I think the caffeine is finally wearing off and, albeit not very hard, I am trying not to eat more than 3 extra meals between lunch and dinner. Kennett and I are currently at the airport after a busy weekend racing at the Tucson Bicycle Classic. Here is a short recap.
Kennett and I previewed the time trial course on our Thursday ride. For a time trial you start completely clipped into your bike while someone holds onto the back of your bike so you don’t fall and then you are given the go ahead to start. Each rider leaves 30 seconds apart and it is an individual effort.
Thursday night I practiced the start by sitting on my bike while Kennett held my seat. I looked like a little kid learning to ride a bike in front of her house. Kennett would hold me and I would wobble, concentrate on keeping my wheel straight and fumble while clipping in. If you are a veteran cyclist you can laugh all you want, it saved me a lot of nerves on race day.
My main concern post practice was that I wouldn’t be able to clip in during the allotted time before my start. My cleat is really worn down and hard to clip in – I also realized during my warm-up that the main problem was probably a tacky candy stuck to the cleat, which quickly attracted small pebbles to stick as well.
Friday I rode to meet some other Boulder/Denver girls who I then drove with to the racecourse. It is always nice to see familiar faces while racing, especially in an unfamiliar place, but more on that later.
Since arriving in Tucson I had ridden over 18.5 hours. Even so, my legs felt really fresh and strong on the time trial and I passed a few people. Other than that, you can’t see what anyone else is doing so I waited until evening to see how I had placed. I ended up with the yellow jersey – with a fairly sizable gap – 23 seconds ahead of second place.
Yesterday was a road race. When I raced in Tucson early February I had the chance to briefly meet a few of the local women racers whom I competed against. At the time trial I asked one woman if I could ride with her to the road race because it was an hour away from town. Combined travel time and early start time resulted in a pre-5am wakeup.
Before the race even began, people had pegged me. With the yellow jersey I suddenly became people’s friend so they could figure out what I was planning to do. We raced in the same pack as the 35+ females and they were especially eager to team with me. There were only 5 of them and unlike our field where I had a significant lead; they were mere seconds apart from each other.
Side note: my secret in any race is to have pancakes with peanut butter, banana and honey ahead of time. The rest I make up on the spot. So far it’s worked. If I wake up before 5am I also throw in a strongly caffeinated GU. It helps remind me that I am racing.
The race itself was rolling uphill for the first bit, some downhill, flat and another uphill stretch. Very descriptive I know. Honestly I was looking around much. I could describe the butts that were in the race ahead of me much better. It was 41 miles and fairly easy but it stayed in a big pack the entire way, which meant I had to be focused. It made me nervous for two reasons.
- I felt like I would get blocked in and miss a move. I still need to work on maneuvering in a pack. Sometimes I would think to myself “I need to advance two people and move to the right” I would then proceed to spend several minutes properly positioning myself. Not good.
- People crash. It happens and it happened in this race. I didn’t want to have someone go down near me and bring me down with them. Unfortunately, the woman I rode to the race with went down in that same scenario. While she was okay, her bike was not and her weekend of racing was over.
In the end I positioned myself for the sprint and beat out a younger girl in the field by a hair. I think at one point I even gritted my teeth and shut my eyes in hopes of urging my wheels further ahead of hers. I stayed on top of my field and also earned enough points to move up a category. As of today I am a Cat 3!
Today was a circuit race and it was close enough from where we were staying that I could ride to the course as a warm-up. Lucky for me it began at 6:49, which meant I got to wake up just before 5am for a second day in a row. I actually saw the moon set on my ride there.
Kennett and I had also previewed this 5.5-mile loop course several times and I knew it was sketchy because of the bumpy road conditions and one particular corner. It was rolling uphill followed by a windy downhill and a sharp corner. The last km was uphill-flat-uphill to the finish. I was more cautious and a little less motivated because I was sleep deprived. I was also far enough in the overall lead that I didn’t need to waste energy. Sure enough, the first time we hit the bad corner I heard someone go down behind me because she hit some cones. I stayed towards the front of the pack to avoid accidents while still staying in the draft of others for most of the race.
On the flat section in the last km I pulled out and ramped up to a sprint. One of the 35+ riders followed me and pulled around me to take 1st out of our group so I placed second and 1st for the Cat 4 group. I liked racing with her and I was actually happy I had helped her win. It worked in both of our favors.
The best part about today was walking around the course before and after the race and saying hi to people. Although I haven’t even spent a full two weeks in Tucson I was constantly stopping to say hi to someone I had met. This race was also big enough that I got to say hi to a lot of people who were down from Boulder. It is a small community that I am becoming part of and I love meeting new friends. If I raced with you or hung-out with you this weekend chances are you put a smile on my race and made 5am wake-ups bearable.
Unfortunately our plane was delayed (which confirms a previous post of mine) and we aren’t going to be back in Boulder until at least 1am. I will have to get up early for work, which will make yet another day of very little sleep…