High Rock Road Race

“Don’t you want to be a bike racer?”

If I had $1 for every time I heard that this weekend I could retire from my day job.   The answer is YES, I do want to be a bike racer.  But I also want to be a triathlete.  I want to crush  myself in a 40+ mile road race…and run for a few miles after.  I want to do two back to back crits in the morning and go to the pool for a recovery swim.

Yep, I want to do both…and I’m gonna!

This weekend was an absolute blast.  There was a 5-day omnium series called the Crossroads Classic.  I opted to just partake in two of the 5 events.  Saturday was the High Rock 41 mile road race to which I opted to do the women’s “open” race vs. the separate cat 4 race later in the day.  I’ve ridden with most of the girls that would be doing the open race before and decided it would be a good challenge but a feasible day for me.

The race course was generally flat, and pretty boring, with a few minor rollers towards the end and we did 3 loops.  Our first loop was not “pretty” boring, it was very boring.  There were minimal attacks and it kinda felt like we were all out on a women’s group ride.  The second lap got a bit more interesting with some attacks, one particularly strong attack that stuck for quite a while by Marianne!  When we finally reeled Marianne in, another Clif racer attacked, which also stuck for 15 or so minutes.  But, by the time the final sprint rolled around, we were all one big happy family again.

When we took the left turn to head down the final mile of the race, I was in great position and feeling super strong.  My first road race I didn’t really know exactly what to expect on the final sprint and I was cramping from the heat, but I was more than prepared this time.  I had fueled and hydrated exactly as planned and was ready to give it my all the last 500 meters.  About 3/4 a mile from the finish, us women hear a lot of yelling, “move over”, “ya’ll should be neutral”, etc from the men’s Cat 3 race who had just caught us.  Typically, in a road race, the officials will require one of the groups to “go neutral” for 1 minute or so if a group behind them catches them to let the faster group go by (typically the men).  I don’t think the officials anticipated the ladies 3rd lap to be quite as tame as it was, given the speed of the 2nd lap and as a result, they thought we’d finish prior to the men catching us.  This did not happen and an enormous cluster was created.

Regardless, I was in a good position, about 5th back in the women’s line.  As the men clustered around us, it became an all out fight to just hold your line and try to out-sprint anyone who was around you – man or woman.  I had a good sprint going till about the last 100 meters when there was no where to move.  I was right behind the overall Omnium leader and one of the strongest racers out there, Sara Tussey, and took a 4th overall!  It was a bitter sweet finish because we didn’t get to actually have an all out, fair women’s sprint…but that’s bike racing for you!

Nonetheless, I am pleased with many things about my performance at the road race.  Finishing strong is definitely one of them, but certainly not the “icing on the cake”.  I’m pleased my fueling went exactly as planned and I felt strong through the whole ride.  I’m pleased to be able to not train specifically for bike racing, but to be able to go out  and contend with strong riders like Marianne and Sara.  I’m pleased I held my lines and didn’t work too hard up front like I did at Piedmont.  I’m pleased to have had a total blast the whole day!  And I’m pleased that I am beginning to show road racers, that triathletes can ride bikes too. I’m so tired of the stereotypes that triathletes don’t make good road riders.  It’s time to put an end to that!

I spent the night with my wonderful sister having dinner and getting some delicious ice cream.  To bed early and back to Salisbury tomorrow for one, potentially two, crits on Sunday!

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