I can’t say this race’s name without thinking of Dorthy and her skipping along the yellow brick road. Although, this race was anything but a skip through some fields. We weren’t in Denver anymore.
Racers Ready – Practice Starting
We lined up, all chatting away our nerves. I was next to Anna and wanted to stay next to her the whole race. She’s a strong rider and I don’t want to ruin the ending, but she Catted Up after this race.
I think they started playing Eminem as we revved our engines, or you know, clipped in and waited for them to blow the whistle. The announcer finally gave us the go-ahead – Eminem spittin’ out lyrics in the background – and I couldn’t get clipped in. I fell quickly to the back and was a little embarrassed.
Takeaway: Do not get new gear that’ll change how you race during race season. My suggestion is do it in the off-season to get used to what you’re changing. I should have either bought new pedals in January or waited until October. It can be detrimental to your results. Or make you look like a total n00b.
I caught up to the group in no time. Then all of a sudden, there was a wave of chicks coming at me. We found out there was a snake and some lady was trying to avoid it, which caused a butterfly effect through the group. There was also a squirrelly rider and I had to get the hell away from that. I’m not about the crash life.
I saw Anna at the front of the group (lost her because of the n00b pedal move). There wasn’t much a way to get past all these ladies, but one of the older women (MW 60+) kept shouting about pacing ourselves and being safe and yadda yadda. The first time I heard her say that to the group I was like, “yeah, fuck yeah, Helen (not her name). She knows that safety’s important and now I don’t have to worry about someone being stupid.” Wrong.
Helen had become more annoying than insightful and I had to get the fuck away from her. There was a teensie bit of room next to the yellow line and the rider next to it. I figured, “screw it, what do I have to lose?” so I started toeing the yellow line. Helen started yelling at me: “You’re not allowed to cross the yellow line!” If I had the technical skills to look at her while NOT crossing the yellow line I imagine her eyes bulging out of her face, wagging her finger like a grandma would to her misbehaving cat.
I was going too fast to see Helen’s physical reactions. I could only hear her squawking until I met up with Anna and then it was silenced. Peace and heavy breathing graced the front line.
I wanted to be in the front because of the dirt road. At this point in my cycling journey, I had not practiced dirt enough to feel comfortable racing on it, so needless to say, I was petrified and I sure as shit wasn’t going to be taken down by another n00b.
The first mini hill we hit, there was a breakaway and I followed. Anna, myself, KC, and one other lady who I don’t even think was in our category. We dropped the group like it was hot. We fell into a paceline, each taking turns pedaling.
Takeaway from the breakaway: Racing is strategy, timing, and luck. You need to strategize your placement in the group. Then you need to watch the others. Timing is key. If you’re not ready to pump it out when someone else does, you lose your chance at the breakaway. You could also be stuck in the group, have the power to breakaway, but the shitty luck of not being able to get around the other ladies.
The Dirt Road
I saw the mile-long dirt road coming up. I also saw a fucking ambulance and Laura from Primal Audi holding her hand. Luckily, I have a sweet teammate, Ashley, who took the time the day before to show me how to handle dirt better. They said to be on the tops of my handlebars and to not death grip. Two things I typically do.
I inevitably lost the three ladies to the dirt. I was going at a pretty quick speed – fast for me on dirt road – feeling my bike rockin’ and rollin’ with the sand, but the ladies were probably about twenty feet ahead of me. I knew I’d catch up to them eventually and I didn’t need to be right on their wheel just in case they ate shit.
I learned later a ton of people fell on that dirt. It was loose too. Several times I wanted to deathgrip my handlebars or pull off to the side and just, you know, walk it. They do that in races, right? Kidding.
Anna had a ton of gas in her tank that day and seriously just off. It was like a Red Bull commercial. She sprouted wings and was fucking gone. It was KC, the Master’s Woman, and myself taking turns pulling. The MW was like, “we’ll get her.”
Kudos to Anna because out in the fields where we were, there was a headwind every direction you turned. At least pulling with the other women we were all able to save our energy while Anna was left to herself. I figured we would eventually catch up to her, but if we didn’t, I was going to give her the biggest high-five. She was just gone.
Eventually, we did catch up to her. Then we all started taking turns pulling. It felt like the course was never going to end. It was just miles-long of straight roads. If we weren’t racing, it would have been super boring.
Takeaway: Pre-ride courses. I was going to pre-ride this course, but it snowed the day before I planned it and I couldn’t find anyone to ride with me. For some reason, I let that deter me. I also didn’t want to drive an hour and a half to nowhere. I was under the assumption that I didn’t really need to pre-ride the course. Wrong. So wrong. They don’t say “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” for nothing. Take the time to preview every race you plan to undertake. Not only will it just be a new/different ride, but you’ll know what to expect and how to pace yourself.
I learned from Rio that I don’t need to be asking everyone how they’re feeling 100 meters from the finish. I wanted to grow a gap between Anna and me and the other two ladies. I was in the front and picked up the pace and the others followed. I tried to signal to Anna what I wanted to do, but I don’t think I communicated it well because we all stayed at the same pace.
50 meters to the finish and the pace is fast, I’m about to throw-up my heart.
25 meters and we’re sprinting. I think this was the point where I accepted third. I knew the Master’s woman wasn’t in our group so I didn’t have to worry about 4th. This was a trend I noticed throughout racing season: accepting third. I mean, third’s not a bad place to accept, let’s be honest. At least I wasn’t so apathetic to accept last. Even when that happened, I didn’t like it.
I couldn’t keep up the sprint power to the finish line. Anna won first. KC won second. I got third. I know it was my training over the winter. I focused on endurance because the training plan I adopted by Mark Sisson claimed that you really just need endurance miles and you can sprint during whatever race you’re in. I thought that was odd, but I had no idea what to expect in a race as this was my first year. I assumed he knew what he was talking.
Well, we all know what assuming does (makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’).
Takeaway: Practice sprinting. After long rides with your buddies, race them to street signs, to ends of streets, to the tops of hills. Get your sprint down because the finish ALWAYS ends in a sprint. I don’t know what planet I thought I was on thinking we all held hands crossing the finish line like some woman’s retreat in the woods. That shit doesn’t happen in races. Be prepared.
@estrada5280 caught the moment when I had nothing left to give. With the relentless headwind over 38 miles of rolling hills, and scary dirt, I was toast. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. l #racing #whereiride #cyclistlife #cyclinglife #cycling #cyclist #womenwhoride #onmybike #instacyclist #instaathlete #athlete #resultsstarthere #nuunambassador #cyclelikeagirl #roadrace #optoutside #thirdplace #coloradoracing #coloradocycling