Christina Wraps-up the NJ Time Trial Cup Series!
NJ TIME TRIAL CUP SERIES 2015
A New Yorker’s Experience
Sandy Hook – April 4, 2015
I was supposed to do this race last year. I was registered for it and planned on going but in the middle of the night, my son got very sick. Hubby had a local mountain bike race the next day as well and so I stayed home with the little guy. This year, there were no conflicts and I headed out at 4am with Michael and John (Paniagua Cycling). We knew this was known to be a windy course but it was definitely a bad sign when on the weather forecasts all that was showing were wind icons. We neared the location and saw the white caps beating on the water. We parked the car and struggled to open the doors because the force of the wind was blowing them shut. I am not exaggerating at all. In fact, I still doubt that you can understand just how severely windy this morning turned out to be. From what I can gather, it was about 40mph winds – and those would be headwinds on the way out. My pre-race attitude started shifting from feeling like I could do well to feeling like I just wanted to stay upright. The race began and thankfully the holder gave a little push (which is rare) otherwise I might have started in reverse. The wind was tough and I allowed myself to get mentally defeated. At one point I looked down and I was going a measly 9.6 mph. Really? This is a race?! The wake-up call happened for me at the turn around. It was then that I saw how close behind Michael and John were in the men’s field which started minutes after me. It was then that I realized I needed to turn it on. Granted, the way back had a nice tailwind but I also rode it well…to the point of wanting to throw up which is my indicator that I was doing all I could do. I came in 3rd place – 4 seconds away from 2nd place (out of only 4). I was annoyed with myself for my poor performance on the way out but lesson learned. The good part of the day was reconnecting with Sue Seyboldt and getting to meet Julia Franco (who rode really strong against the wind!)
Cape May – April 11, 2015
This race is the farthest in the series and one that was not on my radar. However, I decided that this was the year I wanted to give the series a try through and through. My supportive husband, Chauncy, agreed to head out Friday after school and we stayed at a motel not too far from the start. We knew it was a bad sign when we pulled into the parking lot of the motel and all we saw and heard were hoards of teenage girls running around while their parents were just sitting there smoking. Upon checking in we were informed that there was a cheerleading convention and two rival teams were staying at this motel. The noise proceeded throughout the night enhanced only by the ever-so-creative knock and run games that they chose to play on our door. Uggh. So much for getting a good night’s sleep before the race (not that that ever happens anyway).
Race morning time. I had it in my head that I needed to fix my mistakes from the week before and justify the whole long drive and overnight stay. I was motivated and it paid off. At the finish, I knew that I had done well (and I had the throw up feeling) but this was a large field and I was unsure as to how some of the riders who went off minutes ahead fared. Results were posted and I stood looking for a moment. My name was first. Did they just list names alphabetically and placement was elsewhere? It literally took me a little while to comprehend that really, I came in 1st place! I was super excited as this was a first for me. I also realized that it was a close first with Sharon mere seconds behind and Julia just a couple or more seconds off, with Sue right in there as well. This was going to be a good season with strong women who will make each other work hard.
As an addendum, after the race I was contacted by Sharon via Strava who congratulated me and I saw and reached out to fellow rider Karen Clark on there as well. The friendly dialogue and communication starts to extend past race morning and the good vibe continues to grow!
Allamuchy – April 8, 2015
Allamuchy was race number three in the season and the first one that I had previous ridden. I raced this course last year and liked it, despite getting distracted by the farm animals. Yes, I talked to the cows to let them know that I don’t eat them. I told myself in advance that I would be rude and ignore them this year. I headed back to Allamuchy with Michael (Paniagua) as my co-pilot and with my goal of simply seeing progress from last year. For this race, seeding finally helped me. For two years now I have been slowly learning how this series works. Last year I couldn’t understand how I would beat people and next week still be starting ahead of them. Thanks to Mark Curran, I learned about how the team has to be registered in the series in order for racers to accrue points. For this race, I was seeded in the back and mentally it made a difference to have other riders in your category in your sites. I took off and pushed it. Nearing the turnaround I saw congestion of riders in my category. I slowed a lot at the turnaround, as this is a weakness of mine, and the helpful marshals were telling me to keep going. I was trying! Back on the straightaway I pushed on and wound up passing a few racers in the field, including Tracy Andre, another strong rider who has a great attitude. She gave me words of encouragement at the pass and then I continue to hammer on. I kept it up for a strong finish, complete with the throw up feeling again. I pushed so hard today and averaged 22mph on the course – up from 19.8 from last year! First place again!
Long Beach Island – April 25, 2015
This was another far race geographically but I was committed at this point. Hubby, son and I took off on a Friday night again and this time our hotel room ROCKED. It was a handicapped accessible room and it was big enough to ride a bike inside! The problem was we got slammed in traffic and didn’t get in until ridiculously late so we didn’t get to enjoy it much, nor did I get that good night sleep that eludes me every time!
Pre-race: it was cold. Really cold. It was great to see Sharon again in the parking lot and we probably talked longer than we should have just to delay having to get going in the cold! Sue and the Riptide crew were already spinning and warming up.
At the start I realized I didn’t reset my Garmin from the warm-up. I was seconds away from launching, bike was being held and I could not get the Garmin to reset. 3-2-1-go and I am .9 miles in with some 14mph average speed being displayed. I messed with it for another second and then gave up. This course was flat with driveways and side roads galore – not my favorite. I push, I keep Sue in my sights, get to the turn around and head back. I pass Sue, then she passes me again, and I pass her again. Then an ambulance passes me. That is not a good sign. I start thinking if everyone is okay and then come to the scene of the accident. I slow down a bit and see a rider up and walking and it looks like things are okay. Still unsettled and I am hoping all is well. I come to the finish line – no throw up feeling. Hmmm – that was telling me I messed up. I left too much in the tank. I rely on the Garmin perhaps too much and not having the accurate stats in front of me was an issue for me. I wound up in 4th place. That being said, I could not have been happier that Sharon came in first place! She was motivated today due to some personal events and she rode strong!
After the race, I found that the riders involved in the accident were okay. I also finally had the good pleasure of meeting Teresa DiSessa and also Diane Elmore, a racer in the women’s cat 4 field. Diane and I talked about mom guilt and the problem of limited training time! Ah, the issues of female racers (actually, more on that later)!
High Point Hill Climb – May 2, 2015
I like hills. I was looking forward to this race a lot and had competed in it last year. Michael was my buddy again for this one and we decided not to trainer bike it for warm up but rather to ride the road. The clothing dilemma set in – arm warmers or no arm warmers? I knew I’d be cold heading down the hill but didn’t want to deal with them during the climb. I opted for no warmers and did freeze for the 5 miles down to the start. Michael went off 20 minutes before me so I kept my legs moving. I got to the start to line up and realized I almost forgot about my gel. I downed it quickly, took a quick swig of water and was off. That one swig of water was not enough. The first few minutes all I could think of was how dry my mouth was and how my lips were sticking to my teeth. Not pleasant thoughts and feelings! I passed Sue within the first mile and we actually chatted – hard to believe, I know. I expressed how seeing her so soon made me think I was heading out way too hard and would blow up early. I kept on and passed the next few riders in my field. Climbing, climbing, thankful not to have arm warmers, climbing, get to the park entrance and remember that last year I got distracted in there. It is a beautiful view and I admired it during the race last year and then realized that my 30 second person was gaining on me (she beat me by 2 seconds last year). This year I kept my focus and rode as fast as I could. I heard the words of my coach, Jen Gatz, saying “you’ve been training like a champ” and I kept pedaling. Those words only took me so far and at the last climb to the finish I had nothing left. Looking at my breakdown from last year to this year I was faster this year everywhere but slower at the end. I was on empty but it was over. As I was catching my breath at the top I saw Sue come in and I was quite proud of her. I know she had been dreading this race and she conquered the hill nonetheless. When results were posted I found I was in 2nd place – 11 seconds away from Teresa! Sue came in 4th!!!! Way to go!
This weekend had stressed me out. Actually, the past few weeks have all been brutally busy. As a teacher of an AP course, this is nearing test time where I am staying after school often to provide review sessions. That, coupled with trying to adhere to my training schedule, spend time with my son and husband, do laundry, cook, etc. has been too much. This Saturday race morning my son had a birthday party to attend, in the afternoon was my stepson’s Bar Mitzvah, and then my son also had an afternoon birthday party. If that was not enough, Chauncy (hubby) and I committed to being part of the front line crew for the 5 Boro bike tour the next day. That meant we needed to leave at a ridiculous hour in the morning and we needed to find childcare (as our previous arrangement fell through mid-week). Everything worked out but I was tired and frazzled. Another race next weekend…….
Somerset – May 9, 2015
Heading into race number six. I had done this race two years ago. It was my first TT ever. I wish I could say I remembered the course but I really did not. I did remember the beginning was a descent and I lost time on it two years ago thinking I needed to conserve early on. I wish I could say I did not have another female racer issue that rears its head every 29 or so days, but I did. I wish I could say it was a dry, sunny morning, but it was not. There was light rain, enough to drip off the helmet and mist up one’s glasses. The crew was back – Sue, Teresa, Julia, Karen, Tracy along with 10 others. This was the largest field yet and some strong competition, with a cat 1 racer in the mix. I had parked next to Karen and there was the discussion of attire again – base layer or no base layer? She opted out, I opted in and had no regrets. I warmed up, got to the start and took off with no holding back on that descent this time. I turned the corner and headed uphill. I saw Sue close ahead and I grinded on. Kept pushing, pushing, getting closer to Sue and saw Julia right ahead. Kept pushing, pushing, passed Sue couldn’t see Julia anymore but I was not letting up, oh except when a marshal was positioned in an odd spot and had a red flag directing me to turn into a driveway. Yes, I slowed up and questioned – a driveway? Then I realized I needed to go straight a bit more to where other marshals were and then head to the right a bit. Arg. Pushed on. The rode got hillier and it was hurting but I heard the voice of my junior coach, “mommy, when your legs hurt pedal faster.” I tried. I saw the 1k mark and wanted to come into the finish strong but there was little left in me to do so. I crossed the line and saw Teresa who informed me we were going to be neck and neck. It was a wait and see until the results were posted.
While it seemed like a long time until results, that really wasn’t the case. One of the many things that I am impressed with at these races is indeed how quickly results are posted after the event and then to USAC. While waiting I got the chance to hang with Sue, Julia, Teresa, Michael and some others. Another reason these races are so great is that there are many wonderful people who certainly want to do well but who realize that camaraderie is important which makes these events that much better. Speaking of, among various social media forms there has been some back and forth between some of us women eddy racers and I had been missing Julia in the conversation. I finally remembered to get her contact information so we could add her in the mix! There were some baked goods floating around and Sue partook in a chocolate chip cookie. She asked if you could make them without eggs. Game on. Expect vegan goodies at a future race! Results are posted – 3rd! I was behind Teresa by 12 seconds who I know is a no-joke strong rider. I was thrilled. 1st place was the cat 1 racer (Pamela Wahl) who beat the course record!
I gave this my all, got my heart rate up, exhausted myself by the end but I did not have the throw up feeling. That made me wonder, did I have more? I emailed coach Gatz and got laughed at! She tells me my lactate threshold is improving! I have to say that it is strange to be riding well. I know I’ve been working hard, but it is still odd to be the person who does well in competition. I am not used to that being me!
This was supposed to be another jam-packed weekend. There was yet another birthday party to take my son to later in the day and then I had planned on racing in a duathlon the next day. Listening to my coach and myself, for the sake of my sanity, I scrapped the duathlon and just did an easy ride on Sunday morning. One more Saturday to go before a break in the series.
Upper Freehold – May 16, 2015
Time for the seventh race in seven weeks. The packing up the night before and the driving the morning of has become so second nature at this point. I am, however, getting quite sick of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at 7am. At least this time I had a good ratio of jelly to peanut butter unlike last week where I was running out of jelly. Also, this time I got to be the passenger as Michael took his brand new car on its first long distance drive. The weather forecast for this morning was sketchy and there was a decent chance that it would be wet and miserable. We got to the race a bit later than we had been but still with plenty of time. Did the usual bathroom visit, registering, pinning of the bib and saying hello to some people. Then, we headed out to warm up on the road. It was just shy of two miles to the start so we rode there and back and back again. It was then time to line up. It was then time to go. No rain at this point. I started and I started strong. I was hurting early on and at about the 4 mile mark I had serious wonders if I really went out too hard and would tank quickly. My heart rate was a bit higher than usual. I passed a few riders and I felt bad because normally I try to say something encouraging to the other riders – as they all continue to impress me each week. This time, I could not talk as I was hurting so badly! I was gaining on Sue and finally, heading up a hill, Sue passed someone and then I needed to pass. I was very conscious of not crossing the double yellow line so I slowed up a bit and finally asked Sue to move over so I could go by. Sue knows this course well and her riding was showing it. She knew where to push and how to take the turns. That being said I misinterpreted some marshals at a turn. They were warning riders to “go up the hill” but from where they were saying it the hill that was visible was to the right. It wasn’t until a few seconds later that it was staying to the left that was needed. I had lost a lot of speed in my confusion and found myself at the base of a hill with little momentum. That is when I heard Sue right behind me encouraging me to keep going. Then, at the downhill, Sue took off and passed me again flying over a bridge. Despite my fatigue, I continued on and passed Sue, gained on Julia and then the rain started to fall. We were near the end so I didn’t care that much. I saw the finish, I saw Julia just a few seconds ahead and Sue then finished a few seconds behind. Most of our crew was in at close to the same time so we hovered near the finish (definitely off the roadway!) and talked for a bit. Sue was marveling, rightfully so, at Pamela’s great aero position while racing. There’s always so much to learn and improve upon and it is great that we can all chat and offer advice to one another. Michael came across the finish and I headed back to the parking lot with him. The waiting game ensued but this time there were some vegan chocolately fudgy oatmeal cookies to make it a little better. I offered them up to some of the Riptide team, chatted with Maryanne Caruso a bit and then the results were posted. I got 2nd place with lightning fast Pamela Wahl in 1st and Sue in 3rd! It’s somewhat bittersweet that the next race in the series is 6 weeks away. It will be nice to have a break, but I know I am going to be anxiously awaiting it to pick back up!
Kingwood Time Trial – June 28, 2015
After a six-week hiatus, it was time to race the clock once again. This time, it was a rainy Sunday morning in Frenchtown, NJ. Michael and I headed out at an unreasonably early hour and drove through torrential downpour. We arrived early, registered, sat in the car and watched the rain a bit longer. Then, it was time for the necessary port-a-potty visit and the suiting up. We decided to warm up on the road, despite the fact that we would get wetter even quicker. The inevitable had to happen anyway. At start time for me it was just a fine mist falling from the sky – not too bad. I was feeling ready and took off fast. I tried to hold that fast motion for as long as I could and succeeded until close to the end. By mile 4.36 (yes, I looked and had a cognizant thought at that moment), I realized the mist was perhaps more than that (or perhaps just combined with the speed on the bike it seemed like more) and I could not see out of my glasses. Thankfully it was just a straight course so seeing was a luxury I could do without. I started petering out by the last mile. Then, all of a sudden, it was over. There was no 1k warning that the finish was coming which I was kind of disappointed about. At that marker I like to try to kick it up and see if I have anything left. Oh well, I am betting I had very little. This race was a point to point so it was now 10 miles back to the car. That’s when I realized how sopping wet my shoes were and how badly I wanted to get changed. The 10 miles back to the car seemed to never end and then, the kicker was a nice steep hill into the parking lot. Oh wait, no, the kicker was realizing that I was back at the car but couldn’t get changed because Michael had the car key in his jersey pocket. After about 15 minutes, Michael came rolling in, or rather rolling up and the wet clothes were able to go bye-bye. Oh wait, I forgot to bring a change of socks so those stayed on me. Bleh. Results were posted within the hour and I was happy with how I rode, averaging 22.5mph, but bummed that I missed second place by slightly less than 6 seconds.
Oldmans Time Trial – July 11, 2015
This was to be the first overnighter in some time as Pedricktown, NJ is pretty far south. Michael and I decided to head out early Friday afternoon, thinking we’d avoid rush hour traffic. We might have avoided rush hour traffic but we timed sitting in traffic due to accidents quite nicely. What was supposed to take 3 hours and 15 minutes turned in to a 5-hour journey. Not fun for us, but I am sure it was even less fun for the truck that was on fire on the Long Island Expressway and those involved in the other two accidents shortly thereafter. We finally got to the hotel only for me to confirm that this was indeed the same one that I stayed in last year where my son got injured due to their negligence. The ceiling in the bathroom had crashed down on his face. I wasn’t too thrilled about giving them my business a second time. By this point, we were there and hungry. We found a pizza place that served vegan pizza, ate a good dinner and headed back to get some sleep. Morning time and the two of us knew the race start was only 7 minutes away but we still got there incredibly early. That served us well because we were able to pre-ride the course, and the port-a-potty’s were pristine at this point too. The course was flat and incredibly well marked. We had slight concerns about what could become a hopping garage sale causing some potential slow downs but otherwise, all seemed good. It was about time for me to start so I rolled to the line up. There was a large field of women in the non-TT bike category, with 14 registered. Based on my pre-race detective work, this was also the race I felt the least confident about doing well in as compared to the competition. We had some fast riders in the field. As Julia said to me a couple of days before, “just put your head down and go.” That was great advice and what I planned on doing. I guess I did it well because after the race people were saying how great it was that the race organizers put a marshal at the garage sale. It was then that I realized that I didn’t see the garage sale during the race. Nor did I know what Michael was talking about when he mentioned the stretch of the course that had a stream running next to it. I did not see the stream. I was in the zone! The course was a square, with 4 right turns. The first half was fast with perhaps some wind at our backs and only one slight rise. The second half was definitely harder. While there was not significant wind by any standards, there was some and it made it more difficult. There was also an overpass nearing the end that was such a small amount of elevation but still enough to hurt. Throughout the whole race, I kept Sue and Julia in my sights. At the 1k mark I pushed as hard as I could, made the last right turn to the end and I tried to get as close to Sue as I could. We came over the finish line within 5 seconds of one another. That effort caused my heart rate to spike to 175! I had to cool down after that so I kept riding a bit but then I realized that I might be able to stop at the car and get my phone to snap a shot of Michael coming across the finish line. Michael finished strong and now it was time to chat and wait for results. When the results were posted I was in shock to see that I had finished 3rd! I knew Kelli and Sharon would be top 2 but after that I was not so sure. I had hoped for 4th place but thought that 5th might be more realistic. 3rd place was a total bonus! Woohoo!!! Michael did well too with a 10th place finish, seconds away from 8th. The adventure was not over as we still had the trip home to deal with. At least we were able to go back to the hotel, eat our leftovers and shower before the drive back. Thankfully, the drive back was uneventful. Two races to go…..!
Blueberry Circuit Time Trial (a.k.a. NJ ITT 40KM Championship) – July 18, 2015
I was having some bad premonitions leading up to this ride. For some reason, I was fixating on potentially getting a flat. I reached out on the NJTT Cup Facebook group and asked what the rules were for fixing a flat. While it would take me forever to fix my flat and my finish time would be abysmal, at this point, I just wanted to make sure that I did not DNF and I got some points accrued toward the series cup. After much discussion, it was either I take levers, tube and CO2 cartridge with me during the race or just take my chances. I cracked up at Julia’s message to me that “my stress was taking hers to a whole new level!” Add to the flatting paranoia, there was also to be a starting ramp at this race – plus the fact that the race itself was to be 2.5 times longer than any other in the series. Michael and I headed out on Friday afternoon again and faced the same horrific traffic. We stopped for a good dinner at Loving Hut along the way and arrived at out hotel. Morning always come so soon and I struggled to eat some breakfast. It wasn’t working for me. We headed out, got to the race and registered. Sharon and Louie were parked right near registration and Louie volunteered to pin me, although Sharon had to take over! I then lucked out again by getting to be first in the port-a-potty. The good start to the day then soured. As we were about to head out for a warm up, Michael comments that my front tire is dry rotted. Seriously. Thirty minutes before race start and he knows my flatting fears for this race and he tells me my tire is dry rotted?!!!! Then, a few minutes into the warm up a bee lands on my bars and will not leave. It turns out, it was stuck.
Okay – it’s time to take my spot up on the ramp. It doesn’t intimidate me as much as I thought it would. 3-2-1-Go and all is well. They did not do the seeding as they normally do for this race so Sue and Julia started after me this time. I didn’t want to blow up so I went out hard but I watched my heart rate and tried to keep it at 160. I passed my 30 second person right away and then had my minute person in my sights the whole time. My goal was to not let up, not to blow up and make sure I bridged distance between us. At mile 12 there was a turn around and on the way back is when I saw that I was a good distance ahead of others. I felt good but didn’t ease up. At mile 16 I hit a wall. I felt miserable but kept going and I think I got a second wind again by mile 18. In the last mile I kicked it in and finished 38 seconds after my minute person crossed the line – so 22 seconds ahead of her! Average heart rate was 166. 2nd place finish! I felt surprising good after the race except for the fact that my butt bones hurt!
I baked cookies to share and thought I’d enjoy digging in to them after the race, but the lack of desire to eat was still with me. I was happy that others seemed to enjoy them though and got a taste of vegan yumminess! We headed back to the hotel to shower and pack up and by that time, hunger set in. We stopped at the amazing Pop Shop on the way home for some vegan pancakes and Michael had the vegan Philly cheese steak. One more race to go for me before vacation time!
Honoring Sandrino’s Sacrifice – July 25, 2015
The prospect of making a return trip to the Pop Shop was enough to convince Chauncy to come along for this last race. Since the family was coming along, we left earlier on Friday to try to avoid traffic. Chauncy, Holden, Michael and myself headed out and stopped at a great establishment called Cool Dog Café for lunch. With vegan dogs in our bellies, we headed the rest of the way to our Holiday Inn. Since we actually arrived early for once, that gave Michael time to rest and we took Holden to the pool. For dinner, we went back to the same pizza place from two weeks ago. (If you haven’t already noticed by this point, I love food). Bedtime and wake up time arrived in quick succession and before I knew it, it was go time again. Knowing that this course was so much shorter than last weeks, knowing that this course was one that I had previously ridden, and knowing that this was to be my last race of the season put me in a good mental state. The usual friendly line up banter and pre-race best wishes were shared and then it was my turn to go. I feel like I have gotten better at the starts but I unfortunately regressed here. Annoyed with my wasted second, I kicked it in and rode. I kept my head down and pushed but my positive mental state was slipping as I wasn’t feeling as strong as I had hoped to be. The field up ahead got pretty bunched up so it was hard to keep track of my 30 second and 1 minute riders. All I could do was keep my head down and push on. I knew that I gained speed and was actually doing okay. Somehow, I missed the 1k marker at the end again and when I saw the finish I gave it a final burst. Unfortunately, that was 5 seconds short of what I needed for 1st place, 2 seconds short of 2nd place, but enough to land me in 3rd place. I admit I kicked myself over the “would have’s, should haves” but I’ll take it. I wound up finishing two minutes faster than my time from last year on this same course. It was a good season that showed me hard work and dedicated training pay off. I vastly improved over last year and continued to learn a lot.
When all was said and done, I concluded this season with the 1st place position for the Women’s Non-TT Bike Category! I set out to make it happen and achieved my goal. This is a great series – the people who put them on are fantastic. The races feature a friendly, great atmosphere with quick results. Props go to all involved in putting these events on and all who volunteer their time to make them enjoyable, competitive and safe. In addition, there have been some great photographers capturing the pain along the way– Sergio, Don, Jan.
I also have to say that the support of my team was phenomenal this year. I felt the love and I felt that I was making them proud. I also love the Riptide team and Julia, Sharon, Karen, Rebecca, Tracy, Deborah, the women’s eddy field as a whole this year was so friendly and supportive of one another. My coach (Jen Gatz) is nothing short of amazing. She motivates and inspires me to push myself, to work hard, and also helps me to do so in the constraints of my schedule. Michael has been a great friend and racing companion. It’s funny how radio studio time has been replaced with time on the bikes! My hubby and son are the best and words cannot even begin to express how patient and understanding they have been.
Finally, thanks must be given to the great sponsors of Live Love Velo. I am super happy to have Long Island Coverage emblazoned on my side as I race seeing as Mari and Mike Cole are true supporters of women’s cycling and Mike is an incredibly strong cyclist himself. Darren, Brian and the Carl Hart crew have kept my bike in race ready form. Finish Line products have lubed up my bike before some of these wet races and helped clean my bike up post-race. Osmo nutrition has kept me hydrated and Coach Gatz of Jaya Sports has provided expert guidance.