Today I ventured to Winston Salem with my two wonderful teammates Hannah and Marianne for my first bike races of the season. There was a 30-minute Cat 3/4 race at 1:30 and the 45-minute women’s Open race was at 3:15.
My motivation to race instantly dropped about 50% once I stepped out of the car. It was freezing cold and WINDY. Very windy! Regardless, I got changed, made my way to pick up my numbers, and started to warm up. I honestly had no idea how on earth my legs would feel 1.) after running over 2 hours in the last two days in addition to 2 swims and a yoga class 2.) given my level of stress about my job. Surprisingly, I felt ok during my warm up and could feel I had a little snap in my legs. This course was very well suited for me; generally flat with one little roller on at the finish with the wind at your back. The headwind on the backstretch was the big factor today.
Cat 3/4 race
This race was funny…there were about 10 girls or so and I think 7 of them were my Pain Pathways teammates. The odds were in our favor. Lauren (who is new to bike racing but is very very strong) and I took off on the 2nd lap and were able to stay away for the rest of the race. I’ve honestly never had “company” off the front of the cat 3/4 race before and we really didn’t know what to do when they rung the bell for the last lap. We rode the majority of it together and as we approached the 4th corner, she downshifted and I could see she was going to give the final straightaway some mustard. So I did too. I rode her wheel for most of the final 0.2 miles and decided to see what I had in my sprinting legs with about 300 meters to go. We both sprinted our hearts out to the line and it was a “photo finish” – literally!! After photo review, it showed I edged her out with my “bike throw” and took the win. 🙂 Regardless, whether I finished 1st or 2nd, it was fun race and awesome to have so many teammates out there to work with.
Cat 1/2/3 race
After finally getting moderately warm again in the car after the first race, it was time to get back on the bike and get ready for the “real” race of the day. I’ve posted tons in the past about how hard bike racing is to me. I had no doubts today would be any different. The roster of registered women included pretty much the best girls I’ve ever raced against. Pain Pathways had a great showing again but I was still nervous and hesitant about my legs having raced earlier. The temperature had dropped at least 2-3 degrees, the wind was whipping even harder and my teeth were literally chattering at the start line.
The whistle blew and we were off. The first lap remained relatively calm with one attack but that was manageable. The 2nd lap it started heating up. A few attacks by Peggy, a counter by Hannah and without even realizing, a 3rd counter and break from Sara and Bergen. They were off the front pretty quick. We were trying to get the pack organized and I was preparing to take my turn pulling up front when Peggy attacked again. This time I grabbed her wheel and before I knew it, we were hammering on our own and creating a pretty good gap on the pack. We were able to stay away and were able to cut the gap to Sara and Bergen down to 6 seconds at one point, but we just couldn’t catch them. We were working our tails off. I was pretty much dying, but refused to let Peggy get away from me. We shared the work about 55% / 45% her to me as she is certainly stronger than me and she seemed just fine with that. By the time they rang the bell for 2 and 1 laps to go, I was actually in my groove and felt better at that time than I did at lap 3. After the 1st corner on the last lap, Peggy decided she’d had enough of working with me and reminded me that she is, in fact, stronger than me. 🙂 She hit it hard in the headwind and I was done. I knew the pack wasn’t anywhere close and I knew there’s no way I could catch her, so I just continued to ride decently hard and sprinted to my 4th place finish.
Overall, today goes down as a “pretty hard” bike racing day, but certainly not the hardest I’ve experienced. There was no big climbs on this course and I at least had a wheel to suck most of the day. 🙂 Overall, I’m pleased with a 1st and 4th at my first race of the season!