Due to the extreme temperatures of the day (I'm assuming), and the 11:25 a.m. start time of our road race, they shortened it to 2 laps, for a total of 32 miles, instead of 3 laps. This hurt my feelings not one little bit, even though I tend to get warmed up only after a good 30 miles. Just as Mentor Casey had explained, we started off slowly, and only had a surge now and then to try and thin the field a bit. The field consisted of only 17 women, with not many dropping off the back, at least that I counted. My goal was to be one of those still with the main pack at the final sprint. It was fun watching the dynamics of a dozen women, some of whom knew each other and their racing strengths, when one would take off in an attack, or like in Susan's case, just to get a different perspective of the field. Each time Susan would move toward the front, a handful of girls would assume she was attacking and take off in pursuit. Usually Susan would just be going up front for a pull, or a chat, or just for fun, but they didn't know the difference.
With maybe 5 miles to go in the race, Maggi took off the front. We had seen her pull a good portion of the race, and I figured she felt like I do riding with my niece: I will fall off my bike if I go this slow! But this time she left us in the dust, with Kelsey right on her wheel. We didn't chase, and soon they were out of sight. With 4, then 3, then 2 miles to go I kept expecting the next attack. I knew the last 400m were uphill to the finish. Unbeknownst to me, and apparently Susan as well, Andrea and Susan lead Casey out for the final sprint. It worked! She easily won the sprint, with me, Susan and Andrea a few places behind.
It was over with before I knew it and then on to recovery, which consisted of floating around in my parents' pool. The time trial was just under 6 hours after the end of our road race, and it consisted of about 3.75 miles of false flats: easy out, uphill back. I thought I was doing awesome when I passed my 30 second girl at the turn around. Then I saw results. Oh well! I went absolutely all out; the spectators even heard my raspy gasping for oxygen at the end, and noticed my pained face (and thanks to Tom for pointing it out!). I ended up 3rd for the cat 4s in both the road race and TT. Considering that for my race distance of choice, race plans include "take the first hour easy, build through 60 miles...," I knew this wouldn't be MY race.
Don't let the guy's face deceive you; he is holding me by the saddle.
It seemed like no time at all had passed when Sunday morning's crit came. Lucky for us, we got a cool time slot, 8:25. I warmed up well, or so I thought, and got to ride a few laps of the .8 mile course before the start. You know in adventure races or ultras how the race starter just yells go? Maybe they're even so unenthusiastic that you don't realize this is the start? Well it doesn't matter in a race of 5 hours so much. In a race where you'll get dropped off the back in the first lap only to ride by yourself for the remainder of the 35 minutes (except for the girl that is attached to your wheel, like a dingleberry (thanks Lisa!), throughout), I need a little more excitement! Can you imagine starting a 400m track race without a gun to make you jump into action? Where's the cannon? Or at the very least give me the siren on a bullhorn. But an ambivalent, "Riders ready? [yawn] Go."? Really? Needless to say, I learned that lesson. Kill yourself to do it, but get in the pack from the gun. Oops, I mean from the word "go."
The word of the day Sunday was Humility. Not that I hadn't had plenty going into the races Saturday. But of course I had just come off my annual win at the small town 5k on Friday night, which is always a good confidence boost. (Side note: this is the annual battle with the belly, and I won for the second year in a row. Made it to the bathroom and didn't have to stop on the course a la 2 years ago.) But anyway, you too can increase your humility by racing off the back of the pack, coming around every few minutes through the spectators, who clap for you with sympathy and try to encourage you to keep it up! Actually they were all very supportive and friendly, I was just embarrassed by my inabilities.
Six pounds of water later I got home and weighed myself to find that I was still down about 4 pounds from normal. It's truly amazing what the body can do, or what it tries to do to cool itself. It does amuse me that it sweats and sweats until it's running off my elbows in streams, then says, hey, I'm still not cool, let's sweat some more. You'd think there'd be some kind of back up system, like panting. But I digress. Even though my homeostasis was disrupted by the weekend racing, my brain was very excited about it. I learned a few things, such as feed zones = drop the thirsty zones (I caught back up), go means GO!, somebody always has to be last--and if it's a crit maybe spectators will get confused and think you're winning. I see how working as a team could be lots of fun, especially when you outnumber the next largest team by 4.
And finally, I'm hoping it's possible to race myself back into shape. If not my body, then my brain. The weekend of racing may have been just what I needed to recover my motivation for sport.
p.s. Charlie raced very well this weekend, but I'll let him detail his experience.