My fellow Minnesotans know what a crap storm this past weekend was...just days before May, and the temps were below freezing, snow, winds up to 40 mph....but what they might not know is the number of real cycling fanatics who were out in full Lycra pushing the envelope and limits of human perseverance in the pursuit of racing nirvana.
Yep, the Ken Woods Road Race went off in the snow and wind, even though attendance was only half of what they're used to. The 9:00 am wave of races was canceled, and the groups were offered an 11:45 start time instead, which suited us all just fine, since the crosswind section of the course was covered with ice so early in the morning. Jay and I headed to Cannon Falls to warm up in a diner while we waited. With some Belgian waffles and warm coffee and cocoa in our bellies, we headed back south for the start of the race.
By start time, the temps were hovering around freezing, winds were sustained at 20 mph, with gusts up to 40, and the snow flew horizontally, nearly piercing my skin as I attempted to 'warm up'. They sent us off with the Juniors at the start, not a one of us weighing more than 150lbs. no matter how many layers we wore, making it quite the spectacle as we took out first turn into the crosswind....each rider was blown into the on-coming lane, and almost into the far ditch from the force of the gale-strength winds. Riders on the outside of the pack had to lean sideways into the wind in an attempt to remain upright through the 5 mile section.
As we headed into the headwind, the force near seized us up...causing many a wheel to rub as we fought to get our speeds up to 10mph! A handful of the group went down on 2 separate occasions, falling victim to the forceful winds. Luckily, we weren't going very fast into the head wind, so no one was badly hurt. The group was pretty large through the 1/2 way point, as we only shelled riders here and there as they got caught in the wind or lost on a climb. Jay got the sweetest vid of my teammate Amy, off the back, but Bleeding Silver none the less!
Compared to last year, this was amazing - I rode off the back for 17 miles with Amy and another girl, only to roll in to take 24th place....This year though, I held the leaders to the finish, taking 2 places on the final climb to finish extremely elated in 5th! I couldn't believe it when it ended - 5th place!!! All I can say is thanks to Jay and the rest of the Silver crew for all the time you've invested in me as I've learned the sport of cycling! Thanks!
Amy finished hard in 10th, and our 50+ men's crue took 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in their race! Way to go Dave H, Mark, and Dave P!!!! Russ took 12th in the Men's 35+ (3,4); and Matt S. and Tim M. rounded out the 35+ open field. Way to bleed, and freeze, Silver!!!
And do you think we got enough??? No! Pramann and I were back at it again the next day to take on the Excelsior Criterium. Temps were again around freezing, with a 22 degree wind chill, but the winds were thankfully only 10mph.
Coming into it, I was just focused on riding to spin out from the extraordinary conditions on the day before. Somehow, though, my legs felt great. I got a poor start position going into the first turn, and it took 2 laps for me to finally move up the pack. For the first prime, on gal went off the front early, and the rest of us ramped it up as necessary. Unfortunately, I didn't attack the climb as hard as I should have, and fell towards the back once again. I knew what I had to do....I got in my drops and kicked it into high gear.We came together for a moment, only for another attack, but I was ready. I searched deep for the charge and bridged up with Jacki, Dano, and Angie. Jacki was riding hot and went off the front with BW, leaving Dano, Angie, and I to chase. Keeping the pace up, I eventually dropped both Dano and Angie, and maintained a 12 lap solo pursuit. Turn after turn, all I heard was the wind and cheering voices on every corner. I couldn't feel my legs, arms, or lungs...and my only thought was maintaining my speed until I crossed the finish line. Muttering "Black Dog, Black Dog" under my breath on the back side of the course, I pushed myself into the Pain Cave without looking back. Finally, on my last climb up that hill, I smiled from ear to ear for my first ever, THIRD PLACE crit finish!
What a race! I still can barely believe it, even seeing the pictures.... I don't know where it all came from (cuz you know darn sure that I wasn't having near as much fun at the last Opus....hence no mention on my blog)....All I know is that I was On!
Jacki helped represent the Black n White by taking the win. Then, in the 35+ Men's race, Pramann threw down another Silver whoopin by schooling the field as the snow fell! Nice work Pramann!
Jay, though, wasn't feeling it after leading the first couple laps in true Hollywood fashion. Back in the saddle again, he'll be kickin' butt in no time. For the past couple races, though, I won't deny that it's been wonderful having him cheering me on from the car or on every turn. I'm so lucky to have so much support. Thank you babe, for all you do!
Hopin' for sunshine,