2. Make the time cut (if you finish outside of 10% of the winners time, you are cut and can't race the following day)
3. Have a blast!!!
The quick and dirty: All three goals achieved! In not the most conventional of ways.
The team headed into the road race at full capacity of 8 riders. Our job, beyond the above 3 goals, was to assist Mara Abbott since she was our GC rider after placing 9th in the TT on Thursday.
I was pretty excited about the day, having done numerous training rides on the route. I was even more amped about being in a peloton of over 100 women, stacked with national and world champions, Olympians, moms, full-time pro bike racers and a good handful of girls just like me. Trying our hands at the Dream.
Now flash back to San Dimas Stage Race last weekend. This race was stocked with HTC, Tibco, Peanut Butter, a whose-who of women's cycling. And I got worked. BUT...the race was only 56 miles which is on the short side so the pace was barn-burning. There was also just one hill at 14% or something lame like that, lasting about 4 minutes where the girls with the horse power would rip it and tear the rest of us apart. It was really, really, hard. One would think going into a 75 mile race I would be really nervous. But I knew a few things. The longer distance would temper the pace, until at the last lap. The climbs were longer and I can do better at a sustained climb than short punchy efforts. I also knew there was a long stretch to recover, eat and drink. We could make it!!
Lap 1: I decided to ride as close to Mara, Erika and Beatrice as possible. We were at the middle to the front of the group, staying nice and tucked in. My eyes were pasted open. Watching. Observing. Taking it all in. I was shaking with excitement and the opportunity to learn and grow as an athlete!
First time through the feed zone: Rookie Mistake #1: I dropped not 1 but 2 feeds! Thankfully I snagged the 3rd one. The feed zone is huge, and we had feeders about every 50 feet, but somehow two bottles grenaded out of my hands! I was extremely sweaty, the bottles were wet, but I had gloves on which I thought would prevent this from happening. The following laps i honed in on those suckers and grabbed them with a death grip!
I shoved myself as far up into the group as possible, so when the inevitable happened, and we were climbing at mach 9, I wouldn't fall to far out of the group. And it worked. I got in a group with Bea and Erika and we worked our way back to the bunch, with Katie and Lisa close behind so the whole group came through together.
On one of the climbs, i did something squirrelly (but completely safe and under control of course) , and someone - I think a homie - behind me yelled "Hey you Mountain Biker, hold your line" and I realized I was riding next to Lea Davison...hahaha, I hope she doesn't think they were talking smack about her!
Lap 2: First right turn out of the start/finish....Rear Flat! Super sweet. Throw the right hand up, and try to get to the right side ASAP!! Along with numerous official cars, there is a neutral support car and a car for each team. Our car was #5. I think the Colavita car tried to run me over, honking and speeding by. This was my first in-race wheel change and I was pumped! Super pro mechanic Chris Davison hopped out of the car as I shifted down and we made the quick switch. But now, to get back to the peloton. I started riding steady and the car came up next to me with a bottle out for a "feed". I grabbed the bottle which was solid in Chris's hand for a "super long hand off at 30 mph" which didn't go so well for me. I hopped to the back bumper of the car and rode it as long as I could, until the caravan took a left turn where I then jumped from bumper to bumper through the caravan. RAD!!! I tried not to red line it but it was really really hard! I finally made contact with the group after what seemed like a lifetime, and immediately started weaving my way through to find Mara. Found her! Relax. Check on teammates. Anyone need this bottle I got? Whose having fun? It was so exciting going through the process, I never stressed! I knew Michael and Chris would get me back to the group, I knew it would be ok. Plus, I needed every ounce of energy I had because the wheel I got only had a 23 on the cassette, the next two laps of climbing were going to suck! :) I knew it though, it was my wheel, I run Campy, so don't have very many options.
Climbing up the first climb, i was in the middle of the bunch, jersey halfway unzipped due to the insane desert heat, and OF COURSE!!! A bee jumps right in. It only stung me twice on the back, or at least once and I made its stinger get the back of my arm when I pulled it out through my sleeve. But seriously, total wiggle-worm. Stay calm, its just a bee, don't let it get to your face, focus, don't touch that girl 7cm away from you, phew, he only got me once. Geeze...what else you got!?!?!
I keep finding myself in no-mans land in road races. I get popped just enough at the last 5-7 miles that its just me. This time I sat up for one rider, who only spoke French and kept attacking me. that was awesome. I finally convinced her that there were riders coming, and sure enough, Lisa showed up with about 5 other girls. It sooooo much easier to get to the finish with people. And it was a hard lesson to learn, just sit up. Wait. Be patient. Up ahead I saw a the familiar jersey of teammate Katie doing the same thing and we were all able to come in together. Only 3:14 down on the main group! Success.
1. Lisa C rolling up to me with like 4 extra bottles and handing some off to take up to the front. Its a pretty big deal for "us" to go back to the team car and get bottles for the team and ride them up to the teammates. That was Killer!!
2. Looking out for teammates. I talk. A lot. And this race I had a purpose to talk! Check on my teammates, and really work on my pack riding skills. I would say to myself ok, you have three minutes to get up to Bea and see if she needs anything. Awesome. Our group on the way in had 9 girls, 3 of us with me, Katie and Lisa. It was so fun to be able to legitimately share food, bottles, support, to teammates with a common goal.
The day took its toll on many riders, probably because of the heat and crazy pace. The team was down to 7 riders for the next day, as composite rider Jessica Chong had a rough go of the road race and was beyond the time cut.
I believe I was 63rd on the day, moving up to 66th GC from 84th. Phew! Now the hard part....recover. Eat. Sleep and prep to race again!