|Me, Kiki, Kat, Catherine, and Ashley|
Kat, Kiki, Catherine, and I were all in Fayetteville, AR, this weekend for the Joe Martin Stage Race. I'd done it last year as a 3, and this was to be my first experience as a 2. That means the races start 2 days earlier and include an additional road race. Kat and I arrived at Devil's Den State Park, checked in and warmed up. My warmup was good, and after the officials weighed and measured my bike, I was ready to roll. This TT is a 2.5-mile climb, and my goal was to be faster than last year (13:22); I was aiming for 12:xx. Although I was passed by 2 riders, I kept going as strong and hard as I could and finished in 12:53. Success!
|It wouldn't be a Team Bd trip without Starbucks|
|Swag that I'm giving to my nephews|
|Caves at Devil's Den|
|Chillin' after our TT|
Not fast by most of the rest of the field's standards, but a HUGE improvement for me. I had my timer set for 1min, and if I felt myself letting up for any reason, I'd start the timer and push for at least 60sec. I figured I can do anything for 60sec, maybe even 180. I started the timer at the 1K sign simply because I knew that would likely be less than 3min and I needed to push hard. I sprinted (as much as possible when climbing hard) to avoid being caught by another rider. This left me in 50th place of 52 riders and ~3min down on the leader.
After we finished, we took a little hike on a trail near where we'd parked. It was about 1.5miles long, and we took our sweet time (40min or so), admiring the waterfalls, exploring some cave entrances, and enjoying the view. Then it was off to Ashley's house to rest for Friday's road race. Kiki's friend graciously opened her house to us and agreed to host us, and we loved being in a house instead of a hotel. Plus we made a new friend...even better!
|Kat TT; source|
The leadup to Friday's road race was crazy. It rained, hailed, thundered, and lightninged. I had some car stuff to deal with. Kat wasn't feeling well. We were hoping they'd decide to not run today's race. But we didn't get any emails, so we headed to Walmart to meet Dori, Jess, and Joy, our ride to our race start.
The race was a 60mi point-to-point hard course. Around mile 20 was a sprint, and around mile 23 was the start of a ~9mi climb. I was with the field through the first 24mi, and I felt like I was actually racing my bike. I wasn't attacking or chasing, but I was staying in a good position and moving with the field. I could see everything, and I was with the group at the sprint.
Shortly after the climb started, I fell off the group and climbed a few miles by myself. Then I got caught by 2 ladies, with whom I stayed the rest of the day. We summitted together, each took a bottle and gel in the feedzone, and then got to work. All of us were good descenders, so we flew down the descent and quickly caught another. The 4 of us worked togther really well for at least 20mi, rotating our pace line like clockwork.
|Kailin TT; source|
This part of the race was fun and hard. There was no chatter, only focus. There was no easing up, only driving the pace to ensure that we all finished within the time cut. We caught 2 more within 10K to go, and we all finished together. Well, mostly together.
It was drizzling when we started, but the skies quieted and it was simply cold. Prior to the race I had called Will to ask him to pray with me. I was super nervous and wanted to race, but I also did not want to be stupid and race in hazardous conditions. He prayed, and I immediately felt at peace and was not bothered the rest of the day. I never did warm up, though, and within the final miles I couldn't shift. Which meant that it was nearly impossible for me to hold on to my group. I finished within the time cut, 50th of 53 finishers and ~12min behind the winners.
Saturday's road race start was just as miserable as Friday's. It wasn't as cold, but it was raining and had been all morning. But these ladies are professionals, and we all road hard but safely from the start. There were some attacks, but the field was keeping enough space between wheels to make me comfortable.
Sadly, though, I flatted coming up a hill 10min into the race. The Shimano guys quickly changed out my rear wheel and pushed me back toward the pack, but I couldn't see them at all. I knew that if I didn't catch them by the turn at mile 11.5, it would be a very.long.day.
After about 2min (it felt like an eternity!), the moto official rode up next to me and said to draft off of him back to the pack. For those 5min I averaged 28mph! Because it had taken a couple minutes for him to come back, I thought he'd wanted to see that I was making an effort to chase. I talked to the Shimano guys when I picked up my wheel, though, and they said they'd radioed the officials, saying I was back by myself with no police or anyone and could someone please come back for me. I thanked him profusely :-)
This is legal in these types of races, and had Todd been there, I'd have been able to use him in his car for up to 20min. Anything over 20min could result in a fine for "prolonged drafing off a team car," which happened to a few pro men and women.
I arrived back at the pack, happy to be along for the ride. There were a few more attacks before we made that first turn. I didn't do anything about them (that is, I didn't have to) except stay with the pack. Again, I felt like I was really racing my bike, which was a nice change from last weekend.
When we made that left turn at mi 11.5, I hit a wall. I thought. All of a sudden, I decided that I could not finish the race. I stopped, let everyone and the caravan pass, and turned around. I had 11.5mi to ride home solo, and 11.5mi to think.
All I could come up with for the sudden change and decision was that I had hit mental (and probably emotional) exhaustion. I knew that decision to turn around meant that I could not race the crit on Sunday, and crits are my favorite races. But it was a decision I was ok with.
I gave everything I had for as long as I could, it just wasn't long enough to last the entire weekend. I also came into this weekend knowing that Thursday and Friday were the two most important races for me: I had to improve my time, and I had to make it through the RR to have any hope of continuing the race. But I can work with 100% effort--it just means that I have to add to my endurance and mental capacity (the big fields and unfamiliar wheels are more taxing than I remembered!).
|Catherine and Kiki at their crit start|
But there's more to the story. I missed the women's finish while tending to Catherine, and Emma drove up to where Kiki, Ashley, Cath and I were loading the car. She had Kat in the car with her, which surprised all of us because it meant she hadn't finished. She said that around mile 15, a crash in the field pushed her into a ditch and caused half of the 45 women to go down. I am convinced that the Lord was protecting me, and He knew what I'd need to turn around. I am thankful for His continued protection! Kat was ok, but she also was not able to race Sunday's crit. This freed us up to focus on Kiki and Catherine, though, so all was not lost!
|Cat 3/4 GC podium - Allison (2nd), Catherine (1st), Jess (3rd)|
Kiki and Catherine had a 25-minute (8-lap) crit on Sunday morning, and they went out hard. Within 1 lap, they were down to ~12 women, and both Belladium ladies were riding smart. They dropped a few along the way and finished with 9. Catherine attacked 1 corner from the finish and climbed the hill to the finish line with a 4-second lead on the 2nd place girl and a WIN! Kiki finished with that field in 5th place, and both girls were much happier with today than yesterday. Kat and I were super proud :-)
|Happy after the finish!|