Monday, September 30, 2013

Staenberg Group Gateway Cup

Labor Day Weekend I traveled to St. Louis, MO to race three of four races of the 22nd edition of the Staenberg Group Gateway Cup. Friday was Tour de Lafayette which I did not make it in time to race since the drive from Pittsburgh to St. Louis is about 9 hours. Although, I forgot that the time change to central time makes the drive only take 8 hours of the day to get there, so I could have made it in time to race without having to leave at 4am.

Saturday was Tour de Francis Park it was at least 95 degrees or hotter which was horrible since I was not used to weather that hot. I never thought I would miss Kansas summer temperatures except for it is good training for races when it is 90 to 100 degrees. I felt like I was starting to overheat in the last lap or so but I still finished with the pack to get 24 out of 35.

Sunday was Giro della Montagna, this race is in The Hill neighborhood which has fantastic Italian restaurants. However, the course did not have much of a hill for it to be on "The Hill." Toward the end of the race I was on the front and the announcer said something like "Stephanie Lamb from Dynamic Physical Therapy p/b Pathfinder from Pittsburgh, PA is on the front" then he went on a tangent about the St. Louis Cardinals versus the Pittsburgh Pirates who would play each other the next weekend. This little bit of hill on this course made the race a little more interesting because my friend Karen (who is very skinny and therefore hills are her strength) drove the pace a lot through the race especially up the hill but since she still has junior gears the sprint to the finish which is on a little bit of a downhill means her speed tops out when the rest of us can still shift a couple of times. I got caught up behind a rider who's spokes were broken by another riders skewer (luckily no one crashed) so I again finished just with the pack rather than having a good position for the sprint to end up getting 17 out of 31. Which was somehow my best finish of the weekend even with getting stuck behind an almost crash.

Monday was my favorite day, the Benton Park Classic has 10 corners! This makes the course very technical and pretty long. I rode in the front quarter of the pack for most of the race which gave me a great position for the second prime of the race. I went for it and got it, I think only one other woman sprinted with me for it but she let up as soon as we crossed the line. I kept riding hard which put me off the front of the pack for about half of the very long course. At that point I wish I was better at time trials because this was within the last 2 or 3 miles of the race. If I could have stayed off the front that would have been awesome but I couldn't do that, so I again did not have a good position for the final sprint and I finished with the pack (21 out of 32).

Overall the weekend was a lot of fun. I need to learn how to position myself well for a final sprint with a group of about 30 riders.

Fall is in the air

With my road season in the book, and cross season ramping up. I make the transition from asphalt to grass. As ABRA cyclocross season quickly approaches I wanted to get several ‘cross races in beforehand. I opted to travel to race in both neocx (North East Ohio Cyclocross) and MAC (Mid Atlantic Cyclocross).
My first race of the season was NEOCX Edge of the World cross. This course was relatively flat with 1 run up and 1 steady climb with a short kicker at the end. Though a bit technical with a couple rooted sections and a section in the sand. For the start i managed to get on the front row, not really knowing what to expect since it was the first race of the season. We got going I could’ve taken the hole shot but wanted to not lead the first lap in fear of blowing up I settled into second. Though half way through the first lap the guy leading bobbled over the roots and I went around.  After a bit on the front I was driving the pace to try to string the field along, before the first lap was over I was sitting second again and was slowly fading back. I ended up in 4th and settled into a rhythm to try to reel back 3rd and hold 4th. About 2 laps to go I was over taken my the guy sitting 5th before the sand I had wanted to pass the guy again going over the barriers. 3rd was maybe a couple hundred feet ahead of us and I was thinking we could catch him. As we went over the barriers I passed the guy 4th and was carrying a lot of speed but I didn't think it was too much. Though when I set the bike down to remount, I must of set it down crooked and it acted like a lever and tossed me over it and about 5-10 feet away. I hurried back to the bike, look it over quickly make sure all was good, and got back to racing, I had managed to hold my 5th place.

 having fun in Charm City's  sand pit
My second and third race of the season was MAC Charm City in Baltimore. With being my largest race of the year with fields of 125.  Starting in the 40’s was quite the fight for the start I managed to get myself up within the top 30 in the first lap’s though on both days, I  had started to fade in the second half of the race. One thing I learned in fields that large and competitive, there is no place to rest and anytime you do someone is looking to get around you.  I had managed to finish 69th on the first day, and 65th on the second day.

The latest race was a neocx again. as we had pulled up to the venue I saw that it was on a hill side. Here I was thinking yes finally a hilly course.  I was mistaken the course had maybe 25-30 feet of riding up hill the rest where sets of stairs, 3 sets of stairs to be specific. I managed to get a front row again, this time I thought heck I’ll try to take the hole shot and lead the first lap, I lined up next to another local abra racer, Ben Kuhlman, I got the hole shot and sounded of a good gap but over cooked the first turn big time, and felt like I lost a lot of that ground. Hit the first set of stairs and got going, I wasn’t going to look back. Before I hit the second set of stairs Ben was right behind me, saying that we had a gap. I held the lead for the first half of a lap then settled into second behind Ben. going into the second lap I let a gap open and settled into 3rd. Halfway into the race I got into a 3 man group racing for 4th place. A guy got away from our group then it was me for another rider fighting for 5th. The last lap I made my move going into the final set of stairs. I took over 5th and held it to the barriers and closed down on 4th to about 100 yards at the finish but waited too long to close it down. 

(will post pictures as they are posted) 

Last minute blog for September

Last minute blog for September

Wow, I can’t believe today is the last day in September.   The month of September brought a lot of ups and downs for my family.  We did our first Walt Disney World family vacation. 
We had a lot of fun hanging out with Mickey and all his friends.

A couple days after returning from our vacation my grandma of 87 years passed away.  She enjoyed a nice long life, but it was still hard to say goodbye because most Sundays Addie and I would spend time with her at the nursing home she was living in. 
This past weekend my buddy Jeff came over from Pittsburgh to cheer me up.  We enjoyed a nice single speed ride around Canton on Saturday morning.  I learned that Jeff has bad luck riding in cemeteries.
On Sunday morning we did a TT in Deerfield, OH.  On this morning Jeff was all about business taking the top step on the podium.  Nice job buddy.

I also had the pleasure of standing on the podium with my beautiful Addie girl as we wrapped up the stoker / kid series title.
I want to give a shout out to Amber and Arryn for taking some great photos at the TT on Sunday.
Below are more pictures from Sunday’s TT. 
Thanks for reading.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My WV List: #2 What I'm NOT going to miss


Sorry, I might make you mad*

 (*see last statement).

OK, prepare yourself, the top 10.

1) I'm not going to miss these $^@@*$(

2) Worst meal I've ever had by far, in my life (yeah I'm lucky I guess): "pizza" from colasessano's pizza.  It wasn't pizza.  It was fried dough with 3" of cheese and ketchup.  I've never not finished my meal...or left food on the table.  Trust me.  Horrific.  Go to Morgantown Brewing (GET A BEER PRETZEL!), or Chicos (probably my favorite place to eat in Morgantown).  If you want pizza, go to Mountain State, Pizza Al's, even Yesterdays has good pizza.

3) I will NOT miss the drivers.  THE WORST.  YOU CAN'T TAKE THAT LANE I HAVE A GREEN LIGHT.  Even worse if you're on a a bike.  I fully developed and honed my road rage while in WV. I moved to Massachusetts?  [hand to face]

4) SO MANY BRAKE PADS.  I never, ever replaced a set of brake pads on my bike before I moved to WV.  I went through 3 sets while I was here.  On 2 bikes.

Less than a season.  Ugh.

6)  It's too hot.  I'm way, way too much of a Yankee to be able to deal with the heat.  One August, our power bill was $175 because of the central A/C.  Yeah, I'm a big ole' baby.  Loving this 30 degree weather up here in Mass already.  Had my window fan on all night, it was amazing.

7) The politics.  As this blog is not a political one, I will leave it at that.
Wait.  I don't like politics anywhere...whatever I'm leaving it.

8) Football weekends.  Now that I've moved, I hoped I won't end up on some sort of hit list for saying this.  But come on.  It's pretty miserable for those of us who don't like standing in parking lots, getting plastered, or not being able to drive anywhere.

I'm especially bitter about this because I paid $363 a year to park in a vastly over filled parking lot, and one day, I came out on a Friday evening at 4:47, and I had a tow truck pulled up behind my car.  THEY WERE GOING TO TOW ME IF I WASN'T GONE BY 5 SO THE FOOTBALL FANS COULD PARK.

I can't think about it anymore.

Forget about going to the hospital.  No room.  All football fans.




10)  This.

[I hope you find this list as comical as I did.  And for the record, as I writing it, some of the stuff actually made me miss WV even more.  Except the mother $#&@^$@ god $#%^ stupid @#$ house centipedes.  And the unbelievable window sticker]

Sunday, September 22, 2013

My WV List: #3 Ocracoke

Yeah, FINE.

Ocracoke isn't in WV.  It's in NC.

But this is my list, and like I said at the beginning, I can do whatever I want.

If not for WV, I would have never even heard of Ocracoke.  If not for a couple west virginians I would have never ever even thought to go.

If not for Ocracoke, I would never have fallen in love with surf fishing.  And I mean, head over heels in love.  Obsessed is probably a better way of describing it.

It was also Carly and I's first vacation together, and something that we look forward to so much.  We used it as part of our honeymoon in 2011.

It also rekindled my love of the ocean in general.  I always liked the ocean, but being from New England, I never really got to enjoy it that much, because in Maine the water is always FREEZING, and New Hampshire is hardly any better.

And let's be honest, I never ventured further south than that (unless we were visiting my grandma in WV).

We went to the outer banks first in March of my first year of graduate school.  It was fun, but not overly so.  It rained a lot and the fishing wasn't good...but it was good enough that we wanted to go back.

Instead of Kitty Hawk though, we decided to stay at the NPS campground in Ocracoke.

It was a whole new world.

Ocracoke is so much better than the rest of OBX (in my strong opinion).  Way less people, no chain stores, no chain restaurants, better beaches, better fishing, warmer's just better.

After our camping trips in 2009, and 2010, we rented a place to stay in 2011 with our good friends.  The fun factor went up about 20 fold.

And this year we rented a place with my sister, and it was equally amazing.  And we took Gus.

Now, that we've moved from WV, our trips to Ocracoke may be over, or severely put on hold.  Carly says "I'm sure we'll go back", but I wonder if we will.  Or rather, I wonder when we will.  It's no longer an easy 9.5 hour drive, it's a long 14 hour drive (with heavy traffic).

That makes me really sad.  I know there are lots of other places I could go, but Ocracoke has become familiar and I really like that.

I will always associate WV with Ocracoke and vice versa.  WV was the gateway for many "first" experiences in my life, and I am very thankful for that.

And won't forget.