Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's Because We're a Family

So we finally got a team shot of our sweet cowbell tattoos:

(Me- tat on the hip, Matt- on the back of his leg, Mark- on his arm, Charlie- on his back)

We are so cute!

Seriously, this is what being a team is all about. Good times, good racing, and some fairly ridiculous decisions...

We're Gettin' Famous!

(This is my crew.)

Scarlet Cyclists Brave the Jersey Roads and Show their Competitive Edge
A venerable sports club has grown steadily and is attracting more women

By Jeff May

"Spinning your wheels is no way to get through college – unless you’re a member of the Rutgers University Cycling Team.

The team, a club sport established more than 30 years ago, has grown steadily in prominence over the past decade. Rutgers riders are now a force in cyclocross, a deviant strain of steeplechase that requires cyclists to slog through mud and rough terrain with frequent dismounts to scale stairs or leap over barriers.

It goes without saying that training in New Jersey takes a tough mindset. The state has a well-earned reputation as a snakepit for drivers, so it’s not exactly a hospitable place for pedal-pushers who share the road."

And here's the super funny part:
The composition of the team has changed in recent years as more women have joined. Molly Hurford signed up this past year to help with her off-season training as a triathlete, but wound up loving the sport. Her enthusiasm for cycling is summed up by the title of her blog, “Death Before DNF,” a racing acronym for ‘did not finish.’

“Anytime where you get to go 25 mph or 40 mph on a downhill is pretty awesome,” said Hurford, a graduate student working toward a degree in English Education. “It’s just a really, really great way to spend a weekend.”

Hurford doesn’t do things by halves, including training.

“I’m arguably the craziest on the team,” she said. “I train 25 hours a week pretty much throughout the year. Most guys do 8 to 12 a week.”

Check the full article out here.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Off Road Adventures!

The Dream Team

Even with a couple weekends away from road racing, I've managed to stay pretty busy. Months ago, Mark and I made plans to do the Hibernia Off Road Duathlon as a co-ed relay team- the Rutgers Cycling Team, to be precise, and since I do love my position on the team as "that triathlete," I very quickly agreed to do the run. Mark was in charge of destroying the competition on the mountain bike section, and my job was to kill it during the run. Can I just say, Mission Accomplished?

From Mark's brief race report:
"Molly and I crushed the team event. Rutgers won this last year, but had a fairly lackluster finish in the overall standings. This year with a much stronger team, we destroyed it. Molly had an amazing run and got me on the bike in third place. I passed the guy and second and got within 45 seconds of the race leader. He was, however, ridiculously fast, and I never made the catch. I did, however, put some serious time into everyone else. Molly and I did a flawless transition, and Molly KILLED the second run to come in 2nd overall.

Yeah, we beat all the other teams, male-male, coed, female-female, AND all the individual athletes (except for the overall winner who was sick,) some of whom were pretty elite."

Mark and I right after the race. Don't I look tired? In my defense, I just finished the second 5k, while Mark had 20 minutes to recover before this was taken!

So, my "race report":

The race was in Hibernia, which is about 2 hours from my parents house. Up at 5, on the road by 5:30- bleck. Dad (our unofficial team Dad, as many of you know) couldn't make it to the race but woke up at 5 am to make sure that I was ready to go and out the door on time with all my gear. Gotta love him!

Anyway, the directions from the website sent me to the right area but wrong Park Avenue- I was about ten miles from the race site, along with a few other SUVs toting mountain bikes, so we formed a small caravan and I somehow ended up finding our way to the park through guesswork and frantic calls to Mark. Luckily, we made it there on time.

It was nice doing a race where the only stuff I needed was shorts, a shirt, and my sneakers- normally pre-race is hectic because of all the equipment, from bike to wetsuit that needs checking, but this race was awesome in that regard. It was less awesome because it was the coldest day of April- hovering in the 40s with some wind. I was not psyched about the middle segment when I'd be waiting for Mark to finish the ride, waiting around sweaty and chilly.

The race was awesomely chill- no racks for bikes in transition, super nice race director that knew Mark (which led to some hilarious antics at the award ceremony), and generally a more relaxed crowd than any triathlon I've done.

The starting line was at the base of a grassy hill, and the course was 2.8 miles of off road, then an 11 mile (2 loop) mountain bike, then another 2.8 mile run. The director yelled Go and we charged up the hill. I knew that the trails would narrow fast, making passing tough, so I gunned it up the hill as fast as I could and hit the trail segment in the top 10, the first female. It took a good mile before people got strung out, and in that time, I worked my way up to 6th or so, still the first female. The trail was awesome- lots of rocks, streams, mud, logs, and general crap to hurtle, jump or run around. Plus, a lot of short but intense up and down hills. This is what I'm good at, so I was happy.

By the time the trail was easy enough that I could look back, there were only two guys in my line of sight, a decent way behind me. The course went way faster than I expected, and when I realized we were almost to transition, I stepped on the gas and sprinted it out. Apparently, I surprised Mark (shocked the hell out of myself too), since I was the 6th or 7th person overall (including some runners just there to do the 5k trail run), and the first woman (I would have won the 5k!).

Mark took off up the same hill I had started on, chasing down two men in front of him. When he came around to start the second loop, he had passed one of the men and was in second. The guy in front of him, as he said, was clearly elite, and he put more time on Mark in the second loop. Mark put a huge gap between himself and the people behind him though, so when he came into transition and I started, I knew I didn't have to worry too much about anyone coming up behind me. Even with the first man 2 minutes or so ahead of me, I still was entertaining thoughts of closing the gap, unrealistic as that may have been, so I went hard.
Mark coming into transition.

The second loop was easier in some ways but mentally harder- with no one behind me and one person way ahead, it was hard to keep my head in the game, but I think I managed fairly well. I have no idea how close we were to that guy's time, but I was really pleased with how we did finish.
Me looking amazingly silly after hitting the finishing chute.

This race was awesome- I realized that I'm better at trail running than I thought, and that Mark and I make one awesome team. Ahem- Duathlon Off Road Nationals next year, perhaps?

When they did the awards and they got to the co-ed relay category, the director pointed out that not only were we the first co-ed team, but we were the first relay team overall, and the second ones to finish the race in general. I was stoked that the director came up to me and said, "you must be a runner, right?" (to which I replied, "heck no, I'm a triathlete!") and Mark got about a million compliments on his mad skillz on the mountain bike. In all, it was an excellent use of a Sunday!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Making the Best of Things

This weekend ended up being a mandatory rest weekend, instead of a race on Saturday and Sunday. This was both good and bad.

Bad, because it was due to the fact that my leg cramp issues have come back, making it almost impossible to ride a bike at the moment, and they seem to be getting worse and spreading. It's a problem, but one that I'm painfully used to. It sucks that I am, but the fact of the matter is that this is what I seem to be stuck with. Right now, I'm trying a few things, including doing a rest week now, and a 3 day juice fast to "flush toxins" (more on that later). Robbie thinks I should see a chiropractor, and my coach recommended a bike fit for my road bike, since he thinks I may just be hitting a nerve weird. My friend Blake is thankfully willing to help me with that, so hopefully the fitting will help. I'm checking into the whole chiropractor thing, but my problem is that my health insurance isn't all that great. Still, it may be worth paying for even if it is pricey.

But the good side of things meant that Robbie and I had a really nice weekend together. We went to a huge used booksale (I came out with 4 bags of books, yay!), went to a party and saw a lot of old friends, went to a poetry reading where Robbie did a wonderful job reading, got "gourmet" veggie pizza, spent a lot of time on the couch reading, and went for a nice long walk by the Delaware River yesterday, since I couldn't run or ride.

Aren't we cute?

And here's me on this awesome suspension bridge in Frenchtown at a kid's park by the canal. The bridge swings when you walk on it! Awesome. I admit, right after this picture was take, I had a "minor" freak out because my leg started cramping even though I was just walking, and I got pretty upset and frustrated. Poor Robbie, thankfully he's super-understanding and great about stuff like that.
So, this weekend was chill, but in a good way (cramp issues excluded)... It was nice to be a non-athlete for a couple days, and spend the whole weekend with Robbie instead of only seeing him for dinner.

As for last weekend, I have pictures from Bucknell:

Warming up pre-team time trial. That's right, Rutgers Cycling Women's crew REPRESENTED at Bucknell, whereas our men's team only had 2 out of the 30 or so male racers. Can anyone say "Girl Power"? (OK, we also talked about the Spice Girls. A lot.)

Sunday's crit on the university campus- 8 turns, 2 hills, one massive downhill ending in a corner, a chicane, a speed bump, and a lot of potholes. Fun!

We look like we were dubbed into this idyllic farm picture. I love Amish country. We even saw a horse and carriage while racing!

Post race hang time- we're one wild and crazy team!

I'm sure in the next 72 hours there will be more posts from me detailing why I'm very very hungry and very sick of juice. But I think in the end, 3 days of juice fast will do me a lot of good, for a few reasons.
  1. the whole "toxin" thing
  2. the fact that I've been eating like complete crap and I need a serious kick in the ass to get back to healthy habits
  3. it's a rest week, so might as well give my digestive system a rest too
  4. I'll be so much better hydrated!
  5. I'm hoping the toxin thing will help flush the crap out of the muscles in my legs, getting rid of the cramping
  6. I read it does wonders for your complexion, as well as attitude. And with some of the annoyances in my life at the moment (cramping, USAC issues, job, school and financial questions about next year, et cetera), I could use a serious attitude adjustment.
So, wish me luck and I'll keep everyone posted.

Monday, April 5, 2010


OK, I promise I'll write more soon. Hopefully later today, in fact. But just to let everyone know I haven't disappeared off the face of the planet:

More soon, I promise. Suffice to say despite some minor setbacks, my cycling season was/is going pretty well, finally got enough points to upgrade to cat 3, though I'm waiting on the approval for that, and while I'm done with collegiate racing for the season, I'm super psyched about doing some real racing this summer. It seems like I'm actually good at this stuff, so who knows? Maybe I'll try to find a real women's team to race with, we'll see.

In the meantime, this weather is getting soooo nice out, it's making me really really miss triathlon!

It's been a really long few weeks, I'm looking forward to some kind of mini-break. We've had a lot to deal with apartment-wise (a bedbug problem that turns out may not have even been bedbugs but meant we had to wash everything and live out of garbage bags...), a lot of holidays and weekend races, watching good friends get crashed, bikes destroyed and pretty beat up- it's scary. Of course, it's also been fun (frozen margaritas in Philly with some super awesome dudes after the insane Philly Phyler race weekend), it's also been tiring, and I've just been beat mentally, emotionally, and obviously physically, and it hasn't put me in a frame of mind conducive to writing.

Like I said, more later. For now, I'm at work, then going out to enjoy the amazing Spring weather.