Viewing entries tagged
road cycling

Race Report: Testing the Racing Legs Before the Cyclocross Season at the Jersey Devil

Last weekend at the Jersey Devil, Jalapeno Cycling founder, Kathryn Cumming, grabbed her very first state road championship. Usually more focused on heading towards the cyclocross season this late in the Summer, Kathryn explains her decision to enter the race, and how her win played out.

by Kathryn Cumming

When I signed up for the Jersey Devil State Championship Road Race, I had only raced twice in 2019, and my last event was on April 6. Overall I’ve been feeling great on the bike. It’s been a fun spring and summer of riding and my power numbers and Strava segment times have been improving. Yet, I had not competed against my peers in months. The unknown always presents a mental challenge, and I started experiencing some pre-race nervousness on Saturday. It was tough to know how I would do. I focused on my primary goals of having fun and training some big efforts before cyclocross season.

I was excited about the course which consisted of 4.5 mile laps with almost 400 feet of climbing per lap. My field would race eight laps. Climbing and physically demanding races typically suit me. I do not enjoy sitting in a group at a moderate pace. If the pace was slow, my plan was to attack and see what I could do.

Lap one was pretty steady and the group stayed together. It did not take long for things to get interesting on lap two, though.

A breakaway of five was established on the climb early in lap two. One of the most experienced racers coached us into a paceline after the descent. The group worked well together to keep the pace high and solidly our gap over the rest of the field. With lots of climbing, it appeared like it would become a race of attrition on the hill.

We dropped one of the five racers on lap four and then one more racer two or three laps later thanks to a well timed increase in the pace from one of my competitors, Shaina Kravitz. Our breakaway was down to Shaina, Austin Barth, and me. On each of the remaining laps, we continued to work well together, trading pulls and keeping the pace steady and strong.

During the climb on the last two laps, I moved out of the paceline to ride next to or behind the other women in the breakaway. I wanted to be able to see an attack rather than have someone launch one from behind me and catch me off guard. They were both maintaining great pace up the climb and I was unsure I would be able to chase down a move from the front of the group.

I would love to pretend I felt in control and dictated the pace for the entire race, but I definitely felt the intensity on the last two climbs. On the final go around, my legs were really heavy on the steep, early part of the climb and my heart rate soared. Thoughts such as “you’ve had a good race so a podium would be solid” started to creep into my mind. I worked to re-frame my outlook, focusing on embracing the intensity. Heart rate stayed high and I stared at the wheel in front of me, holding it and thinking you got this. No one made a significant move on that climb, and we started the downhill together.

As we descended for the final time, I knew I did not want to end up riding at the front of the group. We had a big gap and I knew the cat-and-mouse tactics were going to start as soon as we approached the flats. Typically, when riding in a paceline, one rider will pull off the front and the next will come through to do the work. However, with full use of the lane and the goal of having ideal legs and positioning for the sprint, when, Shaina, the leader went to pull off, Austin and I just stayed on her wheel and followed her across the lane. We wound our way back and forth across the road with the finish line getting closer. I knew the 100 meter mark would be my attacking point. I made sure I was in my drops and was ready to shift one more time. It seems like Shaina had the same plan. We both launched our sprint at almost the same time, and I moved to her left and was able to overtake her just before the line to take the win.

Right after I rolled across the line, my legs totally cramped. It was actually quite satisfying to push that deep and fully commit to the sprint. It was extra special to take the win on a road bike Andrew designed. Riding and racing are a family affair for us, and I'm lucky to have his support.

I’ve never won a sprint in a 1/2/3 road race or crit, but I’ve been working on my top end power and we finished almost all of our 2019 group rides with a sprint point. I have been sprinting against some strong guys in these training rides which has really helped my confidence. This may have been the first race elite race where I truly felt I could win the sprint.

The positive energy surrounding the event reminded me of a cyclocross race. Everyone wanted to race hard, but was then excited to chat about the race and support one another after we crossed the finish line. Before and after the race I was able to catch up with friends and exchange hugs and high fives.

Last season I suffered a bit of burnout. I’ll touch on it more in another post, but after that experience, I wondered how I would feel when I returned to racing. The atmosphere, energy, and intensity of the event confirmed that I do love to race my bike! Even if I hadn’t won, it is exactly how I would want to spend a Sunday morning. Now I am even more excited for cross season!

Heading Back to the Road: Kathryn Cumming on Bear Mountain

Heading Back to the Road: Kathryn Cumming on Bear Mountain

Last weekend, Kathryn Cumming jumped into her first road race of the season, and grabbed a podium spot at Bear Mountain. The owners at Jalapeno Cycling are committed to only supporting equal payout races, which is why they both participate in the road races organized by the CRCA, who we feel are a leader in the NYC area. You can read Kate's full race report below. Interested in her power numbers from the race, you can view her data from her Strava file here.

by Kathryn Cumming

It took me a while to sign up for my first road race of the 2018 season. I’ve been spending most of my time on my cyclocross bike and trying to hit as much gravel as possible. Big thanks to CRCA though for hosting an incredible race on some of my all time favorite roads; seeing the Bear Mountain Classic on BikeReg was enough to get me on slick tires. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to support a good organization and get in a killer workout. Roadies are strong and after seeing how much of my field had crushed the Women’s Woodstock Cycling Grand Prix the previous weekend, I knew it would be a solid day of riding.

I may be a cyclocrosser racer, but I am not a fan of the cold. When the forecast at Harriman State Park called for temperatures in the 40s and rain, I started pulling all of my clothing options out of the closet. While I did not want to freeze, the course has enough climbing that overdressing would definitely mean burning up on the hills. I opted for long sleeves and leg warmers, and fortunately, on a last minute phone call with Andrew, he told me not to wear my heavy gloves. While I was mad at him on the descents, it was the right decision.

It started pouring as we rolled out, and with a long, steep downhill to start the race, my teeth were literally chattering by the time we hit the bottom. With a narrow road and a neutral start to the three mile climb up Tiorati, the pace stayed reasonable. Everyone was riding safe and the group seemed to plan to stay together for the first lap. As water kicked up from tires, I found myself getting colder and my thoughts starting to turn towards the negative.

Throughout the entire first lap, I planned how I was going to quit. Could I somehow get a flat? Would I just simply pull off into the parking lot at the end of lap one? I was cold and honestly kind of bored. Conditions were wet and the field was smart and strong, so I didn’t want to make some stupid attack at an inopportune time, but I don’t particularly enjoy sitting in the group.

Pack mentality kept me rolling past the parking lot to start lap two of three. I really appreciate how cautious everyone was on the way down the hill. As we turned onto Tiorati to start our second run up the long climb, the pace started to quicken at the front. I had one woman marked after seeing the awesome results she has been putting up lately and I figured I would just get close to her wheel and see what happened.

I am pretty soft about this whole being cold thing, and I was still freezing even though we were climbing. It was time to pick up the pace and try to warm up! Plus, I figured now was the time to have some fun. I really enjoy climbing and went to the front to start driving the pace. When I stood, my legs felt like lead and my feet seemed as if they were missing. Women were holding strong to my wheel, so I couldn’t see if we were dropping much of the group. As we started to come over the top, it was refreshing to at least hear some heavy breathing and a quick analysis of the situation showed we were down to a group of five.

As a cross racer who is used to going it alone, it was cool to see how quickly our breakaway group got organized with a paceline. Communication was there, pulls were quick, and we were starting to open up and solidify a gap. The group continued to ride together, taking turns at the front for the remainder of the lap. An added bonus was the friendliness of the group. I’ve been in enough road races where someone in the paceline is barking less than constructive criticism at a racing companion, but this crew just seemed to be having a great time putting down some watts and riding together. If you’ve chatted with me, you probably know I embrace a positive atmosphere, and the breakaway was sharing the same vibes. 

As we descended to start our third and final lap, I started to think tactically. Not surprisingly, when you haven’t done a road race in eleven months, tactics are not something that come to mind quickly. The group was made up of strong climbers and my legs were feeling cold and heavy. I’m not sure if everyone was in the same boat or not, but all accelerations on the final Tiorati climb seemed like half hearted attack attempts. We either couldn’t commit to the big watts needed to create a gap or just didn’t want to. Everyone continued to ride well together and I found myself trying to plan a time near the end to get away. I won the Cat 4 Bear Mountain race in 2015 with a jump on the final climb to open up a gap before the downhill finish. It seemed like a great idea, but I had some feelings of insecurity about whether or not I could pull it off in my current company. I found myself wanting a podium result, and therefore played it safe and stuck it out until the sprint. Cat and mouse started on the final climb and I tried to stay off the front (thanks to the crazy strong triathlete in the field for pulling us all the way up) and started marking a wheel. It has been so long since I was in a sprint finish that I was unsure of where and when to start the sprint. I decided to follow wheels and as we all wound it up on the downhill towards the finish line, I tried to give it a kick but was outmatched and couldn’t contend with first and second. 

Rolling in for third, it felt great to be racing again. Unlike a cross race where I can pretty much say after every race that I gave it my absolute all, road leaves you wondering about where and when you went hard. Should I have attacked? Did I start my sprint soon enough? Then you remember that it was a great time and that you need to get out of your wet clothes, and everything quickly moves forward. 

Thanks to the CRCA and the awesome women racing, I may have caught a little bit of the road bug. I don’t plan on becoming a true roadie any time soon (I will continue racing in my muddy mountain bike shoes), but more CRCA events will be on my summer calendar. I may or may not have come straight back to the shop to check BikeReg and start planning a bit of a racing calendar. See you at the Dave Jordan Central Park Classic!