I haven’t been able to run since the first of March since I have this foot condition called hallux limitus. Basically I have bone spurs growing around the big toe joint and arthritis. The docs have put me on anti-inflammatories and special orthotics, but it’s not be putting a dent in the pain. So until I have surgery to get rid of the bone spurs, I’ve only been biking – which isn’t exactly painless, but it’s way better than the pain I experience when running.
I’ve only done one other race before and did pretty well. Probably because it was in Brevard (flat) and it was a sprint finish. Those aren’t exactly a dime a dozen around here. I started looking for a race that was as flat as possible so I could test out where my bike fitness really is compared to what I think it is or pretend it is ;). The first one I found was the Three Rivers Omnium in Kingston, Tennessee. Not exactly flat and not exactly a climbers dream race. Pretty much the best I could do around here. I ended up convincing my friend Karen to come with me since there was just enough climbing in it for her to win Cat 1/2. Which she did.
The night before the TT we were looking at the racers USAC profiles, Strava, etc. to see who was strong and who wasn’t. A couple things took me by surprise with a few of the girls in Cat 4. The big glaring one was that our friend Emily had posted in Strava that she rode with one of the girls and how she wasn’t able to keep up that day. Emily is a very strong Cat 2 cyclist. Yeah, not cool. Karen sent her a text and asked what was up. Her response was basically, the two teams there shouldn’t be Cat 4 and they won’t Cat up. How awesome is that hear? Ugh. I wasn’t going to be jumping on the podium at this race it seemed. Learning/training/experience it was going to have to be.
It wasn’t horrible and it wasn’t great. When we were looking at the profile, it looked like there was a bitch of a climb at the very end so I thought I’d be a little conservative as I didn’t want to blow up. Well, that was a mistake. There wasn’t a “climb”. I should have gone harder. Rookie mistake I guess. I ended up 7th out of 15 or so riders on a 2.2 mile course.
Lesson Learned: If you have a short TT, go drive the damn course or ride it early.
I hate crits. I hated the one I did 2 years ago and I hated this one. I over reacted when a chick got all wobbly and cut some of us off. Ended up on the side unclipped. I got back into the group (4 people) she cut off, but we just couldn’t bridge the gap and I was frustrated while working too hard because the other women weren’t doing anything – who then started to drop off and I just said fuck it. I pulled out hoping to save my legs to salvage something the next day.
Lesson Learned: Practice riding corners.
I knew the two teams were going to attack on the first climb. Just knew it. My plan was to put myself right in the middle of the teams. It was a large turnout, I think around 24 riders. When lining up I tried to put myself in the middle but then somehow ended up 3/4 of the way back from the front when were being lead out since there was some accordion stuff going on. I knew I was in trouble because the minute the lead car pulled off – it seemed like a sprint. There were a few of us chasing them up the climb while passing everyone that dropped off. I eventually got to them, but I just couldn’t hang on for the second part of the climb. I was spent. I was hoping to catch them on the downhill or the flats but I just couldn’t. It was so frustrating because they were just right there!
After about 6-7 miles of me chasing them on my own, the chase group caught me. Oh how glorious it was to sit in the draft. We would make progress and it would look like we were getting close and then obviously someone faster would start pulling hard and we’d lose ground. This always seemed to be right at the same time someone in our group was pulling, but was starting to fade. After a couple pulls like that, I got to the front and just took off. Hard. 5 minutes later there were 3 of us left. One of those riders, Ines, was super nice and strong. She and I basically rotated the pulls while the other rider hung on. We never did catch the front pack, but we did at least decimate the chase group trying!
It was a good learning day. It would have been nice to have positioned myself better, but it is what it is now. I finished 10th out of 24.
Lesson Learned: Be more aggressive when trying to position myself in a group.
I might give another race a try this summer. Time will only tell 🙂