from Altoona to North Carolina. We also hit 5 states while driving here).

-I am addicted to my compression socks. When I'm not wearing them, my ankles feel like they are in a permanent state of swollen-ness.

-I dislike barking dogs just as much as I dislike snoring (some would say I hate those things but Mom always said I shouldn't use the word "hate").

-I like to have easy access to wireless Internet (I didn't realize how much I missed it).

-This last point may be TMI (too much information) but...I now have calluses from where my chamois doesn't quite rub right (it's not nice: looking or feeling).

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Ying-Yang Continues

The good and the bad continues to continue here in PA. After a most wonderful win and getting to wear both the yellow and the green jerseys, I am now out of the top 10 and feeling bruised and battered. Yesterday, I was NOT smart during the race and wore myself out. Then I got dropped 4km from the finish and lost 40 seconds. No more green, no more yellow, and no more GC podium. Oops.

Today, Brooke (I talk a lot) Miller decided that sprinting for 16th place while it was raining and corner-y would be a good idea. She crashed taking others with her. I jumped the curb, and avoided the road carnage, but ran right into a tree (not ideal). A branch clothes-lined me across the shoulders and I ended up on my back with my bike on top of me. Ouch (nothing horrible tough. Thank goodness).

That's bike racing, and that's also life. The good and the bad, but isn't it all about attitude anyway? It's all good...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Green, Yellow and the Ying-Yang of Life

The past two days have provided a prime example of life's ups and downs; what I call the ying and the yang of life.

After much needed rest in Fraser with the Mom and Dad, I flew to PA for 'Toona. Of course, neither my TT bike nor my road bike arrived with me. Annoying. All day long I spent on the phone trying to get my bikes ASAP and each time I talked to an airline person the news got worse. I was not going to have my bikes for the first stage of the race.

We raced the team time trial and did well. The team got third. I, however had a VERY bad race. I raced on a borrowed TT bike, got dropped by my team, and felt horrible. I was cracked; crying everywhere, with no bikes and bad legs.

I woke up the next morning and still felt badly. However, I am lucky to have wonderful friends and family and they gave me good words of wisdom (ie. it's just a bike. Get over not having your bike and race. It will be ok).

Reader's Digest version of the rest of the day: bikes arrived, legs felt instantly better. Attacked in the rain on the decent, soloed for 25 miles, won the stage, won the sprinters jersey and the YELLOW jersey. What a difference a day makes. The ying and yang. The good with the bad. It all evens out eventually.

(only dial up at our host house here in Holidaysburg, so no pictures. Sorry. Also not much e-mail either)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Sneak Peak #3

The Giro is over. We are all totally cooked (i.e. very tired). We're back in Lucca for much needed R & R before flying home tomorrow (Tuesday). The house here in Lucca is amazing. It has a huge pool and patio, a great city a mile away, and ridiculously good riding. But, what am I doing? I'm hanging out inside in close proximity to bed and couch. I've had enough sun, heat and sweat in the last 9 days to get me through the next week. The air conditioning, couch and sweatshirt feel amazing. :)

Here's the last sneak peak to a diary entry for a popular Colorado newspaper. If you read Sneak Peak #2 you were especially lucky because it never made it into the newspaper, so not many people got to read it.

Sneak Peak #3

After racing the Giro, I have a new respect for bike racing. I’d always known it was hard and that racing day after day was mentally and physically draining, but the Giro was a different experience. Racing a nine day European stage race opened my eyes to a new world of cycling I had never known.

Every day was a hard fought race from start to finish. It didn’t matter if it was a mountain stage or a flat circuit race, the speeds were high, the temperature was hot and everyone was fighting for a good result.

This type of racing doesn’t happen in the USA for women. The level of fitness and the level of racing is so much higher in Europe than it is in the USA. So, it is always a shock to Americans when they come to Europe for a long, hard stage race.

Unfortunately, as a team, we didn’t have any results to bring home and brag about. Though even if we didn’t get a podium or stage win, each of us had our own personal battles and victories that we can be proud of and take home with us.

The best result for the team was my 16th place in the opening prologue. However, the race turned out to be more about the experience than the results. For me personally, I am happy to have completed such a long, hard stage race. I felt strong and ready to race every day but one and that one day was after a long solo break away in the mountains the day before, so I was ok with that. I now know what kind of fitness is required to be among the best and I have renewed motivation toward my training and my goals. Next time, I want to come to Europe and not just survive, but do well and be amongst the winners.

It is a wonderful feeling to have raced and completed my dream race, the Giro d’Italia Femminile. However next year, I want to come to my dream race and bring home results to brag about.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Day 8

Day 8 brings new territory. I've never raced more than 7 days in a row in my life. And that was only once. Last year at Toona.

I was a little worried this morning as I only slept 6 hours last night but Friday the 13th brought some good things. (Tina and Iona after the race)

1.) I drank tea this morning

2.) I remembered sun screen

3.) I raced my bike really hard and made myself proud

4.) I only had to run one "Ochio" saying Italian off the road :)

5.) My Mom and Dad were watching and cheering for the team

6.) There is one day left, then back to Lucca for much needed R & R.

After today's race, Andrea was nice enough demonstrate why we dose all of our food in salt. Even the bread this morning could not escape the salting (it was actually good).

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Interesting Facts of the Giro

After 7 days of racing, I have noticed some interesting things happening to me. Mostly, I'm tired of eating. Never, never, ever did I think I would say I am tired of eating. I love eating. But, I ate so much yesterday that I thought I had broken my stomach. As I lay in bed, not sleeping, it still felt like it was going to explode, nothing had been digested. I really thought I had broken my stomach, but alas, the hunger is back in full force this morning and I can't yet bring myself to eat anything.

Here is a list of other interesting information:
-I am getting less and less sleep every night.
-Coffee has replaced tea as the morning beverage.
-Dessert is a welcome big calorie, good tasting race food (though not during the race as gilatto might melt and make a mess in the jersey pocket).
-Pasta is looking more and more appealing for breakfast.
-I got sunburned yesterday.
-Iona's blog is MUCH better than mine (you should check it out http://wynterparks.blogspot.com/).
-Despite it being the 7th day of racing, yesterday's race averaged 42 kph.
-The next Italian that yells "Ochio" at me in the pack I'm going to run off the road.
-Putting your brakes on when someone pushes you is a good way to make them mad and create amusement for yourself.
-I love racing my bike in Europe!

Two days left!!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Sneak Peak #2

Here's another sneak peak to a certain Denver newspaper's athlete diary entry.

(Yes, you are not dreaming, it is again your lucky day)

After four days of racing, one word can describe the Giro. That one word is surprise.

The 3 km prologue attracted a surprising amount of spectators. Racing in the US doesn’t seem to attract the hordes of fans that other sports do, so it was refreshing to see so many people excited about the race. I was happy with my performance. I gave everything I had and rode very strongly. However, after the race, I was a surprised and disappointed to learn my effort was only good for 16th place, 7 seconds slower than the leader.

The second stage brought a surprise to the entire race. The race was supposed to be 150km long. After 145 km of racing everyone thought we were racing for 3rd place as two girls had broken away from the field and it didn’t look like they were going to get caught. That’s why it came as a shock when we passed the 20 km to go sign. With the extra kilometers added to the race, the two riders were caught and the sprinters battled it out for the top of the podium.

The morning of the third stage brought the third surprise of the race. At 7:15am there was a loud pounding on the hotel room door. It was our team director waking us up for drug testing. He had received a call from the UCI (International Cycling Association) saying that 3 of us had blood testing in 10 minutes. We hurried, got dressed and went to the designated spot. Each of us had 2 small vials of blood taken for testing purposes. They tested our hematocrit and checked for any foreign substances. We later found out that we were lucky to sleep until 7:15, some teams got the call at 6:00 am.

Monday brought the decisive time trial up a 10 km climb. It was surprising how fast some of the girls went up the climb. I felt really strong, rode well, and am happy with how I did; though I was beaten by almost 4.5 minutes.

After a four hour drive to our hotel, the team is ready for the next 5 days of racing. And now instead of being on the receiving end of the surprises, we hope to create some surprises. So far in the racing, we have ridden very smartly and saved our energy as much as possible while the bigger teams have fought and ridden hard thus tiring out some of their riders. We’ll now be racing our bikes in the hopes of getting on the podium in one of the remaining 5 stages.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Giro Update

We are alive. 2 days down, 7 to go. First was a 3km prologue. It was a great course. I did my best, but finished a disappointing 16th, 6 seconds slower than the winner. Oh well.

Today was a scorcher. Hot and long with a massive tail wind. To add to the already long 150km course, we were surprised by an extra 15 km. We all thought it was 5km to go to the finish, when surprise, we just passed the 20km to go sign. That was great... Andrea crashed, and left some skin on the pavement, but is alive and even smiling after having her wounds cleaned out with my toothbrush. She's burly.

YEAH!! Pictures!!

Here's we are, Tina, AP, Iona. Andrea and Sarah, all complete with our compression tights after arriving to the hotel at the base of the Dolimites. It took us 5.5 hours to get here.

From a far...The offical-looking team signing in. Here we go....!!!

This is what you look like after racing 165km in WAY HOT temperature. This is also why it is good to douse the spagetti in salt, a lot of salt.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Here comes the Giro

Vacation is over. We celebrated last night by having the largest home firework display I have ever seen. Complete with duds that shot not only into the sky and every which way, but also directly at the crowd of SRM staff and family, pro cyclists, banned cyclists and USA Cycling staff and family. It really was quite amusing.

After a little "opener" ride this morning to get our legs ready for the next 10 days, and a last minute stop at the coffee shop for a cappuccino it will be a long drive to the Dolomites for our 3km prologue on Friday. Let the fun begin... (I'm SO bleeping excited!!!)

It has been pointed out to me that at least 3 other people besides my Mom and sister read my blog, so thank you the now 5 readers!! :) I hope to reward you with some pictures soon. I know how much more exciting a blog is with pictures (I often don't read blogs unless they have pictures).

Happy Birthday Dad!!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The better blog

If you are really, and I mean really interested in what goes on with us Colavita/Sutter Home girls while we are in Italy, you must check out my teammate Iona's blog. She just started it and is blog happy; posting and writing about EVERYTHING!! Really quite entertaining.


The BEST coffe shop ride...EVER

Today was Italian, 100%. Mark today on the calender. July 3, 2007. It was wonderful.

Lisa, our Luccan friend/tour guide took Iona, Jim and me on our "coffee shop" ride today. We rode to a town 20km away, parked our bikes and entered the all holy of coffee shops. It looked like any normal Italian coffee shop; pastry's, cookies, cakes, espresso machine etc, etc, but upon closer examination, it was obvious this place baked and served to a different tone. For one, the staff behind the counter was actually nice and helpful to our non-Italian needs.

After the four of us each received our cappuccino's and "pasta"s (baked goods) we sat down and the let the experience sink in. I didn't really know cappuccino's could very in goodness. Either they were good (Italy), or not good (Starbucks). But this cappuccino raised the bar. It wasn't just good, it was SO good. Then came the pastry. I got the Fungeti (little mushroom). Thanks to Iona, here is a picture of it:

I have to admit, it does look a little bit foul. But it was amazing. It was like the ying-yang of desserts. Inside the chocolate part was white cream filling, inside the white part was chocolate cream filling. Heaven.

After two cappuccinos and one ying-yang fungeti, I was ready to ride home.

The total bill for 3 cappuccinos, one fungeti and one "pasta" (I bought Lisa's too)....4.90 euro. Take that Amante.

The day was finished off with Pizza, made in front of us and cooked in the brick oven. Yum!