Me, Val, and Shelly ready to ride fast
The weekend started on Friday afternoon, when Catherine and I left Franklin for Johnson City, TN. I was ready to race and really looking forward to all three races. It didn’t really matter to me that the road race ended with an 8-mile climb and climbing is not one of my strengths. I was getting to race with my teammates, with a bunch of other women we wouldn’t normally race against, and with a few pros. It promised to be a good weekend.
Road Race Course
During the point-to-point road race, the first attack happened after a fairly easy 10 miles. We were approaching a 2-mile climb, and the climbers decided to leave the rest of us in their dust. Cali and Parri made it into the break, and Anna and I made it into the chase group. We had 10 women in our group, and immediately we organized into a double pace line and worked very well together for the next 10 miles.
Anna and me somewhere in the middle of a gaggle of Mystique girls; we were happy to have each other there!
Then came the final climb. I tried to go faster than my normal climbing pace—we were racing, after all! I tried to keep the girls ahead of me in my sights, especially around corners; that meant pushing a little harder right there, but I knew that it would pay off in the mental game because I would still be able to see them and thus still be “with” them. Plus it would hopefully put me just out of sight of the people behind me.
There were mile markers counting down from 5, and they were very helpful. I didn’t want to have to look down at my computer because I was moving so slowly, but I wanted to know how far it was to the top. With 2 miles to go, 2 women from Team Mystique caught up to me. They had been breathing down my neck for a while (basically since the start of the climb), and since they could work together, they were stronger than just me. I caught on with them, we worked together a little, and at the 1-mile marker, I let them get just a little ahead of me. This I knew would push me to climb harder during that last mile and I hoped would make them think they had dropped me. I am not above trying to play games, even if they’re silent games. At the 1-K to go, I got back with them and took the lead; we were about to be passed by the pro men, and if the officials neutralized us, I was not about to loose positions to those women because I’d been hanging back. We didn’t get neutralized, but I kept my place ahead of them and finished in 18th place (out of 32 finishers, I think) in 2:08:46. That was enough for 18 of 33 women Pro/1/2/3/4 and 6 of 11 Cat 3s. Quite possibly my longest 30-mile ride ever. Garmin stats: 2:10:3x, 29.93 miles, 13.8 avg (40.2 max), 170 HR (194 max).
After doing all that work to get up the mountain, I rode another couple hundred feet to cross the North Carolina state line just because I could. Then Cali, Val, Lisa C, Jonell, and I descended--we couldn't let that hard work go to waste! Garmin descent stats: 28:55, 12.72 miles, 26.4 avg (41.8 max), 116 HR. We waited a few minutes for our rides (Catherine and the nice wheel truck driver) to arrive to take us back to the RR start and our cars and then headed back to the hotel to rest up for the TT.
Todd, Cali, and Anna hard at work
At the TT start area, Todd worked hard and quickly to get us all set up, changing wheels and cassettes, fixing handlebars and stem height, and basically making sure we were all ready to go. While he was setting everyone up, I had some time to sit and prepare for what I'd hoped would be a fast 3 miles.
It was short and sweet, but I wasn't anywhere near as fast as the winner. My time was 7:48, 23.2 mph (26.5 max, 181 HR). The winner's time (granted she's a pro) was 6:52. That is just killing it! I ended up 11 of 12 in Pro/1/2/3. This was my first time on a disc, and I could tell more of a difference with this than with the 1080. I'm grateful Todd could set us all up and let us use these great wheels!
Dinner was late, at Mellow Mushroom, and then it was up for more on Sunday morning. Today was crit day.
The P/1/2/3/4 field
I really enjoy crits and was definitely looking forward to this one. The course is one of the most technical courses we will do, the field was one of the larger ones we've been in, and the women were some of the better competition we've had.
I was excited and knew it would start fast, so I was ready from the whistle. One girl took off from the very start, and I was able to mostly stay with her for nearly 2 laps. She was moving, and she was so smooth around every corner--I just couldn't keep with her around any of them and instead sat behind her amazed at how smooth she was. After 2 laps Todd said to wait for help, and I got caught by the field (which Cali was in) of about 19 women.
Cali and me—evidently I wasn't at the back of our group the entire time, just at the wrong time
Cali and I stayed with that group the rest of the race, Cali won a few sprints, and I stayed near the back, for some reason unable to make myself move up in the field. That was not good, because I knew what the finish was like and that if I was too far back I wouldn't have any bit of chance to even make a move, much less a difference. Thus I ended at the back at the finish, 17 of 33 (9 of 12 in the Cat 3s). I knew I should've moved up, and Todd kept telling me to move up, but for some reason I didn't. It hurt me and my team's overall standings, and I was disappointed at my lack of risk and aggressiveness. Garmin stats: 29:36, 11.18 miles, 22.7 avg (27.7 max), 174 HR (192 max).
However, the weekend itself was so much fun. I raced hard and learned a lot (like the better you can take corners, the more likely you are to win; that girl went on to solo the entire 30 minutes and win the crit, after she'd won the RR and TT the day before); I had a blast with my team; I rode really well, even on the climb; I went all out on the first 2 laps of the crit and eventually will be able to stay with or be the leader; I got stronger physically and mentally. Still learning, still growing, still trying to glorify God. Catherine and I got home safe and sound and all I wanted to do was take a nap—ahhh, the feeling of exhaustion after a fun, hard weekend.
RR: 2:08:46, 29.93 miles, 13.9 avg (40.2 max), 170 HR (194 max)
TT: 0:07:48, 3.02 miles, 23.2 avg (26.5 max), 181 HR (195 max)
Crit: 0:29:36, 11.18 miles, 22.7 avg (27.7 max), 174 HR (192 max)