World Championships

 

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Greta Niemanas

One week prior to World Championships, we competed at the final stop of the UCI’s World Cup circuit in Matane, Quebec, three hours south of Baie-Comeau. The two time trial courses were similar to each other and would serve as the final dress rehearsal before Worlds a week later. Perfect execution was the goal for the World Cup.

 

Matane’s 8km circuit was open for training before the day’s racing began. I’ve always liked pre-riding the course as much as possible; it’s one more opportunity to learn about the course, and to get a read on the day’s conditions. The wind changes directions often in northeastern Canada, changing the difficulty of the circuit so having the most up to date weather conditions is helpful. Pre-riding the course followed by a standard warm up on the rollers had me primed and ready to race.

 

The team’s head coach, Andy, was in my follow car. After some technical problems with the race radio, we decided not to use it. Rather, he would use a bullhorn to relay information to me. Having nearly constant feedback and encouragement throughout the race in Matane was incredibly helpful. From the start, I knew it was going to be a good day. Staying in control and going relatively slowly for the first three minutes had me raring to open things up. After that, everything felt great. Mentally, things were sharper than ever; leg speed was excellent; every opportunity to straight-line turns was maximized; speed and power increased throughout the race; position on the bike stayed the same from beginning to end despite fatigue. I crossed the line with a comfortable margin of victory. It was as close to a perfect ride* as I’ve ever been.

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40 Things I Love About Cycling

 

40 Things I Love About Cycling

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40 Things I Love About Cycling

The Para-cycling team just wrapped up a prep camp before our World Championships at the end of August. During that camp, a sports psychologist talked with the group about many things but one especially stuck out. She said that if you can’t come up with 25 reasons why you love the sport of cycling, you should do something else. So, I decided to sit down and write down some of the things I love about cycling. Here they are, in no particular order:

 

1. Freedom

2. The friends I’ve made along the way

3. Going fast

4. Being outside

5. Being fit

6. Traveling

7. Going on adventures

8. Constant new challenges

9 Trying new things

10. Meeting people I wouldn’t meet otherwise

11. Sunshine

12. Drinking a Coke after a hard ride

13. Being tan (in places)

14. Setting goals

15. Having something to work towards

16. The peacefulness of solo rides

17. Racing

18. The organized chaos of races

19. Dropping in from the rail of the track

20. Cornering really, really hard

21. Pinning on a number

22. The sound of carbon wheels in a race

23. Being in the zone

24. The feeling of wind on my face

25. The feeling of wind at my back

26. Taking frustrations out on the bike

27. Competing with myself

28. Trying to hit the moving target that is “The Top”

29. Feeling the G-forces in the corners of the track

30. Descending

31. Following wheels

32. Motorpacing

33. Having friends around the world

34. Learning how to travel

35. Learning how to be resourceful

36. Getting to sleep a lot as part of my “job”

37. Having a lifelong hobby

38. Café rides

39. The accessibility of the sport

40. Being given opportunities I couldn’t have dreamed of before I started cycling

 

What do you love about cycling? The list is endless, really. What would you add?

 

I’m Moving-Greta Neimanas

Greta Neimanas

Greta Neimanas

Once something goes on the blog, it’s official, right? Well, let’s make this official- I’m moving back to Colorado. While the experiment of moving to a completely unknown place- Asheville- was a fun and exciting thing to try, I’m only putting it in the “mildly successful” category. It just isn’t the right place for me at this time in my life.

 

The 2013 cycling season has been relaxed in terms of both training and racing which has helped clear out the post Games fog. Taking a step back from it all reminded me that cycling really is pretty amazing and allows me to live a lifestyle I enjoy; traveling the world, meeting incredible people and being in great shape are all things I value. Adding in getting to do all of those things with my best friends makes it something I don’t plan to walk away from anytime soon. I’m ready to refocus and rededicate myself to the highest level of training and competition.

 

After spending a while being unhappy in Asheville, working in a bike shop, training without a lot of purpose, it was time for another change. The opportunity to move back to Colorado came up and I want to take advantage of it while I can. I’ve decided to move back as soon as possible which will be shortly after the UCI Para-Cycling Road World Championships in Baie-Comeau, Quebec, CAN in early September.

 

I want to get fast again, finish school, and make a go of Rio in 2016. When the offer was first made, my reaction was “whoa, no thanks.” After thinking about it, it made more and more sense to do it. A big reason for leaving in 2011 was due to burnout and a lack of life balance. Having had some time away, living and training on my own, growing up a bit, I’ve learned skills to avoid burnout, or at lease recognize the early stages and take steps to avoid it. It gives me confidence that this time around will be better. [Read more...]

TT Nationals by Greta Neimanas

 

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Photo with Kaitie Antonneau, U23 champ, credit: Nicola Cranmer

A win at time trial at nationals has been on my list for a while now. After two years of less than ideal circumstances- a broken collarbone in 2011 and international travel the day before racing in 2012- 2013 was shaping up to be a year for a good result. With positive results in international races earlier in the season, I went into nationals with confidence.   The course in Madison was more technically challenging than we saw in Augusta and Bend. Both of those previous courses were straight out and back courses with little terrain variation. While Madison’s course was simple from a driving perspective, it was technical from a gearing standpoint with each section of the course offering a different challenge.   One of my goals for the day was to build into the ride. It’s a habit I’m working on fixing but I have the tendency to start way too hot and fade (more like blow up) well before the finish line.   To start, riders left the start tent, made a quick right and headed out the longest single section of the course. With a bit of a headwind but slight downhill, it was a fast section to get things started. From there, we turned around the head of the lollipop shaped course and got into the rollers. They were punchy and required an effort out of the saddle. Mixed into this part were a few quick S bends and chicanes that left me spun out of gear and tucked up trying to be as small and aero as possible. We made the turn back onto the stick of the lollipop and headed home. It was a slight uphill for the return with a few easy rollers and a long line of sight. At around the 3k to go point, there was a speed sensor to tell cars- or riders- they were exceeding the 25mph speed limit heading into town.   After crossing the finish line, I knew the win was wrapped up. On the whole it was a good effort- there are still pacing aspects that could’ve been better and some lines that could’ve been taking more aggressively. It was a satisfying race after it was over and those can be hard to come by at times. That said, there is still a lot more to be had.   Madison’s time trial was the para-cycling team’s selection event for this year’s World Championships in Quebec, Canada in August. 26 athletes were selected to represent the US at the year’s pinnacle of racing. It’s safe to say this is the strongest- and largest- team we’ve had in years with a good mix of rookies and veteran riders filling the roster. It’s always an honor to make that selection list.   Thank you to Kaitie Antonneau for giving the skinny on the course conditions after ripping earlier in the day; to Exergy TWENTY16 and U.S. Paralympics for the support; Felt, Zipp, Sram, Oakley, Speedplay, Fi’zi:k, SRM and Catlike for the top of the line equipment; and of course friends, family, and everyone of you for the support over the course of this season- I couldn’t do it alone.

Highlight Weekend By Greta Neimanas

Highlight Weekend By Greta Niemanas

Highlight Weekend By Greta Niemanas

The highlight of my weekend was pinning on numbers. Let me explain.   After the London Games I was at a crossroads. The years leading up to the Games were laden with stress. They were packed with international travel, dozens of intense training camps, seemingly endless training at home, and the underlying stress of what if? What if I do all this work and don’t make the team? What if I get sick or injured and can’t compete? It felt like it was building and building and would eventually erupt like a volcano. This isn’t to mention all the same stress that an athlete puts on their family and friends. There are missed birthdays, graduations, summer barbeques and the more mundane movies with friends or nights on the town because of training. It’s tough on everyone involved. Riding and racing stopped being fun. [Read more...]

Job hunting by Greta Neimanas

Job hunting by Greta Neimanas

Job hunting by Greta Neimanas

Job Hunting

By Greta Neimanas

Job hunting- or is it pronounced yob? It may be a soft J. Anyway- job-hunting sucks. Let’s be real. Lots of people probably know exactly what I mean. Unfortunately being a pro cyclist doesn’t come with a multi-million dollar contract like a basketball player and many of us need to work work as well. Dozens and dozens of filled out applications brought nothing more than two and a half months of daily rejection. What started out as somewhat fun and mysterious- who is going to hire a pro cyclist?!- became a desperate and depressing activity. So much so that this cyclist nearly became a traveling knife salesman… more on this later.

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Choices

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Choices:

By Greta Neimanas

It’s Saturday night- a time typically reserved for going out to restaurants, bars, the movies, and generally letting loose- and I am at home watching a Harry Potter movie. For clarification, by “night” it’s more like evening and the movie should be over in time to go to bed before many people leave to go out for the night.

 

This may not be the glamorous lifestyle people associate with professional athletes- certainly not the life for a typical 24 year-old- but it’s one that I’ve picked for myself. It’s a choice, not a sacrifice.

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Head Games

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Head Games

By: Greta Neimanas

 

Earlier this week, I watched a documentary about brain injuries in sports called Head Games. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. It’s very interesting and sheds light on a common, although under-researched and recognized, problem in sports- concussions. Mom, if you’re reading this, stop here. As someone with first hand experience with concussions, some of which I remember myself and some that people have relayed, several times, to me, it scared the shit out of me. Please pardon the language. The documentary reports research currently being done at Boston University and is focused on contact sports like football and hockey but concussions can happen to anyone, in any sport. Research indicates that multiple head injuries can lead to dementia and a slew of mental health issues not to mention regular forgetfulness and irritability. [Read more...]

The Type of Effort Where:

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The Type of Effort Where:

By Greta Neimanas

Was that number six or seven? What set is this? I could really go or some applesauce right about now*. Uuggh, it’s time to go again. This is what ran through my head during a workout this week. It was a simple but unpleasant sprint workout that seemed to continue on for ages- 30/30s. When broken down, it was only 16 minutes of work. 16 painful, seemingly endless minutes of work, the type of effort where you count the seconds and pedal strokes until the effort is over.

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A sense of Victory

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A sense of Victory

By Greta Neimanas

It’s cold here and that’s the straight truth. Yesterday’s group ride was made up of a few hearty, dedicated- or maybe plain ol’ crazy- people who got up, saw the mercury hanging out at 26°F- what am I saying, who uses analog thermometers anymore?- checked a weather website or app, saw that it was cold, and saddled up anyway. The six of us were bundled up with our faces barely showing. We were ready to ride.

 

Now, this isn’t going to be about how crazy riding in the cold is/was or the merits and hazards of riding outside in below freezing temperatures. That’s a different discussion and one that should involve science and research by people with capital letters after their names- unfortunately that is a group of people that does not include me. No, what this is about- besides the fact that it took longer to get dressed than it did to ride the nine miles to the start of the ride- is the feeling of victory.

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