As a second-year Cat 4 racer, Jay's gotten used to this winning itch that's come on in the second half of this year. Closer and closer I've gotten to throwing my hands up in victory as my legs and lungs have increased in strength and ability.
Some days, there was no fretting over a spot off the podium, or mere inches away from the line....and yet others, my mind was much farther ahead of the rest of me, tearing me to pieces when the finish I thought was coming, never manifested. And yet the love of the race keeps me coming back for more.
Just over a week ago, we ventured up to St. Cloud for a 2 day stage race. [A HUGE THANKS to TONE for hooking me up with an entry!!!] Looking at the layout in the days preceding the race, I was thirsty....weighing out each race days before, sizing up the courses and distances....I wanted it to be my race. With 4 bikes in tow, Jay and I made our way to the races, super-charged for what lie in front of us. As we readied for the kick-off, an 8 mile time trial, we were caught off guard by a cold, unrelenting rain. As time crept by, the start got delayed later and later, keeping us chilled to the bone as we dodged in and out of the rain.
Finally, as my start time neared, Jay escorted me to the start beneath an umbrella as I tried to control the shivers. With 8 miles laid out before me, I attacked the course hard, taking advantage of the wet ground beneath me and the friction it reduced. The forceful headwind for the first 3 1/2 miles was brutal as I fought to get my speed up. Fortunately for me, though, it rewarded my efforts on my return, helping me to speeds up to 29mph effortlessly as I struggled to make up time. With my legs nearly ripped out of their sockets, I crossed the line soaked and exhausted, but elated with the effort I put forth. Unfortunately, we had only 2 hours to kill before our circuit race, so we worked hard to dry off, stay warm, and rest up what little we could.
Going into the circuit, they still hadn't posted the TT results. I only knew my time, but not the times of those around me. Exhausted, I saddled up again for the next round of racing. The first 2 laps were great, but my body began to shut down from exhaustion as we entered the third and final go 'round. I rode cross-eyed and agressively, but it wasn't enough to keep the momentum from the TT going. I blew apart with a mile to go, finishing just behind the leaders in 6th. Later that afternoon, when the results were finally posted, I was blown away to find myself in 3rd overall for the TT, but 1st place for the Cat 4's!!!! My first TT victory on my TT bike!!! (heck, my first non-Black Dog victory ever) . I didn't know what to do with myself. It was awesome. [Again, thanks TONE for the chance of a lifetime!]. After the circuit race, however, I moved into 3rd in the omnium, with one race to go.
After some R&R, Tour de France highlights, and some time in the hot tub, Jay and I called it a night and prepped for Sunday's road race. The 26.5 mile sprint distance was calling to me as I warmed up that morning. Climb after climb, no gripe or whine came from my legs, keeping me in the front of the pack. As we neared the finish, Amy and I hung at the back, figuring out our strategy and finding holes in the field. With just under 1K to go, she went up the shoulder side with me tight on her tail feathers. The group was fast to respond, out of their saddles and into the sprint. As Amy tired, I found 2 new wheels to ride, making sure I had someone leading me out, whether they knew it or not. Sitting in third at the bottom of the finishing hill, I found a whole between the lead 2 and made my final attack. Out of the wind for the previous kilo, I had all the spark I needed to tear by them and take the win. MY FIRST ROAD RACE VICTORY! I rolled across the line, kissing my ring and throwing my arm up in celebration! Jay, following the group in our truck, pulled up excitedly, jumped out of the car, and gave me the biggest hug of my life! It was a moment I still haven't gotten over....and I hope I never do!
I wound up taking 2nd overall, even after winning 2 stages, but it was so amazing! What a great weekend of racing. That's the way to round out the season.
There's no way I could have won it without my teammate, Amy, out there for me....Tone, throwin' me an entry into the races....Mike W & Grandstay - thanks for puttin' us up again. I'll never stay anywhere else in St Cloud......and Jay cheering me on all the way! Thanks to all of you for making this the greatest weekend I could've imagined!!!!! And thanks to Dano's dad for the sweet pics!
Still Ridin' High,