The largest thing I learned at Gila was adaptation. The body is truly an amazing thing and experiencing a vast adaptation to training/racing stress through the event was so cool. I woke up Friday morning alert and ready to rock. Day 3 at Redlands had been polar opposite! At Gila we had already experienced 2 4+ hour days in the saddle and it was awesome to wake up ready to at least ride on Friday!
Now a time trialist I am not. I like to think that in the future, with my history of mountain biking and being a power rider, the TT is something I could sink my teeth into. But with limited training time and the lack of an actual TT bike, that art form will have to wait to be developed. I decided that prior to Gila there were only a few things I could stress about and the TT just couldn't fit on that list. I have only done TT's at the stage races I have participated in this year, which adds up to 4. I'm a rookie.
The Gila TT was LONG!! 16.5 miles with TONS of wind and climbing. I put my clip on bars on, grabbed my aero helmet and did what I could. Although I was told to ride it like a "hard recovery day" I actually did try, and came in 3rd from last. It was really, really, hard. But to save the day, Clara won the TT as well as moving into the over GC lead. Rad. I knew I would have work to do over the next few days so my finish was fine. I was just stressed to make the time cut!
Before the TT I saw our buddy Reid Mumford of Kelly Benefits and went over to say hi. He asked how I was doing and I just shook my head and said "This sure ain't SoCal crit racing" and we both had a good laugh. What a different world I have jumped into!
The second thing I learned at Gila was to rest and recover. Eat soon and much, sit/lay/nap much. I am a horrible napper, but found it relatively easy to fall asleep at 2pm given the opportunity. I could feel my body healing and coming back into form.
Day 4, the crit, was the first time I was no affected by the elevation. thank goodness because this crit was awesome! Most SoCal crits last 40-50 minutes. This crit was 70!! So cool for me because at these larger events, I usually don't feel ok until 30-40 minutes into the event which is right about when other people start to feel poopy! My instructions were to stay in, stop tail gunning and conserve for Sunday. My non-sister Desira Miller (everyone thinks we are related. Because we are over 5'5" and ride bikes, and are white?!) was there working with SRAM (this was AWESOME because I got to see one of my favorites every morning and after every stage, just the little slice of home I needed, and she got heckle me at the crit) every time we rode up the climb and past the pits she would yell at me to to get off the back, haha, its getting better!!
Clara won the crit, sealing her overall lead once again with an amazing sprint. The crit was livestreamed and I got word that Papa Paul, Brian's team manager aka the Godfather, had been watching it at work with the whole office and could even pick my helmet out of the peloton! So cool! He said they all knew Clara had the win coming out of the last turn!
It was pretty awesome to be part of a team, let alone a team in the leaders jersey! And to know the team had a few small tasks for me that were within my skill set making me not just a number in the peloton, but more like Baby in Dirty Dancing, when she carried the watermelons to the party. :) Someone else could have done it, heck they could have gone without the watermelons, but it was her way of being part of the group!
The main issue I had after the crit was eating. Brian thought I was lying but seriously, the body gets so taxed that nothing sounds good and you start force feeding yourself because you know you are in vast caloric deficit and if you don't eat, the next day will be horrid. Nothing like eating a burrito at 10pm in bed...