Friday, November 30, 2012

Speedo and me...

I love to work with the companies that I grew up with. One of them is Speedo.
All of it just reminds me of my college years in Poland where I had blast tackling all the sports that exist on this planet.
One of them was swimming which I always loved. Of course right there I was using Speedo products.
Now, quite a few years later, living on the different continent, speaking different language, competing in the different sport I still use Speedo. My Speedsockets are the most trusted goggles on my every Xterra race. I am very glad to be supported by the brand I believe in.
I just received the newest FastSkin goggles and cap and love them both and bunch of other great training and racing gear. Thanks Speedo!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

FSC #8 in Alva, FL

It was my third time now riding and racing in Caloosahatchee Regional Park.

First time that finally I had an opportunity to get out and race there was thanks to our great friend Wally who convinced me after some 30 minutes on the phone to take a leap and race once again after a terrible injury. I didn’t feel ready yet and was still recovering from two fractured elbows which finished my 2010 season right on the beginning of it. I was pretty gloomy and actually getting out to the park was a very electrifying experience for me since I had moments when I thought I would not race again. All I remember is the flat twisty terrain, lots of happy faces and the amazing weakness in my arms when I was trying my best to finish this 15 mile course. I was struggling to hold on to my handle bars, my elbows were still wrapped in the support braces and I remember how exhausted I felt after I crossed the finished line. I placed 11th out of 16th if I remember right. This race however jump started my season and got me back to racing.

A year ago in this park I still raced base and remember being in the lead from the start to just crashing on one of the off camber slippery downhill’s and totally going off the concrete and flying into dead palm stump and a big bear hug on it. My ankle got hurt and all the girls zoomed by me. My whole race from there on was a catch up game. I think I made it to 4th. Oh well.

And here we come to this week’s race…

Good part of it is that our friend Wally once again was here with us and this time it is him coming back from a little injury and getting back into the racing environment.

It seems however that I have very little luck on this course and poor results and just came to the conclusion that the park just doesn’t suit me.

I feel there is no flow in those 14 miles of switchbacks of the flat course and few technical parts which go up and down from sudden turns. I can’t get there into my grove and race ends early. To add to it I had bad start and my left food didn’t clip in, I corrected it quickly and sprinted out and managed to get into a decent position just inches from crashing into the tree. I was 5th and after a short while I was able to pass two ladies. I had my eyes on the 2nd rider and still could see the leader far ahead. I was sure I will make some ground and catch up shortly while on the contrary with more passing time I was losing more and more ground and when I got to the tight, root covered, dark, getting hit on the head by the branches and impossible to keep good pace on forest; I had everyone right on my wheel. I didn’t get anywhere. I made some mistakes on the steep climbs and allowed two girls to pass. I did stick with them for a while and was completely certain I will pass them back in no time after we get out of this trail. This however never happened. I lost a big chunk of time.

I crossed the first lap mark in 5th, a good 45 seconds behind. I didn’t take it to seriously knowing I will make my time up shortly and I felt like I was having a pretty decent (not awesome however) pace. But once again I got to those annoying sticks and some boredom got to me on the 5 miles of turning left and right with no purpose that I even got other riders behind me. I guess my mind drifted away too much and when I did get out once again from the technical climbs that I actually cleared just fine this time I was pretty far back from the pack. Thanks to my husband giving me splits and telling me to catch up I picked up my pace. Very quickly I started getting closer and closer but miles disappeared way too quickly. I had only maybe 2 miles to go and was trying to get back into the game having some pretty good speed. When I come out into the open for the final series of switchbacks I could see the 3rd and 4th in front of me just few turns ahead. There was not enough time for me however to make up this gap unfortunately.

I could wish for an extra two miles and girls would be mine; but the race was over and I saw them approaching the finish while they were completely within my reach. Frustrating experience for sure, but also a learning lesson of sort… I can only reflect on what went wrong, hope to learn from it and hopefully come out even stronger for my next battle. If two broken arms didn’t stop me before, I don’t think one weak finish will also. So the game is still on.

Monday, November 12, 2012

FSC #7 in Lakeland Florida

And we are back to racing after an awesome trip to Maui. I missed only two races but for some reasons when checking in at registration I realized I forgot my racing number! Really, it was not that long time ago! Either way I am happy to be back and challenge a crazy trail system of Florida. I never raced in Loyce H Park before and heard some stories about the Fingers trail. I figured it will be fun, not really too scary and was looking forward exploring a new place. When I went on the pre-ride with my husband Pax I quickly realized that there was definitely lots of truth to what people said and more. Some sections were hair rising scary especially when you are riding them for the first time! You bike on the high and supper skinny mound where you have sometimes a whole foot of path to ride on, roots, drops, tight technical and bumpy descents, almost impossible climbs, roof top like ramps and all of it with having drop offs to the water on both sides! I got my adrenaline rush there and it was funny to hear some people saying that they will never race there again. We all know they will! With more practice the course becomes more familiar and manageable but there was still no place for any mistakes. And this is the tough part when you are with a bunch of fast riders all over the place, your heart is beating like crazy, you are panting like a mad dog, you are getting more fatigued with each passing minute and still going full speed. Oh the good times. That’s why I think we love it. I think all of us bikers have this never ending need for adventure, challenge, exploration, self-proof and self-punishment and we need this adrenaline rush that fills our bodies when we race.

We stood today on the start line 10 ladies strong. When the gun went off I was in the lead which quickly diminished with Jane passing me before going into single track. This girl just loves to lead on the first lap. After a while I was in 4th having in front of me now also Kathy and Melibe.  I had to work my way up slowly and keep making my progress toward the leaders.  I made a great pass on one of the girls on the steep concrete climb where girls got stuck on the top. This saved me some needed seconds and I was closer now to the leaders. All the technical sections went almost without any incident during this race. I went a few times back and forth with Jane and June who managed to squeeze right before me to very tight and technical single track. There was nowhere to pass but both of them had actually great speed and it didn’t affect me in any way.  Until I had the “men’s leader freight train” passing through when the 3 fastest men were trying to get into an impossibly skinny trail on the uphill at the same time as I was… Two managed to go by with me slamming on my brakes with third one being too far behind and just bringing everything to the halt when we both got stuck wheel to wheel on the canyon like uphill with place only for one bike. I did let him go and had to run up two sections that I could easily bike.  June was right behind me stuck in this mess. Than I had to bike a roof top ramp with only one foot clipped in and almost no speed. Shortly I had fourth guy catching up and also wanting to pass. I had to find space and time it properly to let him go so his race is not being affected to greatly.
Little Air :)

I blame it on a very bad timing and I could only hope all those passes took place on the vast straight ways that we had in between those grainy trails.

Some time got lost there but this is all part of the game also. I found myself falling behind leading Kathy for over a minute being in the 2nd position, when I still had June in 3rd right on my wheel and rest of the girls right behind her. I felt like I was going fast, but obviously I was more fatigued than usual. Was it still the past Xterra race that still kept my body not completely recovered or maybe too much of the riding day prior to the race when I had trouble backing off my excitement for those crazy trails here?


One way or the other my lap times went slightly slower and slower with each passing lap which is very unlike me. Long part of the course toward the end of the lap where you are all in the open against strong head wind didn’t help the situation and just added to the misery. On the final lap when coming out of the forest I knew June was right behind me but I still could not see her in the windy section which made me believe my position was safe to the finish. The leader however was so far ahead today that I would have to have a completely different race to be in contention.

My final reflection from the race is very positive however even though I didn’t snag the win.

I like this park a lot for its challenging terrain and I’m glad I had an opportunity to race here. I enjoyed a truly great getaway weekend with my husband Pax and fun time with my Big Wheel Team mates on and off the trail.

I loved the competition from all the amazing girls racing in my class.  What is more incredible that our finishing times were so unbelievably close that medals were presented for top 5 instead of top 3 riders which I found being a great call. Everyone deserved a medal today the race was so close and tough!
And the icing of the cake was David the race director announcing my 9th place finish in the Xterra World Championship in Maui while I was taking my podium stand.  It added some happy coziness to the whole experience…

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thanks KT Tape and Selle Italia

We get home from Maui and we have 2 Brand New Carbon Selle Italia Saddles and a whole bunch more KT Tape... Thanks KT Tape and Selle Italia.