Saturday Jay and I met up with the Chucker for a leisurely ride out to Excelsior and back...yeah, you heard it, I said leisure ride! No races on the calendar allowed us to sleep in til 9 (thank Heavens!) and go for a mellow ride w/ friends. It was a glorious Saturday! The weather was great, the time on the road perfect, and we had the pleasure of having my mom and step-dad over afterwards on the sunny afternoon.
After some belated birthday celebrating, we got Mom and Randy out for some tasty vittles at Burger Jones for an early dinner and lots of laughs. It had been a while since our schedules matched up but it was totally worth the wait and we had a fabulous time! Thanks Mom & Randy - we had a ton of fun and Rosco was super happy to meet his Grandma! :o)
We laid low Saturday night to prep for our early rise on Sunday for the State Road Race Championships. In our true night-owl form, though, we struggled to get to bed before midnite, even with a 6:00AM wake-up looming over us. None the less, we ate, drank, and were merry before retiring to bed that night. The morning came early though, and it was a struggle to get the puppies out of bed. Jay and Rosco finally rose after I spent some time banging around in the kitchen making coffee and toast.
Jay raced in the morning wave in the 35+ race and Rosco and I chilled on top of the hill to offer feeds and support. Jay is so self-sufficient, he never needed a thing, so Rosco and I relaxed and napped lightly between laps. Jay rode a great race but, as he puts it, it was about 4 1/2 minutes too long... he was off the front with another rider coming into the finishing miles but blew his final gasket with less than 2k to go, only to finish quietly within the pack. I was so proud of him and the risks he took, there was no reason at all to feel otherwise. Next up.. me.
So, after being there for 4 1/2 hours already, it was finally time for me to race. I warmed up a bit on the trainer and jumped into the pack when called to the line. It was awesome to have my teammate, Cheryl B., at the line with me - a recent recipient of a fresh new upgrade (CONGRATS!!!). The race was steady to begin, but it wasn't long until Tessy was at the front driving the tempo up to 27mph. I was on her wheel and kept it going as she pulled off, only to find myself solo on the road the next time I looked back.
I kept the pace steady but the gap was soon bridged by Heather T. I wanted to stay gone as long as we could, so I kept away from the mind-games when she wouldn't pull around. She started to pull through after a bit and we were able to keep the pace high. Linda S. and Tessy W. pulled off two bitchin' attacks and got up to us one-by-one... we were a destructive force and charged away from the field. Unfortunately, one of Heather's own teammates chased her down and brought three other competitors with her. It wasn't long until the field caught back on, but the attacks didn't stop there.
I did my best to stay on any wheel I could to remain with the top contenders and stretched myself beyond my limits. At mile 18 or so we hit the major climb and I was struggling bad, having done everything I could for the 3 miles prior to hang on. Luckily the pack wasn't attacking the downhill, and I was able to recover down the hill at 35 mph and catch back on with a lil help from my friends.
There were 7 of us off the front with 2 laps to go and we never looked back and never relented. The pace remained intense to the line. With two miles to go, the leg cramp that surfaced in the week prior's mtn bike race resurfaced and started to weigh on the strength I was feeling. I attacked the first 0.6 miles of the hill as though it weren't there, moving into 5th of 7 in the lead group. Unfortunately, as the pitch increased, so did the pain in my knee and the searing pain in my IT band. With 40m to go, Amy and Heather passed me as I pedaled as fast as I could up the hill. Seventh overall and 4th in the Cat 3's... I couldn't have asked for a better 4th place finish!!! Those are some of the toughest women out there, and I'm just happy to say I hung with them to the finish.
It's kinda hard to come back to this course as defending champ and finish 4th. But the competition this year was intense and I can flat out admit that this was one of the hardest races I've ever done. Especially having not done a road race in 2 months, I'm crazy happy with my performance and finish! Shit, I could have finished last place and been happy for myself just because of that first major break with Tessy, Linda, and Heather. I rode out of my comfort zone for 50 miles and have no reason to feel sorry for not getting on the podium.
I'm sure that, out of the gals in the rest of the breakaway I'm the only one who doesn't train, so to be part of their pack at the finish was a genuine honor. Next year: intervals and training rides... or maybe we'll stick to late night concerts and partyin' with friends, who knows?
Saying goodbye to the road season,